Monday, May 21, 2018
Thanks, Mookie! (A card show report)
I went to a card show yesterday, and I have Mookie Betts to thank for that.
Please allow me to explain: remember when I said that the rookie card craze finally hit Dime Boxedonia in the form of a Bryce Harper rookie I found in my doubles box? Well it hit again, this time much more fruitfully, thanks to, yes, Mookie Betts himself.
Last week, after catching wind of the crazy prices Mookie rookies were commanding, I sold three different 2014 Update Mookie Betts parallels I'd been sitting on for a while. Although I collect Mookie, the decision was a no-brainer...because I sold them for over $200 combined. Even more staggering is the fact that I paid exactly 60 cents for the trio at a card show a couple years ago. (Better yet, I still own the base versions of both rookies.)
With more than $200 of house money in my pocket, I naturally did what any sane collector would do: I made a spur-of-the-moment visit to the local card show.
I did buy a few Mookies -- it was the least I could do for the guy, and besides, I still collect him -- but the money I got for those '14 Update parallels (with an ample amount of cash still left over) went a long way in providing the awesomely random experience I so much enjoy.
Among the highlights: unexpectedly bumping into Jeff during a dime box dig, spending the day in the company of fellow card collectors (even despite the handful of Card Prospector Bros who attend this show), and easily fulfilling the only specific goal I had in mind yesterday -- knocking out a good chunk of my 2017-18 needs.
I checked off a good 75 percent of my remaining 2018 GQ/Donruss base wants, got almost all the Diamond Kings singles I needed without having to buy a single pack, and sampled my first of last year's Chrome Negative Refractors (which I still can't decide if I like or not).
I always enjoy attending card shows immediately after I decide to start new player collections because almost everything I see of said players is new to me, as these four dime box gets of New Binder Inductees were.
But the thrill of finding new cards of guys I've long since collection never wears off (especially the Ichiro, a tough Turkey Red SP from the dime box).
Mini-collection hits, which reminds me: I decided to go the spreadsheet route for now in regards to the cataloging crisis I documented on the blog last week.
One of these minis is not like the other...and is a lot more awesome than the others -- it's that Campy of course, even though I have absolutely no clue what exactly it is.
Few things in life get me more giddy than finding Fan Favorites at card shows.
Your regular helping of dime box shiny.
As I've said on the blog before, this particular show is my favorite in terms of the overall balance of good cards, fun environment, and just plain fine people.
Case in point: a vendor who I see regularly at this show beckoned to me during my dig through his dime boxes, said Hey, you can have this if you want, and proceeded to hand me this GQ Glassworks Corey Seager box-topper.
All I can say is this thing looks absolutely stunning in person, but even more stunning is the fact that the guy just simply gave it to me out of the kindness of his heart (and he didn't even know I collect Corey Seager!).
I can't say I'm strongly either pro- or anti-SP, but I'm really Pro-Finding-Short-Prints-in-Dime-and-Quarter-Boxes, because talk about a thrill.
These proved to be the most expensive modern cards I purchased yesterday, but they were well worth the cash (besides, it was all on Mookie anyways, remember?).
While it's not the '85 Fleer currently sitting on my "Keep Dreaming" wants, the '85 Donruss Puckett rookie was still a coveted card for me, and I bit at the $5 price tag on it (though I basically got it free with something else I bought from the same guy). The '88 Score Traded Grace, meanwhile, has been a surprisingly elusive overproduction-era card (the last one I needed to own every Grace RC) and an overall thorn in my side for the last few years.
A mere two dollars put that longtime need to rest.
An observation: I'm astounded by the number of card show vendors who leave their tables unattended for long periods of time.
I guess that speaks to the communal feeling of the overall clientele at this card show, but still, if I set up at a show, I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving my stuff out like that. But in this case it actually worked to both mine and the vendor's advantage. I found over 300 dime cards at the very first table of the day, but I stood around for a good 10-15 minutes waiting for the vendor to come back so I could pay for everything.
With nothing else to fill the time, I started absentmindedly picking through the guy's quarter boxes...and instantly found two cards I've been wanting for ages: a nifty minor league Mark Grace (the first of its kind in my 400+-card Grace collection) and a minor league Jeff Bagwell, the latter a treasured semi-zero year card(!) given he never played for the Red Sox.
Vendor of the Day honors, however, might well have to go to a guy I'd never seen at this show before: his selection was so great that I made two separate trips to his table, in fact (once by myself, once with Jeff).
His cheap boxes were a quarter each or 100/$20 -- I had absolutely no problem getting to that threshold, helped in large part by the brick of Topps Tiffany singles I found (which just about quadruples the number of Tiffany cards I'd owned prior to this show).
The guy had a good half-dozen cheap boxes display, and every single one of them was Oddballs Galore.
Better yet, he had some of my very favorite oddballs ever with stuff like Baseball Card Magazine (aka Heritage before Heritage) and SI for Kids singles (and yes, I'm counting that Scottie Pippen as a baseball card, and you can't stop me).
Also among the 100/$20 goodies were oddballs of yesteryear as well, including St. Louis Brown floating heads and that Don Larsen, courtesy of SkinBracer aftershave (wow!).
All I'll say about these (from that same vendor) is TCMA RULES!
This show isn't really vintage-heavy, but depending on when you go and what vendors set up on any given day, you might fall into pockets of of older stuff.
Apparently I picked a good afternoon to go (thanks again, Mookie!), because there was quite a bit of vintage on display -- including this '76 Robin Yount off my "Keep Dreaming" list, which I believe now means that I own all Yount's Topps cards.
These two and the '76 Yount came from a $5 each or 3/$10 box, and I didn't even notice the 3/$10 part until the vendor told me to pick out another one when I was about to hand him just the Yount and '68 Carlton seen above.
Good thing he did, because I somehow missed the '70 Seaver sitting in that very same box the first time around -- not bad for free!
Another vintage guy had a few pages of '51 Topps Red Backs which were $3 each or 2/$5 (combo deals were apparently in vogue yesterday).
The Valo is superb, but it turns out I had the Kiner already (my memory isn't what it used to be) -- still, that one's actually an upgrade over the copy I'd already owned, believe it or not.
More random vintage gets, including a pair of Nu-Scoops singles, a set which my brain is subconsciously trying to get me to build (dammit, brain, I'm not a set-builder!).
Another reason I enjoy smaller shows like this one is that vendors are more apt to cut deals -- that '71 Alomar (a high-number short-print, aka the Vintage Kiss of Death) was originally priced at $4 but the vendor basically gave it to me for a buck.
As if those 100/$20 boxes weren't good enough, that same vendor also had a whole helluva a lot of vintage on display as well, including an absolutely loaded $2 box which I have to thank for this terrific quartet.
The same guy also had some dollar binders/boxes out, much of them lined with vintage and even some of the oddball variety, like these two Post stars.
Somehow these ended up in the dollar box as well(!!!).
The guy's table was basically organized by price -- everything at the far end of the table was a dollar, then went up incrementally from there up to around $15-20 being the most expensive if I remember right (the 100/$20 boxes were separate from the rest of his stuff).
Only one of the cards I bought from him cost more than two dollars, but it was a doozy -- this '66 Jim Palmer from the $10 box takes care of another big "Keep Dreaming" want, along with granting me the rare thrill of adding a HOF rookie to my collection.
Finally comes what was my most expensive purchase of the day and yet another "Keep Dreaming" want -- I shelled out a whopping $12 for this '62 Topps Curt Flood, a dreaded vintage high-number (#590).
It came from a vendor who I always see at this show, and whose inventory mostly consists of higher-grade vintage far out of my price range. But in the end, I decided to bite the bullet and pay a bit more than I'd usually do for this one (though I got the aforementioned Puckett rookie as basically a throw-in to the deal), which completes my 1958-71 run of Flood's Topps cards and is in rather fine shape, though I don't usually care about that kind of thing.
I'm still having trouble believing that three cards paid for an entire afternoon at yesterday's card show -- while I try to grapple with the insanity of that, please join me in thanking Mookie Betts for a wonderful day at the card show, won't you?