With all the unprecedented happenings going on right now, I've gotten to the point where I'm obscenely thankful for any little reminders of pre-quarantine life.
I can't even remember the last time I dug through a real, actual dime box, and so one welcome nod to the good ol' pre-pandemic days came in the form of baseballcardstore.ca, a place that's been all the rage around the blogs lately because it's basically an online dime box. I repeat: an online dime box! Covid or not, this place sounded like a dream waiting to happen, because...well, you've seen the name of this blog, yes?
At first, however, I wasn't sold. Many others have already alluded to this, but the site isn't terribly user-friendly. It's somewhat difficult to search through and the cards aren't sorted in any meaningful way. Despite my obvious dime box leanings, I actually gave up on finding anything on the site after trying (and failing) to use it a couple times. It was kinda like a dime box at a card show where you pick up a couple stacks of cards, see absolutely nothing you need, and move on down the aisle, disappointed at the temptation.
But one night, a couple weeks ago, I braced myself for one final try, one final push through the inventory, because I just knew there had to be some cards I needed sitting out there, waiting for me in the online dime box.
Turns out I was right -- it took until the wee hours of the morning, and required a whole lot of random searches and rabbit-holes, but at the end of it all I kinda got the hang of it and was able to add a whopping 250 cards to my cart.
It goes without saying that I miss dime boxes, and when the box of cards I'd found arrived on my doorstep earlier this week, it took me right back into those pre-Covid dime box days, viewing and cherishing all the great new cards I'd shrewdly added to my collection.
The standard dime box fare was well represented -- I found a few mini-collection hits, for instance (yes, that Griffey checklist counts for my "42" theme).
It's not the most exciting way to find cards, but I was able to check my spreadsheets of my larger player collections against the site's inventory to find cards of big dudes I needed.
And after all was said and done, quite a few of my bigtime collections got a nice boost, which is really all I can ask out of a dime box (the Abbott is an OPC).
A rarer dime box treat, however, is finding cards I need for my smaller and more obscure player collections, but the online dime box passed that test too (Calvin Pickering is an A+ baseball name, isn't it?).
I found a bit of latest-and-greatest flavor as well, and my god that Dee Gordon throwback is wonderful.
Dime box shiny, online edition.
I'm still trying to figure out why I get such a thrill out of finding cards from high-end sets in dime boxes, but I do -- there's probably some kind of score-one-for-the-little-guy idea in there somewhere.
Stickers don't generally make for my favorite baseball cards in the world, but I raided the online dime box's supply of '90s Panini Stickers because I have almost none of these.
I wish I could give you more tips and tricks about how to navigate the site's inventory, but truth be told I don't even remember a lot about how I found the cards I did.
One thing I do recall trying was simply searching the word mini, which ultimately resulted in a nifty handful of A&G minis I needed.
But, of course, A&G minis are far from the only minis out there, and turns out the search term brought out a whole lot of other fun-sized cards I probably never would've found otherwise.
Many times, when combing through my finds from any given dime box, I'll come across something and wonder, why the heck did I buy THIS card? which was kinda the case with that A&G card of...a palace?
I'm not building that set or anything, and I'm thinking I bought it simply because it was jarring to see it in the middle of all the Prince Fielders and Griffeys in their inventory, but I'm still happy to know I bought it even if I'm not quite sure why I did.
A good dime box has randomness that can't be confined to specific categories, like these four excellent cards that didn't really fit anywhere else in this post.
Even though the site has a Canadian domain name, the cards themselves shipped from New York, and the $5 shipping cost is quite reasonable considering the amount of stuff I bought.
Still, I'm thinking this place has some ties to Canada, because I saw a whole lot of OPC cards over there, including these '94 OPCs of which I previously had almost none -- off the top of my head I'm pretty sure it's the only year OPC scrapped the Topps design altogether and did their own thing.
I've gone through countless numbers of dime boxes in my life, and in the end what makes a dime box dig truly memorable is finding stuff that you don't see everyday for loose change.
Minor league cards are tough pulls from dime boxes, but that didn't stop me from finding a few of those here (Olt and Alcantara fit nicely in my unofficial Failed Cubs collection).
It's also not every day you find '90s parallels for a dime, which makes these all the more thrilling because I will insist until my dying day that '90s parallels rule.
Wait, wait...Pacific in a dime box? Never.
You can probably count the number of times I've found anything Pacific-related for a dime on one hand, but there's a whole lot of excellent millennium-era gems like these available from our online friends. That Melvin Mora is particularly exciting for me, because it's a card I've actually wanted for a while -- just the second one I own of his brief stint with the Mets at the beginning of his career.
I love dime boxes for their randomness, and don't really expect them to hit longtime needs, but it's sure nice when it happens.
All in all, I'd say my parade through the online dime box was an overwhelmingly positive experience -- it might take a few tries to get the hang of things, but much like the world of dime boxes as a whole, there's quite a few gems to be had over there with a little effort.
While I always prefer the real to the virtual, I can honestly say that this dig felt every bit like the celebratory spoils of an actual dime box -- all the joys and victories, all the oohs and ahs.