Thursday, March 21, 2024

Is this real? (A card show report)

Walking through a card show can often feel like something out of a dream.

Dad and I attended the big convention hall gathering in our neck of the woods last week, and walking through those aisles and aisles of cardboard gets to be downright hypnotic. It's literally wall-to-wall action of people selling, talking, and breathing the thing you love. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself to believe it.

I can say that I've had actual dreams about baseball cards before, and somehow none of them measure up to the actual reality of the things I continue to find at shows over the years. Take this '84 Fleer Update Dwight Gooden that I pulled out of a 50-cent bin(!) near the end of the evening. 

This copy isn't perfect (note the crease near the bottom), but either way it's one of those cards I've always wanted yet long resigned myself to never owning because have you seen what it goes for? Yet there it was sitting there in a random stack of cards for two quarters. 

Surely this only happens in the REM stage.

My non-collector friends are always a bit shocked when I tell them I can buy baseball cards for a dime (only ten cents? that's it?) but again so much of our hobby exists in a 

I do tend to look for a lot of the same things in dime boxes - my oft-mentioned player- and mini-collection hits come to mind - but that never kills the euphoria of nabbing 'em.

(Please forgive me for showing anything of Curt Schilling, but I'm flabbergasted I'd never seen that card - or the sweet Phils throwback - before.)

I dare you to not be hypnotized by dime box shiny.

Of course, while I might fall back on the same general themes in my card show travels, the sheer unpredictability of discount boxes is what keeps me coming back to them so often.

I certainly didn't expect to find a nice little run of TCMA Japanese stuff in a dime box, and I'd never dream of unearthing a neat BBM card in a 50-cent bin.

Couple that with a nice helping of playing cards (yes, those go in the binder like everything else) and Topps Tiffanys for a dime (does anyone remember Sarge with the Mariners?), and you have the of randomness of a card show in a nutshell.

More glorious oddballs from the discount bin archives.

Lest you think the Americanization of Latin names ended with "Bob" Clemente in the '60s, meet one-time White Sox hero "Steve" (Esteban, actually) Loaiza. 

The only thing I enjoy more than oddballs are oddballs I know absolutely nothing about.

I probably overpaid a bit for this Indians stadium giveaway set at the very first table of the afternoon (a whole $20!), and I actually only needed four of the seven cards in said set.

But at the end of the day I knew this was the kind of thing I'd never see again if I didn't snatch it up right then and there - plus how often do you see new cards of Ray Chapman and Addie Joss??

I was poking around a big box of A&G minis at one table when the vendor came over and kindly informed me those are ten cents each.

Thus unleashed a minor form of madness (HAMBURGER MINI!) - but after I'd snapped out of that fugue I found that I'd amassed a hefty stack of about 50 minis that somehow only ran me five bucks.

Dollar boxes are usually a pass for me at shows, but one of the dime box vendors I encountered had a small dollar box off to the side, so I figured I'd poke through it.

Imagine my surprise when I found a nifty Ted Williams Ted Williams, and a Marlins card of Mike Piazza I needed!

A few random horizontals here - I feel like not enough people know how cool that Topps Black & White set is.

Other neat randoms that didn't fit anywhere else in this post - always satisfying to find a photo variation like that Nola in a dime box!

I found a whole run of Platinum Anniversary cards in one guy's dime box, and I think it kinda gave me a new appreciation for the set - Melvin Mora is by no means high on my collecting radar, but it's cool to see someone like him get a card in a modern checklist.

Dreams, like , go through stages, and unfortunately I have to cut this one a bit short...

...because vintage awaits!

The dime boxes and such were in fine form, but in the end I think it's obvious that vintage won the show this time around. A good example of this is the fact that in the madness of everything I picked up, I honestly kinda forgot I bought this '60 Willie Mays until I was going through my finds later that night.

I feel like this is the kind of card that sums up my collection to a T: creased, battered, and generally worn, but still a big name that knocks you sideways with an affordable price tag (only $30!) to match.

As usual, the vintage discount bins packed a whole lot of punches throughout the day - the Yost was a cool find because it's been a while since I'd added a '52 Topps to my binders.

That '57 Kubek (from the icky "scarce" series) is akin to the '84 Fleer Gooden, in that it's a card I wanted but never planned on owning - that is, until an obviously un-mint copy popped up for $10 in the very first aisle.

A lot of my vintage finds tend to be on the pricier side (or, at least whatever qualifies as "pricey" for this cheapskate), but there's still fun to be had in the loose change department here.

Nothing in this scan set me back more than 50 cents - the Morales is another notch in my quest for all the '74 Topps "Washingtons" and that Barragon is just a fun a baseball card (love all the dents in the backstop). 

I've also been making a push to add more defunct team stuff to my binders, and I honestly had no idea future Met great Jerry Grote broke in with the Colt 45s.

I don't have the slightest idea what these are - they're paper-thin and appear to be cut from a sheet of some kind - but I knew there was no way I was letting such a fun batch of Senators get by me at 50 cents a pop.

"Bill's Got It" is another excellent card I'd somehow never seen before, and '60s Fleer Greats remains a constant thrill for me because of how affordable they tend to be.

I've scooped up most of the cheaper Nu-Scoops I need at this point, leaving me with the scarier bigger names to chase - that Gehrig was a whole $15, but that's actually not bad for the top-tier greats in this set.

One of my favorite vendors at this show has a big box of "off-grade" vintage for 90 percent off their list price - talk about heaven!

I'm not usually an avid buyer of early Bowman, but at $5 a piece I'd be insane to pass on these two Dime Box Favorites.

I may love my modern minis, but they can't hold a candle to our bite-size vintage legends.

Dad actually was the one who found that '69 Deckle Edge Jim Wynn, and I think he was a bit surprised about how quickly I threw it into my purchase pile. That one was short-printed for whatever reason & has been a thorn in my side for a good long while now.

Hostess and Kellogg's have long been the hallowed kings of vintage oddballs, but I've also been on a vintage Bazooka kick lately and couldn't believe my luck at finding that cool Colavito.

Now we're getting into the real big stuff, the true pinch-me finds of the day.

Never in a million years did I think I'd be the proud owner of a real Mel Ott card, but a blemish and a couple pinholes found one plop into my lap for a cool $25. That's the kind of thing that I never even think to because it seems so far out on the cardboard stratosphere.

Also please join me in breathing a massive sigh of relief about finally owning a '79 Hostess Ozzie Smith! At a hefty $50, it wasn't exactly discount bin fodder - and about ten times more than I'd ever paid for anything Hostess. Still, it's a surprisingly tough card (there's a copy on COMC for $175) and one I don't think I'd actually seen in the wild before (the vendor I bought it from somehow had four copies!). 

And yet somehow everything I've shown so far takes a back seat to the big purchase of the day...

...because meet Mr. Mantle.

Of course I always want a new Mickey Mantle, but I never walk into a card show with the intent of buying one because the prices are always so massive. The $100 price tag on this '66 was obviously still a good chunk of change (and you can count the times I've paid three-figures for a card on one hand), but every vintage Mantle I've seen at a show is easily at least twice that. Even creased Mantles like this one are usually arm-and-a-leg territory.

I hemmed and hawed a bit, but deep down I think I knew this Mantle was coming home with me all along because I knew I'd regret leaving it behind. And I have Dad to thank for this one, since his generous donation to the Dime Box Human Fund made it all possible. After all is said and done, I'm left asking myself the question that always seems to ring in my head after every card show.

Are you sure this isn't a dream?


Johnnys Trading Spot said...

One thing is for sure, you covered just about every category with that trip.

Mike said...

Glad to contribute for the Mantle, it was meant to be!
I'd had that 100 dollar bill from Xmas sitting in my drawer,waiting for a worthwhile purchase!

Shlabotnik Report said...

My jaw fell on the ground with the 84F Update Gooden, and I still haven't picked it up. Fantastic show!

GTT said...

WOW. You got a ton of great stuff at that card show. Definitely dreamlike.

Those Senators cards are from a 1970 Senators D.C. DMV set. See:

The Diamond King said...

Geez! Amazing stuff all around, but I think the leadoff with the 50 cent Gooden makes me the most jealous...

night owl said...

Damn, that's what a '79 Hostess Ozzie is going for? That hurts.

The yellow-and-pink Senators cards look like the 1971 Dept. of Motor Vehicles Senators cards though I've never seen pink versions and your description of them being paper-thin makes me think they're not what I have.

I can count the number of times I've seen multiple dime boxes at one show on one hand. And it ain't 5 or even 4.

OhioTim said...

The Indians cards were from the team's hall of fame celebration night. A friend of mine got me a set when he went to the game when it was a giveaway. As a Cleveland baseball fan, it is a nice little set for history of the tean.

Fuji said...

That was one heck of a card show haul. Mays & Mantle. Hostess Ozzie. Floating head Musial. All of these are worthy of their very own posts. But I'm so glad that Gooden was the one you decided to kick your post off with... and I do know what they sell for. Last year when my buddy passed away, I added this to my want list (we were both Gooden fans and he loved telling a story about this card) and I'm blown away by how much people are asking and paying. Congratulations on that epic find.

CardBoredom said...

That's an impressive show haul. I've been through this post six times already and still cannot put together a consistent ranking of the top three pick-ups. The Play Ball Mel Ott and Hostess Ozzie Smith cards are fantastic. Gil Hodges certainly had the "veteran manager" look on that '64 Topps card even though he was still in his 30s when the picture was taken.

Chris B said...

Wow - I get so very jealous reading your posts in Australia. We just have nothing that compares to your Card Show experiences. So much fun to see what can be had through some digging in boxes!

Bo said...

Fifty cent Gooden and 100 dollar Mantle are equally impressive buys.

Those Senators do look like the DMV set, which was printed on a thick paper stock - thicker than regular paper but thinner than a card. They should have a traffic safety message on the back. They were issued in yellow in 1970 and pink in 1971.

They do look like they were printed on a Xerox machine and hand cut at the DMV office.

Matt said...

Congrats on all the great pickups, especially that Mantle!

Adam Kaningher said...

Mickey Mantle is always the right decision.