Monday, July 30, 2012

A stroll through the flea market

Sunday afternoon provided me with the first new finds of my post-tobacco card collecting career.

All it took was a trip to the local flea market.

It was definitely in order, as it's been over two months since the last time I attended. While I don't know that I matched the sheer greatness factor of the cards I found then, there were still a few gems that were waiting to be unearthed this time around.

The above "Baseball Immortals" set is a perfect example of that.

Occasionally, I'll come across tables that have baseball cards mixed in among numerous other miscellaneous items. Most of the time, it's basically your run-of-the-mill boxes filled with 1990 Topps or 1991 Donruss.

The majority of vendors that have cards for sale are either current collectors, or once-dedicated members of the hobby looking to make a few extra bucks to pay for the rental space. The cards are the main focus of most tables that have them for sale.

One of the few exceptions to this "rule" was the table at which I found this fascinating little 24-card set. It was the typical "flea market table", filled with just about anything you could think of. Books, clothes, glassware, you name it.

Of course, I'm not interested in any of that other stuff. The one thing that did catch my eye was that set of baseball cards. The only problem was that it didn't have a price on it. While I don't often like to ask about unpriced items, I did this time around.

It's something I'm trying to change about my purchasing process.

I breathed a heavy sigh of relief when the vendor said, "Three bucks." I'm always afraid they're going to say like "How does twenty bucks sound?", or something along those lines.

It worked out perfectly, because I had exactly three dollars left in my pocket at the time.

At three bucks, the 24-card set worked out to about 12 cents per card.

Judging from how nice these are, I'd say I got a heck of a deal.

I ripped them open during the car ride home, quickly finding that the photography for the entire set was taken by none other than Charles Conlon.

I'm a huge fan of his work, as many of my readers probably know.

The set features 24 players from the first-ever National League All-Star team in 1933. As a result, I find it odd that Babe Ruth is featured on the hanger advertisement. He wasn't an NL All-Star, after all.

What I love most about the set was that it features a bunch of players who don't often pop up in this hobby, like Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch. (On the left.)

Featured on the right is former Boston Brave Wally Berger, who hit 38 homers during his true rookie season in 1930. (Only Frank Robinson has ever matched that mark.)

Although he was a .300 career hitter, he's not often remembered today because the Braves were horrible during his tenure in Boston.

I'd say this was definitely one of my better buys of the day.

It was certainly the most unexpected.

Although I had gone through my twenty-dollar budget by the time we got to the final table, my mom was nice enough to loan me an extra dollar so I could take home a few cards from an 8/$1 box.

Most of the box was filled with stars like Jason Giambi and Todd Helton. Unfortunately, I don't collect most "stars" in this hobby, but I did manage to find a few great pieces for my "Cardboard Masterpieces" collection.

I'm almost certain that this shot was taken moments before Josh Beckett tagged out Jorge Posada in Game 6 of the '03 World Series, the play that clinched the championship for the Marlins.

If I'm right, that's certainly a lot of history packed into a twelve-cent card.

Ultra had a lot of vastly underrated sets in the early 2000's.

I've noticed that Fleer used a lot of unorthodox shots for their Ultra sets in that time period, such as the Brandon Inge from a recent dime box dig.

I don't know that I've ever seen such a ferocious double play attempt featured on a baseball card. Hopefully that Dodgers infielder is okay after getting toppled over by "The Kid".

My love for the "Postseason Glory" subset from '01 Fleer Platinum has already been professed on this blog, although I'd never seen that Johnson/Schilling card before yesterday.

A fitting end to one of the greatest World Series ever played.

Cards of pitchers at the plate make for automatic inductees into my "Cardboard Masterpieces" collection.

Considering I was already full-on back into the baseball card market by '08, I'm surprised that I'd never seen that card of the "Big Unit" at the plate. I've always wanted one.

For the record, he was a .125 career hitter.

The Clemens is probably the only post-DH/pre-interleague "pitcher at the plate" card I own of an AL hurler. Apparently, the Red Sox sent Clemens up as a pinch hitter during a blowout win in 1996, during which he collected his first career hit.

It's one "awesome night card" as well.

From there, we move on to the third of four tables I frequented last afternoon.

This vendor didn't have a whole lot of cards left when I found his selection. I'm guessing that someone bought out most of what he had available earlier in the day.

He had an unmarked box sitting at the far end, although there were barely any cards for me to dig through. As soon as I spotted it, the vendor told me that the remaining cards were a quarter a piece.

A couple cards in his "glass case" intrigued me, so I went over to check those out for a couple minutes. (Which we'll get to shortly.)

During that time, another potential customer walked up and started looking through the quarter box. I'd seen a few cards I wanted during my brief scan over the selection, so I was praying that this person didn't purchase any of the ones I wanted.

Luckily, all the ones I had my eye on were still there when I got back to it. This new addition to my R.A. Dickey collection was the last of thirteen cards I nabbed from the quarter box.

The other twelve turned out to be another complete set...

I had no clue what these were at the time, but I knew I had to have them.

Apparently, these are from the 1992 St. Vincent and the Grenadines Legends set. The quarter box contained all twelve "legends", giving me the complete set. The Cobb and Stengel are probably my two favorites, although it contained the likes of Ruth and Gehrig as well.

What's even more fascinating about these is that they are actual stamps, which peel off. I thought it was just for design at first. The "$4.00" in the corner of each of the cards represents their monetary value in the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Should you ever find yourself in the Caribbean, these would give you four bucks worth of postage a piece.

Interestingly enough, these weren't even the best finds from the table.

A little earlier, I mentioned that a couple of the vendor's "glass case" cards pulled me away from the quarter boxes.

These are what I was talking about.

Up until a few weeks ago, I went my entire life without seeing anything from the 1969 Milton Bradley set. In a matter of weeks, I managed to add three to my collection. (The other being a generous gift from my dad.)

The guy in charge said whatever was left in the case was half-off the marked price. Although these both have little "X" markings on them, it didn't matter to me. I snatched them up within seconds.

The Jackson was priced at $5, so I got it for $2.50. The Rose was three bucks, so I snagged it for $1.50. Just $4 for the pair.

Although it's not technically a rookie card, I'll still treat the "Reggie" as such. His "official" Topps rookie is from 1969. Apparently, Beckett feels that Milton Bradley sets aren't deserving of "rookie cards".

I could care less what Beckett thinks on this topic.

Now it's time for the real reason I love the local flea market.

While other card vendors do pop up from week to week, there's always one guy there who I buy from every time. His dime boxes are always filled with new stuff each week, as are his quarter and vintage bins. It's like a mini-card show every time he's there.

Since I'm a regular customer of his, he usually cuts me a deal on my purchases. But he really went above and beyond that this time around.

We'll get to the specifics later.

Now, let's "leap" into the what the dime boxes held for me this time around.

As soon as I pay the entry fee to get into the flea market, I make a beeline for this guy's table. The first few aisles are usually pretty dry, anyways.

The dime boxes were occupied upon my arrival, but they cleared up pretty quickly. (The great selection draws a bit of a crowd to his table.)

Naturally, I spent the next twenty minutes or so looking for my personal "dime box gems".

I found one pretty quickly with this Suppan. Few cards have befuddled me more than this one. I'm still not sure what's going on here.

Is Jeff Suppan "leaping" into that big mat? Or is he sliding? If he is sliding, shouldn't there just be a base there rather than a mat?

This card raises more questions than it answers.

I saw a stack of about five or six of this card at one point in the dime box.

The refractor-like finish of one of them caught my eye, though. Although I picked up a nice stack of cards for fellow bloggers, this was the only one I bought with no specific collector in mind. I'll just throw it up on my trade list and see what happens.

I have to assume that this is a pretty good dime box find, judging by how many Chipper collectors are out there.

A few cards for my new player collections?


One of the rows in the dime box was comprised entirely of these neat 3-D cards.

I've never looked through so many 3-D cards in a row. It was an absolute blast. You should try it sometime.

I already own a good number of "pitcher at the plate" cards, but I have to believe that the Maddux is my first-ever three-dimensional add to that mini-collection.

Twice during the course of my "dime box dig", I noticed the vendor add a few new cards to the mix.

Both times, I snatched up each newly-christened dime card.

The first time, it was three Team U.S.A. cards of Jim Abbott, Tino Martinez, and Cris Carpenter. I don't collect Martinez or Carpenter, but for a dime a piece, I figured that I might as well buy them.

The Abbott, however, was one of my better finds of the day. He's always been one of my favorites, and this is the earliest picture I've seen of him from his baseball days.

Not to mention that it's another instance of a "pitcher at the plate".

It's a recurring dime box theme.

The second time around, it was a pair of minor league cards featuring Kenny Lofton and Jeff Kent. Once again, I snagged them within seconds.

An "eagle eye" never hurts when it comes to dime boxes.

Nothing like a few dime box short-prints.

At the time, I didn't know they were SPs. I'm sure there's a bunch of these Gypsy Queen short-prints sitting in dime boxes across the nation.

Unless you know the short-printed photo variations, there's absolutely no way to tell them apart from their normal base cards.

Still, I'll take them for a dime.

Even minis were no stranger to this dime box.

I still need a bunch of the '87 minis from this year's Topps set, but yesterday's finds put me a few steps closer toward my goal.

I'm really diggin' that Napoli card.

While were on the topic of 2012 Topps, let's move on to the quarter boxes.

Given my twenty-dollar budget for the day, I told myself I wouldn't pick out too many of them. I lied.

After all was said and done, I ended up with fifty quarter cards, which was about thirty more than I'd originally planned on purchasing.

I can't bring myself to pass on Gold Sparkles of guys I collect (like Vogelsong and Betemit), especially for just a quarter a piece.

"Striking gold" became a theme for this table.

I have no way to transition from 2012 Topps to cards of Dizzy Dean and Johnny Pesky.

That '03 Flair Greats issue is just my tenth card of Pesky.

For a guy who has a foul pole named after him at Fenway Park, you'd think I'd have a little more than that.

More legends of the quarter boxes.

The '82 Fleer card of Bench and Seaver might be a little awkward, but still cool nonetheless. It would be interesting to go through my collection and see how many of my cards feature microphones.

It's more than you'd think.

I'm not sure why, but I've found that I'm an avid supporter of blue-bordered cards.

Plus, you've got to love a shot of "Catfish" in action.

What made this particular quarter box especially "legendary" was the appearance of TCMA cards.

In my experience, they've been almost impossible to find. The ones I came across in this box were from the 1960's-themed TCMA set.

The player selection for these is almost second to none. The "lesser known" players actually make for a bigger portion of the checklist.

Case in point: former Giants pitcher Masanori Murakami. Also known as the first Japanese player to ever play in the majors.

Although he returned to Japan after pitching in just two seasons in the U.S., he paved the way for the current influx of Japanese imports, like Ichiro.

It's also my first card of the often-forgotten hurler.

Don Larsen isn't exactly a forgotten name, but his short-lived tenure with the Houston Colt .45s probably is. It's not often you see a shot of Larsen in anything but a Yankees uniform.

That made it one of my personal favorites of the afternoon.

Jim Bouton gave a few hilarious insights into the clubhouse demeanor of Joe Pepitone in his tell-all book.

For example, he wrote that Pepitone had a specially-crafted hairpiece for whenever he took the field. Or, as Bouton calls it, his "game piece".

Given the history behind these two guys, I guess it's appropriate that these cards came one after another in the quarter box.

Curt Flood would make a bigger name for himself after the '60s were over, but he was a pretty good outfielder during his playing days.

The fact that he played a major role in getting rid of the reserve clause often overshadows that fact, though.

Tony Conigliaro is one of my favorite players from the annals of baseball history. His tragic tale just goes to show just how quickly a once-promising career can get derailed.

Few players represent the 1960's better than "Tony C".

Although I don't look through them too thoroughly, the vendor has a few other miscellaneous boxes on display as well.

I told myself that I'd snag a copy of this Berkman if I ever found it cheap somewhere, since I absolutely love the old Colt .45s jerseys. We all know how crazy the prices of short-prints can be sometimes, though.

Luckily, this one became mine for a mere fifty cents.

While the vintage wasn't as plentiful this time around, there were still a few great pieces for sale.

Both of these were also members of the fifty-cent bin.

I'll consider that a "rookie" of Sparky Anderson, since 1970 was his first year at the helm of the soon-to-be "Big Red Machine".

That is, if managers even have "rookie cards".

As soon as I saw the name "Rusty Staub", I threw this one into the purchase pile.

Later, when I was examining all my big "finds" of the day, I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about this card. (Except for the fact that it looks to have had a scissor mishap near the left side.)

As it turns out, these came in panels of three on boxes of Bazooka gum in 1971, much like the Hostess panels of the mid-'70s.

I don't know that too many kids could've afforded an entire box of gum back then.

While the condition is a bit off, I still feel that I stole this card for a buck.

The time has come to show off the final card of my flea market finds.

I can't think of many better send-offs than a '75 mini of a Hall of Famer, which was also just a buck.

One of the first things I noticed about the blogosphere upon my entry was the popularity of these '75 Topps minis. After acquiring a few of my own, I can see what all the fuss was about.

They make for absolutely beautiful pieces of cardboard.

All told, I had about 120 dime cards, 50 quarter cards, and about four bucks' worth of miscellaneous purchases after I counted everything up. The final price should've been about 27 bucks, if my math is correct.

To my utter amazement, the vendor only charged me ten bucks for the entire lot. Ten bucks!

I guess it really pays off to be a regular customer, coming back week after week. That may well be a life lesson for me at some point down the road.

After all was said and done, I had a pretty good Sunday afternoon.

To say the least.


Weston DeShon said...

WOW! Nice finds Nick.


Nice post, love flea markets.

Spiegel83 said...

Your flea market is better than the ones I have been to as far as cards go. Great variety of finds.

The Suppan card of him sliding is awesome. I need to pick that card up. I go to his sports bar by my place every now and then. He is usually there hanging out with the patrons. That card will look great signed.