Friday, March 29, 2013

The day before Vegas, Pt. 2: Sleepers

Around this time every year, fantasy baseball starts to kick into gear.

While I was really into it a few seasons ago, I don't have much interest in fantasy sports these days. It's just not my bag anymore.

Even so, I do take the time to peruse the "sleeper" list with each coming season. I've always found those types of under-the-radar players to be the most interesting ones to track during the year.

If this blog were a fantasy baseball draft, dime boxes and discount vintage would probably be the Trout and Cabrera of the league. They're the more well-known, mainstream aspects of my writings.

Around here, the "sleeper" of the cardboard universe would have to be the quarter boxes.

Because of this blog's title, I don't mention quarter bins all that much. Still, while they may add up a lot quicker than dime cards, I've found that you can get a lot of enjoyment out of a few quarters in this hobby.

Some of the time, they can net you cards that don't often wind up in dime boxes. I've found that newer inserts, like Jay Bruce's awesome Opening Day "Superstar Celebrations" piece you see above, are often prime quarter bin material.

While we'll swing back into more dime box material later on in this post, I thought we'd start the evening off with a few of my quarter and 5/$1 finds from Saturday's show.

After all was said and done, they certainly had a lot to offer.

For a quarter, I'll take absolutely any Ernie Banks card I can find.

As a lifelong Cubs fan, though, something about this particular piece instantly jumped out at me.

"Mr. Cub" isn't wearing his retired #14 jersey there. Although the initial digit is obscured, I'd guess that it's a #19 uniform.

Even with quite a bit of research, I can't find a single instance of Banks sporting number 19. My big book o' cards makes no reference to a "player swap" error, either.

From there, I can only think of two options. This has to either be a spring training shot from early in Banks's career, or the person on the front isn't "Mr. Cub" at all, despite what my "big book" says.

Either way, it made for one of the more intriguing finds of the afternoon.

In my book, quarter boxes are the best place to go for numbered cards.

Although I used to do it fairly often, my days of digging through dollar boxes in search of numbered pieces are pretty much over.

In the present day, though, I'm always glad to fork over a quarter for a neat numbered card, especially one that features a "fan favorite" such as Craig Counsell. 

Keep the name Mike Schmidt in the back of your mind.

We'll be discussing him in more detail a bit later.

I featured one of these in my "preview post" before I left for Vegas.

In the end, I couldn't live with showing just one of 'em. As a result, here's a couple more for your viewing pleasure.

As part of a 5/$1 deal, I pounced on the few of these I found. While every World Series is historic, the two programs featured here are especially so.

In 1905, Hall of Fame hurler Christy Mathewson fired an unheard-of three shutouts against the Philadephia A's in the Giants' five-game victory.

And, of course, 1932 was the year Babe Ruth hit his fabled "called shot" against my beloved Cubs at Wrigley Field.

While I'm a huge fan of "The Babe", it's a bittersweet moment in time for me.

I wrangled these up from a couple miscellaneous quarter boxes throughout the day.

The separate tables that landed me this father-son duo were more vintage-based, which is what we'll be discussing in my final two card show posts.

In case you're wondering, Pete Rose Jr. did indeed enjoy a brief cup of coffee with the Reds in 1998, cracking two singles in 16 at-bats that year.

Which left him 4,254 hits behind his dad.

Once you get past the shiny new inserts and numbered cards, quarter bins can still be a nest for simply fun cardboard.

I'm always quick to shell out a quarter for terrific multiple-exposure and broken bat shots like these.

In fact, the "Bo" might be the most prolific broken bat card...ever.

As I found at Saturday's show, quarter boxes can also be home to minis.

This fantastic Ty Cobb tobacco reprint fell out of that 5/$1 box I mentioned earlier.

Oh, and speaking of minis...

This post is about to get a bit mini-crazy.

Because of my Vegas, I had a slightly smaller budget at this show than in ones past. Now, for the most part, I was still able to buy everything I could've wanted. As you'll see in later posts, it certainly didn't affect my vintage allotment.

That slight dip in budget really only came into play once during the course of the show.

About halfway through, I found one of these things packed to the gills with quarter minis. All were nicely separated by set, containing everything from Goudey to Goodwin Champions.

Had I had a few more bucks to spend, I would've gone wild at this table. In the end, though, I limited myself to a five-dollar mini budget.

I guess I can't be too regretful. I still managed to land 21 awesome minis for my binders. (The generous vendor let me pick an extra one on the house.)

While I was never that big a fan of UD Goudey, I'm quick to recognize the absolute awesomeness of the pair of HOFers you see above.

I tried to keep things as diverse as possible with my five bucks.

My bite-sized purchases ranged from Goudey to Gypsy Queen to A&G. After some deliberation, I decided that I couldn't leave either of these behind, especially that beautiful black-bordered card of Mr. Derrek Lee.

As you might guess, selecting just 21 minis out of hundreds wasn't an easy process. There was quite a bit of agonizing on my part.

Of those minis, though...

...most came from the Obak brand.

Although I didn't recognize its greatness until recently, Tristar continually put together amazing checklists for this release.

Thanks to their efforts, I was able to land minis of Eddie Cicotte and Ray Chapman from this vendor. And Wally Pipp. And Jim Abbott. And Ron Necciai.

Five bucks has rarely been better spent.

As far as the quarter finds went, this was my absolute favorite find of the day.

While I haven't yet landed a copy of Ichiro's actual 2001 Bowman rookie, this is probably the next best thing.

I've never paid much attention to Bowman Chrome, but these '01-style inserts from last year are nifty. Even better, the back of the version I plucked from this quarter bin is in Japanese.

While this blog may be called "Dime Boxes", keep an eye out for those quarter cards at future shows, folks.

They can still be a lot of fun.

If you've made it up to here, fellow reader, I thank you.

I realize my card show posts can be fairly lengthy, but I just love writing them that much. Reliving a day at the show is one of my biggest joys as a blogger.

Anyways, I hope your thirst for cardboard isn't satisfied just yet, because we're about to take a journey into one of the better boxes I sifted through at Saturday's show.

Like a few of the other vendors, the "12/$1 box guy" has become one of the bigger forces at this show.

On top of his couple of massive bargain bins, he's also featured a kick-ass discount vintage box at the last few shows. But we'll get to that in a later post.

Price-wise, these 12/$1 boxes are a smidge better than dime bins. If my math is right, cards at 12/$1 are about eight cents per.

This particular vendor's 12/$1 selection is almost entirely comprised of pre-millenium cardboard. In fact, this 2001 American Pie piece of Mr. Grich was the only post-2000 card I snagged from his table.

The rest featured a smorgasbord of, well...everything.

Considering how legendary their careers were, you'd think that cards of Christy Mathewson and Joe DiMaggio would warrant more than an eight-cent price tag.

As I found at this table, you'd be wrong.

As I've mentioned in past posts, I always seem to take home a few of those Pacific Nolan Ryan cards after every show.

This 12/$1 bin continued that streak. While largely forgettable, the set does actually include a few memorable photos.

Still, despite how historic that "tip of the cap" shot is, I can't stop looking at Pete Rose's hair.

That's the definition of a bowl haircut right there.

Although I've never been that high on "combo cards", Fleer managed to produce quite a few gems of the sort back in the day.

While a "double sunset" sounds like something out of a stoner movie, that's exactly what we have with the card on the right. Both Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski enjoyed their final cards in '84.

Speaking of HOF catchers...

Here are a couple shockingly beautiful pieces.

I should've decided to collect "The Kid" years ago. Largely thanks to these 12/$1 boxes, I took home another dozen or so cards of his this time around.

This time next year, I wouldn't be shocked if my Carter collection numbered in the hundreds.

If you're a fan of overproduction-era gems, then this 12/$1 bin would've been perfect for you.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of another "double play" card that features a pitcher as the baserunner. The Smith is now currently the only one in my collection.

Not bad for eight cents.

Without a doubt, this was one of my greatest finds of the day.

I have absolutely no information about the specific origins of Mr. Swoboda here. All I can tell you is that it looks about a hundred times better in person.

Complete with utterly psychedelic borders, this oddball depicts Swoboda's famous game-saving catch from Game 4 of the 1969 World Series in painting form.

Maybe I should have it framed.

It's that awesome.

Early '80s Fleer had a tendency to be a bit awkward.

Still, that's what makes those sets so lovable to me. These "hardware" shots look slightly amateurish, but there's something innately charming about both.

Plus, that shot of Mr. Sutter there looks to have been snapped in complete darkness. I'd like to know the story behind that one.

And, the Schmidt, if you'll remember, was a former "Dime Box Dozen" need of mine. In fact, I just decided to devote a full-on player collection to his likeness before Saturday's show.

In hindsight, it turned out to be a pretty good decision on my part.

My discount bin travels landed me a total of thirty-five new Schmidt cards for my binders.

While I don't have an exact count, I'd guess about 30 of them came from these spectacular 12/$1 boxes.

Even though the aforementioned "Dime Box Dozen" need was my favorite, it was far from the only gem I discovered.

The Classic "flashback" minor league issue in the center-right was a great find. And, much to my surprise, I discovered that Schmidt was granted a hallowed "interview" card in 1989 Upper Deck.

It's a fitting "centerpiece" for this particular page.

While I'm looking forward to unleashing my vintage finds onto the blogosphere, the discount bins made for just as many terrific discoveries at Saturday's show.

Nothing I've shown throughout these first couple posts set me back more than a quarter. That's pretty amazing when you really stop and think about it.

Even after all these years of collecting, I'm still surprised at what a dig through the discount bins can uncover.


Marcus said...

This year's Opening Day has a Brandon Phillips DP card with Padres pitcher Jason Marquis as the sliding base runner.

Wrigley Wax said...

I've got something about that Ernie Banks card's not Mr Cub, it's a guy named Daryl Robertson, and he doesn't look like Ernie at all!

Mark said...

Love the Bo card. I never got to see him play in his rime, but I watched the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on him a couple days ago and it's just amazing what he could do before he got hurt.

majpasqua said...

Love the Rickey card! Nice find on the Schmidts. That Swoboda though is sweeeeet. Never saw those before.