Monday, January 6, 2014

Top 10 pickups of 2013: Vintage edition

Last week, I counted down my top ten modern pickups of the year.

I plucked a ton of neat cards from dime boxes in 2013 and had a ton of fun doing it. The discount bin gods were good to me this year.

However, looking back, I'm still in awe over the vintage I found throughout this past year. I don't think I've ever had better luck with old-time cardboard.

So, to complement my "top ten" list of modern finds, I've decided to count down the ten best vintage cards I picked up during the course of 2013.

With all the great ones I found, some simply stunning pieces fell just short. Among them was an iconic 1970 Topps Johnny Bench, a card I still can't believe I own.

Oh, also on the outside looking in is the amazing 1952 Topps Johnny Mize you see above, a gift I received from my dad on my 21st birthday.

You know you've had a good year when a '52 Topps card of a Hall of Famer doesn't make this top ten list.

That said, let's take a look at the cards that did make the countdown.

#10 -- 1957 Topps #24 Bill Mazeroski RC

Courtesy of: One heck of a card show dollar box in March.

This is a card I never thought I'd have in my collection.

Then again, I could say that about everything on this list.

When it comes to vintage rookie cards of HOFers, I usually just resign to the likely reality of never owning them. They're almost always way out of my budget.

That is, unless you can find one with a character flaw or two. As it happens, that's exactly how this Bill Mazeroski rookie fell into my lap.

As you can see, it has a couple major pinholes along its side. Even so, a so-called flaw like that would usually relegate such a legendary card to the five, maybe ten-dollar bin.

Surely the fact of nabbing one for a buck was out of the question. But, as I found back in March, it is indeed possible. That dollar box produced quite a few other goodies, such as a '63 Fleer Brooks Robinson and a '72 Topps Traded Denny McLain high-number.

Still, the Maz is the one I'll remember most.

#9 -- 1948 Leaf #59 Luke Appling

Courtesy of: A 3/$1 box at November's card show.

Yes, you read that right.

This card cost me a grand total of thirty-three cents. It drew a bit of good-natured jealousy from a few of my blogging buddies at the time. Understandable, of course.

Believe me, I'm still having a hard time coming to grips with it myself. I mean, anything from '48 Leaf in the sub-dollar range is unheard of, much less one that features a HOFer like Appling.

As you can see, it's been pretty well-loved over the years. That's probably why this particular vendor was practically giving it away.

Mr. Appling will always rank up there with my all-time greatest discount bin finds.

#8 -- 1974 Topps #1 Hank Aaron "Home Run King"

Courtesy of: The same March card show that produced the Mazeroski.

I was a little shocked that I didn't own this card prior to 2013.

I'd certainly seen it enough during my years in the hobby. Plus, it was one of my dad's favorite cards when he was a kid.

So, when I came across a nice copy for four bucks in March, I jumped on it. Enough was enough. This was something I had to have for my own archives.

It's easily one of the more iconic cards of the '70s. Even more interesting is the fact that it hit the shelves before "Hammerin' Hank" actually became baseball's Home Run King. No worries, though, as Aaron would eclipse Ruth just a few days into the '74 season.

To me, he's still the all-time Home Run King.

It's nice to finally have such a famous card in my collection.

#7 -- 1909-11 Colgan's Chips #115a Gus Getz

In retrospect, I have Panini to thank for this spectacular turn-of-the-century piece.

Had they not produced Colgan's Chips inserts in their Cooperstown release this year, I would've never looked into the Colgan's brand's history. I would've never told my dad about them, and he wouldn't have searched for a real one as a surprise for me.

But, thanks to Panini, all that happened. Somehow, my dad managed to find this authentic Colgan's Chips single for a reasonable price. Yet another generous move from the most generous man I've ever met.

Produced over a century ago, this was the oldest card I received in 2013. These are about the size of a standard quarter and are quite flimsy to the touch. The one my dad got for me features Gus Getz, a former infielder for the Boston Braves.

I think most people who don't collect look at baseball cards as simple pieces of cardboard. But, as we know, they're far more than that.

Cards like these are authentic pieces of history.

#6 -- 1966 Topps #500 Hank Aaron

Courtesy of: Some garage sale.

Some of you might remember what I found from that garage sale on a sunny Sunday back in April.

The headliner from that treasure, as you might guess, will show up later on this list.

If such a thing is possible, however, I think this '66 Topps Hank Aaron may have been a bit overshadowed that afternoon.

Make no mistake about it, though. This was easily one of my best finds of the year. It's by far the oldest Hank Aaron card I own. Given its semi-high-number status, it's not an easy one to track down, either.

At #500 in the 1966 Topps checklist, the hallowed "hero number" status certainly adds to the legend of "Hammerin' Hank" as well.

Now that I think of it, 2013 may well have been the "Year of Hank Aaron" for me.

#5 -- 1954 Topps #36 Hoyt Wilhelm

Courtesy of: A tremendous 90% off vintage table at the National.

We have our first Hoyt sighting.

I'm not one to target specific cards when I go to a card show, but I certainly had this one on my mind before the National. If I was going to find it anywhere, it'd be at the grand card show of the year.

After years of searching, I inexplicably came across about four or five different '54 Topps Wilhelms inside one of the best discount vintage bins I've ever seen. (It was right after I met some of my fellow bloggers face-to-face for the first time.)

This was the copy that I found most to my liking. I forked over five bucks for it, which is a darn good deal considering its fairly well-conditioned features.

At that point, it brought me down to needing two cards for my Hoyt Wilhelm "Topps set". By the time 2013 was over, it'd be down to one.

More on that later.

#4 -- 1940 Play Ball #156 Daffy Dean

Courtesy of: Another amazing Christmas gift from my dad.

This was one of the last cards I received in 2013.

It'd also prove to be one of the best.

In a continuing streak of Christmas awesomeness, my dad may well have outdone himself once again this past year. He completely caught me off-guard with this spectacular Play Ball card of Paul Dee "Daffy" Dean.

While he was often overshadowed by brother "Dizzy", "Daffy" Dean was a key member of the old "Gashouse Gang" Cardinals teams of the 1930's. In what has to be one of the few cards ever produced of the other half of the Dean tandem, Paul is shown here during his later years with the Giants.

It's only the third Play Ball piece I own.

I can't wait to see what my dad has in store for me next Christmas.

#3 -- 1968 Topps #150 Roberto Clemente

Courtesy of: The same discount bin that produced the '54 Wilhelm.

At eight dollars, this was tied for my most expensive purchase at the National.

If anyone was deserving of the big bucks, though, it's Roberto Clemente.

Because of the very American ideals that were going around in the '60s, Topps listed his first name as "Bob" throughout the 1960's. It wasn't until 1970 that Topps got their act together.

Given that he's my favorite player in baseball history, any new Clemente pickup was bound to wind up on this list. In fact, this is now my oldest card of his.

As you can see, this particular copy had its edges lopped off at some point. That's why I eventually found it at such a heavily discounted price at this year's National.

In any other year, such a hallowed pickup might've occupied the top slot on this list.

But not in 2013.

#2 -- 1961 Topps #545 Hoyt Wilhelm

Courtesy of: An early Christmas gift from dad at November's card show.

Aside from Hoyt's 1952 Topps rookie, the card you see above was my vintage white whale.

It's among the highest of the high-numbers in the '61 Topps checklist, so copies don't come cheap. I knew that going into the ordeal.

I've salivated over it for as long as I can remember. In what looks like a possible early "night card", Hoyt is featured here showing off his famous knuckleball grip, the one that eventually earned him a rightful spot in the Hall of Fame.

After years and years passed, I started to think I may never own a '61 Topps Wilhelm. Then, I got the idea to see if one of the most plentiful vendors at November's card show happened to have a copy.

Minutes after I inquired, the guy dug out three separate copies of it, which was quite a shock since I'd never seen one in person at that point. I didn't have the money for the cheapest copy he had (priced at 33 bucks), but, once again, my dad swooped in and saved the day.

He deemed it an early Christmas present, and it proved to be the last card I'd get at a show in 2013. (This story also has an interesting addendum, which I'll get to in a future post.)

I'd say my card show season went out with a bang with this pickup.

So, then, what could possibly best one of my white whales?

Aren't white whales supposed to earn top billing?


But not all the time.

#1 -- 1967 Topps #150 Mickey Mantle

Courtesy of: The garage sale "find of a lifetime" that produced the '66 Aaron.

I own an authentic vintage Mickey Mantle baseball card.

That sentence still doesn't sound right to me.

Thanks to the best garage sale I have or will ever attend, though, it's true. Thanks to a dig through some guy's basement, I do own a real Mickey Mantle card.

In case you missed the backstory, my mom found a few much-needed binders for me at a garage sale back in June. When she came back, she said the guy had some cards he wanted to unload. So, the next day, my mom and I went to take a look.

The guy led us into his basement, upon where I found a few tubs filled with boxes of cardboard. A quick peek resulted in a few interesting subjects.

Then, though, I found a box that had the words "Important Cards" written on the front.

Intrigued, I took a look. That's about when my jaw dropped.

That's where I found the greatest treasure trove of vintage I've ever come across. One that was headlined by "The Mick".

The best part was that the guy wanted just thirty-five dollars for all the boxes I'd picked out. My mom graciously loaned me the money, something for which I can't thank her enough. (I paid her back a few days later, though she could've repoed the cards for a nice profit if she wanted.)

Copies of a '67 Mickey Mantle run in the one-to-two-hundred dollar range.

I found mine for a fraction of that in a guy's basement at a garage sale.

Get your guns ready, 2014.

You're going to have to do something really special if you want to top a story like that.


Mike said...

Damn DID have a great 2013,card-wise!.....glad to be part of it and looking forward to discovering what treasures await in 2014!

P-town Tom said...

Your vintage collection from this year alone trumps my lifetime collection. Color me green!

Anonymous said...

So what else was in the important cards box? Finds one and two seem pretty great!

Nick said...

There were quite a few other goodies in that box.

The '63 Topps "Buc Blasters" came close to making this list as well. I also did a post about the other boxes I bought on that garage sale. Lots of cool oddballs.

arpsmith said...

Congratulations on a great year of vintage pickups!

Swing And A Pop-up said...

90% off vintage table?

The Junior Junkie said...

I knew that Mantle would make it high on this list. Still jelly. Nice pickups!

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

Awesome year! I hope 2014 brings you just as much or more, why not it's only cardboard.

Hackenbush said...

Great cards. It is me or does the Mick look a little spiffed on that card?

Mark Hoyle said...

Looks like a great year.

petethan said...

You, my friend, are a fabulous-cardboard magnet. I used to think I'd like to have invisibility for my superpower (girl's locker room, and all), but now I think I'd rather have what you've got. Looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings for you.

The Topps Baseball Fanatic said...

pretty impressive list. I enjoy looking at those awesome 60's cards. I wish i could actually motivate myself into buying my first 52 Topps card.