Friday, October 31, 2014

Closing time at the flea market, Pt. 2

Tonight's look into the second and final part of Sunday's trip to the flea market begins with a rarity in my world.

A complete set.

If you saw the shot I took of my finds in yesterday's post, you might have noticed a large box with the words OPENING DAY written across the top of it.

As Jeff and I were strolling through the last few aisles of the flea market, we spotted a guy with reams of sports-related pieces strewn around his table. The item that first caught my eye was the 1987 Donruss Opening Day set he had tucked near the bottom of a random cardboard box.

Singles from the checklist are pretty tough to find, and I'd never seen the entire thing intact before Sunday. Though buying complete sets aren't usually my thing, I asked for a price on it. The guy wanted six bucks, which I thought was fair for a 262-card checklist.

The risk in buying an open item like this is the fear of it already having been picked through. As far as I could tell, however, the entire set was still there.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Mr. Bonds there. Though he wasn't the reason I bought the set, I figured the first thing a scheming mind would piece out would be the rookie card of the so-called Home Run King.

It was probably the first time in my life that I was genuinely happy to see Barry Bonds.

The concept behind this '87 Opening Day release is a good one on the part of Donruss.

The 262 cards in the set feature all nine players from the starting lineups of each of the twenty-six teams on Opening Day that year. (The Rockies, Marlins, Rays, and Diamondbacks obviously weren't around then.)

It's hard enough to find singles from this set, much less the entire thing. Since it features a good chunk of (then) rookies and veterans I collect, I figured six bucks was a steal.

The tipping points of that decision, however...

...were these two.

The Easler had been sitting on my Dime Box Dozen list for months before Sunday. The Mitchell was about to become a DBD nominee in due time.

Save for this one of Mr. Mitchell, I've never seen any other cards that feature either of these guys in these particular uniforms. Easler was a Phillie for 33 games in 1987 before being dealt to the Yankees, while Mitchell was a Padre for 62 contests before his trade to the Giants.

All in all, I ended up spending eight bucks at this guy's table.

Six dollars for the Opening Day set...

...and a buck a pop for these two.

I'm slowly starting to build a formidable collection of Beatles cards. As Jeff can confirm, this guy had a whole stack of them at his table. The two I bought were the first two I happened to see.

If I would've had any more money on me, I probably would've splurged on a few more. The eight bucks I spent at this guy's table left my wallet completely empty.

That said, I certainly can't complain with the spectacular pair I picked up.

I'd already come across another fascinating pop culture item a few aisles earlier.

Nestled deep inside a box of wildly overpriced sports items was a snap case of a couple dozen of these Three Stooges cards. A quick look at the back told me that they were released in 1997. I couldn't believe I'd never heard of them before Sunday.

In case you didn't already know, I am a huge Three Stooges fan. The stack of about 25 cards set me back five bucks. Although I may have overpaid a bit, I couldn't let them slip by.

Leaving something like that behind would've hurt more than a trademark eye-poke from Moe.

While complete sets and the Stooges are great, let's get back to my main card vendor.

I already talked about my successful dime and free vintage digs in yesterday's post. I thought it'd be fitting to close out the flea market season with my last and final finds from his table.

We start with the quarter boxes, and specifically this wild film-inspired Tim Salmon insert. Like so much of what I found on Sunday, this design was completely new to me.

Just the start of what would prove to be a fruitful quarter box dig.

Though Jeff and I have fairly distinct collections, we overlap when it comes to throwbacks.

If you've ever read either of our blogs, we're both cuckoo for retro uniforms. As you might guess, finding these two Pujolses in the quarter box presented kind of a dilemma.

I definitely needed them, but, then again, I figured Jeff might as well. I offered both Prince Alberts up to him, but he refused, going by a "first come, first serve" basis. I figured we could at least split them, but he still insisted I take the pair.

What a guy.

I'm powerless when it comes to these Galasso Glossy Greats oddities.

The fact that these two happen to feature rival franchises was pure coincidence.

It's hard to turn down The Mick for loose change.

Note the Joltin' Joe cameo on the card on the left.

As evidenced by these two, vintage was no stranger to the quarter bin.

On the left is my oldest card of Sandy Alomar (father of Roberto and Sandy Jr.) and my first of him as a Brave. On the right is a sweet Milton Bradley oddball of Mickey Lolich, one of the more underrated pitchers of his time.

Oh, and the S stands for Stephen, in case you were wondering.

It's not every day that I drop a quarter on a Sammy Sosa.

It's rare that I buy anything of Slammin' Sammy, as a matter of fact. I'm not a huge fan of his, to put it lightly.

Still, issues of him as a skinny rookie in Texas are few and far between. One of my first obsessions as a young collector was to find a card of Sosa as a Ranger, and I guess it's something that's stayed with me to this day despite my negative feelings towards the guy.

In the end, I still think this was a quarter well spent.

Let's up the ante a bit by moving to the fifty-cent bin.

You're not about to get a Bob Gibson mini by me at that price.

Even if it is Gypsy Queen.

Die cuts.

Love 'em or hate 'em? I've been messing with these things for years, and I still can't decide for the life of me.

The glove-themed concept on the Lofton is applaudable. But I'm still not sure what the heck Topps was going for with that Upton.

Either way, I decided fifty cents was a fair price for each.

I don't know where he gets them, but my regular vendor seems to have new National VIP exclusives every time I hit his table.

That DiMaggio was issued at the National way back in 2008. I'm already getting excited for its return to Chicago next year. Jeff and I are already in the planning stages for another meet-up.

The Ryan is a historic card I've wanted for a while now. His very first as an Astro.

Must've looked strange to anyone collecting back in 1981.

I couldn't turn down a pair of prime overproduction-era rookies for fifty cents per.

Maybe it's just me, but Randy Johnson looks about ten feet tall in that shot.

My regular vendor always has a little box of knick-knacks off to the side.

Lots of complete sets, unopened packs from the late '80s, nothing I'm particularly interested in. Still, seeing as how it was the last day of the flea market season, I decided to poke around a bit.

One of the first things that greeted me was a 1993 ProCards team set of the Harrisburg Senators. (An affiliate of the Expos at the time.)

The guy staring out from the front of the shrinkwrap was Miguel Batista, a fellow February 19th birthday boy. While he was the main reason I dropped a dollar on the set, I did find a couple other future stars inside.

Not bad for a buck.

I found this in a different box of miscellany off to the side.

I have absolutely no idea what it is, but I figure it has to be at least kind of rare since it was priced at a buck.

It's the latest step in what is becoming kind of a serious quest to track down every Pilots card ever made.

The Winfield was another dollar find from that miscellaneous box.

From his 1974 rookie to '81, I now have every Topps card of him as a San Diego Padre. A proud accomplishment.

I've had a reprint of that Killebrew staring at me from my Twins binder for years. I was ecstatic to see the real thing lying in my guy's glass case on Sunday. Two buck was all it took to add The Killer to my collection.

No more reprint anguish.

This one was also a glass case suspect.

Originally priced at three bucks, I got it for two. I love the '60s and '70s World Series highlight cards Topps put out, and I've made it an unofficial mission to track down as many as humanly possible.

At least one of the faces in this shot should look familiar. There, second from the right, is none other than a young, scrawny, and shirtless Nolan Ryan. It's the first actual piece of vintage I own that features him during his tenure with the Mets.

Definitely a contender for my number one find of the day.

If you saw the shot at the top of yesterday's post, you might have noticed an abnormally large '88 Topps Tony Gwynn.

My guy had a new item on display on Sunday, a huge box of what originally looked like massively oversized cards from the overproduction era.

Upon closer inspection, however, I found that they were actually folders, exactly like the kind I use for school. They even have stats on the back and everything. They'll house the pile of homework I'm sure to get next semester.

At 5/$1, I picked up Mr. Gwynn and the four you see above. It's a good thing I did, because a guy came up and bought the entire box literally about fifteen seconds after I finished looking through it.

Timing is everything, my friends.

It's hard to pick a single find of the day, but these two might share the crown.

Hailing from the awesome 1970 Topps Posters oddball series, my guy had these in a separate little baggie next to his glass case. He had them priced at two bucks a piece, but I ended up getting them for a lot cheaper with the deal he cut me.

I'd never heard a peep from this set before Sunday, in-person or online. Even though they were released during the dawn of the '70s, they seem to have a very disco-ish feel in hindsight.

They'll look fantastic at the front of my Cardinals and Twins binders.

I honestly couldn't have asked for more out of the 2014 flea market season. My collection owes a great debt to everything I've found over the past six months. Cards, folders, posters, and more. Every week I went was like a little card show. It's sad to see it go.

If you'll excuse me, I'll be over here counting down the days until the flea market opens again next spring.

March can't come soon enough.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Closing time at the flea market, Pt. 1

October is like one big last hurrah.

Last hurrah for warm weather. Last hurrah for baseball. And, as my collection will be sorry to hear, the last hurrah for the local flea market.

This past Sunday marked the final weekend of the flea market season. As anyone who lives in or around Chicago knows, late October weather in the midwest often doesn't cooperate with outdoor events.

As fate would have it, the flea market gods smiled down on me once again. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day in the upper-60s on Sunday, unheard of for this time of year. That, of course, meant I was able to make the trek up to the local flea market one last time.

Better yet, I was able to do some digging with a friend and fellow card collector this time around. If you read his blog yesterday, you might already know that Jeff of "2x3 Heroes" made the trip up to my part of town to join in the flea market fun.

I finally have someone who can validate all these fantasy-like stories I tell about the place.

It exists, people.

Strolling through the flea market and talking cardboard with Jeff was definitely an awesome experience.

One of my regular vendors even remarked that I had a whole "posse" with me when Jeff and I walked up to his table. A card collecting posse. I like the sound of that.

Jeff had already hit this guy's table by the time I arrived, but he was nice enough to stand around while I did a little digging. After a while, we discovered some cards in the guy's quarter box that weren't what they originally seemed.

Though I initially thought they were ordinary old base issues, this "double dip" Ramirez...

...and all six of these are actually from last year's White Sox retail-based team set.

The Sale is what tipped me off. It's the only one of the six to feature a different photo than the standard base card. (A massive downgrade, I might add.)

Though they were originally priced at a quarter per, the guy gave Jeff and I the insider's deal and let these go for a dime a pop.

Jeff actually inspired me to take a closer look through this vendor's dime boxes.

I thought I'd already picked through most of the guy's stuff over the past few months, but talking with Jeff made me reconsider. He noted how he'd found that awesome Melvin Mora before I arrived. Luckily, the guy had a second copy for me to pounce on.

That, coupled with a few other spectacular cards from 2004 UD, made me glad I took a second look.

As always, however, my other regular vendor was the real story from Sunday's trip to the flea market.

At only around 200 cards, my dime finds were actually a little lighter last week. Those, coupled with around 40 quarter cards, a dozen 50-centers, and a handful of other miscellany (all of which you'll see in Part 2), set me back a mere 20 bucks.

Jeff and I didn't waste any time in digging through the guy's cards. We probably spent a good 45 minutes at his table. Though I didn't get as many as usual, Sunday's dime finds still managed to pack a wallop. As always.

I don't really collect Shawn Green, but the very Blair Witch-like backdrop on this one spooked me into buying it.

There was a ton of early Stadium Club goodness to go around.

This dime box made it painfully obvious that I've barely scratched the surface when it comes to these sets.

I collect Brad Ausmus anyways, but the umbrella in the background of that one especially fascinates me for some reason.

Though you obviously can't tell from the back, the Dykstra is actually the silver signature parallel of the infamous Hooter-ific card.

With a back like that, who needs the front?

This guy's dime boxes aren't immune to a little parallel action.

Jeff was actually the one who first spotted that Colon. (Yeah, that sentence didn't sound right to me, either.)

He didn't need it, but I sure did. One of the more creative shots in what has been a general yawn-fest for All-Star cards these past few years.

The Punto is actually from 2014 Update, which is shocking considering the set just hit the shelves a couple weeks ago.

Already dime box fodder.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

The '90s was a strange time for baseball cards.

Further evidence for my previous claim that this vendor inherited inventory from a Matt Williams collector at some point.

While I may not officially collect his cards...

...there was no way I was going to let such wacky insert slip through my fingers for a dime each.

I'm particularly fond of this concept, as I'd never seen this Viewfinder-like design before Sunday.

Only the '90s, man.

More from the dime box depths.

I've come to count on the fact that this guy's discount bin is always good for a handful of prime rookie cards.

The same goes for oddballs.

My oddball collection has probably doubled since the dawn of this flea market season. At the least.

The sheer variety of the ones I've found is second-to-none.

Even so, my regular guy managed to up the usual oddball ante on Sunday.

Again, Jeff was originally the one who spotted these beauties. They're from the 1978 SSPC Yankees series, and I'd only been vaguely familiar with them before this weekend.

From left to right, we have Ron Guidry, Paul Blair (in a rare Yankee appearance), Graig Nettles, and Lou Piniella. All for a dime a pop.

Can't beat it.

Or can you?

From personal experience, I can say that these '80s Coke oddballs are fairly few and far between. I think I only had one or two in my collection prior to Sunday.

That changed with the handful of groovy Astros that fell out of this guy's dime box. It's not much, but that tiny Coca-Cola logo really does stand out.

I definitely had a Coke and a smile after throwing these into my purchase pile.

I discovered a pit of late '70s team cards in a small section of one of the boxes.

Since my collection is sorely lacking in them, I went to town. I pretty much cleaned the guy out.

I'm bad with faces, so I often don't even try to identify who's who on most of these things. That said, I did manage to spot Bill Lee in the top row, fourth from the right. (And to his left is Dennis Eckersley, I think.)

After one taste of vintage, I needed more.

Luckily, the guy had a new box on display this time around.

It was a box of miscellaneous, unpriced, and largely weathered vintage. I found a few I liked and asked for a price on them. Then came the reply.


I ask you, dear reader, are there two better words in the English language than FREE VINTAGE? I think not.

I haven't picked up a Colt .45s card in a while, so that scribbled-on Carl Warwick seemed like a fun no-brainer. The Larry Bowa completes my "Topps set", as I now have every Topps card of his from that '70 rookie to his '85 finale.

I can't get used to seeing him as a bright-eyed young man.

I've been making a conscious effort to pick up more Fred Lynn cards lately, and I was surprised to find that I didn't yet have a copy of his '77 in my collection.

The Hand (aloha, Mr. Hand) is yet another chapter in the never-ending fable of '73 Topps.

And I'm pretty sure that's Bert Campaneris in the batter's box there.

This was the last and easily the greatest find from the free vintage bin.

I think everyone should try and track down least one card of Wally Moon. This is my second issue of The Unibrowed One, and, better yet, it comes from  '65 design. (My all-time favorite.)

As the writing at the top indicates, Mr. Moon once belonged to Stan, but later found its way into Jimmy's hands.

Did Jimmy trade for it? Did Jimmy steal it? Did Jimmy win it in a flipping contest? Did Jimmy and Stan have a bare-knuckle brawl over it?

We'll never know.

All I know is that it might be time to scratch out "Jimmy" and write "Nick", because this one's never leaving my sight.

Believe it or not, all that is basically only half of what I found during an action-packed day at the flea market with Jeff.

Between friends, warm weather, and baseball cards, what more does a guy need?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Game 7 repack (from Walgreens)

I've barely had any time for baseball lately.

The sudden pile of essays, tests, and general busy work I've been getting at school couldn't have come at a worse time. I've only managed to catch bits and pieces of the first six games of this year's Fall Classic and haven't had a ton of time for blogging or cards in general.

Thankfully, though, I've managed to almost entirely clear my schedule tonight and will be kicking back and taking in (what I hope is) an exciting Game 7 at around seven.

I thought I'd celebrate the occasion by featuring a repack I recently opened. I've posted about repacks many times throughout my blogging career, but this one was a little different from the rest.

My dad spotted this 100-card lot in a clearance aisle a couple weeks ago at Walgreens, of all places. Originally priced at five bucks, he got it for $2.50. Though I've heard rumors of it in the past, I've personally never seen cards in a Walgreens.

I was interested to see how it would compare to the dozens of Target repacks I've opened over the years.

It started out with a bang, as you might have noticed from the front window of the repack.

This insert from Topps's "Vintage Legends" series is a nice addition to my growing Eddie Murray collection.

Though Topps somehow managed to butcher its own design (those nameplate letters are WAY bigger than the original '63s), I'm still happy to have it.

It's a shame that I didn't realize how great these team cards were when they originally hit the shelves.

I've been picking up more and more of these on the cheap these past few years, a constant reminder of my pre-blogger ignorance when it comes to recognizing cool cardboard.

Better late than never, I guess.

Even though they came from different retail outlets, I'm almost positive that these repacks were made by the same company.

I noticed a lot of similarities between the two. I've pulled a decent amount of mid '80s Fleer from Target repacks, but it was good to get one I actually needed with the Franco this time around.

A sweet Rickey Henderson oddball fell out of the last repack I opened. As fate would have it, another one popped out of this very Walgreens lot.

That can't be a coincidence.

The giveaway for me was that this batch featured a team-issue card with the Glavine, another one of the common threads between the two repacks.

Oh, and I spy a lurking outfield decal on the King Felix!

Maybe it is time to officially start that mini-collection.

Two great cards of The Kid.

From a Walgreens clearance shelf and into my binders.

Repacks are always good for a few fun cards.

Maybe it's just me, but that windup makes Larry McWilliams look more like a ballerina dancer than a big league pitcher. The Anderson is a beautiful new addition to my throwbacks mini-collection, and one I'd never seen before my dad picked up this repack.

At about two cents a card, you can't beat it.

These are both new additions to some of my more obscure player collections.

Pulling a minor league autograph of Ben Davis as a young lad is one of the earliest card-related memories I have. I still have that card, and I've collected him ever since because of that.

Why I collect Glendon Rusch, however, is anyone's guess.

If you're lucky, repacks can hook you up with a few cards from long-forgotten sets.

Metal Universe and early-2000's Finest aren't exactly what I'd call common finds in this day in age.

One thing that separated this batch from most of the others I've opened was the presence of inserts.

I'd say about 99 percent of the cards I've ever pulled from repacks have been base cards. And I'm completely fine with that. That's why I buy repacks in the first place.

Still, finding a couple inserts this time around was a special little treat.

Especially one with that wacky "Ultra Performers" design.

I've had this card for years, but that didn't make finding it in this repack any less intriguing.

To know that my man Wilbur Wood could be lurking in Walgreens aisles around the country is both comforting and off-putting.

Hopeful that he could find a good new home at any second, yet disappointed that he's probably lying unloved in clearance aisles next to toilet cleaner and bug spray.

You there! Go save Wilbur Wood from your local Walgreens!

That is, after you enjoy Game 7.

Then go to Walgreens.