Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Inside the card show, Pt. 4: Pics or it didn't happen

In my last card show post, I described the very real struggle of controlling my vintage impulses.

While actually harnessing such urges is rare, I can at least attempt to negotiate with myself with conscious thought. Okay, Nick, you can buy this, but, damn it, put this back RIGHT NOW. You're not Bill Gates, pal.

Other times, the urge to hit a discount vintage table is pretty much a reflex. I see a big, fancy sign and, boom, I'm digging through the cards before I know it. That was definitely the case with the last two tables I'll be recapping in the final part of this card show mini-series.

There's always a guy with a big bin of miscellany in the first few aisles at these gatherings. He's been the first stop for my dad and I at the last few shows, a trend that continued last Saturday.

Since it was still kind of early in the morning (early for a devout non-morning person like me, anyways), I completely forgot to snap a picture of the guy's bin. Imagine something like this, except with stacks and stacks of singles in toploaders inside. And about double the size.

The cards at his table are a buck each, or 15/$10. That's about 66 cents a piece. Or Buy Ten, Get Five Free. I like the sound of the Buy Ten, Get Five Free better, so let's go with that.

The guy's selection is really strange. One minute I'll pull out stuff from 1990 Topps that I wouldn't spend a penny on. The next minute, though, I'm unearthing a Reggie Jackson Kellogg's card.

I guess discount bins don't always have to make sense.

I didn't find a ton of Kellogg's cards last Saturday, but I sure couldn't complain with the ones I dug out from this guy's bin.

I'm ashamed of how long it took me to recognize the beauty of these things.

Same goes for these.

My appreciation for the various subsets in vintage Topps checklists is fairly new. Far more recent than I care to admit.

I mean, just look at these things. Okay, the card on top may look like something out of a Three Stooges short (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) and doesn't exactly glorify the hometown Sox. Still, ineptitude has never looked so nice.

Now that I think of it, I'm pretty certain the Kubek is the oldest double dip in my collection. I'm sure other pre-1962 double plays exist (there has to be a handful in '56 Topps), but I don't have any.

Subsets, man.

Get on the bandwagon.

Well, that explains it.

Now I finally know why I always get these two sets confused.

You'd think I'd be able to find relatively common '70s Topps cards for cheaper than a buck a pop, right?

Probably. Besides, I already have the base versions of these three. They came very close to going back in the bin without a second thought.

Only at the very last second did I decide to flip them over.



As if the sheer joy of finding three vintage OPCs in a discount bin wasn't enough, it satisfied one of the goals I set out to accomplish prior to Saturday's show. To be honest, I wasn't seriously expecting to unearth any of these. I don't recall even ever seeing any old OPCs at a show before.

Then again, the one thing I've come to expect from card shows is to never know what to expect.

If that makes any sense.

This guy's bin is always good for a few exceptionally rare and fascinating oddballs.

Billy here made for one of the better gems of the day. This card, from what I can gather, was issued in 1980 by Delacorte Press as a promo for Martin's new book at the time. (A book that is now on my reading list as a result.)

The design is obviously a play on the "As Player/As Manager" cards from 1978 Topps. With a twist, of course.

Looks like we got ourselves a writer here.

I found a Ty Cobb card from this very same set at this very same table back in March.

The Cobb caused quite a bit of confusion after I found it. With the help of other bloggers, I discovered that it was produced by a company called Brown & Bigelow all the way back in 1953.

Thanks to that, I already had the full scoop on this sweet Connie Mack here in November.

But that doesn't mean this guy's bin was completely devoid of mystery.

I have absolutely no hope of ever finding any info on this card. And, unless another blogger has the down-low, it'll probably stay a riddle forever.

The front obviously features a 2-D scan of Tom Seaver's 3-D 1970 Kellogg's issue. Let's call it 2 1/2-D. The back is completely blank, and the card itself is a bit thicker than most vintage. It almost looks like it was made in some guy's basement. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case.

Such an obscure oddity was well worth the price of admission.

All told, I ended up with 30 cards from this guys table, mine for a slick twenty-spot. Definitely one of Saturday's better bargains.

I just wish I would've remembered to snap a picture of that massive bin.

Ah, but I did remember to get a shot of what turned out to be the table of the day.

There's a rather stupid phrase amongst a lot of people my age that reads along the lines of PICS OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. Now, that can obviously be applied to a number of different situations (hey, get your mind out of the gutter), but I felt it was appropriate here.

I don't know if any of you would've believed the deals I got from this table if I didn't get a picture of it. Both the bin and the box you see here are advertising, yes, 90% off vintage. Oh, yeah. It happened. I have the pics to prove it.

I'm not sure about you, but a table like this is like a cardboard tractor beam for me.

It sucked me in before I even knew what was happening.

Each card was a full 90 percent off the price listed on the back, which, in most cases, was the book value.

So, then, any cards that "booked" (ugh) for under ten bucks cost less than a single dollar. I was able to land quite a few gems from this guy's table for a bit of loose change.

This Palmer apparently books at eight bucks, so I got it for a whopping eighty cents. Because, again, subsets, bro.

Sorry, Dodger fans.

The unabashedly happy Mickey Lolich cost me a paltry sixty cents, ninety percent off its six-dollar "book value."

Some especially worn cards were even more heavily discounted. The price tag on those, like Mr. Tommy John, for instance, read along the lines of "Books for $4, Sell for 30 cents." Three dimes and he was mine.

It's like I was destined to own that exact scrawled-upon card.

I think you can figure out why.

I already had a '75 Topps Steve Carlton in my collection before last Saturday, but it was in dire need of an upgrade.

Eighty cents and Eraserhead Lefty was finally gone.

Even the cards that booked for more than ten bucks still made for some crazy steals at this 90% off table.

I'm about 95 percent sure I owned this particular card at one point in time, but I'm not sure what I did with it. My stupid, pimply, adolescent, memorabilia-crazed self probably traded it away for a fake hunk of jersey or something. Excuse me while I shudder at the thought.

Okay, I'm back now.

I'll just say that it felt good to reclaim a lost piece of my collection for a mere buck-fifty.

Here's two of my new favorite skipper cards.

Mr. Alston, in what is one of the most classic manager poses I can remember, set me back a dollar. The '72 Williams was a buck-twenty.

Not the most pleasing shot of the Splendid Splinter, but the fact that it proved to be his final manager card makes it historic.

A buck-fifty a pop netted me this pair of Hall of Famers.

Early Wynn has always struck me as one of those guys whose cards should be priced a lot higher than they are. I now have his 1960, '61, and '62 Topps issues (his last three), and I think they've cost me less than five bucks combined.

No complaints here.

Now we're starting to get into the bigger stuff.

The Larsen only set me back a buck-fifty, but the Slaughter got into two-dollar territory. A whole two-fifty, as a matter of fact. (WHAT?!)

Such a price tag is worth it for the name alone. Enos Slaughter. Enos Slaughter. Enos Slaughter...Where was I?

Oh, by the way, am I the only one who thinks we need more orange on baseball cards these days?

Here's another select card that was actually more than 90% off.

This '66 Maris is apparently "worth" a cool $50 in pristine, untouched, sheltered shape, but this especially loved copy fell into my hands for a much more affordable $2.50.

I've never seen "Rog" priced anywhere near that before, so you know I had to pounce.

A Hall of Famer and one of my all-time favorites?

On The Best Set Ever?

For just five bucks?

Yes, please.

This predates my previous oldest Willie Mays card by nearly ten years.

The Say Hey Kid's floating torso may freak you out if you look too closely, but this beauty from the '61 Topps MVP subset was a no-brainer at five bucks.

Another plus to subsets, highlights, and other similar subcategories of the like is the fact that, well, they're cheaper. A lot cheaper.

They make real, actual cards of guys like Willie Mays, or, say...

...Mickey Mantle affordable for a guy like me.

As you might guess, The Mick proved to be my most expensive buy of the day. Eight bucks in all. Yup, eight dollars for an authentic card of Mickey Mantle. (I'm sorry, I can't type the guy's name without using italics.)

And another one from The Best Set Ever, by the way.

Mr. Mantle (hey, I did it!) might've been the priciest purchase of the afternoon, but I think my last find outdid The Mick.

If such a thing is possible.

This is one of those cards I've always dreamed of having.

I thought it would always stay a dream.

I mean, I'd never even seen a copy in-person before Saturday. Once people get this card, they don't let it go. And for good reason.

But now, against all odds, I have it. Them. Ed and John O'Brien. Twins who played in the same infield for the Pirates in the mid '50s. Twins who were featured together on the same legendary card from 1954 Topps.

Granted, you might be able to tell that the copy I found at this 90% off table is a bit trimmed, almost down to more "modern" proportions. But do you think that was going to stand in the way of finally owning the card of my dreams?

No way.

A crumpled five-dollar bill was all it took to make my dream a reality.

It may sound corny, but card shows are the one of the few places in the world where my wildest dreams can come true.

The aisles. The ceiling lights. The people. The smell. Yes, card shows do too have a specific smell. The smell of old cardboard, with a touch of Lysol, perhaps. Something like that. I can't explain it.

I'm already starting to miss it.

As always, I'd like to close what has been a fun card show recap by giving a heartfelt thanks to my dear old dad.

None of what you saw in this post (and a lot of the ones before it) would've been possible without his more-than-generous grant towards my card fund last Saturday. Because the budget of a broke college student can only go so far.

I love baseball cards, but I love being able to share such a great hobby with my dad even more.

Nothing says that better than a card show.


Mike said...

I had a blast as usual,'s to the next adventure!

Mark Hoyle said...

You did well my friend

night owl said...

Where do I get one of those dad grants?

I'll have to remind myself I got a '61 Maris for 7 cents this year.

Zippy Zappy said...

What? 90% off vintage? I don't believe you, that photo is clearly photoshopped. ;).

Great pickups. That Brown & Bigelow Connie Mack is an especially cool card. Oh and thanks for making me feel like a chump for dishing out $40 for my not-so pristine and very touched '66 Maris -.-;.

Tim B. said...

Congrats on the great finds! After reading this post I think you'll particularly like the name I've chosen for my forthcoming blog(whenever I actually get it up and going).

BobWalkthePlank said...

Great deals! I was a recipient of many parental grants while I was in college too.

Ana Lu said...

A card show..thanks for letting people like me know how it feels to go there..

The Palmer card is gorgeous!

Tony L. said...

That is truly a great haul of cards. I need another *big* show to come around.

Kevin Papoy said...

great cards !exactly the kind I would've gotten myself