Monday, November 20, 2017

Things I shouldn't find in dime boxes (A card show report)

Dime boxes confuse me sometimes.

I've been doing this card show thing long enough to where I pretty much know what kind of general randomness I can expect from any given dime box (if that makes any sense). There are certain things you can expect to dig up, and other things that are almost always off-limits -- I'm talking quarter, fifty-cent, dollar box material.

But then a show like the one Dad and I attended this past weekend comes along and leaves me flabbergasted. It felt like a different show for a few reasons (including one major one I'll cover in a later post), not the first of which was that I found a LOT of cards that, under normal circumstances, shouldn't have been available for dimes in the first place. I can't remember a show that's offered more in the way of sheer surprises than this huge tri-annual one did.

While you can't see my face in the above "action" photo of yours truly, rest assured my eyes were probably lighting up from the stuff I was unearthing at that very moment.


This is not a card I should be finding in a dime box. I'm nowhere near as enthusiastic about serial-numbered cards as I once was, but still -- a Vlad numbered to just 99 copies...that I got for a dime (from the very table you see me digging through at the top of this post, by the way).

It's crazy to think that one of the scarcer cards in my nearly 1,000-card collection of Vlad became mine for couch-cushion change.

Also: Ichiro.

I don't often find Ichiros in dime boxes. If I do, it's usually one here, one there -- and most assuredly not anything like the whole run of Ichiros I found in one of the final dime boxes in the convention hall, a dig that added more than a dozen new cards to my collection of the guy alone.

But trust me when I say that all this was just the beginning.

Short-prints might be fairly common when it comes to dime boxes, but SPs of guys like Ty Cobb and Nolan Arenado (from Heritage, no less) sure as heck aren't.

A good portion of the people at these big shows are in it for the prospects -- I can't tell you how many Judges and Bellingers and whoevers I saw and/or heard people asking for.

It's odd, then, that some great rookies still manage to migrate to the dime boxes. And while I don't think the Swanson and/or Seager are technically rookie cards -- I don't even know what the heck a rookie card is anymore -- it's still a shock to find them for a dime. (Also, the Swanson is a coveted zero-year card, to boot.)

And despite my feelings for the man himself, I'd be lying if I say I didn't feel a little twinge of excitement over finding a new Rangers card of Sammy Sosa.

Dime box parallels of top-tier player collections like Abbott and Paulie? Never.

High-end parallels of HOFers like Jim Rice? Never.

Scarce parallels from 2008 Stadium Club (numbered to 99 copies), a set I have a hard enough time finding base cards from? N-e-v-e-r.

Some dime box shiny and a One of A Kind Stadium Club parallel -- limited to 150 copies and worth it for the photo alone -- that I've heard are almost impossible to come by.

Sheer dime box beauty -- and a new card of Juan Marichal in a Red Sox uniform that I never knew existed before this weekend.

These framed beauties actually came from one of the few quarter boxes I sifted through this weekend, but they feel even a bit too fancy for that.

One of the better developments of the day was the news that the Nickel Guy from the National was back!

I (again) didn't get to dig through his entire inventory -- time is money at these things -- but I did manage to find over 150 nickel cards from just one of the three gigantic baseball boxes he had on display, which should speak to how good this guy's stuff is.

Some of what you've already seen in this post were nickel cards, as are these -- a quartet of guys I've recently started collecting and probably should've already been collecting a long time ago.

A beautiful binder page of mini-collection hits, a sight which continues to be one of the most rewarding joys of my forays through the discount boxes.

All minis are welcome here.

Yet another immensely pleasing binder page, this time of nickel-and-dime-box oddballs.

I seem to discover at least one new oddball set with each passing show, and this time it was that 7-UP Mike Schmidt at the center, because I had absolutely no idea 7-UP baseball cards were a thing.

It's the offseason for baseball cards too, which means that there wasn't as much latest-and-greatest material out on display (or perhaps there was and I just wasn't as interested in it).

Still, I did manage to hit some 2017 needs for loose change, including my first glimpse of this year's Gold Label -- the prime example of a set I enjoy but would never go out of my way to buy packs of given how quickly they wind up in dime boxes.

The one modern-card hope I had going into this weekend was fulfilled barely an aisle into the show -- I found a guy with a whole stack of cheap SPs from 2017 Update.

The bad news is that these short-print watered down everything Update is supposed to be about. The good news is that I'm still a fan of photo SPs, and Topps OD'ing on them this year meant that they could be had for almost nothing.

I got a stack of a dozen 2017 Update SPs for less than half the cost of half a blaster -- no single card cost me more than $2.50 -- which would've been unheard of in past years from Topps.

No gimmicks here -- just unabridged dime box fun in its infinite variations.

You also never see something I stumbled upon early on in the show: a guy with a whole table full of older, unopened packs for a buck a pop.

A lot of what he had was nothing I'd be interested in opening -- a lot of base Flagship and overproduction-era stuff. But amongst the rubble were indeed a handful of packs from brands like Victory/Ultimate Victory, Stadium Club, and Ultra: sets I barely even find standalone base cards from. I picked out about a dozen packs in all, and had to restrain myself from buying a lot more.

The sheer fun of opening these was worth the dollar alone, and discovering a new Turn Ahead the Clock card with the SC Ripken was pure gravy.

But as far as dime box rarities go, this beautiful, hallelujah-like sight was the greatest of them all.

Those, my friends, are all dime boxes, and they're two- and three-deep. At least a dozen boxes in all, each pretty much packed to the gills with baseball cards. Dime boxes are common around here, but this many at a single table sure isn't.

But it wasn't just the sheer size of them that mattered.

It was what they did with it.

Many times on this blog, I've lamented the lack of early-to-mid-2000s cards. I seriously believed they'd all fallen off the face of the earth at some point in the last twelve years. Well, these dime boxes were almost exclusively made up of cards from this bygone era. Let that sink in for a moment, because god knows I sure had to when I realized what I'd just stumbled upon.

I have a certain amount of nostalgia (if it can be called that) for cards like these because they were what was on the shelves when I returned to the baseball market around 2005-06. I am probably one of the few people still collecting who have fond childhood memories of busting packs of stuff like late-era Upper Deck and Topps Rookie Cup.

I'll just put it this way: at one point, I came across an entire row of just Topps Total singles(!!!), including that gloriously unfamiliar sight of Hideo Nomo as a (Devil) Ray you see there.

Also present were singles from the forgotten-but-great retro brands that emerged from the early 2000s, including the '57 Heritage design (issued in 2006) which was the set that really molded my current adoration for the Heritage brand.

It's hard to say just how much fun I had digging through all those rarely-seen cards, but perhaps the best example I can give is the fact that I bought over 400 cards from the guy despite the fact that I only had time to dig through about half of his boxes.

Though it might not seem like much to the casual observer, it was, for me, a dime box dig to end all dime box digs, a poster child for the Things You Just Don't See in Dime Boxes theme that permeated this show.

All this added up to a truly legendary day of dime box digging, further emphasized by this quartet of...well, legends I scooped up for loose change.

And just when I thought I'd seen it all, out popped a card that'd been sitting on my Dime Box Dozen list for about a year now.

It's obvious why I'd want this one so much: a terrific shot of Mr. Jeter surrounded by the other members of the iconic Core Four. But I'll be darned if I could track one down, since all the copies I'd seen online were priced far higher than I wanted to pay, and no one came forward to hit it from my DBD list.

Right when I started to believe I'd have to break down and buy an overpriced copy of it on the 'net, the universe decided enough was enough: to my complete surprise, Jeets fell out of the very first dime box of the day, more than three full years after it was issued in packs.

With finds of such epic proportions, it would seem appropriate here to say Now I've Seen It All -- but after what the Dime Box Gods bestowed upon me this weekend, I'd know that's a boldfaced lie.


Adam said...

My word that's an incredible haul!

Mike said...

You were in the dime box zone at that table,you deserve every gem you dug out!

JayP said...

Holy mother of dime boxes!!! What awesome pickups!

JayP said...

My cardshow experience was pretty similar to yours. There’s a big seller that always comes with new unsorted collections he buys in bulk and usually doesn’t have time to sort through all of the boxes so he just lists them at 10 cents. I couldn’t believe what I was pulling out of the boxes.

Jon said...

When I grow up, I want to be able to write a card show recap post like you :) As always, great review, and a bunch of terrific cards!

P-town Tom said...

Brad Ausmus on a laptop, Orel Hershiser batting, and 7-Up Mike Schmidt and nickel cards? You are ridiculous (but in a good way). You card show finds are the stuff of legends. Finding that Jeter for a dime is just another example.
FYI, got your note about the Verlander Gallery insert... I'll place it your pile!

Brett Alan said...

Man, I wish I were near a dime box right now.

I did find a 1st Bowman card of Corey Seager for a dime last year...I think it was out in one before he started doing so well. But numbered Vlads and Triple Threads cards? Too cool! Lots of things I'd have loved to find there.

JediJeff said...

This was the Fanatics show as Rosemont, right? I almost went, but life did life on me again.

Next one at Rosemont you attend, hit me up early and I'll do my best to carve out time and we can meet up.

Fuji said...

Congratulations on finding the Jeter... and all of the other awesome dime and nickel cards. I promised myself to stay away from these boxes at shows and flea markets, but after reading this post... I'm not sure if I'll be able to.

Bo said...

Epic find. Some day I have to start going to card show. That 7-Up card is fantastic. Also loving that Mattingly Broder.

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

very nice pulls, great dig

TSHenson said...

Awesome recap of your adventures in the dime boxes! My adventures in dime boxes do not come anywhere near as exciting as this was for you. I am jealous! Looking forward to reading more about the show in future posts.

Bru said...

That Ausmus! Those One of a Kind parallels were one to a box, I believe. I bought a box of '98 SC a couple years ago and pulled a Nomar out of it. And that Coca-Cola Nolan! Yowsa!