Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 32: Numbers 280-288

Frankenset Page #37 WINNER -- 1996 Stadium Club #333 Jay Buhner (13 votes)

As I post each week's frankenset page, I like to go through and pick out which card I think might win -- not necessarily my favorite of the bunch, just the card I think will resonate most.

My inkling this time around was correct: while he wouldn't have been my own personal choice, Jay Buhner took home the crown last week, as I thought he would. Buhner received 13 of the 34 total votes for a comfortable victory -- the only real competition came from outfielder/point-guard Adam Lind (10 votes).

I can't say I've ever seen a point-of-impact shot quite like the Buhner before, so I'm happy to add it to the Gallery of Frankenset Champions.

I was unexpectedly asked to work an extra shift yesterday, which is why this week's frankenset post comes a day later than usual (don't my managers know I have a blog to run here?).

Hopefully the delay doesn't affect the results of our newest batch of nine -- as handed down by the almighty Random Number Generator, let's take a look at Page 32 (#s 280-288) of the frankenset here today.

1995 Stadium Club #280 Thomas Howard

Wall climbing at its finest. 

2018 Stadium Club #281 Brian Dozier

On the dugout steps. 

2016 Topps Update #US282 Will Harris

High-fives aplenty at the Midsummer Classic. 

2016 Stadium Club #283 Rougned Odor


1998 Stadium Club #284 Sean Berry

Can't say I own another card of a dude in a cockpit. 

1992 Leaf #285 Mickey Tettleton

Play at the plate! 

1958 Topps #286 Gino Cimoli

A card I first encountered in the Baseball Hall of Shame books I read dozens of times as a kid, notable for the fact that some rabid Topps employee airbrushed the bat right out of poor Gino Cimoli's hands (the penciled-in .564 on my copy remains a mystery, however). 

1998 Fleer Tradition #287 Kevin Appier

The ever-rare American League pitcher at the plate. 

1992 Pinnacle #288 Bob Tewksbury

Bob Tewksbury: pitcher by day, Picasso by night.

That just about does it for this week's page -- the polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Monday, November 26, 2018

The idiocy of youth (or, vintage from the card show)

As incredible as it may seem, there was a time not long ago when I didn't look for vintage at card shows, mostly because I was an idiot.

It was basically dime boxes or bust for teenage Nick. If vintage happened to fall out of a cheapie bin, terrific -- but rarely did I ever seek it out. I don't know why...maybe it was extreme frugality, but it might've something more. Perhaps I just didn't think vintage had the bells and whistles modern cards offered. This is stupid because a) collecting is about more than funny photos and shiny cards, and b) who says vintage doesn't have bells and whistles?

This '58 Topps Hal Smith, for example, is freaking FANTASTIC -- featuring not one but two baseball card rarities with the old-time catcher's mask and hand signal! -- and I'd never once seen it before last weekend's show (which is kinda amazing given how often vintage is discussed on the blogs).

I often wish I could go back in time and berate my teenage self for such ignorance, but given the impossibility of that (at least as far as modern science is concerned), I'll have to live by the old better-late-than-never adage.

It's hard to believe I didn't own cards like these before last weekend -- the dual Bucs rookie was a 50-cent find that completes my run of Al Oliver's Topps cards, and the Matlack was a beautiful '74 from the dime box that had somehow flown under my radar.

Seems to me that I'm among the extreme few who really enjoys these old Fleer World Series cartoons, which is good because they were out in bulk at Saturday's show (including all of these for a buck a pop!).

As I've grown older, I've learned that targeting specific cards at shows can indeed be fun, rather than simply taking the unanimous find-what-I-may approach of my youth.

These two have been MIA in my collection for a while -- the Kranepool semi-high number was $1.50 while the Pumpsie Green was a buck, his first of two Topps cards as a Met (with his '64 sunset issue), which is fascinating considering he played all of 17 games for them.

But that's not to say most of my vintage buys aren't scattered, willy-nilly purchases, because you bet they are.

These four cards have nothing in common aside from the fact that they were cheap, well-loved, and sorely needed -- the vintage trifecta.

Oldest Card of the Day honors goes to this masterful '56 of blogosphere favorite Virgil Trucks, mine for all of a dollar.

I didn't buy my first Topps Mini until I was well into my teens, which means that there are still a handful I haven't yet snared, like these two biggies from the 50-cent bin.

I forget why, but my dad and I were recently discussing Gil Hodges's untimely death -- and I just so happened to bring up his '72 OPC "Deceased" variation, a longtime want of mine (perhaps morbidly so).

Turns out I didn't have the standard Topps version of Gil's ultimate sunset card before Saturday, and -- wouldn't you know it -- I snagged the aforementioned OPC issue just hours later from the very last table of the day for three bucks (quite a deal since the others I've seen on the 'net have gone for over ten times that).

Dad factored into another huge find of mine earlier in the afternoon -- at one point while I was off immersed in some kind of dig, he came up to me and said: the guy at the next table has an old Mickey Mantle for a dollar, the design kinda looks like a newspaper.

Instantly the questions ran through my head: vintage...newspaper...NU-SCOOPS?! Also known as one of my favorite oddball sets of all-time? And a Mickey Mantle? For a dollar?! Could it be?

IT WAS: somehow a Nu-Scoop Mick -- easily the most expensive card in the set -- ended up in the dollar box, taking along a few friends for the ride (thanks, Dad!).

I enjoy these '50s All-Star subsets if for no other reason that they're a whole lot cheaper than the standard Topps cards of said players.

Mr. Cub was a mere $3, while Looie ran me a buck-fifty -- good luck finding their regular '58 Topps issues at those prices.

More well-loved, heavily discounted, and just generally awesome big name vintage here -- the Spahn (his last Braves card) cost just $4 and Brooks became mine for a cool fiver.

As the minutes waned, the impossible seemed to be happening: I hadn't yet found a single Hostess or Kellogg's card in my hours at the show.

Remember in my last post when I said I finished off that dime box challenge with about five minutes left till closing? Well of course I couldn't let those five minutes go to waste, mostly because Dad informed me that a dude had a lot of cheap vintage a few tables down.

Enough said: I marched right on over and bought what would turn out to be my lone Hostess find of the day with this two-dollar Rod Carew.

But these two other Carews (a buck each!) would end up being far from my only Kellogg's purchases at this table.

As a retail employee myself, I'll admit I hate when people linger about the store minutes before closing...and yet that's exactly what I did to this poor vintage vendor.

But when you have the chance to buy such awesome Kellogg's cards for a buck a piece, can you really blame me?

Since I had absolutely no time to waste and a good amount of cash still burning a hole in my pocket, I bought absolutely any and every Kellogg's card I even remotely thought I needed from the guy, which turned out to be quite a few.

But even with the greatness of all the 3-D stars I've just shown, none of them hold a candle to Willie Mays here.

Eagle-eyed Dad was, once again, the one who first scoped it out: and six dollars later, I had myself my first Kellogg's single of the kid they called Say Hey -- long ways away from almost coming home with no Kellogg's cards, innit?

With literally seconds to spare, I plucked this '62 Musial from the bottom of the dude's discount bin, and I just about had to rub my eyes when I saw the paltry seven-dollar price tag.

I didn't realize it till I got home later that night, but this actually completes my 1958-63 run of Stan the Man's Topps cards (he didn't have a contract with Topps for most of his career) -- hooray!

And right after the Musial came what was to be my most expensive purchase of the day (by a wide margin), as well as my most treasured (also by a wide margin) -- a 1961 Topps Roger Maris!

Fate works in funny ways sometimes. This card -- from Maris's record-breaking "61 in '61" season, of course -- appeared on my "Keep Dreaming" list after I conquered the impossible dream of owning a '58 Maris rookie from a dude's discount at the last convention hall show I attended. Now, a few months and $20 later, down went the '61...and it turned out to be from the very same dude's discount bin!

Over time, collections grow, collections change, collections reflect the shifts of life -- I can't honestly expect to collect the same way I did when I was in high school. But still, I know for a fact that my adolescent self would've scoffed at the prospect of paying $20 for a '61 Maris (that's 200 dime cards!), $7 for a '62 Musial (70 dime cards!), $6 for a Kellogg's Mays (60 dime cards!), and so on, and so on...

Me, I'll take the '61 Maris in the here and now, thank you very much -- and shut up, 16-year-old Nick.

Friday, November 23, 2018

How to survive a card show

Yes -- I realize I'm probably the last person who should be writing a guide on how to control yourself at a card show.

Me, the man who regularly comes home with north of a thousand cards from the bigger local shows. Me, the man who often decides to start collecting things right in the middle of an aisle. Me, the man whose card show hauls often take days to sort. Dad and I attended the big tri-annual convention-hall show this past Saturday, and yes, all these things happened, of course. But I'm here, aren't I? I survived, right?

I'll be the first to tell you that, while it's thrilling on so many levels, a card show can indeed be overwhelming. You can feel like you're a pawn in a video game (or whatever Troy Beamon is playing on the fascinating dime box find shown above) at times, being pulled this way and that. I mean, where else do you ever see so many baseball cards in one place? And, more overwhelmingly, so many cards you might never see again?

It's not easy, but let me give you my own guide on how to survive a card show -- sprinkled with some of this weekend's dime box finds along the way.

I guess the first thing you should know is, well, just don't fight the overload: chances are you'll probably end up buying something you never knew you needed (which in my case is about 90 percent of the stuff I find).

I'd never seen any of these four cards before Saturday (all courtesy of the dime boxes), but if you know me at all you can probably tell why I had to have each and every one.

As far as modern cards go, I'm a bit different than the herd: I actually don't set tried and true goals for myself as far as what I buy (big surprise, I know).

That doesn't mean I don't specifically seek out certain things, though -- I always try to walk away from each show with at least a few new cards for my larger player collections, and I accomplished that with flying colors this time around.

I always target cards from newer sets at shows -- I knocked out almost all of my 2018 Archives and Heritage High Number needs on Saturday (with a few straggling 2017s thrown in for good measure).

And in bigger news, Squints, Smalls, and The Great Hambino -- at only a quarter each! -- completed my Sandlot set.

My mini-collections often seem to chase me, rather than the other way around.

I rarely buy shiny cards for the sake of buying shiny cards...but a little refractoriness (if I may coin such a word) does often push certain parallels closer to my cart.

But I do often buy odd-shaped cards for the sake of buying odd-shaped cards.

Oddballs are somewhere in the middle: I prefer them to be of guys I collect (like Goose and Oil Can), but I'll often buy ones that don't fit snugly into anything I chase (like Karros and Zeile).

And one of my personal Card Show Laws is that, if you look close enough, you'll probably find an oddball you never dreamed existed before -- like good old Youppi! there.

At the risk of sounding like a 3 AM infomercial, I must ask: why waste your money on high-priced cards when you can buy dime box minis of Keith Olbermann and Mark Twain?

The first table my dad and I always hit at this show is a big tub full of scattered stuff which basically amounts to 50 cents a card.

It's mostly vintage, but once in a while a few somewhat modern gems like these emerge from the rubble -- though I can't say I knew Orel Hershiser once helped pen a NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! before Saturday.

Often I'll find large clusters of cards in the cheapie bins.

I actually picked up that complete Conlon AL All-Stars set out of the 50-cent tub (that's the whole set for 50 cents, not each individual card), and I'll buy Cramers and Sportflics all day for dimes.

Contrary to popular belief, good rookie cards can be found in dime boxes.

Proof that minor league cards rule, then and now (plus now I can finally say I own a card of a PR Guy!).

But in the end, if I can give any single piece of card show advice, it's this: allow yourself to break some rules.

In short, allow yourself to just have fun. Even if I'm not necessarily the poster boy for minimalist collecting, it's worth it to stick to certain hopes and goals, and even better to stick to a budget. But sometimes you come to a dilemma which does its darndest to shatter your plans, like the one I encountered this past weekend: should I just spend a few minutes here and casually pick out a few dime cards or SHOULD I TRY TO FILL THE BOX?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I think you know which route I chose.


Fiscally speaking, it was the smarter choice: I counted everything after the fact and it turns out I managed to fit 316 dime cards into the $20 box, which amounts to either paying six cents per or me getting 116 cards free (I prefer to think of it as the latter).

As is the case with any potentially time- and budget-killing endeavor, I had to cut deals with myself (self-bargaining is a common tactic at card shows).

The table just so happened to be in one of the last aisles of the show, and I still had well over an hour until closing time. Plus, I was still way under budget. And when I happened upon a stack of 2013 Topps singles near the beginning of my dig, back when I was still on the fence about whether I wanted to go for the box or not, I told myself: if the Sean Doolittle rookie is in here (a prime card I needed for my new player collection of his), you're going for the box.

Out came Doolittle, and thus the race began -- soon after came another fun little trinket with my first card of Raul Mondesi with the Angels, a brief stint (8 games) I never thought was immortalized on a baseball card.

It's hard to put into words, and maybe you'll think I'm crazy, but filling the box became something like a challenge in my head after a while -- it was like trying to score a point for us low-end dime boxers in the midst of such a hit- and money-crazed convention hall.

And despite the fact that I was playing Beat the Clock near the end of my dig (I finished about five minutes before the doors closed), not once did I pad the numbers by buying stuff I didn't actually want. Everything in there was either something I needed or something I thought someone else might need.

Stuff like this quartet of miscellany were no-brainers -- including a nice Roger Clemens (almost paradoxical) and a Khris Davis card that actually features...Carlos Gomez(?).

More player collections filled the box.

More mini-collections filled the box (plus a Justin Turner rookie card for a dime?!).

More oddballs filled the box (including Japanese cards and somersaulting catchers).

Apparently these boxes were a graveyard for someone's early-to-mid-2000s Cubs collection -- I found more failed and/or obscure and/or short-term Cubs in there than I care to discuss.

Of course, the sad reality of it all is that I collect a lot of these failed and/or obscure and/or short-term Cubs (yes, even Hee Seop Choi).

Legends for dimes -- including a couple Conlon Promos, which I didn't even know were a thing before this weekend.

Now these are just plain fantastic, and easily ranked among my most exciting dime box finds of the day.

In the end, there really isn't any place on earth like a card show...other than a card show.

It's hard for any sane-minded collector (if such a person exists) to be expected to remain calm and cool through aisles full of baseball cards. You can best survive a card show by basking as often and as much as possible in the glorious fact that you are at a card show. My hope is that maybe, just maybe, my travels and journeys in this post might help you at your next show in some small way.

Even if I'm probably not the one you should be turning to for help, because have you ever read this blog?