I've written a lot of card show posts on the blog over the years, and it's gotten to the point where I'm not really sure I have anything new to say about them.
It's a pleasure to report that Dad and I were able to make it to the big convention-hall show a few weeks ago. But I'm sure most of you probably know what I'm going to talk about by now. How I dug through boxes of discount vintage while a customer handed a plump roll of $50 bills to the vendor for a vintage Mantle or something or other (which happened about 30 minutes into the show). How I was perusing a dime box as a guy in a basketball jersey at the next table was livestreaming a high-end box break & opening the packs with black latex gloves (happened about an hour later). Et cetera.
These are the kinds of general goings-on that still seem strange and worthy of reporting to this quiet collector - I can't help pointing them out every time because they keep happening every time, and the juxtaposition is too irresistible for my wandering eyes.
But despite my fear of repeating myself and simply not bringing anything new to these posts, make no mistake about it: the card show never gets old.
I might show new player collection hits all the time - including (at the top of this post) a rookie-year Vlad I needed from a dime box! - but I assure you the act of digging for them remains a thrill.
Same goes for mini-collection stuff, too!
The expected sampling of cheapie-bin shiny (am I the last Chris Davis collector on the face of the earth?).
I don't set out to pick up x amount of dime box minis at shows, but I always seem to buy enough to cobble a scan together.
That's another early Vlad I needed, and I would've been crazy to pass up a Beer Pong card!
One slight anomaly I noticed with this show was that the cheapie boxes skewed a bit heavier towards inserts & parallels, which in my experience tend to be reserved for the 50-cent/dollar boxes I rarely go through (because I am, unfortunately, on a time limit).
These came from a vendor whose cards were 25 cents each or 100/$15 - I can't help but see it as a challenge whenever someone puts out a sign like that.
I did indeed grab 100 cards from those boxes, helped in large part by the massive stack of these retail-only Heritage shiny parallels from a few years back I found early on in the dig.
(Chroming up old Topps designs is something I probably shouldn't like as much as I do.)
Another vendor had a dollar box that'd been marked down to 4/$1 at some point during the night, and it was loaded with photo variations like these that I remain powerless to resist (the Kipnis is one of those variants with Sabermetric stats on the back).
The real surprise came when that same vendor charged me all of $4 for the 40 cards I bought, which means that his quarter box had been marked down even further to, you guessed it, a dime box!
I lamented the relative lack of dime boxes the last time I attended this show, but I'm proud to say they were back with a vengeance - there had to have been at least six or seven different ones on display here
Bonus: quite a few of them were loaded with '90s cards, which meant stuff like samples, Dodger Perdros, and even a new Wonderful Terrific Monds sighting!
While I often roll my eyes at the prospect/rookie card craze the hobby so often falls into, fact is I really enjoy finding similar stuff on the scrap heaps at card shows.
That's one of the last rookie-year Mark Graces I needed, and that minor-league Bote was an unexpected surprise from the aforementioned 100/$15 box.
In case you forgot that cards come in a lot of different shapes, sizes, and substances.
A few cool horizontals here, including a nifty "42" jersey photo-variation from that dollar-turned-quarter-turned dime box.
Although I might love looking for specific players, themes, and such. the card show remains a thrill because so much of what I find doesn't fall into any particular category.
Case in point: here's Mr. Met, an unconscious Babe Ruth being carried off the field, and a long defunct Griffey Jr. ad that I insist counts as a baseball card.
Card shows never get old, and neither do the oddballs I find at card shows.
I still feel like I'm getting away with some kind of petty crime finding cards of guys like Willie Mays and Brooks Robinson in dime boxes.
Here's the part of the post where I attempt a seamless transition into the vintage I found at the card show - and while the cheaper/modern stuff was obviously great, I think you'll soon agree that vintage eventually won the day.
One vendor had a big stack of these Exhibits cards on display for $2 a pop - even though I just can't bring myself to get too excited over oversized stuff (where do you store them?), I caved and bought a couple of the bigger names in my collection with Billy Williams & "Ritchie" (sic) Ashburn here.
A bit of a vintage smorgasbord here - I found that '54 Rowe for a quarter(!) at the first table of the day, and Cal McLish is in the running for Worst Baseball Card of All-Time.
I've also been hunting for a cheap copy of the '57 Charley Neal for my frankenset (dig the old Schaefer ad in the background!) and that mission was finally accomplished for all of $2 at this show.
Some smaller vintage for you - I'm still not sure how I feel about those old Topps Rub-Down inserts, but if I see a Jimmy Wynn card I don't have, I'm gonna buy it.
Scavenged a couple Kellogg's for $3 each at the last table of the day, and paying all of $5 for a Bowman Jimmy Piersall was a major score.
Don Sutton kinda ruins the surprise here...
...but these are all indeed our north-of-the-border OPC pals!
Finding any Alou Bros. stuff I need is a thrill, much less an OPC from way back in '68.
A handful of other cheapies I picked off the rubble - that '58 Mazeroski was all of $4 due to a little glue residue on the back, which is probably my favorite flaw if I had to pick one because the front looks impeccable.
I'm usually content to land one or two heavy hitters at a card show, maybe three on a good day.
Although I had a little more money in my pocket this time around, I didn't think I'd wreck nearly as much havoc as I eventually did with that bankroll. I thought something special might be afoot when I found a '64 Whitey Ford from my "Keep Dreaming" list for a whopping $7 in the very first aisle!
I very nearly bought a '64 Koufax (another "Keep Dreaming" suspect) for $50 in that same first aisle, but decided to take a stroll through before I dropped that kind of cash - which, in hindsight, was smart because I found a similar copy of all of $25(!) near the end of the show.
A couple of home run champs hanging out - including a third "Keep Dreaming" hit with a '65 Aaron that the vendor wanted to make sure I still wanted before I spent a whole $20 on from his glass case (upon which time I explained to him I wanted it because of the damage since it's the only way I can afford a '65 Aaron).
The Sadaharu Oh was perhaps the most unexpected find of the evening - my fondness for Japanese baseball cards is well-documented, and for $25 I was powerless to resist a playing-day card of Japan's greatest.
The sheer strength of the vintage I found was already crazy, but it soon edged into the absurd when I found two cards that I hadn't planned on owning for a long, long time (if ever) from the same vendor near the end of the show.
Finding a '53 Campy for $25 all but floored me - easily my oldest card of his - and the lesser-known '61 Yaz uses the same photo as his '60 rookie but is massively cheaper considering this copy cost me $20 (and now I somehow only need a '64 Yaz for his complete Topps run).
I did have a goal for this show - find a '57 Ted Williams - but between you and me, it was basically something I told myself with a wink, and nothing I truly thought I'd accomplish.
I mean...it's Ted Williams. I can't afford it, especially not when $25 justifies a "big" purchase on my part. I saw one in the first aisle for $100, and put it in the back of my mind as a pipe dream for later. I noticed quite a few copies spread across the show, most of which were graded and/or asking many times what I could even dream of paying - I even saw a written-on & heavily creased copy with that same $100 price tag that got me thinking maybe there was something to that first one I'd seen so many aisles ago.
I went back, and, after verifying the vendor accepted PayPal (truly a dangerous card show development in today's modern world), offered $80 for that '57 Williams I'd seen in the first aisle. After a bit of hemming and hawing, I'm proud to report that he accepted(!!!), and a few short punches on my phone later, Teddy Ballgame was mine. I'm almost positive it's the most I've ever spent on a single baseball card, but it's really a fine specimen for the money, with only a faint crease running down the middle. No matter how you slice it, I can now open up my binders, point to a pocket, and say there's my '57 Topps Ted Williams.
So at the end of the day, I ask you: how could card shows ever get old?