Friday, December 29, 2023

The best budget is no budget (a COMC order)

I've really never had a budget when it comes to baseball cards.

Part of this is because I don't collect the seismic kind of stuff that requires a budget in fear of having to sell a kidney. But that's not to say I can't overspend on cards - lately I've been worried that I'm plopping a bit too much of my paychecks down on cardboard, in fact.

It's easy to trick myself into thinking I'm a light spender since a lot of what I buy tends to fall into the "loose change" category. But a few Sportlots orders here, a couple infusions of cash into my COMC account there, and before you know it, there goes 50 bucks. It's not a good or bad thing, but sometimes I'm left looking at my bank account and wondering why there's not more money in there.

I think it's telling that I seem to post a COMC order every other month or so on here - and, you guessed it, here comes another one!

There's very little rhyme or reason to my COMC hauls - lots of times I'm as surprised as anyone else to see what I ended up finding.

Can't really tell you how I stumbled upon these three Star Mattingly panels, and they're not anything I've specifically targeted in the past - but hey, for $1.50 a piece (50 cents a card!) you know I'm buying 'em.

(Also, yes, I have since split these up into nine individual cards.)

COMC is a good place to find weird regional oddballs there's a 99 percent chance you won't see anywhere, ever.

Those Spanish Kellogg's have been taunting me for a while - the cheapest ones always seem to be like $10 - but thankfully that Carew was around $4 and fit snugly into my (non-?)budget.

Oddballs, as always, were the name of the game with this COMC order.

I don't remember ever buying equipment during my Little League days (I know at least a couple of my gloves were hand-me-downs) but I've been more inclined to beg my parents to get me a Louisville Slugger if a baseball card came with it!

Lately I've taken a page from the Sportlots handbook and started combing specific sellers' inventories for deals.

I came across one person who was having a nice little blowout of their minor league inventory and, as a result, scored some cool pre-fame issues of a few guys you might recognize.

But I get just as much fun out of finding minor league treasures of Obscure Guys I Collect For Some Reason - only in a card collection can Mike Fontenot and Junior Spivey have as much pull as Shohei Ohtani or Mike Trout.

A lot of minor league stuff is just plain cool - I didn't even know there was a card of Mark Prior's brief stay in the Red Sox system until this order.

Couple that with a group of batboys who posed for a photo exactly how you'd expect a group of 12-year-olds to pose for a photo, and A CARD WITH A CAT CAMEO(!) - and you have a whole lot of fun on the farm.

A few of my bigger player collections got a nice little boost with this order as well.

I finally convinced myself to splurge on one of those "Gallery of Heroes" inserts I've been eyeing for far too long - spending $6 on a modern card is nearly unheard of here, but I'd say Vlad was worth it.

I supposed my budget would be in further shambles if I spent as much on packs as I used to. 

But why do that when you can snag tough photo-variation SPs and other online exclusives on COMC for the price of one of those packs with five Marlins in it?

I'm on a quest to own every Hank Aaron Brewers card in existence, and I got one tiny step closer with that Heritage insert from a few years back - and speaking of guys on weird teams, how about a rare Jim Kaat Yankees sighting?

(It's also funny that exclusives I heard everyone raving about from this year's National are already showing up on COMC for almost nothing.)

A particularly fun helping of minis this time around - including Jim Bunning's only Dodger card, a Felipe Alou Venezuelan sticker, and a neat Bazooka!

Also, yes, that's a real 1950 Bowman Ralph Branca - vintage Bowman doesn't really do a whole lot for me, but when you throw one of a Dime Box favorite for a hair over $4, I'm helpless.

Japanese cards are one of my most frequent searches on COMC, and I had the good fortune to stumble across a couple weirdly affordable BBM Nomos this time.

COMC is mostly a place for combing and scouring and clicking BUY NOW!, but it can also be a rabbit hole for discoveries. 

There's a good chance I would've gone the rest of my life not knowing this brilliant Father's Day Nationals set existed (stadium giveaway, I assume?) - but thanks to COMC, my collection is all the better for it.

A handful of not-your-standard-size baseball cards here, including a couple Permagraphics oddballs that I've never thought got nearly as much love as they should.

This was the COMC order when I decided enough was enough and finally sprung for a '76 SSPC George Brett that's been a thorn in my side for quite a while now.

Plus, Mr. Brett had a little company on the way to Dime Box HQ, including The Mick and a couple '78 SSPCs I still needed (not many White Sox Don Kessinger cards out there). 

Full disclosure: I was excited to snag a cheap '55 Bowman Sal Maglie, only to later run to my binders and discover, wait, WHAT - I already have it?! (Side note: anyone wanna give it a good home?)

That Musial, on the other hand, was most assuredly not a dupe - those "Baseball Thrills" cards are excellent and cost less than Stan the Man's regular Topps cards will run you.

Still, the king of this COMC order was never in question: it's this scary '67 high-number of Rocky Colavito that looks like it went under a truck at some point.

I may be more inclined to drop heavier amounts of money on cards nowadays, but my goal of finding an affordable '67 Colavito was fixed on a hope and a prayer. I regularly see copies priced for hundreds at card shows, and the cheapest one I'd ever come across before this was around $80. (You better believe '67 high-numbers are feared for a reason.)

A copy like this - creased, mangled, and even with an updated "Dodgers" scrawled along the front by a young collector - was exactly what I'd always hoped to find. And for a mere $15, there it was waiting for me on COMC one miraculous evening. A prayer answered.

All in all, it's hard to have a budget in this hobby when I'm bombarded with so many things I DEFINITELY, TOTALLY NEED RIGHT NOW!

Friday, December 8, 2023

Twelve years

"Dime Boxes" turned twelve yesterday.

I admittedly don't post a whole lot these days, but that's not at all an indictment of my love of the blogosphere (more of me not having as much time/energy). This is still my favorite corner of the cardboard universe, and I'm forever grateful for the support so many of you have always showed to that teenager who started yammering on and on about how much he loved 1995 Fleer all those years ago (I STILL DO!). 

I've given away cards for my last few blog-versaries, and since I really can't think of a better way to thank all you fantastic readers, I'm doing it again this year! I've got 20 pages' worth of random goodies up for grabs here - all you have to do is comment with something along the lines of "Page 1 - #8 (Molina)" for any card(s) you'd like to claim. (Also, with deep apologies to my Canadian friends, I have to limit this to US readers only due to insane shipping rates.)

Please feel free to grab as many cards as your conscience allows - all I ask is that all claimers please email your shipping address to me at nickpecucci AT gmail DOT com (even if we've traded before). I'll do my best to update this post with cards that have already been claimed.

Once again, I shout a big, hearty THANK YOU to all the great readers out there - and now I'll shut up and present you with the spoils!

Page #1

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9)

Page #2

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page #3

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page #4

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9)

Page #5

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page #6

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page #7

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page #8

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

Page #9

(Claimed: #s 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page #10

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8)

Page #11

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page #12

(Claimed: #s 1, 3, 4, 7, 8)

Page #13

(Claimed: #s 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8)

Page #14

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page #15

(Claimed: #s 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page #16

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page #17

(Claimed: #s 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page #18

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8)

Page #19

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9)

Page #20

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Claim away!

Friday, December 1, 2023

You won't see that again (a card show report)

Like fingerprints or snowflakes, no two card shows are truly alike. 

I never leave a show thinking: well, that wasn't much different than the last one. Every show has its own rhythm, its own character. I'm reminded of this every time my dad and I hit the big semi-annual show here in the 'burbs, which we had the pleasure of attending yet again a couple weeks ago. 

Want a unique feat at a card show? Take the Lou Brock autograph I found in a quarter box this time around. It's obviously not a pristine example - it's faded to the point that I didn't even realize it was signed until I was sifting through my haul later that night - but to think I plundered something like this for a quarter is still mind-boggling to me.

You can search the internet left and right, and you can scour the card show bargain bins across the globe, but I can't imagine you'll ever see a Lou Brock auto for a quarter ever again.

If you're lucky, there can be entire tables of stuff that are unlike the inventory you'll see anywhere else in the cardboard world.

The Brock came from one of my more entertaining digs in recent memory, a guy whose boxes were stuffed with the entire spectrum of oddballs priced from a quarter on the low end to a dollar on the high. I spent more money and time here than at any other table at this show, and if you know how my mind works, I think you'll see why.

We're talking oddballs like Drake's, Starting Lineups, and even a cluster of those weird late '90s samples that I love for some reason.

Broder oddballs seem to exist in a strange nebulous place in our universe - does anyone know how/where/when these were made, or exactly how they were distributed?

Whatever the answer is, I just know that I buy Broders whenever and wherever I can, and the four you see here represent a teeny-tiny fraction of the sum total I found in this guy's quarter box - dig the rare Steve Carlton Giants sighting and a new Cal Ripkin (sic).

I have a certain fondness in my heart for the scores of strange unlicensed oddballs that surfaced in the late '80s/early '90s, and I don't think I've ever seen a table take advantage of that fondness more than this one did.

(Every time I think I have all the Eric Lindros baseball cards, a new one appears!)

I don't have a good explanation as to why Star oddballs excite me so much...they just do.

This vendor had a handful of complete Star sets in his dollar box, and slew of singles for a quarter - all of which were quickly snapped up by yours truly, of course.

More from the generic oddball world, including an Air Jordan sighting and Ryno with a rhino!

I bought around 200 cards from this guy's inventory after the dust cleared, and I'll end it here by saying this is the kind of table I could've easily spent an entire post gabbing on and on about.

Finding dime boxes is no longer a certainty at shows - I spotted just a single one this time around.

Granted, it was a pretty darn good one - I walked away with north of 300 cards in the end - but . I can't really complain much given the mass of other stuff I always seem to find, but it seems like dime boxes are beginning to fade into the background.

In the end, I guess it makes me more thankful for the rare dime box that pops up in the wild these days - the era of Luis Robert madness seems so long ago now.

Dime boxes or no dime boxes, I still managed to secure a nice handful of bigger player- and mini-collection hits.

(Including a rare new addition to my joyfully obscure Casey Kotchman collection!)

The usual gathering of obligatory discount-bin shiny.

This time in Cards I Shouldn't Be Finding For Loose Change: numbered shinies (including a rare 2011 Hope Diamond parallel for a dime!), Living Set cards, and A&G case hits(!).

Card shows are all unique, and they always seem to balance themselves out - the relative lack of dime boxes this time was picked up by the absolutely massive amount of oddballs that fell into my lap.

(Still have a hard time believing Advil once sponsored a set of baseball cards.)

Part of the beauty of oddballs is that they come in so many shapes and sizes - seems like an appropriate time of year to buy a Pacific Ornament insert, yes?

A few horizontals for the road - Panini Select is incredibly dull, but on the flip side I guess I can't be too mad at any set that features a new Hoyt!

I think more and more of my vintage buying lately has taken the theme of better buy it now 'cause you'll never see it again.

My hemming and having over bigger purchases (i.e., anything more than $5 because I'm cheap) is usually negated by the horrific thought of missing out on said purchase forever. I'll spend a little more on a card if it's something I might never hold in my hands again.

I paid a whopping $20 a piece for these two, but they're each scarce Venezuelan issues that I don't think I'll be seeing again at anything near that price again in this lifetime.

I'm always good for a few Kellogg's pickups at each show, but I certainly didn't think I'd find one of the few remaining '78 SSPCs I need in a random 50-cent box!

I also threw 50 cents at a custom-made '62 Maury Wills - actually just a photo of Wills glued onto a random '62 - presumably put together by a '60s kid who was aghast that Wills didn't have a regular Topps card yet.

Nabbed a prime handful of new Nu-Scoops and '77 Cloth Stickers, two of my very favorite vintage oddball pursuits.

Taking a break from the oddballs with some cold, hard Topps vintage here.

I've been after that '54 Joe Black for a while and I couldn't hand over my money fast enough when I saw a copy for ten bucks - couple that with a Maz high-number and a couple cool Whiteys and you have a fun trip through vintage heaven.

I don't know that I noticed how oddball-heavy my vintage buys were at this show until I started poring over the day's finds later on.

To the chagrin of my wallet, vintage Bazookas have risen on my radar quite a bit lately - I forked over another $20 for a notably tough '68 Bazooka Rusty Staub that I knew I couldn't let go of once I asked to see it from a guy's glass case (he even threw in the decapitated Tony C for free!).

That Santo is my first from the generic-but-still-cool 1969 Nabisco set, and Steal of the Day honors might go to that trimmed strip card I found for 50 cents which, if someone's handwriting on the back is to be believed, pictures Frank "Home Run" Baker(!!!).

I like to believe I have a fairly extensive array of oddball knowledge stored in the 'ol brain box, but I'll be the first to admit that I get stumped fairly often at card shows.

I'd seen that Kaline before, but I never knew what the heck it was until I a dealer at the very first table of the day filled me in. Apparently those were advertised as "bubblegumless cards" in a 1968 Detroit newspaper with cut-out fronts and backs that kids were encouraged to glue to pieces of cardboard themselves. With a story like that, there was absolutely no way I was passing it up, and the dealer even knocked his $30 price tag down to 20 bucks for me!

The Alou, on the other hand, had me completely stumped - it's actually a Bible-thumping American Tract Society card that I'll treasure as a prime example of how curious and far-reaching the world of oddballs can be (plus I go nuts over anything of the Alou Bros.).

I may love oddballs, but at the end of the day my biggest purchase was this beautiful '64 Hank Aaron that I thought was a helluva a steal at $40.

I'll admit that in the moment, Hank felt like a consolation prize - like the National, I once again fell short in my quest to secure an affordable '64 Pete Rose that I'm starting to get obsessive about. But you'll be happy to know that I quickly came to my senses and told myself GET REAL, NICK - HANK AARON IS **NEVER** A CONSOLATION PRIZE!

I'm sorry, Hank - to think I ever doubted you, even for a moment, is a fine illustration of how insane card shows can be.