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.


The Angels In Order said...

Wow, tons of really cool stuff there.

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

Whoa Nicky, look at them oddballs. You certainly cleaned up add in the vintage especially the Hank. Yes sir, good day indeed.

Mike said...

Dang,the Brock autograph! Had a great time as always,and I sure learned about some new to me oddball that day!

Elliptical Man said...

Aaron wins it.

Sandberg wins the oddball contest.

night owl said...

'77 Cloth Stickers FTW, easily.

Ryan H said...

I currently work at the pharmaceutical company that packages the world's supply of Advil. I hear from the old timers that when Nolan Ryan was the spokesperson for Advil, there'd be raffles for his autographed jerseys, balls, etc. around this time of the year. I wish I could have gotten in on the action.

Laurens said...

It's not the best card from the haul, but that Kerry Wood pitcher hitting shot was a nice find.

Laurens said...

Erstad is a pretty cool card too, with the Manny Mota headlines signage, presumably at Dodger Stadium.

Brett Alan said...

Wow, great show. That Brock is an amazing find. I have a Tom Seaver auto from that era which is similarly faded, and I was thrilled to find it on eBay for 6 bucks. I'd buy pretty much any certified auto for a quarter, let alone a Hall of Famer!

CardBoredom said...

What a fantastic card show haul.The homemade Maury Wills rookie is probably my favorite, and I really have to tip my hat to you for finding that Brock autograph.

Bo said...

So many fantastic cards in this post. Finding that Brock auto is awesome.

I love Broders. The photos on Seaver and Rose are great, but my favorite here is the Bench. Never seen a Bench Broder. I have a few other foil Broders like that, they look great in person. (The Yaz is not a Broder, I believe that was a set that came with autographed cards, licensed by the player but not the league.)

Some really good photos in the Star sets especially the Rice.

Ballstreet cards are fantastic, and hard to come by. Unique photography and mostly night shots. The Frank Thomas and Ryne Sandberg cards are also just fantastic.

I recently picked up my first Venezuelan card, also from '67. Never seen a Venezuelan checklist before, that one looks so cool. I love the colors on that one.

That Maury Wills is a fun 1/1.

Here's your Home Run Baker. Amazing find for $0.50.

I wouldn't call the Nabisco set generic. They were based off Sports Illustrated posters and there are some great action shots there. Santo just happens to not be one of them.

I think this is a rare case where the oddballs outshine some really solid vintage acquisitions.

Chris said...

Starting Lineup! 2002 Topps Pristine! Hope Diamond! Wow, that was quite an eclectic haul. A Brock auto for a quarter, faded or not, is indeed a steal. But you've got me jealous with all those wonderful finds. And then you hit us with the vintage, as always. The Venezuelan Tony C... the Whiteys, the Strip cards... and that glorious '64 Hank Aaron. Incredible!

Fuji said...

That 64T Aaron is gorgeous! I don't usually target nice conditioned vintage at card shows, but for $40, I would have snatched that up in a heartbeat. There's a monthly show in my area, but it always seems like the same guys with the same cards. However... I guess each show is truly unique since we're always finding new, different cards to buy.

Jon said...

It's hard to beat Broder's, SLU's, and magazine cards for a dime a piece. I'm far from an expert on strip cards, but if authentic, you really did find quite the deal with that one -- certainly one of the better deals I can remember seeing on the blogs. The Bazooka's are neat too. I've bid on a few of Ken Holtzman over the last year or so, but have yet to walk away with one.

Matthew Glidden said...

Love any oddball titled "PERSONAL DATA." Turns out that Star Card #10 Gary Carter covers The Kid's charitable interests (many), where he lived (Palm Beach), and hobbies (golf, racquetball, fishing). Amazing pickups all around.

beefman said...

Always nice to see a 2011 Diamond Parallel card of any color! Especially those Hope Diamond parallels, they were so hard to find.

gcrl said...

the time between me seeing that topps fusion darin erstad card in your post and it being added to a sportlots order was about 90 seconds.

Jafronius said...

Excellent pickups!