Thursday, March 21, 2024

Is this real? (A card show report)

Walking through a card show can often feel like something out of a dream.

Dad and I attended the big convention hall gathering in our neck of the woods last week, and walking through those aisles and aisles of cardboard gets to be downright hypnotic. It's literally wall-to-wall action of people selling, talking, and breathing the thing you love. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself to believe it.

I can say that I've had actual dreams about baseball cards before, and somehow none of them measure up to the actual reality of the things I continue to find at shows over the years. Take this '84 Fleer Update Dwight Gooden that I pulled out of a 50-cent bin(!) near the end of the evening. 

This copy isn't perfect (note the crease near the bottom), but either way it's one of those cards I've always wanted yet long resigned myself to never owning because have you seen what it goes for? Yet there it was sitting there in a random stack of cards for two quarters. 

Surely this only happens in the REM stage.

My non-collector friends are always a bit shocked when I tell them I can buy baseball cards for a dime (only ten cents? that's it?) but again so much of our hobby exists in a 

I do tend to look for a lot of the same things in dime boxes - my oft-mentioned player- and mini-collection hits come to mind - but that never kills the euphoria of nabbing 'em.

(Please forgive me for showing anything of Curt Schilling, but I'm flabbergasted I'd never seen that card - or the sweet Phils throwback - before.)

I dare you to not be hypnotized by dime box shiny.

Of course, while I might fall back on the same general themes in my card show travels, the sheer unpredictability of discount boxes is what keeps me coming back to them so often.

I certainly didn't expect to find a nice little run of TCMA Japanese stuff in a dime box, and I'd never dream of unearthing a neat BBM card in a 50-cent bin.

Couple that with a nice helping of playing cards (yes, those go in the binder like everything else) and Topps Tiffanys for a dime (does anyone remember Sarge with the Mariners?), and you have the of randomness of a card show in a nutshell.

More glorious oddballs from the discount bin archives.

Lest you think the Americanization of Latin names ended with "Bob" Clemente in the '60s, meet one-time White Sox hero "Steve" (Esteban, actually) Loaiza. 

The only thing I enjoy more than oddballs are oddballs I know absolutely nothing about.

I probably overpaid a bit for this Indians stadium giveaway set at the very first table of the afternoon (a whole $20!), and I actually only needed four of the seven cards in said set.

But at the end of the day I knew this was the kind of thing I'd never see again if I didn't snatch it up right then and there - plus how often do you see new cards of Ray Chapman and Addie Joss??

I was poking around a big box of A&G minis at one table when the vendor came over and kindly informed me those are ten cents each.

Thus unleashed a minor form of madness (HAMBURGER MINI!) - but after I'd snapped out of that fugue I found that I'd amassed a hefty stack of about 50 minis that somehow only ran me five bucks.

Dollar boxes are usually a pass for me at shows, but one of the dime box vendors I encountered had a small dollar box off to the side, so I figured I'd poke through it.

Imagine my surprise when I found a nifty Ted Williams Ted Williams, and a Marlins card of Mike Piazza I needed!

A few random horizontals here - I feel like not enough people know how cool that Topps Black & White set is.

Other neat randoms that didn't fit anywhere else in this post - always satisfying to find a photo variation like that Nola in a dime box!

I found a whole run of Platinum Anniversary cards in one guy's dime box, and I think it kinda gave me a new appreciation for the set - Melvin Mora is by no means high on my collecting radar, but it's cool to see someone like him get a card in a modern checklist.

Dreams, like , go through stages, and unfortunately I have to cut this one a bit short...

...because vintage awaits!

The dime boxes and such were in fine form, but in the end I think it's obvious that vintage won the show this time around. A good example of this is the fact that in the madness of everything I picked up, I honestly kinda forgot I bought this '60 Willie Mays until I was going through my finds later that night.

I feel like this is the kind of card that sums up my collection to a T: creased, battered, and generally worn, but still a big name that knocks you sideways with an affordable price tag (only $30!) to match.

As usual, the vintage discount bins packed a whole lot of punches throughout the day - the Yost was a cool find because it's been a while since I'd added a '52 Topps to my binders.

That '57 Kubek (from the icky "scarce" series) is akin to the '84 Fleer Gooden, in that it's a card I wanted but never planned on owning - that is, until an obviously un-mint copy popped up for $10 in the very first aisle.

A lot of my vintage finds tend to be on the pricier side (or, at least whatever qualifies as "pricey" for this cheapskate), but there's still fun to be had in the loose change department here.

Nothing in this scan set me back more than 50 cents - the Morales is another notch in my quest for all the '74 Topps "Washingtons" and that Barragon is just a fun a baseball card (love all the dents in the backstop). 

I've also been making a push to add more defunct team stuff to my binders, and I honestly had no idea future Met great Jerry Grote broke in with the Colt 45s.

I don't have the slightest idea what these are - they're paper-thin and appear to be cut from a sheet of some kind - but I knew there was no way I was letting such a fun batch of Senators get by me at 50 cents a pop.

"Bill's Got It" is another excellent card I'd somehow never seen before, and '60s Fleer Greats remains a constant thrill for me because of how affordable they tend to be.

I've scooped up most of the cheaper Nu-Scoops I need at this point, leaving me with the scarier bigger names to chase - that Gehrig was a whole $15, but that's actually not bad for the top-tier greats in this set.

One of my favorite vendors at this show has a big box of "off-grade" vintage for 90 percent off their list price - talk about heaven!

I'm not usually an avid buyer of early Bowman, but at $5 a piece I'd be insane to pass on these two Dime Box Favorites.

I may love my modern minis, but they can't hold a candle to our bite-size vintage legends.

Dad actually was the one who found that '69 Deckle Edge Jim Wynn, and I think he was a bit surprised about how quickly I threw it into my purchase pile. That one was short-printed for whatever reason & has been a thorn in my side for a good long while now.

Hostess and Kellogg's have long been the hallowed kings of vintage oddballs, but I've also been on a vintage Bazooka kick lately and couldn't believe my luck at finding that cool Colavito.

Now we're getting into the real big stuff, the true pinch-me finds of the day.

Never in a million years did I think I'd be the proud owner of a real Mel Ott card, but a blemish and a couple pinholes found one plop into my lap for a cool $25. That's the kind of thing that I never even think to because it seems so far out on the cardboard stratosphere.

Also please join me in breathing a massive sigh of relief about finally owning a '79 Hostess Ozzie Smith! At a hefty $50, it wasn't exactly discount bin fodder - and about ten times more than I'd ever paid for anything Hostess. Still, it's a surprisingly tough card (there's a copy on COMC for $175) and one I don't think I'd actually seen in the wild before (the vendor I bought it from somehow had four copies!). 

And yet somehow everything I've shown so far takes a back seat to the big purchase of the day...

...because meet Mr. Mantle.

Of course I always want a new Mickey Mantle, but I never walk into a card show with the intent of buying one because the prices are always so massive. The $100 price tag on this '66 was obviously still a good chunk of change (and you can count the times I've paid three-figures for a card on one hand), but every vintage Mantle I've seen at a show is easily at least twice that. Even creased Mantles like this one are usually arm-and-a-leg territory.

I hemmed and hawed a bit, but deep down I think I knew this Mantle was coming home with me all along because I knew I'd regret leaving it behind. And I have Dad to thank for this one, since his generous donation to the Dime Box Human Fund made it all possible. After all is said and done, I'm left asking myself the question that always seems to ring in my head after every card show.

Are you sure this isn't a dream?

Friday, March 8, 2024

God save your mad parade (a guest post from Dad!)

Nick's Dad here...

Nick loves his "oddball" cards and I love seeing his posts here and going
through his cards, amazing the amount of cool stuff!

I collected the '70s Kiss and Elvis cards, as well as vintage Beatles, Monkees, etc, that were in obtainable mass-produced retail packs, but I also really dig musical oddballs...the apple didn't fall far from the tree! 

Here are some of my favorites...

Amazingly, at one of Nick's old bookstore jobs, he grabbed me a bag of about 40 of these 1957 Hit Stars trading cards that they were THROWING AWAY! 

The set was about half movie and TV stars and half music...guess they figured they'd cash in on that new rock n roll "fad"!

Also going in the trash, Nick got me a bunch of these double-sided Supremes cards...I thought they'd be 60s-70s vintage but turns out they were produced by the Motown Corp. in 1986,and that IS odd!

These 1974 minis were put out in the U.K. by Bassett & Co. which is a company who made all kinds of cards from way back, many of my Brit friends collected their football (soccer) and cricket cards...

3 big faves here: Marc Bolan, Noddy Holder, and Roy Wood...

These next couple sets were made by the Dutch company Monty Gum 76-77...I LOVE ABBA but only have a few of these cards, they're usually in the 6-10 dollar range...

...the "Punk" set is really cool with lots of cards I'd love to nab, but these are even scarcer and pricier, but if I had to pick 2 I'd pick the 2 I have!

Nick was nuts about those cards in the SI For Kids magazine when he was
a boy, and has since showed me other "came with a magazine" cards...

A Chicago legend, Jake Austen has been cranking out issues of his magazine Roctober for a loooong time, and an issue a few years ago contained these "Hall Of Dynamic Greatness" cards, from the well-known (Blondie) to the obscure but just as great (Jobriath!)...

I realize any card issued by Topps might not qualify as an "oddball", but
if any qualify it would be these cards issued for the 1994 revival of
"Damn Yankees" on Broadway...

They were (as far as I know) only sold in a pack at the theatre...On my last trip to the Broadway Cares Flea Market in NYC, I finally found a set at a table for 20 dollars, and I immediately asked the vendor if the Jerry Lewis card was in there, since most sets I saw online his card was pulled to sell wasn't in there, so the vendor says "how about five bucks?"

Sold!! Found a reasonable Lewis card shortly thereafter to complete the set...

Always fun to "guest post" and thanks for the opportunity, Nick!