Friday, July 5, 2024

I spent more in a village hall than I did at The National

A couple weekends ago, I took a Sunday off work to attend the local village hall card show, the first time I'd been there in about three years.

I've said many times before that smaller, calmer shows like this one fit my personality a whole lot better. That said, the money involved usually isn't in the same ballpark. I save more for The National, I bring more to The National, I spend more at The National. That's just how it is. How can a small local gathering about 1/50th the size of The National expect to compete with such prodigiousness?

Yet somehow, against all odds, I actually spent more money in the two moderately-sized rooms at the village hall show than I did in the entirety of last year's National.

I think one of the reasons this is even remotely possible is that vendors don't have to sell as much to pay for their table, thus opening the possibility for me to find more fun cheap stuff.

Granted, I did see a couple dime box vendors I used to love eschew the cheap stuff for five, ten, twenty-dollar cardboard at this show - a lot's changed in the hobby in the three years since I've been able to go. But overall there was still more than enough gold in the discount bins to satisfy this low-end fanatic.

Take that three-card panel issued by the US Department of Transportation at the top of this post that cost me exactly $1 (of course I've already cut it up), or this weird T206-style oddball set that may well feature the earliest appearances of throwback jerseys on cards.

A smaller show also simply allows me more time - time to soak everything in, time to comb through entire tables, time to hit some vendors two, even three times throughout the day (try doing that at The National).

This show lasts until 2 PM, and I arrived at the village hall around 10 AM. I'd made a lap through all the tables by around 11:30, which allowed me the chance for some treats I usually don't have time for when I'm in a time crunch - like 50-cent boxes. 

I snatched that Johnny Washington auto for a couple quarters even though I knew absolutely nothing about it - I'm glad I did, because it turns out Mr. Washington played in the Negro Leagues in the late '40s & is still kicking at 93 years young!

I'm glad to see more current singles for sale at shows these days - there was a little while there where I was finding nothing but wax, wax, and more wax.

Why spend $30 on a 32-card blaster of Platinum Anniversary when you can get a massive stack of hand-picked needs for a quarter a pop?

There weren't a ton of dime boxes at this show - maybe two or three in the entire hall - but the few I found managed to make quite a splash.

Found this quartet of toughies for my big player collections - Vlad is a Heritage SP and the Lofton is from the tough '92 Fleer Update set - but Dime Box Find of the Day honors has to go to that excellent Topps TV Tony Gwynn.

A&G minis are usually in good supply at shows, but it's not every day you find a Shakey's Pizza card in the wild!

Your usual helping of shiny stuff, including a card that reminded me how beautiful those '04 Gold Refractors really are.

More miscellaneous discount bin fun (how often do you see Mike Piazza at first base?), and this is probably the first time in a decade or two that I bought an autograph and a game-used card at the same show.

Eric Munson is high on my list of Failed Prospects I Collect, and I figured I'd toss a couple quarters at a bat card of his for the novelty if nothing else. 

A few cool pre-fame glimpses of future stars - certainly didn't think I'd find a Topps NPB Seiya Suzuki in a dime box here in the greater Chicago area.

More things I can't resist, like food-issued oddballs (Twizzlers!) and Starting Lineup companion cards.

I am, admittedly, also in the market for any non-obnoxiously-priced Michael Jordan baseball cards (that one was a dollar). 

Smaller shows like this make me wonder what I'm missing when I'm otherwise forced to skip over quarter and fifty-cent boxes at bigger gatherings.

While they might not be dime boxes, there's still a lot of gold hidden in these things - take that masterful Mickey Mantle play at the plate, for instance (fifty cents!).

You'd think a relatively small village hall show wouldn't have much in the way of vintage, or at least nothing that could even remotely measure up to The National - but you'd be wrong.

Some of my most prized vintage finds have come at this particular show, and even with a three-year gap since my last trip, it's a trend that I think you'll all agree in due time continued this time around.

For starters, how about a couple absolutely massive names from my beloved Kellogg's - Reggie was a mere $10, and I've gone up the wall trying to find a semi-affordable copy of that '70 Clemente for years now (a very reasonable $35 price tag put that to bed!).

Cheap, fun vintage is a continued thrill for me at shows - these four combined cost less than a single pack of modern cardboard.

Love the rare manager-carrying-bats shot on that Kasko, and for the love of the cardboard gods how have I never seen that '73 Blue Moon Odom before??

In my experience, I've found that smaller shows are generally better for finding vintage bargains - where else am I gonna find a '60 Topps Orlando Cepeda for two bucks?

(And in the latest episode of Nick Has Too Many Cards, I somehow forgot that I already own a copy of that Drysdale...)

These were among my final purchases of the day, made during my third separate trip through the archives of a particularly fruitful table - that '67 Palmer completes my run of his Topps cards.

In a bit of sad happenstance, Orlando Cepeda passed away in the time between buying these cards and writing this post...

...which is particularly odd because my trip to the village hall unwittingly turned into The Day of Orlando Cepeda at some point.

The '60 Topps, '62 All-Star, and '63 Post Cepedas are all fine and good, but they can't light a candle to this '58 rookie I scored from one of the first tables of the day, a card I've wanted for my entire adult collecting life. I fished out a whole $70 from my wallet to put this "Keep Dreaming" need to bed - not a particularly massive steal, but still a good price for a card that's been an unattainable prize for so long.

All in all, you couldn't ask for much more out of a fine day at the village...wait, hold on...what's this...

[record scratch]

One simply does not attend a village hall card show with any intention of walking out with a '58 Mantle, for God's sake. But here we are.

How does this happen? The vendor I bought the Clemente & Reggie Kellogg's from off-handedly showed me a '58 Mantle he'd just picked up about ten minutes prior, more out of affability than with any intention of seeing if I wanted it. He then said something like I think I'll price it at $175. I thought he meant $1,175, because in my experience that seems like a more expected price for a '58 Mantle (probably the most marked-up ballplayer in cardboard history).

But no, I watched the man carefully pen $175 on the tag. I panicked because this was massively cheaper than any '50s Mantle I'd ever seen...but I didn't quite have that amount of cash left at that point in the day. I asked if I'd take $150 (the entirety of my remaining funds), and he said the lowest he could go was $165. Sadly, I told him I didn't have that much cash on me. At which time he said: I take PayPal, too.

I usually try not to venture out into the world of virtual purchases at shows - cold, hard cash keeps me to at least the illusion of a budget - but in this case I think you'll agree it was justified. And somehow, with a few quick taps on a phone, the '58 Mantle was mine. It's the kind of card you shake hands with the vendor after buying.

And that, my friends, is the story of how I spent more money at a local village hall than The National.


Mike said...

Wow,that was some day at the office, I'm so bummed I missed it!

Considering,except books,you rarely she'll out much for anything (unlike your multi-collections dad!) You deserve to treat yourself!

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

Sounds like it was a blast.

Fuji said...

Dude. I was blown away by the Topps TV Gwynn. But then I saw the 1970 Kellogg's Clemente. And then you wrapped it up with a $165 1958 Topps Mantle? Holy cow! Your pickups were awesome!

Brett Alan said...

I never heard of Johnny Washington either, but wow--he played in the East-West game (Negro League All-Star Game) as a rookie in 1936, and again in 1947! Quite a feat.

gcrl said...

looks like a fun time and congrats on the mantle! the pinnacle mantle you showed is also interesting in that it shows him wearing number 6, which he did for part of his rookie year. i love stuff like that!

Elliptical Man said...

Voting for Clemente.

Congrats on your Palmer collection.

Jon said...

It's nice to see someone splurging on a couple of big ticket items. You don't see bloggers doing that very often, as quantity usually wins out over quality in our little corner of the internet.

CardBoredom said...

Among many excellent acquisitions at this show, the '92 Fleer Update Lofton is easily my favorite. Good job setting up the plot twist with the 1958s at the end.

GTT said...

That's an incredible haul for a local show - my jaw dropped over the Mantle.

Nick Vossbrink said...

Madre Mia what a haul. Gonna have to change the name of your blog soon though. :p

Jafronius said...

Great pickups!