Sunday, July 24, 2011


I didn't bring a list to the card show over the weekend. A list often means Expectations, and it's good to have little to no expectations at this particular show.

Calling it a card show is a bit ridiculous, since the few dealers who sell cards are situated in the back of arena. Coins and postcards are the real stars of the show. So I know that there are going to few tables that draw my interest, decreasing the likelihood of seeing cards I want.

Also, you never know how many tables will have cards. One year it was two. Another year it was 8 or 10, I lost track exactly. This year there were four, and fortunately I know two of the dealers.

With limited tables and limited wares, lacking a list didn't cause any problems.

In fact, I'm quite happy with what I landed. Here is a happy little countdown from "she isn't that bad," to "drop-dead gorgeous."

8. 1979 Topps Red Sox grab bag

One of the dealers has a large plastic bin full of grab bags, about 50 cards apiece. I picked up a bag from '76 and '77 Topps last year. Unfortunately there wasn't any '77 Topps this time. Lots of bags of stuff that intrigue me but I don't collect -- '70 Topps, '73 Topps, TV/Movie cards from the late '70s (Incredible Hulk, Grease, Three's Company) -- and one bag of '72 Topps that I knew would be filled with cards I already had.

So, I bought two bags from '79 Topps. One was a bag of Red Sox. Eighteen Red Sox from the set, meaning all the stars were weeded out. I took it anyway. I can't help it. There are certain teams that made such an impression on me in the mid-to-late '70s that any cards from those teams are must-haves. Dodgers. Yankees (I hate to say it). Red Sox.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize how many '79 Red Sox I already have. The terrific Bob Montgomery card up top and the Red Sox prospects card were the only ones I needed. Oh, well, there are a few Red Sox fans out there.

7. 1979 Topps grab bag

The scanner cut off the bottom of Gorman's card. He's really all there.

This card was on the top of the grab bag, and I needed the card, so there was no way I was going pass this up. The scowl drew me in.

But the rest of the bag was a bomb. I think the dealer put every double-printed card in the set in that bag. You remember the evil period between 1978-81 when Topps decided to double-print some cards? There will always exist copies of the 1979 Jesus Alou and 1980 Mike Jorgensen cards.

I managed five cards that I needed, even though I'm a long way from completing the '79 set. Gorman Thomas, Doyle Alexander, Rick Langford, Sal Bando, and Padres prospects. I was able to upgrade a few other cards, but not a lot. The grab bag treated those '79s worse than I did as a 13-year-old.

6. A smattering of 1977 Topps

This same dealer has a disorganized bin full of '60s, '70s and '80s cards (and a couple '50s), football cards, basketball cards, hockey, even a few '90s inserts. You can get anything out of there super cheap. But all I wanted was four cards from 1977 Topps. This McCarver card was back when I thought McCarver was cool. How can you not like that card? The Rick Jones card is not real in any way. I think they even faked the chest hair.

5. Howie Reed, 1965 Topps

The reason we all waste precious time sifting through random bins of cards is to find things like this. Howie Reed jumped out at me and I didn't need my list to realize HEY, I NEED THIS CARD. It was the highest-numbered 1965 Topps Dodger left on my want list. High numbers aren't a huge issue in the '65 set, but I'm conditioned to think that obtaining any high-numbered card from the first 25 years of Topps is a steal.

Howie is happy to be home.

4. 1972 Topps Hall o' Famers

I struck out on finding any 1971 set needs. That's what happens when you need all high numbers. But I did claim these three greats from the '72 set. Seeing that it was Hall of Fame induction weekend, I think these were quite appropriate. I plan to slip them into my newly appointed '72 Topps binder shortly.

3. Sandy Koufax, 1965 Topps Embossed

I was pleased to hear Bert Blyleven's references to Sandy Koufax during his induction speech. How great is it that Blyleven's dad was a Dodger and Frank Howard fan! And it was good to see Sandy there in Cooperstown.

You don't hear a lot of nice things about the Topps Embossed set, but that's OK. That helped me get the card cheaply. I've seen these cards online and in books, but I think they look a lot nicer in person. It reminds me of something card companies would have done in the '90s.

And there's nothing wrong with another Sandy for the collection.

2. Don Drysdale, 1961 Topps

On what would have been Drysdale's 75th birthday, I landed Drysdale's greatest Topps card.

I think the '61 card beats all of his other cards by a long shot. Look at that expression on Drysdale's face. Topps used the same photo for Drysdale's 1962 card. That's how good it was.

Topps has kind of Topps-Archived this card to death. But I'm not going to let all those retro-reprints destroy my enjoyment of this card. It's terrific.

1. Gil Hodges, 1954 Topps

I have multiple cards of just about every player on the Boys of Summer. But this is my first Topps Brooklyn Dodgers card of Gil Hodges.

I don't know why the man is so overlooked by both me and, you know, those guys. He was the embodiment of baseball.

I'm so happy to have this card.

So, that's what you can find without a list.

I don't recommend doing it very often. It helped that I knew the dealers and what they offer. It also helps that it was a sunny, lazy afternoon by the lake. It tends to make all those obsessive tendencies go away.


  1. I receltly saw Gil Hodges on "Home Run Derby". I can't remember who he was paired with, I think it was a Giant.

  2. Huge congrats on Gil. That may be his best card, too, and it's in really nice shape. The other cards ain't too bad, neither. (Drysdale! Koufax! GORMAN THOMAS!)

    I don't know if you watched or just listened to Blyleven's speech, but if you didn't watch, I think he got Sandy to go misty when he told his Koufax story. So glad Bert's in the Hall now. Next mission: HODGES!

  3. Great pick ups! I have just been scouring ebay for some nice vintage. The search for a nice Gil Hodges starts this week.

  4. My dad has on old cigar box full of baseball cards from his younger days, and he's got a small stack of those gold embossed cards. When I saw them as a kid, I figured they were worth hundreds each. As it turns out, they are not and I still have to work for a living...

  5. Tim McCarver was never cool. Ever.