For the third straight year, I met Angus of Dawg Day Cards for the trip down Route 81 to Syracuse for a card show.
Time sure goes fast when you have someone to talk to during a long trip. Angus may collect football and I may collect baseball, but we have other things in common besides knowing what it's like to shovel a lot of snow. Both of us like music and that was the discussion point when we weren't talking cards or sports.
Also we both were on a budget for this card show. It's a shame that nobody wants to pay two veteran collectors to hunt for cards at a card show. We can do a bang-up job on that.
So both of us were in a similar frame of mind: find some deals. The cash I brought came from a mileage reimbursement at work and a portion of a state tax homeowners refund that happened to arrive a mere few days before the show.
I'm happy to say that card shows -- or at least this card show that I've been going to for over a decade now -- are much more accommodating toward the thrifty collector than they once were. You know that stuff I used to say about never seeing a dime box? In the last couple of years, I've seen dime boxes (and bought one) multiple times, I saw more than one dime box at this particular show, and I saw something even better. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
One of the first tables we stopped at featured cards of various star players for a buck apiece. I noticed tabs for Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Clayton Kershaw right away. The Bellinger section yielded nothing. The Seager section produced these three:
I was very happy to land the numbered Bazooka mini card, mostly because I had no idea there were parallels of that card (silly, night owl, don't you know that all cards are paralleled?).
The Kershaw section yielded these cards:
I own the floating head Kershaw already, but long ago I vowed to complete the entire set and I've been stuck on five missing cards for two years. Kershaw cuts it down to four.
I hate spending a buck for a common Panini Donruss card, but do you know how many times I have received the variation Kershaw (the one that says "The Humanitarian" where "Los Angeles" is listed) while still trying to get the base card? That was not funny.
But the star player at this particular table was far and away Mike Piazza. Take a look at these:
I think I need to apologize for every bad thing I've said about the '90s. I could have pulled Piazza cards for 20 more minutes. But there was that budget! And deals! I needed to find deals!
Angus had found some deals of his own on Browns cards. I ventured further into the Hall and found my vintage guy. It was time to work on the 1973 Topps set.
This is about the only place I stopped Sunday where deals didn't come into play, although Gary does cut several dollars off the price when he totals up my cards. It's just when you're dealing with vintage, you're going to pay no matter what.
I'm down to less than 50 cards to complete this set and the usual suspects are rearing their heads (Gossage rookie, Mays, the all-time hit leaders subset etc.). I decided I didn't want all the rookie prospects cards mixed in with all those other pricey wants so I grabbed a few of those, including the Dwight Evans rookie because Evans is always giving us '70s collectors a rough time.
This card was not a deal. I paid the price for a drawing of the Babe because this is one of the few Laughlin World Series cards involving the Dodgers that I needed. Also, I saw this card nabbed on Twitter just before I was going to say "MINE" just the other day. And so I paid up.
But then I stumbled across one of the best deals I've seen at that show.
Wandering through the very back of the show, I spotted several boxes in a corner with signs that said "20/$1.00." I struggled to comprehend what that meant -- I didn't get much sleep the night before. Then the heavens parted and I exclaimed (in my head only) "NICKEL BOXES!"
There were like six of them. Some of them featured non-baseball, but at least half were baseball. I ended up pulling 120 cards out of those nickel boxes for the low, low, low price of 6 bucks. Let's see a few nickel items:
Let's see here: Grady Little with a baby, two future Dodgers currently in the postseason, Rod Carew, the Yankees manager with a glove on his head, a 1971 Topps buyback (WHAT?), a chromy Dodger and Ken Griffey Jr. IN THE NICKEL BOX.
MORE. There was a lot of 2003 Topps in the nickel boxes. If I was trying to complete the set, like I had intended several years ago, I could have done a lot of damage. Meanwhile, Mr. Hendrix asks "Are You Experienced?" and I say "NOT WITH NICKEL BOXES, JIMI!"
Five cents for a Chrome card of Jacob deGrom after the season he had? Sure!
I try to own a card of every pro player I've interviewed. My card representative for David Robinson was pretty week. This five-cent item is much nicer.
The Puffer-Bong card for 5 cents? As soon as I saw the amount of '03 Topps in the boxes, my shuffling senses went into high alert for this card.
A whole bunch of famed broadcasters for five cents apiece. I desperately wanted the Garagiola (already had the Scully) and all the others hopped into my stack.
Handsome-looking set, especially at a nickel each. That is the finest Eddie Gaedel card you will ever see.
By now, Angus had found me. He said there was a dime box on the opposite side of the hall, as well as some Dodgers I might need. I paid my 6 dollars (ha!) and headed over there.
The deals were flying so fast and furious now that I honestly don't remember which of the following cards were 10 cents and which were a buck. Here you go:
The Puig is the metallic snowflake version and the Billingsley swatch is a glorious blue and the Brooklyn Dodgers are celebrating on a numbered card. Yeah, these had to be a buck. No way they're 10 cents.
Some more Dodger deals, each with an explanation. The Bellinger is foil, the Puig is chrome, the Kershaw is metallic and the Lopes is O-Pee-Cheeeeeeeee!!
This particular table also featured a $3 box and I acquired just a few from that one.
This wouldn't be the only 1977 Topps card I would bring home yesterday, but so pleased to get this one out of the way.
I rarely grab random Archives autographs because I'll never be a player collector. But Sean Casey is different since I interviewed him. Three bucks for The Mayor is an easy decision.
What's this? A Jackie Robinson phone card?
Yes it is!
By this point my budget was running on fumes. I turned around and saw a box of items for 5 bucks each. One of them was a complete 1992 Topps baseball set. I looked in my envelope. I had 4 dollars. I'm sure I could've talked the guy down, but it's '92 Topps. Let's put those 4 bucks to better use.
Angus and I toured a few more tables (amid the cars driving into the hall as dealers couldn't wait to get the hell out of there before the 4 p.m. closing time). The dealer at one table, though, wasn't moving. I recognized the table as the one that has featured 1977 Topps football in the past.
This time, several of the '77 football cards were discounted. Ten cents apiece. Weeeeee! Let's see what 4 bucks could get me!
Not a lot of familiar names here, but I expect that at 10 cents each.
Here are four more I forgot:
And that was the end of the deals and the budget. But the one dealer who stayed to the very end got my money!
I came home with a stack of cards that was practically Dime Box Nick-like in size. I have never bought so many cards at one show and for so little.
My hope is I'll have a little more money for the next show (and I hope Angus does, too) because deal-hunting sometimes involves a little more work than I want to do when I go to a card show. But as long as this show is making things so easy, maybe one day I'll head down there with a 20 and see what damage I can do.