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Not that card show, this card show

So, yeah, I caught a card show this past weekend. I also missed a card show this past weekend.

That's the way it is now in the post-pandemic show boom. I'm told this is a lot like it was in the late '80s/early '90s. I wasn't going to shows then, so I don't know.

But it's wild now, as someone who had gotten used to the three-or-four-shows-a-year format that was the norm for a dozen years, to learn that there were Saturday-Sunday shows in two different places 10 minutes apart.

My plan originally was to go to the Sunday show at the New York State fairgrounds. What had been a card show/toy show when I went last December had been split into a toy show Saturday and a card show Sunday. Good move, but it sucked for me because I had to work Sunday night for a co-worker who was on vacation. 

So when Angus of Dawg Day Cards emailed me with a "two shows this weekend!" messsage, I said, yeah, I'm going to the Sunday show but we can't have dinner afterward because I have to go to work. Angus came back with, what about the show on Saturday? And I thought, "it's all toys!" But then I read further and realized, he was talking about a completely different show 10 minutes away. All right! Let's go to that one Saturday!
This show was at a hotel, kind of near where Angus and I first met for a show a few years ago. It was a bit small, definitely smaller than the Fairgrounds shows I go to, but it was well-run and I had no problem finding stuff I wanted.
Together we walked the show loop and cased out the tables before spending any money. Then we stopped at the first table near the door. The dealer is a loud, friendly sort who I've seen at the Fairgrounds show. He has a lot of stories and he's just dying to tell you them. I know this because he said at least 3 times while I was there, "I have a lot of stories, I'll tell you some if you want to hear them."

I bought practically the first card I saw. It was at the top of a stack of cards that were 20 bucks apiece. I've already come to terms with the remaining superstar cards in my 1970 Topps chase being off-condition so this is the best I can hope for. Not Rose's greatest card but a pretty pleasing version.

I also added this '69 Tony Perez from the stack next to the $20 stack that were $5 apiece. This is a nice upgrade of the Perez I have.

There were lots of other cards and retro packs on his table. You could buy a pack of '89 Topps for who knows why. Toward the other end were a couple of bins of two-dollar cards and I pulled just a few.

A pair of O-Pee-Chee Schmidts. I will never turn away '70s or '80s O-Pee-Chee.

A selection of legends cards. The 2015 and 2020 Heritage Baseball Flashback cards are two of the better-looking flashback sets. The 1993 Upper Deck Eck Then & Now card is an attempt to collect that insert set to go along with my 1993 Upper Deck blog. I have a long way to go.

A 1986 Fleer Roger Clemens. Now down to 28 cards needed to finish the set.

I think Angus was pulling cards along with me but I don't really remember what he was finding -- that's why he has his own blog! But that was it for me at that table.

We moved around the corner to a guy who was selling mostly vintage baseball -- my kind of table. Angus got a really cool card that I'm sure he'll show off. I gravitated to the table because the dealer had vintage cards in binders. I love that dealer presentation and it reminded me of the dealer Gary that I always go to at the Fairgrounds show. I missed Gary.

I especially missed him when I started looking through the binder. The cards were in order by year, starting with 1964 and ending around 1972. That's a good start. But within the year there was no order to them at all. Not by number or team or even alphabetically. That defeats the purpose of looking up your want list on your phone. But I stayed with it because there were cards I wanted.

Oh, did I mention that almost nothing was priced? Eesh. Normally, I skip these places immediately. But I think Angus is a bad influence. He was finding good stuff there and I caught myself handing over the cards to the dealer and then him sitting down and PULLING OUT THE BOOK AND LOOKING AT PRICES. Walk away! Walk away! But I didn't. And he gave me a price that I'm sure was too much. I talked him down on one card but I just didn't have the heart. I wanted the cards too much. So I paid up.

This is what I brought home from there:

Three sharp 1967s. A couple of Twitter folks were admiring my Felipe Alou card. It is a semi-high number so yeah I can't complain.

More 1969s. I love the George Scott card. He's really starting to look like the George Scott I knew in the '70s there.

And a couple of 1970 Topps high numbers. I'll get that '70 set done yet.

I also added a couple of 1979 Topps football checklists that Angus found out of a random bin on the table. Weirdly, these cards were priced.

Those two cards are foreshadowing for the next table I visited.

We turned the corner again and Angus moved toward one table that I think had soccer stuff? I start to lose interest the second I see a soccer card, which is probably why I floated over to the table behind us.

The young man (maybe in his 30s with his young boys with him) had a looong station, one of those places where there are so many tables that you don't know if it's still the same dealer. There was a bit of everything, very well-organized boxes with color-coded and tiered pricing, sorted by team. I like this! But the thing that drew my attention was a binder of 1979 Topps football.

It didn't seem to fit with the other items for sale but it was exactly what I wanted. There weren't prices so I asked the guy. He acted like no one would ever ask such a thing, shrugged and said "50 cents apiece." So I started pulling. I was finding 4 or 5 needs on every page. The dealer gave me some penny sleeves to sleeve the cards. Then he came back to see if I needed any help. No, I'm still pulling. I started to get the idea that he didn't think what I was doing was very efficient. Finally he came back after I had pulled 14 cards and said, "I'll give you the whole binder for $30."

I did some quick math in my head and accepted.

It was an old, dusty binder and the pages had that wrinkly look that plagued those old BCW pages. I initially feared for the condition of the cards but almost all of them -- except the team leaders cards -- were in fantastic shape. Sharp corners, practically pulled from the pack.

There were almost 400 cards total in the binder, that comes to 13 cents per card. I didn't need all of them, in fact I have a lot of dupes now (but also a lot of upgrades). I needed 144 of the cards. So I had barely 300 cards from the set when I walked in the place and now need 88 cards to finish the set (coincidentally, almost as soon as I came back from the show, I had two offers on TCDB that contain '79 football needs). There were lots of stars in the binder. Fouts, Largent, Youngblood, Stabler, Biletnikoff, Carmichael, Jaworski, Csonka, Too Tall Jones, Randy White, Dierdorf, Alzado and O.J. Simpson as a 49er.

After adding the binder, I walked all the way to the end of this dealer's complex to a glass case and requested one last football card.

He knocked five bucks off and Roger was mine.
After I got the binder in my possession -- fortunately Angus thought ahead and brought a carrying case and offered to store the binder -- I realized that the final two pages weren't '79 football or even football.

A couple pages of Orioles. I have most of them but there could be a couple upgrades and the rest I could definitely send my nephew.

From there I was starting to realize that the cash was winding down. I could easily move past the next couple of tables. Mostly basketball and also a table full of crazy old tobacco cards and Cracker Jack cards, reserved for gawking, I guess.

Then I turned the corner and was back where I started, opposite the chatty story teller who was regaling some collector with stories about Hells Angels and cocaine. But I focused on row after row after row after row after row of 50-cent boxes. All sports, but I was all about baseball.

I pulled Betts.

 I pulled Bellinger (Heritage action variation!)

You were wondering when I'd get to the Dodgers, right?

Usually such a place like endless 50-cent cards is so overwhelming that I pull my share of dupes. In this case I pulled just three. The pink Seager and Prizm Bellinger are doubles and so is the '82 Donruss Ryan at the top of the post, but that is already in a TCDB trade!

The variety in these bins was phenomenal. As someone with a ton of variety in my collection, these were a dream come true. I just didn't have enough money for everything that I wanted. This enormously cheesy Ripken photo from a 1991 Topps Magazine insert is just a sampling.

This 1997 Score insert might be the only late '90s baseball card that I saw in the whole show.

Another Ripken. Another 1984 O-Pee-Chee!

One of those many Broder Darryl Strawberry cards. The gold bling on this is darling, a forerunner for the gaudiness to come.

Ooof. Angus and I joked about the quandary of team collectors being "forced" to pick up cards of players we find odious. I have actively avoided purchasing Trevor Bauer Dodgers cards even though it goes against my team completist tendencies. But I was helpless here. I love the 2021 Lights Out insert look. There are 3 Dodgers in that set. I've had the other two for awhile ..... ALL RIGHT 😖, I'll add it.

Yes, there was plenty of vintage in these bins. I turned away a bunch of it. But I added these fine cards (I didn't see the blue blotch on Groth, and you know what? I don't care). The Expos team card is a much-needed upgrade. The Garv is my fourth version of this card, but a couple others I own are deceptively defective.

I think all of the 1974 Topps Traded cards were in there and that was something I wasn't prepared to encounter. Several of my Traded cards for that set are in not great shape. We'll have to see about these.

I will buy the '75 Herb Washington Pinch Run. card at 50-cents a pop every time I see one. This is super-sharp and so was the other '75 Topps cards I saw in the bins. I wish I could've grabbed them all. I even saw a few '75 minis (all in kind-of-rough shape) that I almost never see at shows.

I also added this 2017 Topps ad thing so I can put it in the 1970 Topps Nolan Ryan slot in case I never get the real thing, which is a definite possibility. If I lose a few more brain cells I could even convince myself that I've bought it already.

As is tradition, Angus handed me a few Dodgers cards before we went on our trip. All of these Jackies are quite appropriate this month. I have each of them but that doesn't mean I don't love getting them. I often think about some sort of Robinson tribute in my card room, maybe these could play a part.

One of the great things about TCDB is damn near everything is considered a card and one of those things are these booklet contest things that I think were part of 1997 Donruss packs? I got to check it off as my 352nd Jackie Robinson "card"!

I've been waiting four months for this. It's the necessary second 1992 Diet Pepsi Gary Carter card so I can have one to go in the team set as I can't break up the complete set that Angus gave me the last time!

And some more Panini stickers. Always happy to add more Hershisers and Murrays.

After some needed down time in the giant hotel lobby -- Angus had joined me at the 50-cent boxes and my legs said we had been standing for too long -- we made the return trip and stopped at Wild Wings  so we could gab about the show and cards again over burgers and wings.

If I was younger, and had the cash, I would have gone back to Syracuse the next day for the Fairgrounds show. I felt a tinge of regret when I saw show pictures on Facebook:


But I sure found a bunch of stuff that I wanted. Also, I picked up fliers for upcoming shows and there's something going on like every other week now, so I'm going to be missing out all the time and I'll just have to deal with it.

It's certainly better than the way it was when I'd wait four months for a show and then it'd get here and I couldn't go because of some stupid snowstorm.

Anyway, I know that was long, but I like conveying the card show experience and, yeah, reliving it, too.


Looks like a ton of fun!! And I totally agree about grabbing copies of the Herb Washington, love that card!
Angus said…
Aww, man, that Sunday photo looks like it would have been fun, but I definitely wasn't making the commute from Ottawa for both shows.

If you ever want to get a funny look from Night Owl, eagerly suggest that he should buy a sealed box of 1987 Topps rack packs. :) I knew there was no way he would do so, but it was fun to point them out to him.

I agree that the unmarked binder and looking the prices up in the guide was a warning that we should have stayed away, but at least you still ended up getting some nice cards from him.

Had a great time at the show with you and dinner afterwards. Thanks for doing the driving between Watertown and Syracuse. Can't wait until we do it again.
Nachos Grande said…
Wow, great haul! I need to figure out how to know when those shows are happening. I made the Fairgrounds show once (and I'm on that mailing list) but otherwise I don't know what else is happening up north (of me)!
Grant said…
I went to a card show myself this weekend. I like your pickups of '82D Ryan and the Bellinger IA for a buck!
Old Cards said…
Nice pickups for your 1970 set. Enjoyed the experience of the card show!
Nick said…
I can't look at the lists of shows in my area too often because it bums me out to know how many of them I'm inevitably gonna miss! Working night shifts really cuts into my card show time...

Glad you did well at your show, because between the Hell's Angels storyteller dude and the guy pulling out a Beckett to price cards, I'd have low expectations. That '70 Pete Rose is nifty - I don't see that one as often as some of his other cards for some reason. And nice find on the Bellinger variation! Little gems like that are always fun.
Sounds like it was a blast!
Chris said…
Sounds like you and Angus picked up some great cards and had a great time.

I totally fell for that 1970 Ryan being the real thing ;O
Jimetal7212 said…
Nice haul. Those 67s and 69s look mighty nice indeed. I'm getting there on those sets myself, but I fear the Seaver and Reggie (never mind this guy named Mickey) will put a stop to that. Too bad CT is not a cost efficient trip for yourself. There's a show here where you'd make a killing with some of the great vintage dealers here.
1984 Tigers said…
Really cool post and blog period. Back in the 90s and then when started shopping on ebay for deals, I gladly picked up huge lots of 60s and 70s cards in the 2000s and early 2010s. Johnny hustle has been my favorite eBay seller. Love the quality.

I'm planning on doing some shows but some reason mid michigan seems to be slow to having shows, unlike detroit area. Just the conversations at the shows and making enough in sales while also pleasing some buyers is a great feeling. I have not done a show as a dealer since 1996 and haven't been to a decent show in perhaps 20+ years.

This is encouraging.

Paul t
Nick Vossbrink said…
Sounds great! I'm glad someone else is working that 1993 Then and Now set, I'm down to needing 4 (plus an extra Mays).

And oof. I'd've walked from that dealer without the prices. My last show, the last table I stopped at was a guy who wouldn't even let me touch the cards. He had a box of 1956s on the table and as soon as I reached for it he snapped at me, asked who I was looking for, proceeded to look through the entire stack for it, then pulled out his price guide to price it. What a waste of time.
Mike Matson said…
I envy those who have card shows to go to.. Even though right now all I'd be able to do is window shop.. lol
I have to say a nice batch of cards picked up. I really need to start working on organizing my collection again to see what I have and what I need again..
Billy Kingsley said…
Sounds like a great show to me!

If the tobacco cards were not baseball they would likely have been surprisingly affordable. Cards from the 1800s for under $5 each affordable! Baseball is a whole different story though, well all sports cards from that era really.

I love that design of the 1966 Throwbacks. It's based on the AMT model kit boxes for 1966.
Fuji said…
Walking around with a buddy (especially a fellow blogger) is just as fun as digging through fresh dime boxes from a dealer you've never seen before. Walking away with this kind of haul is a very solid bonus. Congratulations on landing that 79T FB binder for that price. And the Herb Washington is super clean and a steal at that price.
AdamE said…
You do shows different than me. To me tables with no prices are where you get the best deals, especially if it's busy. Many times, if they are sorted by teams I will just say how much for all the Red Sox and they just give me a number. Rarely will they look in a book for prices. Maybe if they had something in a case they will.
Matt said…
Haven’t been to a show in 30 years. I miss going especially finding some
Cards that you did!
1984 Tigers said…
The best part of shows 30+ years ago was getting to know some dealers who could look out for stuff you needed and then agree to buy them on your behalf with say a 20 percent profit margin for them. I got the entire 1972 football high number set this way as well as a bunch of other key cards I needed for my sets.

The 94 baseball strike had a devastating effect on the shows, though the number of shows and quality of cards offered began declining before then. Ebay really crushed shows as well. Why set up and pay for tables when you could sell online. Glad to see the comeback!

Paul t
NPB Card Guy said…
I remember that Eddie Watt traded card from when I was a kid - IIRC the back says "Watt's New For The Phils" which 10 year old me thought was the funniest thing ever.

I am not looking forward to getting Bauer cards in NPB products this year but since I'm a complete set collector, I can't really avoid it.
Michael D said…
Looks like you had a blast and picked up some great cards for your collection. I don't collect football, but that's a nice looking Staubach card.
Jon said…
I'm more envious of you getting to go to a show with someone than I am the cards. And it's been a few years, but I always used to skip the tables where nothing was priced and dealer was sitting with a Beckett at his elbow. I'm sure that I missed a few deals by passing on them, but I just didn't ever want the stress of having to deal with those kind of people.
Jafronius said…
Excellent pickups!