Sunday, March 25, 2018

Four for Four: A Card Show Sunday

I attended a card show this morning, for the first time in over eight years. In fact it's been four years since I've been able to shop for cards in any brick and mortar establishment other than Target. But before I get to that, I want to share a bit about my Saturday. 

For the past year or so I've told myself that if something good ever happens I will blog about it immediately because it feels like all I do is complain. So here's the story of my weekend in Connecticut. It wont be long, but if you're not interested you can skip ahead to the cards.

My best friend John e-mailed me at the end of February, because we hadn't touched base in the new year and I hadn't seen him since last summer. When I'm really struggling I don't want to see anyone (or rather, I don't want anyone to see me.) And I used to give him a heads up every time I visited my mom in CT but lately I haven't been doing that because my mom wont be around much longer and I want to spend as much time with her as I can while she's still in relatively okay health.

But with all the stress and anxiety I've had lately, missing out on that job I interviewed for, and generally feeling like I'm on the edge of a breakdown.. I really needed to chill out with someone who's going through similar things. So my wife and kids stayed at my mom's and I drove to New Haven with John.

New Haven on a Saturday night is quite an adventure. It was after 8pm and we drove around the same six blocks looking for a place to eat. There were dozens of restaurants - but no parking. Finally we found a place to park and walked around the city. All the places we passed were packed, or pricey. Some of them had menus posted on the outside, and as we approached one I noticed a striking blonde woman in a black dress approaching. Her face looked very familiar to me and I could swear it was my high school girl friend. It shook me for a second Was that her? It sure looked like her. I hope she didn't recognize me. 

We walked the same blocks we had drove around (and around, and around...) There was a long line of people outside of Toad's Place, a popular dive that used to attract some great bands. I wondered aloud who was playing; scores of people were lined up down the block waiting to get in. John informed me that it was club night, which explains why a lot of the college girls were dressed in tight, skimpy miniskirts and halters. One such girl complained that she was sooo cold. Um..sweetie, it's New England. In March. 

Right in front of the door, where the bouncers were deciding which under dressed hotties to allow inside, there was a girl slumped down on a bench. It looked like she was near death; a paramedic knelt in front of her and eventually loaded her into the back of an ambulance. John saw a guy in a similar state but I only saw the girl. "Man, it's too early to be that bombed." He said. I've seen my share of alcoholics. That girl wasn't drunk, she OD'd.

Finally we settled on an artisan pizza place, semi-hidden from the main roads. It was small but there were seats available by the back. I ordered a small Hawaiian pizza, and while we waited John allowed me to vent about work. I really needed that release. Eventually we got to our favorite topics like movies, music, and women. Both of us are in committed, long-term relationships, but we still have our favorites.

Back in the day we used to list them and discuss them, but in the past few years I had to release all of those thoughts on my blog. And so I told him that I'm all about gingers and Jennifer Lawrence these days. Even with my celebrity crushes I prefer the hot but attainable types; probably explains why I never had a thing for Charlize Theron. Then he lamented that real-life girls still get to him even though he's got a girlfriend..and as if on cue I noticed a hot but attainable woman sitting at the bar with a female friend.

I whispered as inconspicuously as possible,
"There's one behind you..over your left shoulder."  
"Your shoulder or my shoulder?"
"Your shoulder. She's sitting at the bar."

"Well..just so happens I have to pull my phone out.."

I didn't know if he was going to use his phone as a mirror, or take a pic, or what..but it was just a cover to glance her way,
"Oh, wow!"
"I know, right?"

We both glanced her way one more time our way out. I imagined what it would be like to be the type of guy who doesn't think twice about approaching a woman like that. And then I nearly tripped down the step.

After dinner, John led me through some back alleys until we ended up on the Yale quad. The campus was perfectly silent, a stark contrast from the insanity down the street. I gazed up at the incredible architecture of the library, the orchestra hall, the dorms. Really wish I had my camera. 

Before leaving New Haven we stopped for donuts at this crazy donut place called Donut Crazy. By the time we got back to my mom's it was about 11pm. My wife was still awake, so the three of us chatted in the kitchen. I tried not to look at the clock but I was getting tired and I needed my sleep. John didn't leave until 2am. The card show started at 9am.

Even though I was exhausted last night, I couldn't sleep. My mom's guest room was so stuffy, and there were so many thoughts filling my head:

Sports card show!, Gretchen looks great...was that even Gretchen? ...and that woman at the bar, good lord...I need to come home more often...sports cards! 

It was like Christmas morning.

The card show was at the Elks club in nearby Milford. I had planned to visit a card shop while I was back home, but the shop (which I do plan to visit one day) was about a half hour northwest. Milford is ten minutes away, and I've been dying to hit some dime boxes ever since I started reading baseball card blogs.

The room seemed small, but it fit about 40 tables. I used to go to shows all the time back in the day, but I was rusty. I had forgotten how much things cost. I had forgotten how to browse and haggle and make small talk with dealers.

I started on the left side of the room and planned to work my way around. There was a table loaded up with sealed boxes of high-end products (and one box of 2018 Opening Day for $29) With less than $100 in my pocket I couldn't afford to gamble. The first table I stopped at was a kid with loose basketball and football cards. Nothing brand new. I spotted some basketball cards I liked, and plucked them out.

The box was not marked. Never a good sign.

Because it was my first purchase and the prices were a mystery, I stopped at three cards. The young man behind the table tried to convince me the Reggie Miller was a refractor (I told him it would say so on the back) and then said "How about four bucks?" 

I did not like this price, but I wasn't going to haggle over them. Plus, I don't really know what basketball cards should cost. So I agreed. Don't do that again. I told myself.

Ahead of that table and to the left, I spotted an older gentleman with boxes and boxes of vintage singles. I couldn't get at the 1956 Topps singles (and I'm picky about condition on those) but I found what I was looking for - gifts for fellow bloggers. As I was searching through the commons, the dealer told me the star players were in binders. There I found one for my own collection: this 1969 Topps Tony Conigliaro:

The man had stickers on each binder pocket. Tony C was marked at four bucks. I didn't haggle here, either.

I'm going to tell the fourth part third, and you'll see why in a second. I turned right and found the dime box kid at the back of the room. After that I found a woman who had boxes of newer Topps singles. She didn't have any 2017 Topps Heritage but she had lots of 2016 Topps. I was able to cross 46 cards off my need list, including these...for four bucks.

I had no problem with that deal. The cards all seemed fine at the time. However when I got home, I noticed that they weren't lying flat. All of them seem to be curved - which could have happened while they were sitting in my hoodie pouch..but I doubt it.

Still, 46 cards for $4 is a great deal. But the dime box kid gave me an even better deal. His box was marked 10 for $1. But the instant I started looking through his cards he said I could have 12 for $1..possibly because he was also a Red Sox fan. That helped out a lot - though he cautioned there weren't many Sox in his box. 

I spent at least a half hour on his box (and I was there for just under an hour.) His cards were sorted by team, and I made my way through the whole league. By the end I had 62 cards picked out. I counted them into piles of 12. I expected to pay $5 and maybe a quarter for the extras. "Four bucks." He said. How much for the whole box? I thought to myself.

Now I'm no Dimebox Nick, but I think that this was the best four dollar purchase I made today by far:

Only four Red Sox I needed, but at least I got the "Flavor Flav" Papi.

I just completed a trade with P-Town Tom.. perhaps some of these will be included in our next swap.

Stupid scanner line. Got to cross some inserts off my Heritage list...

..and a couple high number base cards off my 'backup' set. This was the only Trout I could find.

But there were plenty of other baseball legends.

Including a Babe Ruth. The Gyorko camo was the only numbered parallel I found.

This dealer had a lot of Bryce Harper cards. I'm not exactly a Harper fan, but I couldn't pass 'em up.

Even if they're dupes. I already had the Heritage Harper, but a short print for less than 7 cents is a deal I'll never see again. 

I did purchase some higher-end singles but I'll save those for future posts. 

Hope you all had a great weekend. I know I did :-)


  1. Nice haul you got there, and those are some great dime box finds!

  2. That's some fine dime boxing if you ask me. Quality cards for 10 cents, or even less? Winner, Winner!

  3. "I used to go to shows all the time back in the day, but I was rusty. I had forgotten how much things cost. I had forgotten how to browse and haggle and make small talk with dealers."

    I did the same when I started attended card shows again.

  4. This was nice, it was like a merger between your old non-card blog and this one, and it worked really well! I'm glad to hear that you were able to have a night out with the boys (or rather, boy). And I'm really glad that you were finally able to go to a card show again, and that you were able to find some really good stuff at said show.

  5. Sweet dime box finds, looking forward to the rest of your haul!

  6. I live in a college town so I'm pretty use to everything you described. Scantily clad girls, passed out people and long lines are all commonplace.

  7. I've got a similar situation with my mom. Her health has really gone downhill since she fell on Christmas Eve. She's gonna have heart surgery sometime in the next two months, which kinda freaks me out... but we all know it has to be done. Anyways... I'm glad you were able to get out and hang with your friend.

    P.S. I can't stand when dealers don't have their cards/boxes marked.

    1. I think I read about your mom at the time, but I don't know if I commented. Heart surgery is scary but hopefully she will come out of it in better health.

    2. Yeah... the doctor who is going to work on my mom performed the "valve replacement" surgery over 75 times during the past 12 months and had zero complications (knock on wood). But anytime you're messing with the heart, it's scary.

  8. That Cruz relic is beautiful! I'm a big fan of the 2016 Topps Museum design. Plus the patch is excellent. Nice find!