Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fool Me Twice...: Mall Shows, Pittsburgh, and Me

It had been a pretty long work week, and the light at the end of the tunnel had been a mall show over the weekend.  A few hours of digging through dime boxes and adding some new Bucs to the collection is the perfect cure to take your mind off things.

Of course this largely depends on there actually being dealers present at said show to sell cards.  Or even have any cards.

Kate and I set out for the city - she would get to stop at a few thrift stores, and I would get some quality cardboard time, and maybe do a little shopping with the gift cards we still haven't used from the wedding.

The mall that was hosting the show is about half an hour south of the city, and while the shows there were never the strongest I'm almost always able to find something worth my time.  After all, dime boxes make me easy to please.

As we walked through Macys into the mall entrance, it was pretty clear this was not going to be a good show.  Right in front of me were a few tables of cards.  A quick count tallied up five dealers.  Total.  After a quick pass, one guy was selling nothing but Pittsburgh singles at well above book - we're talking $2-3 for a Jason Bay common, $5 for a Sidney Crosby base card.  Another table was selling nothing but grab bags in small flat rate mailers for $10 each.  No thanks.  Yet another dealer went the brown paper bag route on the grab bags, but their price was equally high and the piles of '88 Donruss scattered around their table as their "showcase" cards weren't a good sign.

And then there were two.  One table looked promising, with about half a dozen full dime boxes.  As I started looking through them, I realized they were all hockey cards.

But what the hell.  The trip was clearly a lost cause, so might as well dig for some Pens commons.  But even that was largely fruitless - aside from half a dozen cards most of the Pens had been pulled or picked over.  But in the middle of one row there was an oasis of hope.  What looked to be about a dozen packs of 1998 Fleer Sports Illustrated.  It's a set I remember little about, and I knew I needed cards from.  But I had no idea the set was so...awesome.

 This pair of Marlins postseason highlights were the first ones to go into my stack, followed by the Eck Red Sox card up top.  I've always been a sucker for post-season highlights, and the '97 WS was the first Series I vividly remember watching as a kid.
I have quite a few examples of this White Sox throwback, since the team had been wearing it since the early 90's.  But this Belle is perhaps the best shot of the full uniform I have, since most cards capture the players in a batting pose.  Thanks Joey!

 And the dig wouldn't be complete without the guys behind the plate.  Charles Johnson was one of my favorite players as a kid.  First, he had the same name as Steelers receiver Charles Johnson.  As an 8 year old?  Blew. my. mind.  And his defense was perhaps the best in the game.
 But in the 90's catcher was just as much about offense as it was defense.  When you think of D behind the plate, Todd Hundley doesn't exactly come to mind.  Add in a cameo by the Man of Steal and you've got a winner.

 Among the hockey rubble there was an equally small pile of football cards.  Nothing too impressive, but a small stack of Metal inserts did stand out.  These cards look great in person with a rainbow foil background that really makes the cards pop. 
 Bledsoe and Leaf were two of my favorite players from the 90's - who doesn't love quarterbacks after all?  Both have worked their way to solo binder page status among my small football collection, though for very different reasons.
Grand total?  $2.

The quality was great, but a little quantity would have made the day a bit better.  The final table did offer up some Pirates goodies that I'll save for a second post.  But in all the show was a total wash.  Of the last three shows in the area, two have been a complete waste of time and gas.  It's really frustrating, since the region used to host great shows on a pretty consistent basis as recently as a couple years ago.

But not all hope was lost. 

While Kate looking for some deals on work clothes at the thrift store, I came across a Pirates jersey.  Steelers jerseys common finds at thrift stores around here, but Pirate jerseys are few and far between. 
It was a blank back version of this red alternate the Bucs wore for a few years.  Most folks hate it.  And for that very reason I've grown to love it.  I actually already have a Jack Wilson Authentic jersey in the same style, but for $10 I couldn't pass up the McDonald's vest.  The jersey was widely despised from day one, so I doubt many examples are floating around.


  1. sweet find on the jersey. I love doing the thrift shop thing, but never check for jerseys. May have to do that sometime. I don't know if you ever go to the nick-nac section, but whenever I go it's a must. You can on a a rare occasion find a bobblehead, or other promotional stuff from not just the local team, but other teams as well.

    1. Between garage sales, thrift stores and the occasional flea market trip I've picked up all the Pirate bobbles and most of the Penguins SGA bobbles. Plus some surprises like Indians, minor league, and even a Rockies SGA bobble.

      Thrift stores are a great way to pick up older jerseys on the cheap, depending on where you're at.

  2. Sorry the show was a bit of a bust, but those Sports Illustrated packs look to be a nice consolation prize. I love that set, and that Belle throwback is awesome!

  3. I wish we could find out how much money the dealer with $3 Jason Bay base cards took home this weekend. I'd be surprised if he made a single sale.