Wednesday, January 29, 2014

To the Dime Boxes!

I've been bemoaning the lack of anything vaguely resembling  a card show in the Pittsburgh area for months.  For an area that has such a large base of collectors its mind blowing that there are so few shows around here.

But the drought was broken this past weekend when there was finally a mall show out near my parents' house. 

I know most of the dealers in the area, but this show is always special for me.  The mall is about 20 mins from where I grew up, and most of the guys set up were regulars at the local card shop.  My mom and I used to stop in the lcs every week after music lessons to rip some packs, so I have known a lot of these dealers since i was 11 or 12.

 Back before college, my world and collecting world seemed much smaller.  Ebay was reserved for special occasions or birthday money.  And back before I was willing to drive half way across states to hit a card show, nothing beat the excitement of a mall show.  In high school, I remember trying to hit the show at the oddest possible hours to avoid the chance of anyone I knew spotting me rummaging through boxes of baseball cards in the middle of the mall.

So I ducked out of work a bit early on Friday drove to my parents' and headed up to the mall for a healthy dose of nostalgia and hopefully some new additions to my collection.
 And boy was there a wonderful stack of dime boxes waiting for me.  One of the aforementioned card shop locals who I have known for years if one of the big money gambler types.  He buys up large collections, but only cares about the big money cards.  The rest get split of into dollar and fifty cent boxes.  The rest becomes dimes.

The result are loaded dime boxes full of numbered cards, parallels, and anything he didn't feel like looking through.  Everything in this post was a dime, and considering this was the third show he did with these boxes, I imagine they were even more loaded a month or two ago.
 At a dime a pop, I was able to grab some nicer cards and fun commons alike.  The Hometown Heroes set was possibly my favorite release of 2013, and I took home a hefty stack from the set.
 There was some rookies gold in the boxes as well.    The luster has worn off the superstars of the early 00's forth most part, but how could you possibly pass up a 92 Traded Gold Giambi for a dime?  I also grabbed a Charles Johnson from the set.  Sadly the prized Nomar was nowhere to be found.
 But it wasn't all baseball.  These split refractors are among my favorite 90's inserts.  And the Bucs backfield tandem was a Madden powerhouse as a kid.  Better yet with the peel still attached the card won't be scratched to hell.
 But the gem of the dime's?  A Wilt Chamberlin card for a dime?  I don't have much interest in basketball these days, and the card certainly isn't worth a fortune.  But boy was I happy.
 Seriously...did Panini insist on turning the color scheme on every single photoshopped jersey to black and white? 

Keep in mind fellow bloggers - if I ever start a serious non-Pirate player collection, Jeff Bagwell will be the guy.  I don't think I've ever appreciated an opposing player so much.
 Negro League goodess?  Yes please.
 As I kept digging the finds got better and better.  My collection is sorely lacking in Pete Rose representation. Add in Mike Schmidt and power blue unis and we have a winner. 

And I didn't even realize Mark McGwire had a sunset card in 2002 Topps.  That alone was plenty to get me excited.  But the Gold version?  We have ourselves a Big Mac Attack here.
 Alfonso Soriano's 2014 Topps card is one of the top wants to add to my "boomerang" collection.  It will pair nicely with this RC, back when people actually thought Soriano had the glove to stick at SS.
 And then other times you buy a card for reasons you'll never fully understand.  Wrigley, ivy, and emerald foil = yes.  Cheesy Topps gimmicks of people who don't actually exist? No thank you.

Err, wait.  I bought the card anyway, didn't I? 
 In all I came away with about 100 non-Pirate cards to add to the binders and a few goodies for blogger piles.  Had an impending snowstorm not cut my visit home short, I probably would have gone back again Saturday.

But for an evening it felt like a timewarp.  Driving up to the mall to get to the card show, hoping I don't run into anyone I know.  Ignoring incessant calls from my parents asking when I'll be home for dinner, because I don't want to interrupt my dime box dig.  Driving home for a quiet dinner with my parents. 

Sometimes things change a lot.  Sometimes they don't change much at all.  I don't have much contact with most of my friends from high school - some people I lost touch with,others stopped talking for one reason or another, and many others moved away for school and haven't looked back - not unlike myself.  In the years since I went away to college drug issues have taken the suburbs in a vice grip.  Heroin related deaths hit alarming records last year in the county.  But being back felt so familiar - the faces, the cards, the dusk drive home to have meatloaf with my parents.  I think it's the first meal we've had on a Friday night that was just the three of us in a long time - Kate went out with some friends to watch roller derby match.

I guess cardboard has a way of making time stand still, immortalizing hurried motion in a single moment.  Because a lot has changed in my life- married, job I love, living in a bunch of new places, a wonderful beard that I never would have dared to grow as a teenager, and a few extra pounds courtesy of college and grad school that just won't seem to go away.  But for a couple hours digging through a couple dime boxes I could have been 17 again, getting ready to go meet my friends at Denny's in an hour or two.


  1. Some GREAT finds there! I'm in need of that McGwire if you are interested in trading it. If not, I'll find one eventually!

  2. This is one of the reasons I love going to shows so much. No matter what seems to be going on in my life, they do make time stand still. Even though I'll be turning 22 soon, it's almost like nothing has changed at my local show since I started going as a young lad. Except the cards I find, of course.

    Looks like you did extremely well with your finds! I have a copy of that Kazuo Uzuki "Future Stars" in my collection as well, though I think mine cost a quarter. Like you, I'm still not quite sure why I bought it.

    I want a copy of that Campy so badly. Jackie Robinson's card from 2013 Panini Cooperstown also features him in a Negro Leagues jersey.