Friday, February 28, 2014

It's Showtime

After a months-long dry spell, there is yet another card show this weekend.  Nothing too exciting - just another mall show.  But it should keep me occupied for a while tomorrow. 

In the mean time, I had my eye on a few cards on COMC that had been sitting in my cart.  I added some money to my account and...well, that's where things stopped.  Usually the money shows up instantly.  At worst it takes a minute or two.  But two hours in and still no funds in my account.  On a high traffic day like Black Friday I can certainly understand something like this happening.  But 11pm in February?  Paypal says the money went through, so I guess I can either patiently wait or head to bed and hope the cards I was interested in are still there in the morning. This hobby can never be too easy, right?

Monday, February 24, 2014

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Today was a long and frustrating day at work.  I won't bore you with the details, but I caught a pretty big goof that threw off our numbers projections for the entire year.  And in the non-profit world, big goofs mean losing big funding.  Luckily I caught the calculating error early enough that we should be able to adjust accordingly.  But I came home tired, cranky, and hungry.

Luckily there was a wonderful and unexpected package waiting from one of my blog buddies.  I'll save the contents for a post when I have a little more time an energy.  But having a fresh package of cards to crack open and see what the team bags had to offer was more than enough to turn an exhausting day into a fun time.

I just wanted to say thank you to all the great folks out there blogging and reading blogs.  I'm painfully slow in getting to the post office, terrible when it comes to breaking wax of new products, and never have quite as much time as I'd like to devote to quality, lengthy posts.  And yet my number of readers has gone up, not down.  And I have met some great, great folks in the collecting community along the way.  I like to think there are relatively few hobbies where a complete and total stranger can make your day with a piece of mail.

Oh, and in case you were wondering the card at right was hands down the most generous gift I've ever received from another collector.  I can only hope I've done my little part to pay it forward ever since.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sign Me Up

I've been going on a bit of an autograph binge in recent months.  Maybe I caught a touch of nostalgia, or maybe the dropping prices for 90's and 00's stars set the wheels in motion.  But I've been picking up some nice additions to the autograph collection recently.  And I must say, it's a nice break from adding your 25th Jose Tabata auto or 30th Nyjer Morgan.

Almost without fail the autographs I've added have fallen into at least one of a couple categories: semi-stars from my childhood/teen years, players who came to video game/Starting Lineup fame in my house, or expansion franchises.  And as you can imagine there's plenty of room for cross pollination between those categories.

By far my favorite of the bunch is this Travis Fryman auto.  Fryman's career was cut short by injuries, but he was a pretty good 3B through the 90's, and also a starting outfielder for my Starting Lineup team.  He was positioned in a dreaded fielding pose catching a fly ball, so he spent quite a bit of time standing around in the outfield of our basement carpet as paper baseball after paper baseball sailed overhead in games that would routinely hit triple digits. 

Speaking of fantasy fame, long before most of the country was playing fantasy baseball, video games served as my personal fantasy league.  The results rarely made sense - Ken Griffey, Jr. was notoriously terrible in baseball games, while some bench player would come out of nowhere and post a .400 season.

Internet, meet Mr. Nowhere.  Donnie Sadler lasted nearly a decade as a utility infielder, but never lived up to the expectations that landed him in BA's Top 100 prospects twice.  But in All-Star Baseball for N64?  He was the second coming of Tony Gwynn.  When I came across this card in a $.50 box at a show a few weeks ago, fantasy met reality.
As a 90's kid, there was something awesome about the idea of expansion franchises.  It would take me a few years to realize awesome meant diluting the talent pool and terrible baseball in largely unready markets.  But...the logos sure were awesome. 
I'm still a little peeved that the Devil was taken out of the Rays.  And those Rockies black vests?  No thanks.
I am, however, a little more at peace with the Marlins art deco color explosion in their new ballpark.  Once the Marlins started phasing out teal as their primary color, so went my heart.  So I'll settle for orange.

But I didn't strip out all the star power in favor of low end gems. 
Ok, star power might be a bit strong.  Bud Smith was supposed to be another big name to the 2001 rookie class.  Ichiro and Pujols he is not.  Though I imagine I may be able to add a Roy Oswalt auto on the cheap someday soon. 

Ah, there it is.  Now we have some real hardware.  The Saberhagen came was a redemption from a group break a few months back, and the Kevin Mitchell set me back a whole $1.25.  Not bad for a former MVP.  Their superstar heyday in the late 80's/early 90's predates my baseball fandom a bit, but was more than happy to make an exception.  

Total cost?  Less than $8 for all that 90's goodness.  I certainly can't complain.

They Just Keep Multiplying

My card time has pretty much bottomed out to zero over the last couple weeks.  And my posting and collecting habits have reflected that.  Aside from some sorting last weekend, my piles of cards have remained virtually untouched for a while now.

But that hasn't completely stopped my from the occasional ebay search during some down time at work.  And while those searches have mostly been fruitless, I did hit one gem.

A lot of 16 1999 Topps Tek Jason Kendall cards.

If you weren't collecting in '99, you're probably asking why I just excited about a lot of 16 of the same card.  And you'd be right.  Sort of.

Tek was perhaps the single most infuriating sets ever produced.  It made Moments & Milestones look reasonable.  The '99 set consisted of 45 cards, with 30 different background patterns available for each player.  Oh, and each player had two different photos, an A & B version.  For those keeping score at home that's 60 possible patten combinations *for the base cards.*  Don't even get me started on the gold parallel, numbered to 10.

So a lot of 16 cards?  That's 27% of the set!  Considering I had a whopping two cards before picking up the lot, not a bad dent in a nearly impossible to find release.

Somewhere out there I imagine there are boxes upon boxes of Tek commons sitting around, patiently waiting to fill in the rest of the open slots in my binder pages.  But in the mean time?  Not a bad start.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pitchers and Catchers

The Pirates have a long and stories history, even if you set aside that two decade long void we just climbed out of.  And the club has been fortunate enough to host some of the greatest players the game has seen.  The all-time roster is particularly deep at shortstop and the outfield.  But across the diamond the Bucs have had their fair share of star power.

Well, sort of.  As pitchers and catchers make their way to complexes across Florida and Arizona it's a reminder of two of the voids in Pirate history.  For a team that has had some of the game's greatest hitters, the Pirates have had downright terrible luck with pitchers.

The club's pitching leaders is like a who's who of the deadball era.  But modern history?  Sure, the Pirates have had their fair share of Doug Drabeks and Vern Law standout seasons.  But sustained success?  Meh.

But Pirate pitchers aren't going to leave out their battery mates.  The Pirates have turned to defense first catchers, and as we saw with Russell Martin last year that isn't a bad decision.  But aside from that?  Jason Kendall looked on track to outshine the rest before a thumb injury turned him into a singles hitter. 

But the backstops haven't exactly set the world on fire either.  So as we head into spring training we can only hope the new crop of Pirate pitchers may finally yield that standout starter.  Or perhaps just as important, that star that the Pirates can afford.  Catcher?  Well, we'll get back to you on that one.

Arts & Crafts

 I've been reading Jim Bouton's Ball Four over the last few weeks after picking it up for $1 at a thrift store.  I haven't read a baseball book in years.  Being in grad school for English tends to take away that "leisure" reading time.  Even fun books must serve some larger purpose towards...well, something. 

But I've been really interested in the Seattle Pilots lone season.  So when playing around with some custom cards this weekend, it seemed like a fun project to see how many Pilots autographs I might be able to round up through the mail.

I've always had a bit of a thing for teams that are no more.  And some of my favorite non-Bucco cards in my collection serve as memorials to teams and cities that are no more.

Custom cads are by far one of my favorite ways to toy around with some bygone logos and franchises.  Now I just need to get around to printing off some of these guys and getting them signed.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Minor Matters

If you're looking for some entertainment from your cardboard, pick up some minor league cards from the 80's or 90's.  Team sets, pack issued - it doesn't really matter.

A couple things will become obviously pretty fast.  Card design folks at the major companies were worth their weight in gold when you see some of the minor league creations.  And while most of the country wasn't too great at recycling, baseball clubs were absolute experts.

Minor league uniforms were an exercise in penny pinching.  The old unis would get kicked down into the minors to be worn by whoever would fit them for.  The result are both some incredibly lame team names and uniform looks, especially in the low minors where...well, they just aren't allowed nice things yet.

As my major league pickups have trailed off, I've been focusing more funds toward picking up minor league team sets.  Some are harder to find than others, but for the most part the Pirates' lack of success over the past two decades means finding complete team sets for most of the minor league affiliates isn't all that difficult.

And while I get pretty excited about minor league cards of Tim Wakefield or Moises Alou, the sets also tend to offer up some unexpected gems of mascots, batboys, and team staff in some godawful fashions of the day.

I still need to actually get around to scanning said cards though.  So until then, enjoy Jason Kendall wearing some duds that look like they came straight from a high school team's storage room.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Is September Yet?

Well, pitchers and catchers finally reported.  And thus this will be end of me bemoaning the Pirates offseason.

But we managed to end on a bang, with the Pirates losing rotation anchor A.J. Burnett to the Phillies.  In true Pirate fashion we managed to lose out on both the player and the draft pick compensation that would have been tied to Burnett had we issued a qualifying offer.

I won't dig too deep here, since this conversation had been hashed and rehashed for the past two months on Pirate blogs as the AJ saga drew out.  My thoughts?

Sooner or later you have to spend money if you want to win.  The Astros and Yankees won't always be willing to pay you to take on high dollar salaries.  And when they do few players will work out so well.

I loved watching AJ pitch for the Pirates, and his intensity and presence on the mound will be missed.  And however you want to edit ZIPS projections, there is nobody in the Pirate system that can produce the output Burnett put out last year.

Yes, Virginia.  Small market teams can afford nice things.  But they don't come cheap.

Am I disillusioned?  Disappointed?  Downright pissed?

Yes to all of the above.  The Pirates managed to take the wind out of my sails pretty fast after the best Pirate season of my (conscious) lifetime.  But there are plenty of bandwagon folks who just jumped on board that couldn't care less.  And guess what - they probably spend a lot more on tickets and merchandise than I do.

Well played, Buccos.  Well played.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Stick It to 'Em

One of the fun things about being a team collector is that there is always something else to chase.  And one of the frustrating things about being a team collector is there is always something else to chase.

When the supply of base cards has been exhausted for a year or the parallels are getting harder to find there are always an array of oddball cards to track down.

But what when the oddball cards aren't really cards?  I loved sticker books as a kid.  Hell, I loved stickers in general.

I don't remember having any sports sticker books, but I remember begging my mom to buy packs every time we went to the store to finish my WWF sticker book.  I imagine it is still probably in a box somewhere at my parents', since my mom was apt to keep anything and everything from my childhood.

In fact, I hear a new project calling.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Forever Young

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while should know when I write - really write - I tend to take the scenic route.  But I've added a decent number of readers in recent weeks, so I thought a warning was needed.  If you don't like the long way there, just look out the car window and enjoy the pretty pictures.

When I got married this past October, there weren't a lot of decisions put squarely on my shoulders.  Which isn't to say I wasn't involved (I was).  Or that I wasn't opinionated (I am).  But for the most part Kate and I saw the wedding the same way, and the decisions in regards to food, themes, and overall ambiance reflected who we are as people.  And since we've been damn near attached at the hip since we were 19, the fact that most of these big, sweeping decisions could be made with a few glances and a facial gesture or two didn't come as any great surprise.

But the music?  That was all my kingdom. The playlist was masterfully crafted in a way that I could only trust myself with.  I wouldn't dare entrust the music, the soul of the evening both literally and figuratively, to some total stranger.  I was not about the spend my wedding night watching distant relatives gyrate to the Electric Slide or hear the latest Beyonce tune.  The playlist was as eclectic and expansive as my taste - some early punk smoothly transitioned into some smooth Memphis soul.  The night told the story of my growth as a person and as a music fan, and much like the grandiose combining of the record and dvd collections years earlier, Kate and I moving from two very separate people to one incongruous entity.

But while my initial playlist was pared from 8 hours down to a more reasonable three, one spot was completely blank.  The mother-daughter dance.  I just couldn't find a song that fit what I wanted to express.  And just as important - couldn't find a song that was short enough to get my uncoordinated ass off the dance floor at the most mercifully short length possible.

But as I made list after list of options, I couldn't get away from Bob Dylan's Forever Young.  All 5:01 of it.  Dylan changed the way I listen to music.  Driving on vacation to the beach in the summer of 1999 or 2000 I heard Like a Rolling Stone on the local oldies station.  They didn't play Dylan on any of the Pittsburgh stations we listened to.  And suddenly this music was unlike anything my teenage self had ever heard.  A few years later my mom bought me Dylan's Greatest Hits, which stayed in constant rotation throughout high school.  A Dylan poster hung over my bed.  And as I worked backwards, moving from loving more "classic" rock to being immersed in folk.  It may not have as monumental as Dylan going electric to the rest of the world, but for me it changed the way I looked at the world.

Which is the long way of saying that as I stood there for four and a half minutes (I found a slightly shorter live version in my massive Dylan library) waddling side to side with my mother in a pseudo slow dance, I spent what felt like a great deal of time thinking about...well, time.

For many of us cards are, in one way or another, a way of staying timeless.  Our critics call it a childhood hobby.  And at best our collections are attempts to cling onto passing memories and seasons.  When people find out that I'm married, it leads to natural assumptions.  That I'm older.  Or deeply religious.  Or desperately want a family.  Cause really, I'm well aware that I don't really fit the mold for the "married at 25" category.  And while it all fits together just fine and dandy in my little intellectual and ideological bubble, the "well we've been together nonstop since we were teenagers anyway" argument just doesn't seem quite gratifying enough for most folks.

But isn't that life?  Whether it's baseball cards, or music, or people, we mark out lives with these mileposts.  Ways of breaking down and understanding the passing of time.  And perhaps I'm not too good at playing by the conventions in that regard.  I'm 26, look like I'm 36, behave like I'm 86, and collect cards like I'm just plain old 6.

Flipping through my 1991 binder instantly transports me to my dad buying me a pack or two and a slurpee every time he took me to the gas station with him.  Or 2000, and my dad buying me 20 packs of Topps before dropping me off at grandma and grandpa's for the night before they went for a rare evening out.  Or registering for a Beckett account, feeling like a rebel because I clicked the terms of service saying I was 13 almost a whole half year before my actual 13th birthday.  Or hearing "Like a Rolling Stone" and being taken back to the backseat of our minivan, salty shore air cutting through the windows and the tightly woven lyrics ripping through me and pulling out a kid wanting more than what his boring suburban life could offer.

Our collections, if you'll forgive the drawn out analogy, are our playlists.  These pieces of ourselves placed in time and space.  Memories being made and remade constantly.  At times impossible to explain away to friends, or family, or coworkers.  But the very things that make us who we are, and how we see ourselves.  Whether you're 16 or 66 reading or writing about cards, those memories and connections are at their most basic quite the same.  And either way, may you stay forever young.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Anybody who was collecting during the 90's knew Stadium Club's Co-Signers as one of the top autograph sets.  After all, the cards offered not just one but two signatures, typically from some of the game's top stars.

Sure, the pairings didn't make a damn bit of sense in most cases.  But a pack pulled autograph in and of itself was enough to keep any collector happy. 

But sometimes the autograph pairings of the DIY variety are just as good as anything to guys at Topps could come up.  Neither Priddy nor Butters had particularly impressive careers with the Bucs, but having both signatures on the card makes it one of my favorite vintage pieces. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Don't Call Me Yellow

We're well past a decade into the parallel-palooza, and just about any collector can rattle off a list of pretty common colors.  Sure, occasionally the design or foil stamping changes.  But for the most part?  The colors are pretty consistent from product to product.  Or at least they were before Topps decided to taste the rainbow over the last few years.

Blue, red, green, gold, black.  Whether it was a refractor, foil stamping, or just a simple border swap - it was a pretty safe bet what colors you could be searching for in a pack.

And some colors just got no love.

How many times have you come across a yellow parallel?  Gold, sure.  But yellow?  Maybe it just doesn't fit with most teams' color schemes.  Maybe the ink costs just a wee bit more.  Who knows. 

But I was certainly surprised when I typed in Tristar Projections Autographs...Yellow.

A quick search through my excel spreadsheet returned 6 results for yellow.  Two from the Tristar product, a couple of Classic cards from the early 90's, and a few printing plates (which are very much not yellow).  Almost 12,000 cards, and enough of them to count on one hand are yellow?  Setting aside, of course, the frighteningly yellow 1991 Fleer set.

Just seems strange to me.

But in the mean time, I'll appreciate the full range of the color spectrum.  And these yellow Tristar autos /25 are a nice, colorful, addition to my collection.

Now if only they weren't of players who have a grand total of 25.2 innings in the majors.

Friday, February 7, 2014

RIP, Ralph

I was a bit surprised to hear that Ralph Kiner had passed away while driving home from work yesterday.  I was going to post something, but decided to hold off until I was able to put something a little more in depth together.

Kiner's legacy with the Pirates is undoubtedly a complicated one.  For much of the 40's and 50's Ralph Kiner was the sole reason to purchase a ticket to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The saying goes that Forbes Field emptied out after Kiner's last at bat.  And a quick scroll through the Pirates records during those seasons shows why.

At no point in Pirate history has one player been so disproportionately important to a team.  But as Branch Rickey reminded the world, if you can finish in last with him, you can finish in last without him.

Injuries cut short his career, and terrible teams cut short his time in Pittsburgh.  But the 70 or so years after Kiner left Pittsburgh may be more interesting than the 7 he was here.

I've been told that Pittsburghers spoke of Kiner the way they do today of Clemente.  That player able to solely take over the game on the field and in the minds of fans, so far above his peers that his talent is undeniable.  And while he wasn't the well rounded superstar of Honus, or Bonds, or McCutchen he did something few men in Pittsburgh have done.  Hit baseballs really, really far.

But upon his death Kiner may be more well known by baseball fans as a broadcaster than as a player.  And certainly as a player for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The franchise did little to recognize Kiner during his lifetime.  While the likes of Kip Wells and Mike Gonzalez have made their way into bobblehead immortality, Kiner has not.  While Pirate greats encircle PNC Park in statue form, Kiner is relegated to a casting of his hands holding a bat...placed beneath the left field rotunda in a shadowed and out of the way spot that you would have to look twice to notice.

And while the Pirates did indeed retire Kiner's number 4 in 1987, the New York Mets, a team and city in which Kiner never played a single home game, elected him to the team's Hall of Fame in 1984.

Perhaps the Pirates will kick off the home opener with a touching video tribute to Ralph Kiner.  Perhaps his death will spark a campaign for his own statue.  Perhaps the franchise will finally acknowledge that the losing years can be just as important as the winning ones.
But whatever they do, it will be far too little and far, far too late in my eyes.  Ninety-one years should have been more than enough to recognize a player who meant so much to his team.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Is It Over Yet?

This offseason just keeps dragging on.  And on.  And on.

And the Pirates have been remarkably consistent in their ability to do absolutely nothing. The team has given me plenty to be pissed about this offseason, but not anything particularly exciting.  Unless of course you consider Jaff Dacker exciting.  And he is, if you get excited about people who spell common names in uncommonly idiotic ways.

So instead, I'll just pretend we resigned A.J. Burnett.

Woooooooo!!!! AJ Burnett.  Wooooo.

My chance to turn on MLBtv and watch some other team can't come soon enough.  The Bucs are quickly lulling me into indifference.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I'll Never Rip You, But I Love You Anyway

I don't think I'm alone in saying that the products that I ripped most often are ones that continue to have a special place in my collecting heart.  The short list includes 2000 Topps, 2001 Donruss, 1995 Topps, and 2002 Fleer.  Any chance I get to add some of the tougher to find Pirate cards - or really any rarer cards - from those sets, I pounce.

During my wax ripping days, I opened many a pack hoping to hit a Pirate Stat Line card, or Clemente/Guerrero insert out of 2000 Topps.  But luck never shined in my favor.  So to snag those cards later at less than the price of a pack?  Sign me up.

And that's the thing.  The price of a pack.

See, my wax ripping days pretty much died out around 2005.  By 2007, I was wax free.  I'm not one of those self-righteous waxaholics anonymous.  I don't look down upon the wax rippers - after all, that's how I get my team collector fix.  But my collecting life is a lot more enjoyable with wax out of the picture.

Right about the time that I quit wax cold turkey, pack prices started to hit crazy places.  In our hit driven hobby landscape, the pack is a notion of days gone by for many products.  Now you get a box - with some hits.  Base cards?  Nah.  Foil wrapper?  Who needs it.  After all, guys buy by the case anyway. 

And that is where being a team collector is tricky.  See, I still want the cards coming out of these ultra high end products.  I need 'em.  But where to find them?  Ebay is great for the hits.  But what about the products that still have those outdated base card things?

That becomes a more difficult question.  High end pack busting types aren't usually the guys writing blogs or sending out trade packages full of much needed 1983 Donruss cards.  And I'm not about to shell out $3 for some numbered base card.  So I sit back.  And hope.

I can assuredly say that I will never rip a pack of Triple Threads.  Or Five Star.  Or anything else that is loaded with crazy hit cards, and $2 duds. I'm just not a gambler.  Never was, never will be.  Even when I was a wax ripper, I liked to play it safe...and cheap.  So those products with their base cards out of 1360 will never hold the special place in my heart that $2 packs of 2000 Topps do.  Or the pack within a pack of 2001 Donruss.  Or the incessant annoyance of 2002 Fleer, unable to complete a set of regular backs or gold backs no matter how many boxes I opened.  I'll never get a rush from tracking down a relatively common card from those sets simply because at some point in my collecting life it seemed like the coolest card on the planet.  So no, I'll never rip packs of you.  But I promise you a place in my collection just the same.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Third Dimension

The baseball card game has changed a lot over the past two decades.  Manufacturers have come, gone, come back again.  The way we collect has fundamentally changed - well, unless you've been collecting vintage the entire time.

And while some of the cool quirks of the hobby- like Die Cut cards - have made a comeback in recent years, others haven't.

And by others, I'm speaking specifically about 3-d cards.  The most famous (and coolest) was undoubtedly Action Packed, who managed to secure licenses for NLF cards, wrestling cards, minor league cards, and a legends set.  But never the good ole current players.

But collectors weren't entire deprived of those three dimensions of awesome.

Topps released Embossed
I still don't know what the point of the set was entirely.  It didn't utilize the textured embossing nearly as much as Action Packed did.  Photo selection?  Meh.  All of this may explain why I had no idea the set existed for a solid decade and a half after its release, despite presumably being its target market as a kid in 1995.

Apparently the set was so unspectacular that I can't even find it in my 2001 Beckett Encyclopedia.  But it exists.  I swear.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Counting Down to Kickoff

After a quick run to the grocery store for some snacks, now it's just a waiting game for kickoff.  But in the mean time I figured I would show off some more additions from the card show last week.

My WVU collection is one of of my favorite aspects of my collection, but also one of the toughest to add to.  The school has a pretty aggressive following among collectors, making higher end pieces tough to fit into the budget.  And as a strong but not outstanding program, there weren't many players coming out of the school to collect until the last two seasons.

But I've been kept busy this year.

With Tavon Austin and Geno Smith commanding some of the highest prices of the rookie class, my binder pages have remained just about bare.  But I'm hoping prices will come down to my level as the offseason approaches.

These two additions of Smith are my first two cards of his.  He was actually my student at one point, so the collection has some special significance to me.  Unfortunately being taken by the Jets meant that a lot of collectors were willing to shell out far bigger bucks than ole teach.

So I was thrilled to add these two Chrome reprint style cards for $.50 each.
The least heralded WVU alum from this past draft was WR Stedman Bailey, who landed with the Rams alongside Austin.  The dime box was housing these two before I plucked them free.  I will say it's nice to have a player a little more budget friendly in the rookie crop to collect.  During my two years at WVU, a draft group of Bruce Irvin, Smith, Austin, and Bailey ain't too shabby.  It should keep my WVU ties going for quite a while, as well as my collection.


Card Show Pickups, Pirate Style

 I always love the excitement and intrigue of a card show.  You never know what you'll find. 

But you can usually go in with a pretty good idea.  Some shows are notoriously vintage heavy.  Other times you can safely assume a couple regular dealers will be there with their standard fare.

The results can be wonderful, or predictably mediocre depending on the show.  My show hauls have pretty consistently been low end-heavy.  I rarely shell out the big bucks for higher end cards.  Or even mid end cards.  But when I do, I usually prefer the bargain hunting avenues of ebay or COMC, simply because there is a far wider selection than what you'll find at even the largest show.

But is full of surprises.

This card show recap is going in reverse.  I've been posting some of my non-Pirate dimebox finds over the past few days.  Now it's time for the good stuff.  After the dimebox dig was all said and done, I took a quick look through the dealer's Pittsburgh cards.  It's usually just a matter of going through the motions - $5 for Tony Sanchez autos that I've been buying at less than $2.  Ten dollars for a Marc-Andre Fleury gu card.  You know the drill - local inflation. 

But when I flipped past the Buc Blasters card above, it was at least worth a price check.  $5.  Yes please.  It's not a super high end card by any means, but the card was coming home with me.  I could have grabbed a copy off ebay, sure.  And it's not in the greatest shape.  But this is one card that was still left on a relatively small vintage needs list.  And this guy never, ever shows up in the discount vintage boxes from what I've seen.  So there you have my biggest purchase of the day.

But the best?

 I had always worked under the assumption that Goose Gossage's lone year in Pittsburgh was never immortalized on cardboard.  Search after search yielded nothing.  No database listings of a Pirate card.

So I was pretty floored when I flipped across this in the dime box.  Goose?  In black and gold.


The card does list him as a Yankee on the back, which would account for it never showing up in searches.  But that is very much a pillbox cap on the front of the card.  Obviously it's not in the greatest shape, so hopefully an upgrade will be in the cards down the road.
 Since I started buying off of COMC in 2010 or so, I don't spend much time looking through game used and autos at shows.  Low end cards can usually be had for a dollar and chance, which beats the price at just about any show.
 Note I said just about any.  All three of these autos were had for a mere $1 each.  I would have paid at least double that for the Hanrahan and Morgan, and I had been waiting for a price drop on the Lincoln Chromes listed on COMC for a while now.  It's tough to beat $1 autos.

 And just to round out the action a bit, I was able to bring home some Pirate inserts that I still needed a well.  The Stargell/Bench card is a cool piece capturing the 70's rivalry.  And the Clemente Chasing History mini was a nice pickup at $.50.  They probably aren't all that uncommon, but the Mini cards don't seem to make it into circulation that much.

 I had been anxiously chasing Tony Sanchez cards when EEE went live in 2009.  And by chasing, I mean I never actually caught any.  Prices were too high for my liking.  But as a 26 year old 3rd catcher?  Yep.  Prices are just where I like em.  Hopefully Tony will see at least a few years as a solid ML regular.

And closing on the "I didn't expect to find this card in a dime box" find: Justin Morneau's lone Pirate card.  Sadly the late season acquisitions of Marlon Byrd, John Buck, and Morneau slipped past Topps in Update.  And 2014 series 1.  But Panini had me covered at least on the Morneau.  The product was fairly recent and a higher end offering.  Plus very easy to scratch up.  So I was thrilled to find a copy in the dime box in perfect shape.  Another nice little memento of the Pirates postseason run.