Monday, August 11, 2014

Hobby Shop Five - Really Shiny, Really Old and Really Cheap

I mentioned a few days ago that I managed to find a few minutes to sneak off to the local hobby shop.  I used to stop by much more frequently years ago, but nowadays usually only go for supplies, as was the case this trip.  I feel guilty about this, but the reality is I try to stretch my limited hobby funds as far as possible each month, and a one man operation just isn't going to compete with the prices and variety offered by online giants like eBay.

I always look around while I'm there just in case, because I do like to support small business and throw the owner a bone if I can find some items that aren't wildly overpriced.  I'll even overpay within reason just to help him out, but I'm not shelling out five to six dollars for a single pack of low-end cards.  To each his own, but for me it almost always leads to buyer's remorse.  This particular trip was definitely worth it!

I stumbled across a quarter box of Bruins cards, much more up my alley.  Even better, for every four you bought you got two free, so basically six for a buck.  It wasn't exactly a treasure trove, but I was able to scrounge up a couple of bucks worth of cards, like this Ray Bourque.  It's from a set Upper Deck put out in 1999 called Century Legends.  The first 50 players on the checklist are the 50 best all-time (according to the Sporting News at the time), and as you can see Ray was ranked #16.

This 1998-99 Topps insert is cheesy, but it's got this wavy reflective quality that makes it extremely bright and shiny, much more so in person than it was in the scan.  Not a card I am all too thrilled with, but like I said was trying to help the guy out and it was better than leaving with nothing but toploaders. 

At this point I'm about to check out with $2-3 worth of cards, figuring I won't be back here again, when I ask him on a whim if he has any older baseball commons that aren't on display for any reason.  I run into this a lot at small shops, for whatever reason the stuff that I find boring and overpriced is right there on the shelf in plain view, but the more interesting cards are behind the counter or off in another room.  Almost like the shop owners don't really want to part with them unless they have to or something.  Anyway, what this guy brought out for me to look through was a treasure trove of vintage baseball from 1957 up through the late '60s.  The prices were amazing if you were willing to deal with "less than mint", which is not a problem for me!

Take this Ken Hunt card, for example.  It's pretty well beat up, there's not a corner left that could give you a paper cut.  Some chips along the edges, surface wrinkling, and is that a stain floating above Ken's head in the upper right?  To me, the real value is in Ken's goofy grin, and that tremendous uni-brow!  Besides, it forced me to look up Ken Hunt, and I found that he apparently appeared on an episode of The Munsters?!?!

This card set me back just 10 cents.  I'm basically going to buy any card that I don't have that is 50 years old or more if it costs just a dime.  No matter how damaged, I just can't pass them up at that price (nor do I see them at that price very often).

Even the back is well intact.  Quite a few of the ones I picked up have heavy paper loss, or mysterious substances, but this one actually looks quite presentable.  If I ever chased the '62 Topps set I wouldn't even consider this one I'd need to upgrade.  By the way, look at that stat line for 1961, 25 HR and 84 RBI, not too shabby.

Here's one from the 1961 set, similar condition to the last card.  Jim Baumer was marked a quarter, but the owner said he'd apply the same 6-for-a-dollar rule with the quarter vintage.  Sold!

Once again, a random vintage card that I knew nothing about led me to learn about a very interesting player.  Check out Jim Baumer's career statistics, courtesy of

After debuting in 1949 with 8 games played as an 18-year-old for Chicago, Jim played for years and years in the minors before getting another chance at a big league roster in 1961.  He finally made it with Cincinnati, but lasted just 10 games, and that was it.  18 games in the majors, separated by 12 years.  Look at some of the stops on his journey, courtesy of the back of the card:

You can see his 8 games with the White Sox on the second line.  After that, Colorado Springs, Memphis, a year off for military service, back to Memphis, Hollywood, Mexico City, Hollywood (again!), Columbus and Salt Lake City.  That is a man who loved baseball.  17 cents or so well spent.

Here's the last one I'll show today, also from my 6-for-a-dollar pile.  Probably the roughest shape of the three, but 1959 Topps is my second favorite Topps set of the '50s, right behind '53.  I've toiled with the idea of building a low-grade set in a binder, so it was obvious I should grab this one.

Once again a nice back.  In the end, I picked up a big stack of this discount vintage, ranging anywhere from .10 cents to $2.  Many of them don't have backs like these, but the three I randomly grabbed and posted first all look beautiful.  Great cartoon on this one.

I'll definitely share some more of this stuff when I find some time...

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