You've been quite patient while I kept you in suspense about my Philly Card Show haul, so let's dive into it. Yesterday morning I met fellow Orioles diehard Ed at his house at 7:00 AM, and we proceeded up I-95 in his van en route to King of Prussia, PA. We made good time, and even with a quick pit stop for breakfast at Burger King we were at the convention center shortly after doors opened at 9:00 AM. This was my first experience with this particular show, and I was initially overwhelmed by the sheer size. Ed had told me that it would likely be the largest show I'd attend other than the National, and he wasn't kidding. But since we had planned to get some bang for our $8 admission fee by staying until 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, I didn't panic. Some highlights:
-My first purchases came from a box full of vintage cards priced at $1 each. I found a handful of 1960s Orioles cards that I needed, upgraded a couple of the uglier-looking cards in my 1965 Topps set, and even nabbed one of the universally beloved gems in the annals of cardboard lore: Don Mossi's 1966 Topps card, #74. This was the last card issued of "The Sphinx" during his career, and he went out on top.
-I made it only as far as the next table before rooting myself in place for at least an hour. A sign reading "8 Cards for $1.00" called out to me. At first glance, it seemed to consist mostly of 1980s junk wax, but a few mid-1970s cards were visible. I started rifling through a stack, and began building multiple eight-card piles in front of me. I started out intending to spend five dollars...then ten...then a dozen...fifteen...I wound up searching through the entire box and walking away with 136 cards - $17 worth! I bolstered my vintage collection, primarily the 1974 Topps set, and filled a few needs in my 1982 Topps set. I also walked away with a handful of 1981 Topps Traded, including a Fernando Valenzuela rookie card that was in great condition except for being slightly miscut (more border on top than bottom). Not bad for about 12 cents. Speaking of miscut, I also couldn't pass up this hilariously butchered 1973 Topps Sal Bando. That Orioles hat peeking up from the bottom comes from the top portion of Jim Palmer's card. Whoops!
-From another seller's dime box (sensing a pattern?), I grabbed a few bucks' worth of recent issues. This included a near-complete Orioles team set of the underwhelming 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom, as well as several interesting subjects from 2009 Tristar Obak. By and large, U.S. President cards have been done to death, but I couldn't pass up this William Howard Taft card.
-One of the bazillions of sets that I've always intended to complete is 1994 Collector's Choice, the first of six sets released under that brand by Upper Deck. It's an underrated set with a simple design and some fun touches meant to appeal to kids. Oh, and it was a buck a pack. Considering that I wasn't yet 12 when it hit stores, it's no wonder it made an impression on me. I found a single Series One wax box being sold for $5, and didn't think twice about buying it. I'll be ripping some packs this week.
-At one booth, there were two small boxes full of 1975 Topps commons. I needed about 80 cards to complete my own set, so I negotiated a price of 25 cents per card with the dealer and got to work rifling through the boxes while fastidiously checking the want list on my iPhone. Two logical failings here: 1) I did not print out my want lists on paper, which would have made things a bit easier. I had brought a tote bag to transport my purchases, so portability was not an issue. 2) The boxes were located on the bottom rack of a display case. Rather than carry them to a higher shelf so that I could stand upright while looking, I remained in a painful crouch, shifting intermittently from one benumbed leg to the other. Anyway, I got 38 cards, mostly in great shape, and knocked off about half my needs all for under $10.
-I found more recent Orioles cards to add to my collection at a couple of quarter boxes, most notably a number of 2010 Topps 206 and National Chicle. Obviously I'll save these for a later date, but of course the 206 of O's failure Garrett Atkins pictured above was one of my gets. Such is the burden of the team collector.
-I met back up with Ed for a quick snack and a few minutes off our feet at 1:00, and we compared our finds. He told me about a dime box chock full of 1970s (and some late 1960s) commons, and I can neither confirm nor deny that I briefly blacked out. He kindly led me to this collector's Valhalla, and in short order I had accumulated a stack of 300 cards, a number of which were the 1972 Topps "Psychedelic Tombstones". I checked my wallet, saw that I had $33 in cash remaining, and made my purchase. Otherwise there's no telling how many cards I would have pillaged. I was especially delighted to come across the 1972 Topps card that features Billy Martin surreptitiously extending his middle finger to the photographer. Stay classy, Billy.
-There were former and current athletes signing autographs throughout the afternoon, most for a hefty fee. Each entrant to the show received a ticket for a free autograph from ex-Oriole pitcher and longtime MLB pitching coach Joe Kerrigan, but I passed since I didn't have one of his cards handy. Signers of note included hockey legend Gordie Howe, ex-Phillie and perpetual scumbag Lenny Dykstra, Hall of Fame slugger Orlando Cepeda, and the aged-yet-ageless southpaw Jamie Moyer.
-Our long day in the Philadelphia region concluded with a decidedly Baltimore flavor. A few miles away from the convention center was the recently-reopened Gino's, the hamburger joint owned by Baltimore Colts Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti. While our Gino's Giants were being prepared, we had a good conversation with the restaurant's manager, who confirmed that there are plans to put a Gino's in the Baltimore area by the end of the summer. He also says that Marchetti is still active at age 84, stopping by the restaurant a few times a week and bowling regularly. By the way, the burgers are delicious.
So the day was a rousing success. I didn't spend more than a dollar on any one card, I filled a few set needs and some Orioles needs, and got a load of old cards for pennies. The company was pretty good, too. I'll leave you with a visual representation of my finds.