Card of the Day: 1964 Topps Giant Sandy Koufax

You thought those 1989 Bowman cards were hard to store? Try protecting these badboys. These vintage 1964 Topps Giant cards measure a whopping 3 1/8 by 5 1/4, and to my knowledge, there still is no great way to store them. I think you need to have a postcard-size toploader, but even then there is some wiggle room.

But the reason I chose this card to write about today is not because of it’s abnormal size, although the topic of card storage is something I’ll probably discuss at some point. The reason for this post is to discuss how I obtained this card (at a flea market), and to share a quick story from Saturday.

I picked this Koufax up along with similar cards of Carl Yastrzemski and Warren Spahn, at a flea market a few years back for a mere $1 each. The Yaz and Spahn are $5 cards (good bargain for a card 40 years old,) but the Koufax is a shortprint, and is listed in Beckett at $40.

Coming across bargains like these at flea markets or garage sales are few and far between, although when you do find them, it’s a great experience. But more times that not, when you stumble across baseball cards while “treasure hunting,” you’re likely to find complete sets or stacks of commons usually from 1988 or 1990. In other words they are pretty much worthless.

Then there are times when you just walk away from a dealer laughing because they are completely clueless, or they’ve tried to take advantage of you. Such was the case Saturday.

My wife, her mother and I went to a small flea market at a local high school and among the dozens of tables selling Halloween decor and costumes was this one lonely table at the back of the lot selling sports cards.

I spotted the a sign from about 50 yards away. From a distance I could read “Sports Cards” and the word “Barry.” Good ol’ reasoning led me to believe the guy was selling cards of local players, particularly Home Run champ Barry Bonds. But as I got closer I started to groan. One sign did in fact say “Sports Cards,” but the other one said “Barry Bond.” Yeah, “Bond.” Like James Bond. Not Barry Bonds. Seeing this I knew I would be in for a comedic treat.

I sauntered over to the older gentleman, said, “Hi,” and started looking at his table. There were about only¬† 20 cards on the table, but each was in a snaptight case and then “sealed,” in a team bag. Before I could escape, the man started talking about what he had for sale, and then said, “Do you know what these are? They call them `gem’ cards.”

Holding back my chuckles, I said, “Oh, really?”

Not three seconds later, the guy started telling me about how the cards were the deal of the century, about how they were in pristine condition — never touched by human hands — and how they were good investments because “the values of these … they’re going up.”

“If you go to your local shop, and compare their prices to mine, you’ll see that these are very cheap,” the man said. “They’re only $8 a card.”

I said, “Wow,” did a double take to see exactly what “gem cards” he really had in those cases — one card actually slipped out of place and was “floating” inside the snaptight –¬† and then thanked him for his time and left.

I wish I had taken a picture of what was on that table, because as fellow collectors we all would have had a good laugh with this one. There were a few Michael Jordan upper deck cards, but then there were cards like a 2005 Topps Felipe Alou manager card.

There’s nothing I hate more about this hobby than the idiots who try to take advantage of people by selling them garbage and passing it off as a good investment.

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