The Vintage Bargain Bin Challenge

I kind of wish I could take credit for this, but the idea is not mine. The concept was a simplistic one: oldest card at the lowest price wins. Wins what you ask? Nothing, just bragging rights for about 5 minutes. It was a spur-of-the-moment challenge thrown at me by Beckett Baseball editor Chris Olds via Twitter. I mentioned on Twitter that I wanted to make a quick run to the card shop to pour through the “price-friendly” vintage boxes and next thing you know we’re both heading to the shops to win the challenge.

Well, I’m not sure if Chris plans to show off his piece on the Beckett Blog, but apparently he unearthed an original 1909-1911 T206 common White Sox player for $9.50. The best I could do was buy a trimmed 1952 Bowman Eddie Robinson (also White Sox) for a buck. I think he won.

But as I mentioned, I had other reasons to be there: I wanted to find something worth owning at a cheap price. And as usual I did — I purchased nine cards for a total of $20.50. The lot includes five Hall of Famers.

I’ll start with this 1960 Topps World Series celebration card of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I always run across these cards when I go digging through these vintage boxes, but I recently received some cards from Night Owl and owe him some cards. I hope he does not have this one already. Cost: $1

While we’re on the $1 price point, I might as well show off this 1966 Topps Harmon Killebrew that is in brutal condition. When I saw it was Killebrew I knew I had to have it. And then right before I sat down to write this piece I realized that this card seemed really familiar to me. Reason? Last time I hit this card shop’s boxes in April I bought the same card in better condition for the same price. Doh!

All Star cards really have lost their luster over the years, but the AS singles from the 50s are still awesome to me. In this case, even more so because this 1959 Topps card features former Red Sox slugger Jackie Jensen. Not going to set the hobby on fire with this card, but it’ll look good in my Red Sox collection, right next to the signed 1954 Bowman Jensen I own. Cost: $1

And now the Hall of Famers …

For the last two years, I’d been wondering if there had ever been a card made of Branch Rickey, the baseball executive who facilitated the Major League Debut of Jackie Robinson. Sure enough this 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats was sitting in the bin with an incredible price tag of two bits … 50 cents. C’mon, now.

Sparky Anderson has been one of my favorite baseball personalities. I had a chance to get his signature in person in 1991 at a Tiger-A’s game in Oakland and have since re-acquired his signature through the mail to replace the in-person one which has been lost over the years. It was always my intention to get his rookie card for my on-again, off-again rookie card project. Finally, I acquired one at a price I was comfortable with. Cost: $4

As was the case with Sparky, I had the opportunity to meet Orlando Cepeda during a free signing session at a local Piazza Hut. I forget if I told this story before, but Cepeda showed up like two hours late, but arrived nonetheless and signed everything in sight … at least until he got annoyed with some of my friends who had collected probably a half dozen signatures that day. At the time I thought he was an asshole. At the time I was 9. At the time none of us really appreciate when a Hall of Famer is signing autographs for free. Anyway, here we have a second-year card of Cepeda. Figured it was a must-add to my collection since I have yet to purchase his rookie. Cost: $2

I have had a penchant for finding vintage Carl Yastrzemski cards for almost nothing. I once purchased at thrift store a copy of his 1968 Topps card for a dime. Yes, a dime, as in the cost of two mini Tootsie Rolls. And somewhere else I purchased his 1965 Topps card for $5. Might not be a steal like the ’68 was, but $5 is solid nonetheless. And alas we have this 1969 Topps All-Star card for what I think was a good price: Cost $2

And what better way to close out a post about vintage cards than to show off yet another reasonably priced Mickey Mantle card. It may not be one of the nicest looking Mantles, or one that is even worth a ton, but this 1965 card commemorating a game-winning and record-setting home run he hit during the 1964 World Series seemed like a bargain.  Interesting to note that the image shown here doesn’t look like Mantle is connecting for a home run. In fact, it looks like he is striking out on a ball picked out of the dirt by St. Louis Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver. Cost: $8

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One Response to “The Vintage Bargain Bin Challenge”

  1. [...] to their local hobby shops to see what kind of cards they can get for a certain price point. The initial challenge was just myself and Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds, and then last week a few others [...]

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