Thrift Treasures Part XIII: Sons of My Native Land

I was born in San Francisco, but grew up primarily in the city of Santa Clara, California, the home of Major League Baseball’s Troy Tulowitzki. He’s a pretty big deal ’round these parts, even if he does play for the Rockies, a division foe of the San Francisco Giants. I actually saw someone — had to be a family member — riding around in a pickup recently with a license plate that read something to the effect of “TuloFn1.”

But my post today is not about Tulo. Actually, it’s about a pair of other local talents — Carney Lansford and Jeremy Giambi — whose cards I stumbled upon at a flea market on Saturday.

Now usually my thrift treasures posts actually contain what some believe to be treasures — or bargains –but here I’m only talking about three cards, 1979 Topps Carney Lansford rookie, 1982 Topps Carney Lansford (Red Sox), and a 1999 Bowman Chrome International Refractor of Jeremy Giambi. Yes, the OTHER Giambi.

I knew Carney grew up in the area. Hell, I played in the same Little League that Carney did — there is a picture of him as a kid in a Red Sox Briarwood-El Camino Little League uniform hanging in the snack shack — and the baseball field at the high school I attended is named after Lansford. And as a kid in the 1980s, Carney was big deal to us locals because he played for the A’s, who always seemed to be in the world series.

But now as an adult, and a Boston Red Sox team collector, I’ve been passively 1982ToppsCarneyLansfordlooking for a Carney Red Sox card to add to my collection. I knew he played two seasons for Boston in the early 1980s. Well, I finally uncovered the treasure at the flea market on Saturday for a whopping 50 cents. The card clearly came from a guy who was praying on locals who knew nothing about the current state of the card market, but might be intrigued enough to buy some of his common Raider or 49ers cards. You know, the same retired collectors who you might hear chatting up your local card shop operator to figure out what his 10 1991 Fleer baseball factory sets are worth. And then that pseudo collector tells the tallest of tales when upon learning his sets are worthless, he shoots back with an asinine statement about how he also has a handful of Michael Jordan rookies.

I digress. I typically despise these sellers because they often lie through their freakin’ teeth to get someone to spend a few bucks at their booth. But here, I can honestly say I am glad he was there.

After landing the Carney Red Sox card, my wife, daughter, and my brother-in-law continued our search down the flea market aisles. 1979ToppsCarneyLansfordAbout 20 minutes later I found another guy selling cards. Most of his stuff was crap piled atop of crap, but among his stack of cards on sale for $1 was this 1979 Topps Carney Lansford rookie.  I’ve always loved and admired this card, primarily because it was considered vintage and impossible to obtain when I was younger. The card shop never had them for sale, and the only time I saw one in person was at my friend’s home — his dad had one in his collection. Despite being valued at only at $1.50, this card has remained elusive to me, but alas it has found a home in my box of rookie cards. It should be noted that this image was shot at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, home of the A’s, which also adds some intrigue to the card since he wound up spending most of his career playing at this ball park.

1999BowmanChromeGiambiRefAfter walking around for about two hours we decided to head home. But right before we left, I spotted a former collector who had nothing but baseball cards for sale at his booth. He had a few 5,000 boxes packed to the brim with cards for which he was charging a buck each. I quickly flipped through his baseball box and unearthed this 1999 Bowman Chrome International Refractor of Jeremy Giambi,  serial numbered to just 100 copies. I didn’t have a buck, but offered the guy 50 cents and he took it. The card isn’t that valuable, but I know that some of these “early” serial numbered parallels can be quick useful either in trades or on eBay as there are a handful of people still building this International Refractor set. Suffice it to say I can easily turn the 50 cents for a small profit, at least enough to say that I got my Lansford cards for free. As a bonus, I learned yesterday by reading the back of the card that Giambi was born in San Jose, California, just a few minutes from where I live.

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