Thrift Treasures Part XXVIII: If this were 1998 …

… I would have struck it rich.

Welcome to the 28th edition of Thrift Treasures, the Cardboard Icons original series documenting dirt-cheap cardboard finds. In today’s edition we flash back some 12 years to celebrate a time when a fairly common rookie card became a hobby monster.

During my lunch break on Wednesday I stopped briefly at one of my local thrift stores to look for old sports jerseys, video games and baseball cards. And lo and behold they had cards for the first time in a month. There were maybe three dozen baggies of cards — about 50 in each — for sale for $1.99.

In one of the baggies was a stack of 1990 Leaf, a set that always makes me stop and think to a time two decades ago when the premium brand upped the ante for baseball cards just a year after the inaugural Upper Deck series. The product is pretty common these days, but when I was a kid, these were as good as gold.

So I bought a bag that had the most Leaf inside (about 15 cards it appeared) and look what was resting inside, just six cards past a really beat-up 1988 Donruss Luis Polonia — Sammy Sosa’s best rookie card.

Love him or hate him, there is no denying how much energy Sosa’s rookie cards brought to the hobby during the then-legendary, and now somewhat comical home run chase of 1998.

This Leaf card went from being a basic $5-$10 semi-star rookie from a premium set to a $150 eye-catcher and the center-piece for many novice collectors. I owned a copy when Sosa was redhot. It is a card I will cherish forever because it changed hands probably a dozen times between myself and a friend during poker games before The Chase. Despite being housed in a penny sleeve for five years, and then a top loader for a few more years, I sent that card in for grading during the height of the grading craze and it came back an 8.5. Pretty remarkable if I don’t say so myself.

What also was remarkable was the condition of the Sosa that was unearthed on Wednesday. The Polonia card I mentioned a moment ago looks like someone stepped on it, threw it against the wall and used it as target practice with a BB gun. The Sosa? Mint. Dead center.

What’s comical to me is that some kid had this card in their collection at the height of the Sosa craze and didn’t even know it. Now it is mine … FOR-EV-ER!

Side note, you gotta love that Slammin’ Sammy is shown bunting on his best rookie. FAIL.

The rest of the baggie was pretty typical junk wax era stuff. Here are a few of the treasures:

1990 Leaf Robin Ventura

I remember when this card was $9 high book. Yeah. $9, not $10.

1989 Donruss Roberto Alomar

The greatness of the 1989 Donruss diamond cut cards. Ugh.

1990 Bowman Sweepstakes Mark Davis

Does anyone actually own the original Mark Davis Bowman art that was being given away with this sweepstakes card? I HATED these things … and still do.

1981 Fleer Bake McBride

Bake McBride was one bad mother …

1991-1992 SkyBox Magic Johnson

There’s a really bad joke here, right?

1983 Fleer Bobby Castillo

Bobby Castillo got it … he stopped drawing long enough to give me this smirk.

1988 Topps Kenny Williams

Hey, look! It’s a rookie card of the Chicago White Sox General Manager. Awesome. Love that Beckett has the value in the range of a penny to a nickel.

1990 Upper Deck TC Ken Griffey Jr.

In case you forgot, Vernon Wells’ father is a renowned sports artist.

1990 Bowman Larry Anderson

The way things should have stayed …

1978 Topps Mork And Mindy #82

Um, random …

One Response to “Thrift Treasures Part XXVIII: If this were 1998 …”

  1. nathan segal Says:

    Ahh the robin ventura rc card. I still remember the drama over that

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