Tuesday, August 12, 2014

That Fuji Feeling (Part One)

I made it out to a card show on Saturday. I usually only get to the big Tri-Star shows that roll though twice a year and it was nice to be at a mid-size show. Hadn't done a 'civic center' sized one in years. I have about two hours worth of browsing/buying in me these days and at the big shows I never can get my money's worth in that time.

This one was put on by an old friend who has been in the hobby for many years. I met him in the early 70s when we both worked at the old Houston Post newspaper. He's had a card shop in Southwest Houston and put on all sizes of shows nearly that long as well.

The location was only 15 minutes from my house and parking was close to the door and free. Both of those things are important to me. Nice thing about a show this size is that I can make it around the room all the way and then go back and hit the tables that interested me. There were maybe 25 or 30 dealers (I didn't count) and the variety was nice for a local market show. There was a good crowd as well. I had promised myself I wouldn't buy a bunch of stuff that I would have to sort through since I am already in the process of cleaning up the huge backlog of 'stuff' I've added in the last few months. Plus, I don't really have anything on my list of wants that would show up at a local show so I budgeted myself $35 for the day. I hoped I could come up with some bargains hence the title of this post. Fuji is King of Bargain Hobby Shopping!

Larry, the show promoter, had a couple of tables just inside the door which were 'manned' by his mother. Sadly Larry is closing his shop but the upside is that he had his tables stacked with lots of great cheap items. One table was loaded down with $1 items, cards, small sets and lots of odds and ends. That's where I spent most of my cash.

First I went through a box of autographed cards. I don't collect many autographs but getting some 'semi' stars on signed cards is a nice addition to my binder of miscellaneous older cards. I picked up about a dozen and here are a few:

These two made me grin. Orioles fan favorite Floyd 'Sugar Bear' Rayford, and the hobby blogosphere's very own meme, Bip Roberts!

While I was sorting through the box another collector came over and asked me if I'd found anything worthwhile and began pulling stacks out of the box. I had put aside a few Hall of Famers, Andre Dawson, Ron Santo and Bert Blyleven among them, and I think he must have picked them up off the table because they were not there when I gathered my cards to pay for them. He had asked me a couple of times if I thought the sigs were real. I told him I was assuming they were because 1) Larry has had many of these players as guests through the years and I know he is a regular Spring Training visitor and 2) 95% of the signed cards in the box were of guys like Paul Bako and Mike Blowers. I can't imagine anyone taking the time to fake those sigs. I mean, really. not to mention that he is a really good guy. No reason for him to put out a box of bogus sigs and sell them for a buck.

Larry also had many small sets from the 80's and 90's that were going for a dollar each. I picked up a few that interested me figuring that there were probably Orioles in them (Hello Eddie and Cal) and other stars that my fellow bloggers might like thrown into a PWE.

I have some of these Drakes cards from their 1980s sets but for a dollar for 44 cards...why not? The Drakes sets were among the authorized MLB stuff of the time. They don't have airbrushed unis and caps so that's a plus. I scanned a couple:

Another set I found and bought is one I have never seen. It was sponsored by Fantastic Sam's, a hair styling chain that I'm not sure still is around is still in business according to Google. In fact there is one in my end of Houston. These are different than any of the other small sets I've come across. Each 'card' is a foldout booklet with the player pic and brief 1987 stats on one half and a contest entry on the other. I have scanned a couple showing the front and back and how the two halves are attached in the middle. The checklist pretty much consists of the 'usual suspects' of 1980s small sets with a few lesser stars thrown in. I was surprised that no Orioles were included. But looking closer there were some other teams that are not represented so this might have been only distributed in markets where the chain had stores.

Larry's table also yielded one of the coolest items I picked up, the Smokey The Bear 1962 Houston Colt 45s set. It's dated 1989 and has sponsoring logos on the reverse of the U.S. and Texas Forest services. It's a neat little 30 card set. I've blown up the reverse of the Bob Lillis to show the logos and cartoon. My scanner cut off the bottom of most of these but I'm not about to crank them through again.

The final item from Larry's table is the Cal Ripken Starting Line-Up that's at the top of the post. I have quite few bobbleheads but I was never much interested in SLUs. But for a dollar I figured that if nothing else the included card and poster would go into my Cal Ripken binder. Below are the statue, the card and a snapshot of the poster, it's too big to scan.

When I finally called it quits at the bargain table Larry's mother counted it up and told me the damage was $15 for 21 items. Counting the $5 admission to the show that left me another $15 to sprinkle around among the cheap card boxes I'd spotted on my first circle of the room. I'll save those for another post.


  1. What an awesome collection of bargains! I'm loving those Fantastic Sams cards -- I'd forgotten about that place even existing.

  2. Good stuff. I'm partial to the Drake's.

    I would get my hair cut at Fantastic Sam's every month in the late '80s. That was back before every other hairdresser you saw had a streak of pink or blue in their hair.

  3. Molitor in a coin format is good none the same.

  4. King of Bargain Hobby Shopping? I like it. It looks like you did an amazing job yourself. Those IP autographs are awesome... especially the Nomo. And I'll buy $1 SLU's of stars any day of the week. The card w/o the figure is worth that.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.