Saturday, June 12, 2021

Philly Show 6/12/21: A Return to Normalcy?


Card shows are back. But they are not the same.

The hobby has changed, of course, in the 18 months since I last attended a card show, the very Philly Show I attended today in Valley Forge. The clientele have gone from the same general assortment of forty somethings and regular joe collectors to tons more younger kids trying to make investments and trying to play baseball cards like Wall Street. I saw boxes of new product going for 190 a piece. I saw more tables emphasizing mojo than before. The quarter bins were more frequent than the dime bins. And the dudebro collector was in full force.

Now, was there anything for me, the most precarious of low-risk collectors, at this show? Yes, there was lots. I just needed to know where to look. And with these shows, I often did.

Here now, my findings from a very strange, yet very familiar, Philly show:

Table #1- Thirteen Cent...Bins...?

The markdown was in full force at the first dealer I visited, a father-daughter duo with singles ranging from dollars to quarters. A factor I was unaware of until checkout as that everything was 50% off. I had a fine time picking through the bins, but I could have gone harder had I have known that.

I would have attacked their dollar bins more than just these two fellas, a requisite Colon and an Adam Duvall zero-year rookie, had I have known they'd cost me a dollar altogether. 

So the rest of my findings in the quarter bins technically make these...13 cent cards? Regardless, I got a nice assortment from them. These bins had a nice mix of stuff, but a lot of 2000s stuff, which is always welcome with me. Here are some cool ones from my teams, a few Thomes that I should have had by now, and a reminder that Fleer Avant was kinda cool.

2007-08-era big stars. All the more shameful considering that this was when I got into the hobby. Although I didn't buy much Masterpieces in 07, and I didn't get a lot of 08 Heritage. So it's all good. 

Some more sets I don't have a ton of. Playoff Portraits was cool, but short-lived. 2005 Showcase is the one I don't have a ton of [2004 Showcase I do].

I forgot Donruss even included legends in Studio in 2004. All three of these are pretty awesome. Whitey in front of a red sky? Gorgeous.

This dealer did have a lot of legend-y sets in here, even ones I don't come across very often, like UD Pasttime Pennants. 
And while I do have lots of ATFF and Archives, these four were new to me. Always good to add cards of Eddie Mathews as a Tiger, Monte Irvin as a Cub and Joe Morgan as an Athletic to my binders.

4 years later i'm still chasing 2017 Gallery base cards. These all look great.

Hell, I'm also still chasing 2017 Stadium Club base as well. All of these look awesome. Wieters looks downright demonic on his.

Table #2: Stranger Quarters

This one was a traditional quarter bin, in that the merch actually cost 25 cents and there weren't markdowns. These boxes had lots of cool stuff floating around, like parallels and inserts, that I would usually expect to see in dollar bins. As well as some cool inserts that I was proud to finally get, like Andrew Miller's from 2015 Heritage High

All of these 2019 Stadium Club base cards were new to me. That McGriff is sharp, that Aaron is legendary, and look at how casual Christy Mathewson looks. Just a coat. Heh.

Having missed out on the Spring Fever craze once already, I now jump at the chance to get these whenever they appear before me. These ones are from 2014, and they look great. 

A few samples from last year's Allen and Ginter, a set I didn't pick up any of at all. That Aaron insert looks great, and I'm always down for a new Expos Vlad.

Three cards from 2014 Topps High Tek, a current high end set that I love finding base cards of in the wild. All three of these guys are welcome in my collection

Not only did I stumble upon a 2019 Gold Label Hideki Matsui, but it was a Class 3 variant, which is a nifty find, even for a 25 cent box.

There was a nice amount of set needs here too, especially for me, the Archives completionist. All three of these went towards my 2017 set...

...and all 9 of these went towards my 2020 set. Even Deion, in all his infuriating glory.

Heck, the bins even had 2 2020 Archives short prints, both of which I needed. So I don't have to pay too much for them online somewhere. 

Now...when I say this table had all kinds of inserts, I'm not lying. Current inserts, like the All Time Diamond King of Marlins Cabrera, and classic inserts, like the 2008 Topps Stars Alfonso Soriano. Lots of variety. 

Heritage High Number inserts as well, featuring these cool commemorative cards of pitchers from the last few years.

And, of course, lots of Topps inserts. TONS of 2018 International Affair, and lots of fun ones like Power Players and 5 Tool. Also, a Doc, because it's Doc.
And they had Stadium Club inserts. This shocked me, those usually go for more than 25 cents. But I was able to snag these two very inspired SC inserts from over the years.

Even these three, from 2019, were floating around in here. A Rhys at a low price in Philly was something I needed to jump on.
Lots of 80s design insert from the last 5 or so years. A few Roys, a few favorites. 

And a TON of 2016-17 First Pitch cards I still needed. I was looking for Shatner, Tony Hawk and Don Cherry for years, and I got them all for a quarter each. Good stuff, man. I also miss these sets.

I didn't get too many numbered cards, but a Brian Anderson numbered to 299, a rookie no less, kinda called out to me.

And once I realized that these two were not only SPs, but SPs of great players? Aw, man, I had to. The Machado is nice because those 2017 UPs are everywhere, but the 2020 Castellanos is a great shot, and a great timing for the player pictured. Good, good stuff. 

Table #3- Dime Bins, At Last

Yes, I did eventually find a dealer selling cards for ten cents apiece. Ye Gods.

This dime box was tricky, as it was cramped quarters, kind of crowded, and there wasn't a ton that really jutted out to me. I did get some stuff from him, but it wasn't as fun as the quarter box stuff, at least partially.

I mean, I'll gladly take a late-career Eck any day of the week.

This one had some new stuff as the priority, and thankfully they had some SC base cards I didn't have. That Niekro looks so fun.

Inserts of all sorts! Even a Bunt insert! Even another Spring Fever!

Heritage miscellany from the mid-2010s. 

LOTS OF 2017 HERITAGE. And I thought I had a lot of 2017 Heritage. Turns out there were a few that were new to me, including those rookies from High Number.

A whole mess of 2020 Diamond Kings, polished off with a Goldy DK insert from years back. I still really enjoy these sets.

I mean, any set that has an insert set that Paul Waner can show up in must be doing something right.

This dealer also had lots of Bowman rookies from the last 10 or so years. I didn't look through everything, but these ones jutted out to me. Gonzales and Ahmed are zero-year, Gorodn's is good to have in case he pans out.

These two were big though. Two zero-year rookie cards of two sharp starters for both my teams. German looks odd as a Marlin, Eflin looks odd as a Padre. These both are awesome though.

This was the big one though. A Bowman rookie of Luke Williams, the Philly infielder who just came up in a big way this week, with a walk-off against the Braves. I'm not much of a prospector, but getting this card IN PHILLY, for a DIME...has to be fate or something. So I nabbed it.

To be honest, not a lot of other tables really spoke to me. Lots of folks with A.) masks off, or B.) no real well-priced stuff, or even C.) tables with too many people on them.

So I did something I hadn't done in a while..

Table #4- 2 Dollar Hits

Yeah. It was desperate. But you never know who'd be in there.

This table had a mishmash of all sport relics and autos for 2 bucks each. I had an extra bill allotted, I could splurge on them. I was looking for good swatches of players I collect. Alfonso Soriano fit the bill, as did that pinstripe.

I liked all of these players, the hits were cheap, I went for it. Even if these swatches weren't the best color, I could say I had them. Plus, there was a little pinstripe peaking out of Cespedes' 2018 Topps one.

These two felt like they were a bit too big for a 2 dollar box, but I didn't argue. Jered Weaver's was from the 2004 UD Team USA relic set, of which I already found a Dustin Pedroia. Weaver may not have been the name Pedroia was, but he was still a great arm. And Dylan Bundy's is a relic from 2012 Heritage Minors, from his Baltimore Mega-Prspect days, and it's a blue swatch. I didn't think his 2021 season was bad enough to drop his stock completely...right?

There weren't many decent autos, but these ones fit the bill- Aaron Civale, who's having a beautiful season for the Indians, and Garrett Cooper, who I'm glad was pictured as a Yankee here but is now a Marlins mainstay.

And...these two I had to go with. Fred McGriff and Curtis Granderson are two of my favorite players, and even if the swatch color wasn't stellar, they're still cool relics of them. 

So even if this card show did breed an odder clientele, and even if the 'normal' card show that I once knew may be on the way out...I still enjoyed myself, and I enjoyed my findings. Now to prep for the next one, whenever that may be.


  1. Me: I was thinking about hitting a show a little over an hour away from my place in a couple of weeks.

    You: Lots of folks with A.) masks off, or B.) no real well-priced stuff, or even C.) tables with too many people on them.

    Me: Uhhh. I guess I can just sort some stuff that has been stacking up in my office the past few years instead. Although I did like hearing about dime boxes and dollar relics.

  2. I was at the Philly show on Saturday too, first time for me. I think I spent some time at your table #2. Crazy seeing all the dudes with their hard black plastic PSA cases walking around, they seem so out of place, like my kids playing dress up. Dime boxes Have definitely turned into quarters. But I found enough good stuff to make it feel worthwhile. The new stuff is silly, but I don’t mind seeing all the graded vintage under glass, it’s like going to a museum.

  3. Some great looking cards in there! Glad you had fun.