Houston Card Show 2019

Twenty bucks and a box of Nomars.

Matt “Doc” Perry, Cardboardaholic.

June 18th, 2019

For once the Annual Tristar Show in Houston wasn’t on Father’s Day weekend, it was the week before. I don’t usually like to go on Father’s Day itself since it’s seems blatantly selfish to spend the entire day looking at small rectangles of cardboard and not spending time with the family that I love (aka: being a good father). So when I read that it was the week before I did a little mental back-flip because I knew I would get the chance to go. My expectations have been lowering themselves a little bit each year with less and less vendors offering the kind of cards I’m looking for and less and less baseball in general. The number of “high-end” and football/basketball related vendors seemed to have doubled this year and so my lowered expectations were easily met.

Let’s put it this way. I ran out of things to look at loooong before I ran out of time or patience to actually look at them. I spent the majority of my time at two tables. That sadly didn’t include the “$2 Relic Guy” who vanished last year and hasn’t come back.

I did find two guys with dime boxes, and that’s where our story begins…


The vast majority, probably 50% or so, of the cards I found this year came from one dealer, and one box. He had actually taken the time to ALPHABETIZE his dime box. Let that just sink in for a minute. Yeah….

So, when I was going through it there was quite literally a whole row of Nomar Garciaparra cards. I just grabbed the whole damn stack. It was roughly 55-60 Nomar Cards that I thought I didn’t have. After sorting them at home I found a few duplicates, but being able to add multiple pages to my Nomar binder for next to nothing made the whole trip to the show worthwhile.

I tried to scan them chronologically, but then realized I was making “pages of 9” but in doubles across the scanner, so it’s a little messed up. The older stuff is, in general, at the top (first two scans) and the newer stuff, ending with modern inserts, are towards the bottom. A couple cards are worth mentioning specifically. Things like the ’97 Upper Deck Echelon and the ’97 Pinacle with the gold foil I had just simply never seen before. There’s also a chrome version of a Leaf 50th anniversary card, which I’m led to believe are harder to find parallels. The Topps Stars and Topps Reserve are little known brands that had escaped my radar. The Victory 2000 and eX cards are just the right level of crazy and (although I’ve said it before) the Authentix Tickets and the old school Topps Gallery are some of my favorite products in general.


The same vendor who had the Garciaparra cards also had a healthy stack of Manny Ramirez cards. That made me happy. I don’t have nearly the same level of player collection going for Manny, but it’s getting close.

Pedro and Pedroia

Same vendor, same box for the Pedro cards. I can’t remember where the Pedroia’s came from, but I’m thinking it was the other vendor.

The second vendor had piles of monster boxes just layered on top of each other. No signs, no organization, and the cards were a complete mishmash of everything. I found the 2017 Stadium Club in the same box that I found a ’91 Mo Vaughn RC in (below). It was a mess, but it was actually fun to look through. Every time I thought I’d give up and move on I’d find another card or two that was neat. Didn’t hurt that the guy was just looking to get rid of stuff. Assuming it was a dime box, I had about $10 worth in my hand and asked what the price was. The guy said “$2 and it’s yours”. Done and done… and then I went back and looked through some more boxes, digging for more gold.

Sale and Ortiz

The same story repeats itself for most everything else you’ll see in this post. Two or three vendors, random boxes. No huge purchases, but just a fun time digging through boxes of stuff nobody else wanted. I did really enjoy peeling the protector off the Ortiz Finest though. It was very satisfying. (maniacal laugh!)

They come in 3’s

The rest of these I’m scanning in 3’s, just to make life easier. Let’s start old-school…

A ’91 Upper Deck “multiple exposure” Wade Boggs, one of my favorite cards from a photography perspective. A ’91 Donruss Mo Vaughn RC that I never got as a kid, checking that off the bucket list. And a ’95 Score Summit John Valatine… I mean, just look at that thing, it’s insane.

Recent Bowman Chrome inserts… for some reason. Bowman doesn’t need throwback inserts, it just doesn’t. These were a “well, at least I know I don’t have them” purchase.

Ok, here’s one that completely blew my mind. 1982 Topps, but with Brigham’s Restaurant / Coke branding. For those that don’t know, Brigham’s was a restaurant and ice cream parlor chain in New England. I grew up going to Brighams. They sold the restaurant business to some crappy chain restaurant company and those went under, but they sold the ice cream to Hood, another New England institution that’s still alive and well. This was like finding a piece of my childhood. The crazy part is that these were at the card show in HOUSTON! I don’t know how else to explain it, but these cards were meant for me to find. After some searching I’ve learned that there are 22 in the set. They will be mine!!!

Speaking of things that will be mine. I’ve decided I was stupid to break up the set of 2011 Gypsy Queen that I had, and that I really need to finish a complete set. A second Red Sox team set certainly couldn’t hurt either, so I grabbed these at some point throughout the day.

These are great. Literally and figuratively. I love Fleer Greats, I love Flair Greats, and UD Masterpieces are easily top 5 in my favorite sets of all time list.

I have the basic team set this year for Heritage, including the World Series cards, but I never picked up the couple inserts there were. I think I’m still missing one or two (Mookie NewAge?), but these certainly helped.

Last one’s before we get to the slightly above average stuff. A couple parallels for my favorites B’s. Betts, Bradley and Bogaerts. I actually might have had all but the gold Betts, and “Big League” wasn’t something I was really interested in, but always good to find some cards for the player collections.


I had a few of these, but a couple are new. Never hurts to pick up a couple rookies for your current players, especially when they’re really cheap.

Two Benny’s and a Bradley.

Here’s a couple I don’t think I actually had. The Jed Lowrie just kind of looked lonely in the box. I never finished 2010, so I figured I’d grab it in case I needed it. I don’t think I have any Porcello rookies at all. I wasn’t a huge fan of t206, there are certainly better retro products, but I’ll take it from an RC perspective. The tiny stickers, after some research, appear to be 2003 Heritage Bazooka stickers. Most importantly, they have a Kevin Youkilis “1st Card” sticker, which I believe completes my Youk RC collection.

Next, an ERod gold version of his RC, which I think is new to my collection, a Devers Gallery parallel that I didn’t have, and a Devers Bowman Platinum that doen’t have an RC logo on it because it’s 2017 and he’s still listed as a prospect.

The stuff that’s worth more than a dime…

There were only a couple cards I spent more than I dime on. I felt like these were worth the $0.25-1 (seriously) they were asking for them.

2010 Bowman Chrome “1st Card” for J.D. Martinez. Yeah, it has a scratch on it, but I didn’t have one and I’m not a huge “condition” collector that’s going to worry about it. If I find a nicer version to upgrade later that’s great, but I’m just happy to finally have one.

2011 Topps RC for J.D. Martinez. I really like this card, just in general. It goes great with the Altuve and Trout in my case. I can only imagine what a set box of 2011 update goes for these days… (looks on ebay)… holy crap. $6000. I feel like I did good with this for $1.

Last but not least, a 2010 Bowman Chrome “1st Card” Chris Sale purple refractor. I feel like Sale rookies don’t get enough attention, and I’m just glad to snap these up before he does something insane like throws a perfect game in the World Series and is a first ballet HOF’er.

Well, that’s it for card show scans. I don’t think I really went crazy this year, was just enjoying “the hunt” for neat cards and didn’t really have any goals for going. I brought $100 with me, parking was $15, and I left with $60, so I think I did pretty good for $25 on cards.

Thanks for reading!