Million Dollar Question – Where Was The Most Uncommon Place You Found Baseball Cards For Sale During Your Youth?

Million Dollar Question – Where Was The Most Uncommon Place You Found Baseball Cards For Sale During Your Youth?

Let me start by saying that the debut of ‘Million Dollar Question’ last week was a phenomenal success.  Not only was the topic a great kick-off for this new weekly series, but I feel that it also helped connect the ’30-YOC’ readers.  The stories were great, and it was a joy to see how much collecting has impacted us as some of our memories are still vivid 30-40 years later.

For the great readers of this blog, baseball card collecting and the joy it brings is alive and well!!!

So, for this week’s ‘Million Dollar Question’, I want to stick to the theme of collecting during our youths.

And for me, that means the 1980s and 1990s. 

And one of the things about the hobby from that period that stands out the most to me is the desire of non-card companies had of putting their brand name into the hobby – from candy companies to drink companies to cereal and snack cake companies to drug stores – everyone wanted a piece of great the cardboard pie.

In addition to that, we also started finding baseball cards for sale in stores that were a bit more ‘out of the box’.  Yes, as a kid, I could go into my local supermarket, gas station, and pharmacy and find baseball cards for sale.  But I was also able to find them available in pretty odd places too.

So, that is what tonight’s question is – ‘What Is The Most Uncommon Place You Found Baseball Cards For Sale During Your Youth?’

For me, the most unusual place that I was able to find baseball cards was at the arcade.  Right behind the counter, and available for either cash sales or exchange of tickets, I was able to get baseball cards.  So, after a few rounds of ski ball, I could either cash my tickets in and bring home Dracula teeth, Chinese Yo-Yo’s, or baseball cards.  And you know which one I chose – baseball cards.  Every time!!

And each time I left the arcade with a few packs of 1989 or 1990 Fleer baseball cards in my grasp, I always had the same feeling – ‘Wow, I just paid twenty bucks for three packs of cards.’

So now I pose the question to you – ‘What Is The Most Uncommon Place You Found Baseball Cards For Sale During Your Youth?’

arcade counter

36 responses to “Million Dollar Question – Where Was The Most Uncommon Place You Found Baseball Cards For Sale During Your Youth?

  1. This post actually came to me as two questions. First, where was the most unusual place I found new packs of cards, and second, where was the most unusual place I found any cards.

    Probably the most unusual place I found a new pack of cards would have to be, the first time I found them in a comic book shop. This was 1982 and I was so happy to be able to add to the collections of both of my favorite hobbies at the same place! If memory serves, I purchased two pack each of Topps, Donruss, and Fleer, along with a stack of comics. Now a days that is quite common, but was unheard of in the early 1980’s to the best of my knowledge.

    The most unusual place I have found baseball cards in general though, was at an antiques shop in the late 1970’s, where I found a very rare early 1900’s card showing a FEMALE 1st basemen on a tobacco card, mixed in with a bunch of post cards in the back of a very crowded store. The post cards were marked at 10 cents each and I was shocked when the clerk sold me the tobacco card for the same price! To this day I still have that card, and still have been unable to find any information out about it.

    • Ron- pretty cool on both fronts.

      As a kid, I would say that local card shops outnumbered the comic book stores at least 5:1. Today, at least near me, it is quite the opposite. I am guessing that the boom in comic shops is due to the Japanese gaming hobby and the recent success of all of the comic book films.

  2. I remember buying new packs of Topps at a comic book store and I also got packs at this one liquor store when my dad was getting a sixer. It seems a lot of places in the late 80’s wanted a piece of the hobby back then! Now it’s hard to find a drug store, grocery store or 7-11 that carries them.

  3. I mentioned this is a post last week, but I bought cards at the local pet shop. The shop had a big candy counter at the front of the store. You could get penny candy, wax lips, candy cigarettes, gum; they had everything, including baseball cards. Once a week, after we got our allowance, we’d ride our bikes to the pet shop and blow our all our change.

    I didn’t think it was odd at the time–I suppose I figured that all pet shops had a candy counter.

  4. My first packs in 1980 were in a bait shop. I remember picking up some 1982 Topps at a fruit and vegetable market one time.

  5. The pizza place in the mall had one of those card vending machines. You put a quarter in the slot, pushed the lever, and a few cards popped out.

    • The Lost Collector- AWESOME!!! I’d love to see a machine like that.

      Time for a Google images search!

      • I remember those machines!! I got a ton of 1987 Topps Karl Best cards out of those machines!

      • Matt- Were these just like the sticker machines that sold ‘high end’ stickers? With the folded over cardboard that protected the stickers??

      • Yeah those exact ones. I still have a Dolphins helmet multi sticker intact that I got from one of those machines.

      • Matt- I figured it had to be something along those lines, Thanks. I cannot say that I have ever seen one though…

      • Ron Churchwell

        That reminds me. The first baseball card shop i ever found had one of those card vending machines, only he had stocked it with vinrage cards from the 1950’s-to early 1970’s. Stars too. Still not sure why he had done that because it must have taken away from his single card, sales. I know i spent many a dollar in that machine when ever I went there! lol

      • Ron- Sounds like that card shop owner found a way to bring in more money before you left the store.

        A little ‘out of the box’ thinking before thinking ‘out of the box’ became en vogue…

      • Ron Churchwell

        Well the funny thing is, I always went there with a want list but ended up spending half my money in that machine! You may be right Brian!!! LOL

  6. A few months ago, I found a very well-loved ’59 Topps card lying on a train platform after a local card show.

    When I was younger, my dad bought a bunch of cards for me from some kids selling lemonade on a street corner. My guess is that they put the box of cards out to help make a few extra bucks. One of the cards he found turned out to be REALLY special. I wrote about it a while back.

  7. There was a tobacco store called the Smoke Shack. While it was perfectly legal for minors to go in tobacco/liquor stores in California at that time, the owner of the shop did not like us in there. We’d have to cut his “Out!” dismissive with a quick “We just want to buy baseball cards!”. He’d let us in there for a minute to buy some. Late in the summer, you could be sure he’d still have cards. Usually he was only store left with cards.

  8. I was in China Town with one of my sons mom. A place with a bunch of little shops. She went into an arts and crafts store. I went into a knife shop to look. Sure enough in that weapons store there was a couple of packs of hockey cards and one pack of the 2002 baseball Bowman chrome draft pick cards. The pack was already open. The man is trying to sell me the hockey cards instead. Since they weren’t open. I didn’t care. I had already seen the Zack Greinke and B.J. Upton rookie cards. I bought the already open pack for 50 cents

    • AG- Now that is an odd place for someone to be selling baseball cards. My guess is that he was not an authorized seller and he was either given the cards or found them and was trying to make a quick buck, or fifty cents…

  9. Back in 1998, while venturing from PA to Va for vacation stopped in a “convenience store” loosely termed that sold everything from Guns, Cigarettes, Alcohol and baseball cards from the 1960’s…. yes this happened and I bought all they had that’s how I got my Willie Stargell and Willie McCovey collections nearly completed!!!

  10. Like one of the previous responses, I also bought packs of cards from our local bait and tackle shop.

    The store was about 10X15 in size. On one small self they had baseball cards and white coated rubber balls. I must have bought a thousand rubber balls in that place from age 6 to 13. We would go buy two or three new balls for a game of “fast pitch” (some parts of the country they call it ‘strike-out’), and I would pick up a pack of cards at the same time.

    I remember that the guy hated kids in his store, but we were the only customers he had between 8am and 3pm (early mornings and twilight were for people getting bait). We didn’t like him either, but he was the only one to sell those damn rubber balls.

  11. On a cross country trip in 89, we pulled into a truck stop on the interstate. I bought a few packs of 89 Hoops and pulled the David Robinson SP rookie!

  12. Without a doubt it was Valley Bait Shop. He had some very cool vintage cards and always the first to get unopened boxes.

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