Valley West Mall Card Show - Bloomington, MN, Whatever...

I hadn’t been to an actual card show since March, 2020, just a week or two before the pandemic shut everything down. That was a small 20+ table show in St. Cloud, MN, but I had a great time that day. So much so that I had to write a story about it. (Which you can read here. ) Why not do it again?


Well, now that the pandemic has lessened its grip on the nation, I finally made it to another card show on July 10, 2021. This show was promoted by the Twin Cities Sports Collectors Club, and would be held at the Valley West Mall, in Bloomington, MN. Going in, I had two specific goals for this show. Looking for singles for sets that I'm trying to complete, and picking up cheap inserts and hits from the Twins, Rockies and Expos. With room in the budget for a few more expensive cards, if I find something I must have.

Time to cross the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan Area, and drive to Bloomington. The one time home of Metropolitan Stadium, is today the land of shopping... But we're only shopping here.


Valley West Mall is a two winged in-line retail complex, partially enclosed. 

Not really a mall, but I've seen it referred to as such.


The east facing wing has a Dollar Tree, Planet Fitness, Arc Value Village Thrift Store and several other lower end stores. A section in the middle is enclosed by a glass hallway.


The south facing stores featured a fairly small Cub Foods, Cub Liquor and a few other stores. All with entrances that open to the parking lot.


Laura never actually set foot in the card show itself. She spent a good chunk of time at the Arc Value Village, buying some stuff that I don't remember, beyond putting it in the car at one point. 


Driving into the parking lot, I didn't know where to go. Luckily this banner was posted to let me know where the card show was. And it's nice to see a banner like this again.


The Valley West Mall Card Show was held inside of a larger vacant storefront. Immediately earning bonus points from me. Complete with sliding glass doors at the entrance!


Almost all of the card show photos were taken during the last hour, when most of the vendors were tearing down and moving out. A couple of hours earlier, all the tables were occupied. Attendance was higher than I expected. 

In recent years, I've noticed advertising for comic book and video game conventions, typically has a reminder for attendees to bathe, use soap and deodorant before coming to the show. You'd think that would be a no-brainer. Now, I've never been to a comic-con (and have little interest in it) so it had never occurred to me that a room full of hardcore nerds packed together might not smell the greatest. But that wasn't a problem with card shows in my experience. Until today. There were a couple of times when I was looking at a table, someone would approach in a bubble of gamey funk. These are men older than me and I'm 46... I wondered how much stink is acceptable in their minds? Each time, I cut my browsing short and moved on.


Before buying anything, I always take a walk around the show to check out what each of the tables have to offer. In the case of today, I was here to check out one specific dealer, who had cards I needed to complete sets. The rest of my card budget would be allocated to whomever had stuff that appealed to me. And you have to see what all of that is before you can make those kinds of decisions…


I’ll use this table as an example. I was absolutely not in the market for anything football flavored, or necessarily vintage either, but I wanted to find some good boxes to dig through. Bulk stuff that is somewhat cheap, but contains the stuff I’m looking for. These days, I’m after baseball from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Obviously the typical Expos, Rockies and Twins cards I’m always trying to pick up, but also stuff that belongs in my new team sorted albums.

In that regard, the table just to the left of the front entrance was EXACTLY what I was looking for! A series of Monster Boxes, each filled with singles for 50 cents a piece. The front card in each row hinting at the low-priced greatness behind it. Immediately, I knew that I’d be spending a large percentage of today’s card budget at this table. After I looked at everything else.

Whatever...

So, in honor of that table, I’m going to include four -count‘em, FOUR- separate "Whatever’s" in this story. Each one will contain only cards I purchased for 50 cents a piece, from this dealer’s boxes. For my non-longtime readers, the Whatever is a countdown to rank cards in terms of only how much I like them. Value isn’t a consideration for the most part. Only how much I like the card. The Whatever part comes in because there’s never a set amount of cards in each countdown. Just Whatever I feel like covering.

So up first, we have the:

Top 9 Cards From This Guy’s Table, That Are Not Expos, Twins Or Rockies! 

(Catchy title I know…)


#9 - 2009 Upper Deck Don Wakamatsu Historic Firsts

I remember Wakamatsu from the Junk Wax Prospector days, as a backup catcher for the Chicago White Sox. His career never took off, and he only had a handful of 1991 and 1992 cards. After seeing this one, recognizing him for his Seattle Mariner managing exploits, I knew it needed to be purchased for the soon-to-be-assembled Seattle Mariners album.


#8 - 1998 Upper Deck Rolando Arrojo Destination Stardom

The second starting pitcher in Tampa Bay Devil Rays history, his 1998 season was pretty good for an expansion team. However, his 1999 season wasn’t, and he found himself a Colorado Rockies for the year 2000. Well, part of the year... Dan O’Dowd made a typical O’Dowd trade and packaged Arrojo and former Expo, Mike Lansing, to the Boston Red Sox for an empty sack of nothing.

But Arroyo as a Devil Ray was a card needed for that upcoming album as well.


#7 - 1994 Score Domingo Jean Boys Of Summer

Domingo Jean was another favorite of the Junk Wax Prospecting days. After a brief cup of coffee with the Yankees, Jean was traded to the Astros and never made it back to the Majors. But this was one of Jean’s cards that I didn’t own until today. So that’s worth 2 quarters to me!


#6 - 2002 Topps Traded Chrome Chuck Knoblauch Refractor

I don’t care what anybody says about Chuck Knoblauch being a terrible person. He’s still one of my all time favorite Minnesota Twins, and a Royals Refractor is exactly what these boxes can best provide. 


#5 - 2007 Topps Opening Day RFK Stadium

Someday I plan on writing about me walk around a nearly abandoned RFK Stadium in Washington DC, and I need cards of its history to help illustrate that story. Something like this is perfect for a story I have yet to write!


#4 - 2000 Upper Deck Wade Boggs Epic Performances

Going back to the hapless Devil Rays of the late 1990’s for a card of future Hall of Famer, Wade Boggs. Boggs was always one of those players that just looked wrong wearing the multiple colored gradient uniforms of the Devil Rays. Which mean, I have to collect those cards!


#3 - 1994 Upper Deck Fun Pack Ken Griffey Jr.

Upper Deck Fun Pack was a product aimed at younger collectors, and was only made in 1994. I never bought much of it, but what I have seen of it has been kind of appealing. The photos are your typical Upper Deck fare of the day, lots of candid poses and interesting action shots. I’d never seen this Griffey before, and after seeing it, it definitely has a home in the future Ken Griffey Jr. wing of the new wall of card albums.


#2 - 2007 Bowman Chrome Roy Halladay Refractor

50 cents for a sweet looking Refractor of one of this era’s greatest starting pitchers? All day, every day!


#1 - 2000 Topps Chrome Dwight Gooden All Star Rookie Team

Dwight Gooden as a Houston Astro... I had no idea there was even a card made that showed Gooden as an Astro, considering he only pitched in ONE game for Houston. Lasting only 4 innings, giving up 4 runs. His contract was then sold to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who released him just six weeks later. He eventually ended up back with the Yankees to finish the 2000 season, but that was it for Gooden. I don’t know if he has any Devil Rays cards, and until today, I didn’t know he had a Houston Astros card.

Whatever...

Let’s go look around the card show some more!


Try to look beyond the terrible blurriness of this photo, and you'll see one of my favorite things you can find at card shows: albums with one pocket filled with a "price grid". Some of my earliest card show memories are of flipping through albums and writing the prices on a scrap of paper, for each card that I took out. It was a great way to target favorite players from older sets. But as the card trends have shifted over the years, dealers that carry bulk albums full of cards into shows are few. 

I had a table at the March, 1995, Minnesota Moose Card Show, held at the St. Paul Civic Center. The minor league hockey team co-sponsored a promotion with my LCS, which featured a card show all the way around the arena concourse. The Hanson Brothers from the Slap Shot movies would appear to interact with fans and sign autographs, alongside past Minnesota North Stars legends, before and after the Moose game. I prepared three albums with price grids for this show. Two filled with baseball and one with hockey cards. Since this was a hockey event, it made sense to bring some along. My table was right by the main entrance, so I got a lot of traffic right as fans arrived. I did pretty well at that show. 

That's a story I should tell here sometime...

I have pictures!


You also don't see as many complete sets at shows anymore. Another trend in the hobby is that no one seems to care about complete sets anymore. Looking at what this table had to offer, I'd still like a full set of 1984 Topps, and maybe a 2004 Topps set to break. I have a sealed one, but would like to have some of the singles in albums. I don't see myself buying a box of either series 1 or 2. Especially since the Yadier Molina rookie will drive up the prices on unopened product considerably.


There wasn't a whole lot of wax available at the tables. Most of it was previously purchased retail blasters, with the prices jacked. But this table did have some current unopened hobby packs, behind the display case. 


Wow... $15 for a pack of 1989 Upper Deck?

Damn...


And of course there's always the case filled with fun Oddball stuff. Like a 1965 World Series ticket stub, a deck of Minnesota Vikings trading cards and an Atari 2600 cartridge. I stared at this case for a while, just taking in the randomness. 


All this awesomeness behind the Valley West Mall facade!

Before driving down here from the north end of town, I checked out the website. The Valley West Mall I found online, wasn't what I'd pictured in my mind. This was in-line retail, much like anything else you'd see in the suburbs. 


In addition to larger stores that had entrances directly off the parking lot, the middle part had an enclosed hallway running in front of the stores. I was glad the card show was inside a vacant store, instead of lining the hall. Like the ones previously held at the Mounds View Square Shopping Center.


With a directory of stores hanging at the far south end!

This show came at a good time. A few days earlier, I found about 30 empty top loaders in a box. Wanting to put them to good use, I went through a few boxes of cards from the last few years. I knew there was stuff in there that was Top Loaderworthy, but had been ignored after I took the Twins, Expos, Rockies and immediate big hits out.


After going through those boxes, I found a lot more than 30 cards needing Top Loaders...


This should help.

Which brings me to the main goal of attending this card show. I'd heard there was a dealer there that brought a nice supply of current baseball singles for set builders. Specifically, he would have Topps Heritage High Numbers that I needed. 


About a week before the show, I gathered my various lists from the last few years of sets I've been trying to complete, verified and consolidated them onto one checklist, to bring to the show.


Set back in the far corner, was a table stacked with sorted Monster Boxes, filled with 2020 and 2021 baseball singles. All in numerical order, except where show patrons made a mess of things... Unfortunately, he didn't have anything from 2019, as I'm really wanting to finish those sets. When I asked, he said he only carries stuff for the past two years. After that, he sells the previous years boxes off, so he doesn't have to carry on them. Makes sense, but I was REALLY hoping to put a good sized dent in my 2019 Stadium Club wantlist...


His table from the corner of the Card Show Store. My mom is in front picking out some singles to add to the 2020 Prizm and Diamond Kings singles she picked out to complete her sets.

As for me...


While I didn't plan on giving up the 2020 Topps Heritage set dream quite yet, the sheer number of high numbered short prints needed, was daunting. But these turned what's left into a much more manageable number. Unfortunately, the 2020 set had some big names that I needed, driving up the price of this pile of high numbers.


At least the 2021 Heritage short prints I needed were all commons!


He also had 4 of the 6 cards I needed for my 2020 Stadium Club set. Odd that it was two Astros and two Oakland A's that I needed... One of the being Matt Olson!

And you know who likes Matt Olson!


Whatever...

With new cards from those three sets, that freshly made checklist now looked more like this:


When I asked, he said 2021 Stadium Club was still too new in order to have singles put together for sale. So I came home still 48 cards short of that set. He said he'd have some for sale at the next show, which should be the second weekend of August.

His boxes were sorted by brand, then broke down to the various insert sets found in each. Going as far as to keep the Twins cards apart from all the others. I didn't go through all of the sets he had, but I grabbed a few Twins cards at random, but didn't look for more. His table was well organized and easy to find what you're looking for. I can't Whatever these cards though, I paid more than 50 cents each, for most of them. 

That's just how it goes.

I don't make the rules around here...


2004 SPx and 2005 Donruss Throwback Threads Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer is one of my least favorite Twins, so I don't often buy his cards. But I saw these and liked them. Even though I'm not sure if I already had them.


2006 Topps Chrome Joe Mauer All Star Rookie

I know I didn't have this one.


2012 Topps Joe Mauer 1987 Mini

Or this one...

But that's more than enough Mauer.

Let's move onto another Twins high draft pick...


2016 Bowman Chrome Byron Buxton Bowman Scouts Top 100

Drafted second overall by Minnesota in 2012, Buxton was ranked by MLB as the best player going into the draft, which I watched live on MLB Network. Houston took Carlos Correa with the first pick, leaving Buxton for the Twins at #2. Immediately I became a Buxton fan. Defensive Centerfielders, with plus speed and plus power always stand out among prospects. Now I could daydream about Buxton someday becoming the Twins own version of Ken Griffey Jr. 


Flipping this card over to read the first sentence, tells you all you need to know about how this has gone since 2016. Those injuries derailed not only Buxton's rookie season in 2015, but they've derailed EVERY SEASON SINCE! But when he plays... I read something a few weeks ago that Buxton's last 162 games (spread over three seasons, due to those never ending injuries), the numbers he posted compare very well to what Griffey was putting up at the same age. But Griffey didn't deal with the injury problems until after he turned 30. After he'd already built his Hall of Fame resume. Buxton simply hasn't had that chance.

New broke recently that the Twins were trying to sign Buxton to a contract extension. According to rumor and innuendo, Minnesota is offering over $70 million, with a series of escalators and bonuses for games played. Which makes sense for the team. No one wants to see Buxton sign a huge contract and not be able to play. Just as I'm sure Byron doesn't want to leave any money on the table. Had he stayed healthy, there's no question that Buxton would be looking at hundreds of millions for his next contract. But is he willing to risk the open market after the 2022 season? What if he misses another 100 games next year, due to injury? Are the Red Sox going to hand him $250 million over 8 years? Even if his production says that should be his pay level?

The next Byron Buxton contract will be interesting on many levels. He's easily my favorite player on the Twins, and I want to see him play his entire career with Minnesota. I also don't want to see the Twins financially crippled by paying Buxton a major chunk of team payroll, while only seeing months on the injured list out of him. 

So this is an extremely tough call. And now that contract negotiations are out in public, it could get even messier than it needs to be.


If Minnesota has to trade Buxton, I'll miss seeing him meditate while Chris Russo screams on a TV, in all those MLB Network spots.

Sigh...

Moving onto more recent Twins draft pick cards!


2019 Bowman Chrome Draft - Spencer Steer and Jhoan Duran

2019 Draft Pick Spencer Steer is moving up the prospect ranks with a solid 2021 minor league season. Duran was originally signed by the Diamondbacks, but was traded to Minnesota at the 2018 Trade Deadline for Eduardo Escobar. In the Minnesota system, he was developing into a power pitcher that could really help the Twins.

And now he's hurt. 


2019 Bowman Draft Keoni Cavaco

Moving on to Minnesota's first pick in 2019. Before today, I didn't have this card, so it was a necessary purchase. Looking at the poor numbers Cavaco put up in rookie ball, after signing in 2019, I was concerned about his future. In 2021, he's missed time with injury, and his strikeouts are nearing Sano-levels, but he's taking walks and has a decent batting average. Minnesota was higher on Cavaco than other teams entering the 2019 Draft, but there are some things to build off here. Especially considering what the lost 2020 season did to his development.


2020 Prizm Draft Picks Aaron Sabato Blue Something-Or-Other Prizm

Might as well continue on to Minnesota's first pick in the 2020 Draft! Going against conventional thinking, the Twins went with a slugging college first baseman with their mid-20's pick. Now he's Cavaco's teammate on the Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels. So far, the power hasn't been there (slugging just .297 in 285 plate appearances) and the batting average is under .200, but his OBP is .368 over this same stretch. That is definitely a positive as he continue to develop. And he looks like Jack Parkman.

I didn't get to buy any cards of Minnesota's 2021 First Round Draft Pick. Mainly because the Draft hadn't happened yet. So a card couldn't either. But the next night, I found out whose Twins cards I'll be looking for this coming winter...


Due to finishing the 2020 season with a good record, the Twins didn’t pick until #26 in the 2021 draft. (Next year, we should be looking forward to a top 5 pick!) Drafting that low means most of the top ranked players are long gone, so it makes sense to roll the dice on a high risk/high reward type here. Which is what the Twins went for in taking Petty. A high school pitcher that can throw 100mph, is definitely something this organization should take a shot at. Chances are he flames out and doesn’t make much of a dent in the major leagues. But there’s also a chance that Petty works on his control and secondary pitches, and in 4-5 years, the Twins have a decent starting pitcher. Or a flame throwing bullpen piece. I like the risk and this pick a lot.


2020 Bowman Platinum Josh Donaldson

Also in the 2020 box, was some Bowman Platinum. A set that I never bought a pack, but picked up a few of the singles I’ve liked. Today, I picked up two more Twins I needed. Donaldson being the first.

The second being...


2020 Bowman Platinum Matt Wallner Autograph

My ex-co-worker’s son used to play little league and high school baseball with Wallner. That’s enough for me! Plus it helps that Wallner’s signature is more than a scribble, and shows a little character. He’s also raking at high A Cedar Rapids, with a .333/.384/.621 slash in 17 games. Missing a decent chunk of the season due to injury.

I’ll even buy a couple of non-Twins from this table!


2020 Select Isan Diaz Scope Prizm

With all of the different strange parallels that Panini crams into their sets, some of them are visually striking. This fading Marlins prospect was easily worth dropping a dollar on,  because it looked so cool. There’s definitely room in my collection for stuff like this. The scan does not do it justice.


2020 Stadium Club Chrome Rod Carew Xfractor

The same could be said for this one. Carew is no shlub, and his Twins ties can’t be ignored. But the Refractory empty Comiskey Field stands behind Carew are the real star here. 


The table next to the 2020 common provider also featured some well organized Twins singles.

But I didn’t buy any of them.


Turning around to look out at the card show floor, the room was rapidly emptying out by this time. So I continued on down the line and a dealer made a comment about my Vladimir Guerrero Expos jersey. I usually wear my Pedro Martinez Expos Jersey to card shows, but today was feeling like an alternate kind of day. That guy asked if I was looking for Guerrero Jr. autographs, as he had a couple for sale. My replay was I had more interest in a Guerrero Sr. auto.

As he started digging, I found this in his case:


2020 Topps Chrome Black Larry Walker Autograph

I don’t have a Larry Walker autograph. He spent a majority of his career with the Rockies and Expos. That signature is awesome. Walker doesn’t have a whole lot of certified autographs out there. I need this card!

A few minutes later, he found his Vladimir Guerrero Sr. autograph. I was hoping it wouldn’t be an Angels card, because I don’t like to acknowledge that phase of Vladdy’s career. Ideally, it would be a clean Expos card, home uniform, and one of his more legible autographs...


1995 Classic 5 Sport Vladimir Guerrero Autograph

Wow! How about an Albany (GA) Polecats uniform, from a set that I never bought, but definitely remember. This card was pictured in all the Classic advertising printed in the Beckett Future Stars magazine. Back in the days when Vladimir put the effort in to writing out his entire name. I’m pretty sure he got sick of doing this after signing all of these Classic cards. By 1996, he was just scribbling. 

Looks almost exactly like his son's current scribble as well.

So yeah, I needed to add this one as well…


Both of those cards came from the table with this case on it. He had some really nice Twins stuff, including that sweet Harmon Killebrew booklet for only $75! Or any of the wide variety of Alex Kirilloff autographs. I found slight amusement in the "Ron" Acuna divider. Never heard him called by the shortened version of Ronald. Doesn't matter, I'm not buying his cards because he's an Atlanta Brave. So let's get back on track...

Vladimir Guerrero never played for the Colorado Rockies, but Larry Walker did! 

So there’s my lame segue into the...

Top 18 Colorado Rockies Cards From The 50 Cent Table By The Door!


#18 2011 Bowman Ubaldo Jimenez Finest Futures

Ubaldo Jimenez had such a Finest Future with the Rockies, that shortly after this card was printed, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. Once there, his career went into a slow and steady decline. Jimenez got paid well along the way, but he became yet another Rockies pitcher that never fulfilled his potential. But he sure looked good in 2009-2010!


#17 2000 Topps Chrome Todd Helton New Millennium Stars

Insert I’d never seen from a brand I never bought. That’s worth 50 cents to me!


#16 1998 Skybox Darryl Kile Dishwashers

Assuming that “Dishwashers’ is a play on words for a pitcher throwing fastballs over home plate? It’s a stretch that really doesn’t make a lot of sense for a baseball card insert set. Then I found out that I already had this card. At least it was only 50 cents!


#15 2004 Bowman Sterling Chris Nelson

Nelson had a few cups of coffee with the Rockies, but never panned out as the second baseman of the future. This is also my first Rockies card from 2004 Bowman Sterling.


#14 1998 Collectors Choice Crash The Game Gold Vinny Castilla

This card pairs nicely with the 1998 Collectors Choice Crash The Game Gold Larry Walker card I picked up a few weeks earlier.


#13 2002 Topps Buddy Bell Gold

I forget Bell’s tenure as Rockies manager. He took over for Jim Leyland after his altitude-induced breakdown that caused him to resign after only one year in Denver. Bell inherited a mess and wasn’t able to clean it up. I blame Rockies ownership for that. Shortly after this card was released, Buddy Bell was fired and replaced by Clint Hurdle. Who would become arguably the most successful manager in Rockies history.


#12 2007 Topps Opening Day Coors Field

And the 2007 season would be the main reason for Hurdle’s success. This image of the first Rockies game of 2007 (which I remember watching on TV) would be the start of something Denver had never seen before, or again. The 2007 season would end (also at Coors Field) with the Rockies losing the 2007 World Series to the Boston Red Sox. After a stupidly long layoff, thanks to Fox TV and Bud Selig.

Which is a story for another day...


#11 2011 Bowman Chrome Peter Tago Die-Cut

I have no idea who Peter Tago is.


#10 1999 Topps Power Brokers Vinny Castilla

Another nice Die-Cut from a Topps Flagship set that I never bought any of. 


#9 2003 Fleer Genuine Clint Barnes

Barmes was a nice little player for the Rockies in the mid-2000’s. He lost his shortstop job when Colorado promoted Troy Tulowitzki to that position. He would go on to play second base with Colorado, with some degree of regularity, until the end of the 2010 season.


#8 2003 Ultra Clint Barmes

This card is liked just slightly more than the Fleer Genuine, so it gets the higher slot.


#7 2002 Upper Deck Ovation Aaron Cook World Premier

While Cook never set the world on fire, he’s one of the most successful pitchers the Rockies have ever developed. His stay in Denver lasted from 2002 to 2010, with one All Star Game appearance and a game in the 2007 World Series.


#6 2003 Upper Deck Todd Helton Breakdown

Just adding to my supply of Todd Helton inserts...


#5 2004 Topps Todd Helton Own The Game

I really like the black border with the blue refractory wavey effects inside. 


#4 2004 Topps Chrome Jay Payton Refractor

Almost as much as this white bordered Refractor. 2004 Topps is really growing on me, and I’ve been picking up the 2004 Topps Chrome Refractors as often as I can. I remember Jay Payton with the Rockies, but he was only there for half of the 2002 and full 2003 seasons. Plus a few games at the end of 2010, before retiring.


#3 2014 Topps Chrome Carlos Gonzalez 1989 Refractor

Payton didn’t have a Rockies run anywhere near as successful as Carlos Gonzalez.


#2 2014 Topps Chrome Michael Cuddyer XFractor

Longtime Minnesota Twins outfielder spent three years (2012-2014) with the Rockies, and did quite well. Too bad the Rockies were pretty terrible during the last few years of Dan O'Dowd's reign of terror. After signing with Colorado, Cuddyer asked to wear number 3, in honor of Harmon Killebrew. 


#1 2002 Donruss Elite Cam Esslinger

Cards like this one are what I'm looking for these days. Stuff that fills the team binders, and were minor hits of product I didn't buy, back in the day. Exactly zero packs of 2002 Donruss Elite were opened by me. So I never lucked into pulling a serial numbered rookie card. These types of cards were the box hits for higher end wax of the early 2000's. Today, Cam Esslinger was 50 cents. A very nice looking card, I would have happily paid twice that for it!

Before I settled in to search those 50 cent boxes, Laura and I went down to the south end of the Valley West Mall. She wanted to look around the Dollar Tree, while I was looking at two for a dollar cards. This would give me a chance to take the exterior photos I've used in this story.


At the end of the shopping center was this vacant store. It used to be a Planet Fitness, but they moved deeper into the mall, a few doors down from where the card show was. While nowhere near as cool as an actual abandoned retail structure, this was still worth checking out.


Because that gun looks more like a Nintendo Light Zapper! You probably couldn't bring one of those into Planet Fitness either. But why would you want to?


The former gym was getting sectioned off into three separate stores. The first store (just beyond the far wall) had already opened as a Dunkin Donuts drive through. I didn't bother taking pictures. Instead, I went back to look at the 50 cent box. Laura was happy on her own at the Dollar Tree.


You can kind of see that table, on the right side, at the far end of this shot. I have to give the Valley West Mall Card Show bonus points for atmosphere. The floors being scarred by old retail shelving added a slight touch of urban decay. Holding a card show on top of that made it the perfect location. This picture was taken just before we left and most of the tables had been abandoned. Long after I pulled a bunch of nice Expos cards out of those boxes. 

Which reminds me, here are the:

Top 18 Montreal Expos Cards From The 50 Cent Table You Can Kinda See In This Picture!

Catchy title huh?


#18 2000 Skybox Orber Moreno / Guillermo Mota Premium Pairs

This is a really terrible card. Dual rookie cards are a longtime staple in the hobby, so that's not the problem here. What is the problem is the terrible composition Fleer (Skybox) used in making a dual rookie card. Redesign that border to include two frames, and put each pitcher in his own picture. This is just a mess... Though I bet Topps was jealous that Fleer managed to capture TWO classic Topps Pitcher Faces on one card.


#17 2001 Upper Deck Ovation Lead Performers Vladimir Guerrero

I'm not sure if this card is slightly yellow from age, or if it's just a filter Upper Deck used for this set. I can say that I've never once purchased a pack of Upper Deck Ovation, so I honestly don't know. I do know that the Ovation singles I've bought or even seen give off an overall impression of yellow. Even if they don't look yellow, they feel yellow. Go look at some Upper Deck Ovation and you'll know what I mean. The set just feels yellow.


#16 2002 Donruss Javier Vazquez League Leaders

This card looks much better in person. I just didn't feel like cleaning up the scan at all. Plus the card is printed on that foil board that I really don't like. And the design is lame. I shouldn't have bothered scanning it.


#15 2002 Donruss Classics Wilson Valdez Gold

An Expos card dressed up as a Marlins card. That still works. Valdez has a bunch of ExposMarlins cards throughout all of the various 2002 Donruss flavors. I have his Leaf and regular Donruss ExposMarlins card, so I'm actively looking for the rest of them. Good thing he didn't sign with the Red Sox or Giants on March 30, 2002. I wouldn't want those cards nearly as much.


#14 2001 Fleer Futures Vladimir Guerrero Characteristics

Rounded corners and Japanese characters, printed on foil board. This card is a mess that can't figure out what it's supposed to be. Beyond it being an Expos card I need, I'm not a fan. But a fellow Expos fan came into the show while I was digging through the 50 cent boxes. He was wearing an Expos cap and said he liked my Vladimir Guerrero Home Alternate Jersey, I was wearing. There's a few of us Expos left fans out there. Not many, but a few...


#13 1998 Pacific Online Vladimir Guerrero Checklist

As far as I can remember, Pacific was the first cardmaker to attempt combining cards with the internet. Which seems so novel and quint today! Each card had the URL for that players bigleaguers.com page, printed under their name. Interesting idea, but it didn't catch on. That being said, 1998 Pacific Online was one of the largest baseball sets to come out that year, and it's filled with obscure players who didn't see cards in Topps, Fleer or Upper Deck.


Just looking at some of the names in the Expos team set is amusing. DaRond Stovall got a card. As did Greg's brother Mike Maddux, Mike Mordecai and Derrick May. I had no idea Scott Livingstone played for the Expos. And I definitely don't remember Rick DeHart pitching for them... 

Okay, I REALLY want to rip a box of 1998 Pacific Online! If there's this many obscure Expos in the set, who amongst the Twins and Rockies also got cards? Not to mention the other teams I don't collect, and all the players I've forgotten about, appearing on cards for teams I never knew they were employed by. 

Did anyone collect a complete set of this? I'll gladly trade you some Red Sox or Giants cards for it!


#12 2001 Topps Stars Vladimir Guerrero Walk Of Fame

This card is really ugly. And more yellow than Ovation.


#11 1998 Pacific Aurora Vladimir Guerrero

Pacific was the Panini of the late 1990's...


#10 2005 Topps Rocky Biddle Gold

Rocky Biddle ranks high on the list of all time greatest baseball names.


#9 1999 Upper Deck Black Diamond Carl Pavano

I don't have a lot of 1999 Upper Deck Black Diamond. Especially compared to the next year's sets, which still confuse me. But of the years Upper Deck made Black Diamond baseball, I think 1999 had the best design.


#8 1999 Upper Deck Rookie Encore Michael Barrett

Zero memory of 1999 Upper Deck Rookie Encore. For a Michael Barrett memory, how about when he played with the Cubs a few years later, and sucker punched White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski during a game? That's a keeper!


#7 2004 Sweet Spot Shawn Hill Sweet Beginnings

Awfully forced looking posed shot that Mr. Hill looks disinterested in taking part. 


#6 2002 Upper Deck Ovation Jamey Carroll World Premier

Rookie card of a player who would go on to join the exclusive former Expo, Rockie and Twin club. Carroll being one of only six to logging service time with each of those three franchises. 

And also, yellow.


#5 2001 Topps Fernando Tatis Gold

Wasn't sure if I had this card of Fernando Tatis Jr.'s father, but I only had the base version. 


#4 2004 Topps Chrome Javier Vazquez Refractor

This one will fit in nicely with the 2004 Topps Chrome Vazquez base and Gold Refractors I already have.


#3 2004 Leaf Limited Orlando Cabrera

More early 2000’s Leaf that I ignored when it was new, then appreciated later. I really like this black and silver combo, even if the scan looks terrible.


#2 2000 SP Authentic Peter Bergeron Future Watch

If you were watching the future for Peter Bergeron, he didn’t provide much to see… He was the top prospect going to the Expos, in the July 1998 trade deadline deal with the Dodgers, for Carlos Perez and Mark Grudzielanek. Montreal gave him plenty of chances, before trading him to Milwaukee in 2004. Bergeron never made a return to the Major Leagues after the Expos sent him packing. 2000 was his “best” year, he managed a .245/.320/.349 slash line, and never approached those numbers again.

And hey, that serial number is the same as the house number where I grew up!

Speaking of my parent’s house...


Restoration after the devastating May 2020 fire is nearly complete, and their house in finally on the market! 

Using my vast knowledge of the real estate market, in addition to knowing the long historical significance of the property, I’m starting the bidding at 27 BILLION DOLLARS! (Cash only). Get your bids in quick, folks around the world are lining up to purchase the house that raised Captain Honkass. If you want to circumvent the bidding process, you may want to call the guy listed on the sign out front. He may offer you a better deal than I am...

Anyways...

The number 1 Montreal Expos card that I bought for 50 cents is...


#1 2004 Leaf Certified Cuts Vladimir Guerrero

One of my biggest baseball card pet peeves are cards that are designed specifically to hold a relic or an autograph, but don’t since they are just the base insert. They end up having a large empty space that looks incomplete. Leaf cards were some of the worst offenders in this era. Although, this particular insert set handles that missing relic gap fairly well. The overall look of the card is very dark, with the refractoriness contrasting well with the black and white photo (I guess it’s sepia...). But the star of the card is that ghosted looking white team logo. I picked up a Harmon Killebrew from this set a couple years back, and I think it’s better than this one. Which is still great.


I didn't buy any unopened wax at the show. That's a pretty rare occurrence for me. But as I said earlier, most of the sealed product available was overpriced retail boxes. The Bowman Mega Boxes brought a brief debate. After seeing what people were posting online from these boxes, I was intrigued. The 10 bonus "Mojo" Refractors are damn nice looking cards. Since they extend to the Bowman Chrome inserts, I was wanting to get some for the albums. The regular packs are just standard retail Bowman. The odds for bigger hits are too steep to have much faith in, vs hobby boxes, so that $50 price tag was just too hard to justify for what you get. Besides, I was much happier with my budget spent on the singles I picked up.

But I still wanted a shot at some "Mojo" Refractors.

(If that's what they're called, that's a really stupid name.) 

A few days later, I found myself at the Walgreens, and a walk down that familiar aisle brought a shocking surprise: ALL OUT OF FAIRFIELD RE-PACKS!! Actually, I was stunned to see several 2021 Bowman Mega Boxes, along with some Hanger Boxes of 2021 Diamond Kings and 2021 Topps Series 2.

Yeah... I haven't spent enough on cards this week...


My shift at work took forever that day. All I had to was make it through to 10pm, then I could come home and rip this bounty. Inside the second bonus pack, from inside the second Mega Box, I pulled this card:


Uhh... So... I won...

Not only the autograph of the top prospect in the set, but the uber-rare photo variation autograph of the top prospect in the set. Serial numbered 16/25 (very hard to see, up in the corner under the Bowman Chrome logo). Sure am glad I didn't buy my Bowman Mega Boxes at the show. I paid a whole lot less for them, and I would have not gotten this card!


An hour earlier, these three tables were filled with some pretty elaborate displays. Now this empty corner was the last picture I took before we left. Both Laura and my mom were hungry, so it was time to go find some food. When I was googling the area for directions earlier, I saw there was a Perkins up the road from Valley West. Easy enough to get to, with food agreeable to all. Done.


And it looked kinda like a castle!


The Perkins sugar caddy has evolved over the years, and now looks like this. Back when I worked at Perkins (in Coon Rapids, MN, 1991-92) it was in the form of a plastic cube, with advertising panels on all four sides. All the sugars, salt and pepper, were placed in sections open at the top. I hated these things because some asshole would decide to fill those sugar, salt and pepper compartments with one of the three patented Perkins syrups; Maple, Apricot and Twin Berry. Well, guess who had to clean up that sticky mess?

As we were getting ready to leave the card show, I'd heard an update that the Twins were losing 4-0 in the 6th inning. This would be against the Detroit Tigers, who were supposed to be a last place team. Well, they're better than the Twins in 2021. And that's embarrassing. So much has gone wrong for the Twins, that even a healthy Byron Buxton couldn't save the season. But as we were getting ready for our dinner, the Twins won that game 9-4. Sure didn't see that coming!

So with that in mind, I now present the...

Top 18 Minnesota Twins Cards That 50 Cents Can Buy At That One Guy's Table At The Front Of The Room With The Shelving Scarred Floors. Whatever...


#18 1990 ProCards Chuck Knoblauch

Those cheesy late 1980's Orlando SunRays uniforms were so tacky they almost rule. And this is an early Chuck Knoblauch card that had eluded my collection until now. Yeah, that's worth 50 cents.


#17 2002 Topps American Pie Harmon Killebrew

Wow... This card is really ugly...


#16 1992 Fleer Kirby Puckett Team Leaders

I don't think I have this card... Or do I?

Either way, it's a nice Junk Wax Era insert that I'd say is easily worth 50 cents.


#15 1992 Pinnacle Kirby Puckett Slugfest

Again... I don't think I have this card... Or do I?

Another nice Junk Wax Era insert that I'll gladly accept a duplicate for 50 cents.


#14 1987 Fleer Kirby Puckett All Star Team

Now I know for sure that I need this card. I did have a copy, but Kirby Puckett scribbled all over it, so I need a replacement for the Twins albums. Don't get me wrong, I'm not mad at him. I even asked him to do it.


#13 1996 Metal Marty Cordova Mining For Gold

Those late 1990's Twins teams would likely not have been so awful if Mr. Cordova played as well as he did during his rookie year. Losing Puckett to the career ending eye injury may not have stung so badly if the 1995 American League Rookie of the Year not had his best season, first. You needed to pick up the slack, Marty...

Well, not like the Twins 1996-2000 run of misery was anyone other than Carl Pohlad's fault...


#12 2004 Bowman Chrome Matt Moses Refractor

An extended run of failed first round draft picks didn't help things either. None of the Twins first picks in the 1996, 1998 or 1999 drafts ever played a game in the Major Leagues. Their 2000 pick (Adam Johnson, 2nd overall) pitched a horrible 26 innings with Minnesota between 2001 and 2003, then never made it back to the major leagues. His last Major League appearance came at age 23. Matt Moses was taken 21st overall in 2003. He stuck in the Twins organization until 2009, with 48 games at AAA Rochester (NY) in 2007, being the highest level me made. Moses' bat simply never developed. 

As a small market team, you can't miss on that many high draft picks, and the Twins made it a hobby.


#11 2007 Topps Justin Morneau Hobby Masters

Without knowing, I knew this was a 2007 card as soon as I saw it. 2007 Topps has a distinct feel, and this Morneau has it in spades...


#10 1998 SPx Rick Aguilera

Not sure what happened with this scan and the weird cloudy effect going on. The original is mostly sunny. The foilboard wouldn't have scanned decent, even if the skies were clear. Some iconic Twins home whites on Aguilera. Remember these fondly from 1988-2010. Although player names weren't added to the backs of home uniforms until 1997. So seeing it on a 1998 card would have been novel if I had bought any SPx in 1998.


#9 2003 Fleer Genuine Lew Ford Genuine Upside

Since I picked up the Clint Barmes from this set, why not the Lew Ford? Both are serial numbered and both were 50 cents. Keep in mind, these again were box hits back in 2003. Just goes to show how much the hobby has changed in the last 20 years.


#8 2001 Upper Deck Hall Of Fame Harmon Killebrew

Looking at cards from 20 years ago like this Killebrew, really makes me wish there was more than just Topps producing licensed cards. Every year, we know what Topps is going to give us. There is no Upper Deck to make a Hall of Famers set on refractory foil. I just want an alternate to Topps. That can print logos that Panini can’t. Or just give Panini a damn license, so the Twins can be recognized as Twins, not just “Minnesota”. Just something new. I’ve had enough of the Topps monopoly.


#7 2002 Topps Chrome AJ Pierzynski Refractor

However, I’m not sick of Topps Chrome Refractors.

Very few of them over the years have looked anything less than awesome.


#6 1999 Upper Deck Holo GrFx Todd Walker

Does Panini know that Upper Deck stole some of their Prizm effects 15 years prior?


#5 2010 Topps Triple Threads Harmon Killebrew

Too bad this is such a blurry photo, it’s one I’ve never seen, and is pretty interesting. Not sure which ballpark this is (Comiskey? Yankee Stadium), but it’s not Griffith Stadium, since Killebrew is wearing the Senators’ road grays. Wish the bottom left corner hadn’t peeled away because this card rules. 


#4 2003 Topps Trent Oeltjen Gold

Oeltjen never played in the Major Leagues for the Twins, but logged major league playing time with the Dodgers and D-Bags between 2009-2011. But here he is playing for the Little League Twins, at some softball field in a neighborhood near you.


#3 2004 Topps Chrome Eddie Guardado Refractor

Managed to grab 4 2004 Topps Chrome Refractors from the Twins at this show. May have to attempt the full team set. Well, I already was, just wasn’t a stated goal.


#2 2007 Topps Chrome Matt Garza X-Fractor

This one’s speckley and colorful!

And the number one 50 cent Twins card from the Monster Boxes in the corner of the front of the card show is...


#1 2006 Topps Ruben Sierra Hit Parade

Here was a card that I'd never seen before. Looking at the 2006 Twins binder, I don't have any cards of Ruben Sierra suiting up for Minnesota. Even this photo is a Photoshopped Yankees uniform, but it's my first Ruben Sierra Twins card. So that's... cool. In the first half of the Junk Wax Era, Ruben Sierra was a big time prospect, debuting with the Texas Rangers as a 20 year old in 2006. While not a hobby darling, the numbers he put up over the first few years of his career hinted at future greatness. 

But that doesn't always work out the way it should...

Sierra spent parts of 10 seasons with the Rangers, and was traded (with others) to the Oakland Athletics for Jose Canseco in 1992. He then spent parts of 4 seasons with the Athletics, and parts of 5 seasons with the New York Yankees. Scattered in among that were parts of one season apiece with the Reds, Mariners, Tigers, Blue Jays and White Sox. (That list doesn't include a stint with the New York Mets AAA team in 1998, and a Spring Training invite with the Cleveland Indians, where he didn't make the team in 2000.) I do not remember Sierra with a few of those teams. Coming off 3+ years of semi-decent production with the Yankees, Sierra signed with the Twins for the 2006 season. 

Minnesota was looking for a power hitting DH, and Sierra wasn't going to exceed Carl's budget. Rumor was the Twins were interested in Larry Walker, but he chose to retire instead. I doubt his knees would have liked the Metrodome turf very much... Man, if I could have been able to add a Hall of Famer to the list of former Twins, Rockies and Expos...


All of the players on this list, started their careers after Sierra. Well, maybe not Bonds, but not by that much. Either way, he placed on this list which is an accomplishment few players have. Unfortunately, he wouldn't add very much to this list over with Minnesota. He missed some time with an injury, and only appeared in 14 games with the Twins. Totaling 33 plate appearances, getting 5 hits with 1 double, no home runs and only 4 RBI. Not enough to move past Manny Ramirez... 

The Minnesota Twins released Ruben Sierra on July 10, 2006.

He never played another professional baseball game.

******

After I finished eating at the Richfield, MN, Perkins, I made a quick run across the street. My mom and Laura were still eating, but I saw something as we pulled into the place that I simply had to get a better view...


An abandoned Fuddruckers!

From my turning lane glimpse, I could see temporary chain link fencing and a construction truck. Meaning this former Fuddruckers was possibly being demolished. These are photos I need!


From the looks of the former Fuddruckers interior, it's being renovated instead of removed. Even though it was pretty much gutted, you could still see Fuddruckers in the room.


Especially in this room! The standard Fuddruckers meat cooler. Left open, so you could see the hamburger patties being made, before they were put on display by the Meat Gentleman working within. I'm guessing this will be another restaurant when they're finished, wonder if they'll keep the meat room, or go with a more secretive kitchen. All I do know is I could really go for a Fuddruckers 1/2 pound bacon cheeseburger, with pickles, onions and ketchup. Too bad this was the last Fuddruckers in the state of Minnesota, before it closed due to Covid, and never reopened.

I walked around the building and took pictures of anything that looked interesting. But nothing was more interesting than this letter from a former Fuddruckers fan, taped to the back door:


That's actually pretty cool. I hope Joshua is able to get some sort of Fuddruckers memorabilia after writing this letter. We should all try to acquire things that make us happy. Be it a piece of an old restaurant that brings good memories, pictures of that same place once it's no longer what it was, or piles of worthless cardboard that remind us of something we really love.

This world is a pretty crappy place, and we all need to have little bits and pieces of happiness, no matter what they are...


And you know it was a good card show when you can find an affordable 1993 Finest Refractor! $40 for a Scott Erickson card may seem insane to most people, but don't underestimate my appreciation for 1993 Finest Refractors!


Now I just have to integrate all that new old card goodness into the current batch of ongoing card sorting projects... There are 8 of them in this picture.

******

Dear Ambassador Wieners,

Thank you for your attendance at our recent summit. I look forward to exchanging ideas with you in the future. 

Please accept this commissioned portrait as a gesture of goodwill between our lands.


Yours truly,

Wretched Crumbliss



Comments

  1. Awesome stuff. I was at the show earlier in the day and am still going through the cards I bought. The show used to be set up in the hallway space in precovid times, with some tables in an empty store if there was a vacancy. I was confused when I arrived to see no tables in the hallway. Let me know if you make it to the 8/7 show.

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    1. As of now, I'm planning on making an appearance. Hoping the guy who sold me all the Heritage SP's has 2021 Stadium Club singles. Still about 35 cards away from that set. And the guy with all the 50 cent cards from will be back. He had me initial the boxes I'd already gone through, so I can start fresh on the other ones!

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