30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Flea Market Joe and Friendship

When it comes to friends, I pretty much use the philosophy of "less is more".  As soon as I walked out of high school, I switched from "quantity" to "quality" and have never looked back.  Just like I often break my baseball cards into tiers... I do the same thing with friendship.

In my personal life, I essentially have three best friends and a handful of close friends who consist of colleagues, childhood friends, and former co-workers.  I'm not opposed to making new friends, but I'm not exactly going out and looking for them either.

The one exception to this rule would be "hobby friends".  This is such a gray area, because even though I write about "cardboard camaraderie" and I periodically send care packages with no strings attached in hopes of putting a smile on a fellow collector's face... the fact remains... I probably wouldn't recognize 98% of you if we crossed paths at the flea market.

I've also met a few dealers and collectors at card shows and flea markets over the years.  One of these guys was Flea Market Joe.  If you're a regular to Bay Area card shows or flea markets, then there's a good chance you've seen him.

At first... he was just the guy with the card supplies, but eventually my buddy Mike introduced me to him.  It took a couple of years, but eventually we were on a first name basis.  Over the years, I've made a fair share of purchases from him.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Stacks of '75 Topps Baseball Minis $17

I'm sure I purchased other stuff from Joe way before these two lots of minis... but after scrolling through my flea market finds, these were the first that I remember.  What's weird is that I picked up the box on the left back in May of 2014.  That's less than two years ago.  It feels like I knew Joe for much, much longer than that.

2010 Bowman #47 $.33

1974 Topps #250 $8

1962 Post Cereal Lot $15

If I were ever to compile a list of greatest flea market bargains... this lot of Post Cereal cards would have to be included.  The two Bakers in the middle are pretty rare and command a decent dime on eBay.

1970 Topps Scratch Offs Lot $10

Pair of '56 Topps $5

Back in November, I purchased these two cards from him.  I definitely overpaid, but he's always given me fair prices and this was my way of returning the favor.  Unfortunately... this was the last time I purchased something from Joe.

He's been in and out of the hospital the past two months and this past weekend he passed away.  Outside of seeing him once or twice a month at the flea market, I didn't really know a lot about him.  Heck... I'm not really sure how I'd actually classify us.  Were we acquaintances?  Friends?  Two guys who knew each others names and shared an interest in sports cards?  Friendship is such a subjective concept.

All I know is that my heart goes out to his friends and family.  It's never easy dealing with the loss of a loved one.  For me... it's sad to think that in two weeks, I'm going to walk around the Branham Flea Market and he's not going to be there.

However... I dedicate this post to him... as it will serve as a memoir of our "cardboard camaraderie".

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


  1. I'm sorry you lost a cardboard friend. Great thing to have is memories, they're really worth more than the cards above, and those are super sweet!

  2. I second John's sentiments. It's always difficult to lose anyone that you shared any kind of significant memory of.

  3. Very sad to hear, but nice post to memorialize him.

  4. Sorry to hear that about your cardboard friend, Fuji.

  5. Great post and great eulogy Fuji. And I think we need to coin the phrase Cardaraderie, but after trying to actually pronounce it maybe not.

  6. Glad you made the connection with him and sorry he's gone.

  7. I am deeply sorry for your loss-when you visit the Flea market I know you will think of him and smile

  8. That is a very nice tribute to your flea market buddy. You will always have those great memories just by looking at the cards.

  9. So sorry to hear about the loss of your friendly flea market dealer. Great stuff that you got from him. (That Sam Baker just jumped out at me when I saw the picture. Congrats!)

  10. I know a guy like that, he was the first card dealer I met at a show. There's so much I'd like to write but am not in a place where I can, so will save it for later. But wanted to "say" thanks for sharing - this expresses what's best about collecting in this kind of forum.

  11. Thanks guys. Appreciate the thoughtful words.