I don't know about you, but I am not a morning person.
Give me closing shifts, give me sleeping in, give me reading in bed at 1 AM. I just don't feel like myself when I'm up at early dawn, and I find it hard to gather the energy to do much of anything at all the rest of the day. It's a personality trait I've long since accepted. Jobs and other necessities aside, it takes a lot to get me out of bed on a morning where there's nothing forcing me into the real world.
It takes something like the flea market, for example - I woke up way before my usual weekend rising hour to see what cards awaited me there a few Sundays ago.
My flea market actually opens at 6 AM(!), and while I've never gone anywhere near that insane hour, I do like to get there earlier rather than later because a lot of vendors (understandably) start packing up around noon or 1.
I actually arrived a little earlier than usual this time (9 AM or so) because I wanted to give myself plenty of time in case the dude with the dime boxes was back. Bad news: he wasn't. Good news: all my other card guys were, including the vendor with those weirdly fantastic 50-cent binders I've mentioned in past posts.
I still haven't seen the brand new binders this guy keeps threatening to bring every time I talk to him - but for now he did fill some of the binder gaps I left with my last purchases with a few more choice legend SPs (including an excellent old automobile sighting on that Killebrew!).
I will, of course, take any and all of these I can find, but I like 'em a lot more when they use non-baseball designs - I admittedly know very little about cards from other sports, but apparently the Bench and Seaver are replicas of an old Topps football design.
Topps Tribute brings a rare breath of fanciness to my card collection built on discount bin and dusty treasures.
Legend-centric SPs are a necessary plague among HOF enthusiasts like myself, but it feels so, so good to track them down when I can.
A few other miscellaneous gems from the 50-cent binders - the Brooks Robinson actually folds out into a full faux-ticket stub, and I can't decide whether that's actually cool or kinda gimmicky (both?).
One of my other card guys usually has a small glass case of various vintage - lots of good stuff, the only real tragedy being that I seem to have almost everything he puts in there from week to week.
This time around, however, I did manage to snag this nifty Walter Alston from the glass case for $5 - not a bad price at all for a dreaded '72 high-number (in darn good shape, too!).
As I've mentioned many times before, this guy also has a 4/$1 box that consistently seems to yield cool stuff.
These won't go in my standard nine-pocket pages - the Allen is too small and the sight of circular cards in a page drives me nuts for some reason - but they were still easy buys at a quarter a pop.
More quarter goodies, from TCMA oddballs to chromed-up inserts - and that Bagwell officially wins the dubious Most Information Crammed into the Front of a Baseball Card award.
My other regular card vendor usually sets up in one of the last aisles, and provides a nice final wake-up call for my typical sleepy-eyed mornings at the flea market.
I found these in a small dollar bin he had on display - the Hilton brings me one step closer to my sometimes-jokey, sometimes-serious quest to get all those '74 Topps "Washington" cards.
I don't usually crave conversation with card vendors, but I've gotten to know this guy a bit over the years, and he always greets me by name and is always up for a good chat about baseball cards or otherwise.
That and finding stars in his dime box makes for a great way to spend a half-hour on a Sunday morning.
He also provided me with what was unquestionably my biggest get from this particular flea market run - a whole Ziploc bag of uncut Baseball Card Magazine panels!
I scooped these up for $10 within seconds of walking up to this guy's table - it's actually the second time I've unearthed a substantial trove of such panels, after a similar find at a card show a couple years ago (which also cost me $10, coincidentally).
I can't really explain why, but I have an extra-special affinity for hand-cut specimens from the wide world of oddballs, and the only thing I like more are hand-cut oddballs that I actually get to cut out!
There was a time in my hobby life that I may have kept these intact as complete panels, but I've come to realize that I get way more pleasure out of the individual cards on these than the uncut sheets (plus uncut stuff is a pain to store). I'm particularly fond of these Baseball Card Magazine inserts because, as far as I can tell, they were some of the first cards to come up with the then-radical concept of placing current players on vintage designs.
Seems commonplace now (and way overdone), but at the time it must've been an eye-catching novelty.
Though I scanned these as panels for the blog, I spent a good hour of arts & crafts time later on that afternoon with the Cubs game on the television, doing my best to cut the cards out along the little black lines - and I had a whole lot of fun doing it.
And at the end of it all, even in the morning person in me has to admit the stack of cards I brought home from the flea market this particular Sunday were well worth the sacrifice of a few extra hours of sleep.