As I get older, the months and years seem to pass faster, and I honestly can't believe we're on the cusp of entering September already because wasn't it just snowing a few days ago?
While I'm much more of a fall/winter lover myself, the sands fading from the summer hourglass is still disappointing because, along with the twilight of the baseball season, it also signals the end of one of my favorite summer places - the flea market. I'm no longer a week-in, week-out flea market attendee, but it's still comforting to know it's there if and when I need it - which mirrors baseball itself sometimes.
I guess a part of me knew this might be my last opportunity to hit the flea market this year, because although I had a few other commitments on a rare Sunday off work a couple weeks ago, I managed to get myself out of bed at 6 AM(!), which is quite an accomplishment for this perpetual afternoon riser.
Being a late sleeper as I am, I often forget there's a whole part of the human race that wakes up at sunrise - the flea market reaches its peak hours at about 7 AM when I'm still in bed.
The cards I find at the flea market are a bonus atop the simple pleasure I get from walking the aisles. My regular card guy was back this time, and he had some fun oddball stuff on display during my last trip. I know painfully little about those '50s Exhibits cards - the guy told me the Ted Williams at the top of the post was actually a reprint, and I have to believe him because why else would he let me have it for a dollar?
I hemmed and hawed for a bit before finally deciding to pull the trigger on this Fritsch Milwaukee Braves set for $10 - they're sadly a bit too big to fit in a nine-pocket page (more '56 Topps-sized), but I eventually caved because this is the exactly the type of thing I'd regret not buying and never see again.
The guy also had a small dollar box off to the side, mostly vintage with some other miscellany.
I rue the years of not knowing about that '67 Ed Charles because that is one BEAUTIFUL baseball card.
The Tito Fuentes rookie was another coup from the dollar box - everything else here came from the guy's main discount boxes, which were marked down to 5/$1 by the time I got to his table.
Living in this era of prospecting fanaticism makes it even harder to believe I found a Yadi rookie for 20 cents.
This vendor, perhaps more than any other, has fueled my interest in oddballs over the years - Starting Lineup cards are a favorite of mine (which is nice because I have next to no interest in the figurines themselves), and I love that Nike Griffey even though I'm not quite sure what it is.
A few other gems from the 5/$1 boxes - though Jim Thorpe did play in the bigs, I collect all of his cards, baseball or not, because of my admiration for the guy.
A side benefit of attending the flea market is stumbling across tables with cards I've never seen before - most of the time it ends up being boxes of 1990 Topps, but every once in a while you'll strike a small goldmine.
One guy I found had a few 50-cent boxes full of overproduction-era stuff that also somehow had a few Hostess cards mixed in. I don't actively chase the Hostess Twinkies vs. Hostess Panels variations (the stains on these two indicate the former), but I figured it'd be worth a few quarters to see if Wynn & Blomberg ended up being needs.
This guy's dollar box resulted in the real coup from his table with that Cool Papa Bell - yet another fantastic card I know nothing about.
I had a few extra bucks in my wallet at the end of the day, so I doubled back and grabbed a few last-minute finds from a new vendor whose cards were half off the sticker price - the shiny Cruz was a dollar, and the others were a quarter each.
Edgar Renteria occupies a nominal place in my binders (at best), but he has one of the best-looking Bowman rookies I've seen in a while.
These were $2 a piece, and while that's probably not a price I'd pay at a card show or anything, I figured why not because a) phone cards are a neat '90s relic, and b) like the aforementioned Braves set, I can't imagine I'd ever see these again.
Among my final purchases of the day were a handful of unopened '90s packs from a vendor I always see but rarely buy from - I always seem to be running low on money by the time I find his table.
I love opening packs from the past and I often have to restrain myself from spending a small fortune when I see them - managed to limit myself to about $10 worth here, and even pulled a Jeets minor league insert for my troubles!
The regular vendor with the 50-cent binders in the first aisle did a small restock of his inventory this time around - nothing earth-shattering, but a few nice inserts I was more than happy to add to the archives.
(I don't know that I like living in a time where "Hot Sauce" inserts are a thing.)
A few 50-cent legends, and the Aaron short-print was probably the crown jewel of the recent restock because GQ SPs seem to get tougher and tougher as the years go by.
This guy's binders are mostly organized by player, and most of my past tours through them have seen me pluck a few favorites from each section and leave the rest for later.
This time, however, I decided screw it and just bought up every Stan Musial in there I didn't already have - I'm wondering what took me so long to do that.
A nifty mini Stan the Man made for a nice cherry on the top of yet another successful flea market run.
It felt weird leaving the flea market a little before 10 AM - that's usually about the time I'm finding a parking spot most times I go. I'm still not a fan of being awake at such an ungodly hour, and I don't plan on doing so again for as long as I can help it, but I'd say the cards I found made everything worth it.
And while I'm a bit sad that this'll probably be my last flea market trip of the year, I guess I shouldn't get too down because if the seasons keep fast-forwarding by at this rate, it'll be spring again in, oh, about three days.