It's December. The weather has turned cold. National Football League teams are jockeying for playoff position. Holiday shopping is getting down to crunch time.
And the 1991 baseball season is here.
Actually, most of the '91 baseball cards are expected at dealers this month.
The season looks like an exciting one.
Topps will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in baseball cards. The cards, available late in the month, will carry a special anniversary logo in the upper left corner. The photos are eye-catching, and team logos are incorporated in the design to make an attractive card.
As part of the anniversary celebration, Topps is randomly inserting into retail packs every card from every set in its 'N card-producing history -- including the 1952 Mickey Mantle. Other promotions are planned.
Upper Deck's third edition will be available late this month with a couple of promotions for foil-pack purchasers: 2,500 autographed Nolan Ryan cards have been randomly inserted, as have cards showing Michael Jordan in a White Sox uniform (not part of the factory set). There will be a subset with the top prospect from each major-league team's organization.
Donruss' 792-card set will be available in two 396-card series beginning at mid-month. Like Topps and Upper Deck, Donruss has some goodies randomly inserted in packs: 5,000 autographed Ryne Sandberg cards, 7,500 special Ryan cards, and an "elite series" featuring 10,000 each of Cecil Fielder, Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson, George Brett, Barry Bonds, Andre Dawson, Matt Williams and Doug Drabek.
Trend-setting Score has a hefty, 900-card set coming out in series -- the 441-card first series in January, the 452-card second series in late March and seven bonus cards available only in the complete set, which is planned for April. This year's subsets include: 25 first-round draft picks; a 13-card dream team whose members strike fashion poses in black and white; a 26-card set of franchise players photographed in black and white; 30 theme cards in three categories (sluggers, strikeout pitchers, fielders); a 20-card all-star team whose players are shown in caricature; and last season's nine no-hit pitchers.
Fleer has grown from 660 cards to 720 and added full-color backs with head shots and action photos on the front. One of its subsets is called Fantasy Portraits, featuring illustrations of Henderson, Dave Stewart, Sandberg and Bonds.
Also this month, Pro Set is bringing out a set of golf cards.
How important is condition? Important enough that an outfit called Baseball Card Restorations is offering a 1 1/2 -hour video on repair and restoration it claims can increase the value of cards in sad shape. Shouldn't the potential seller also be urged to label the finished product as "restored"?
Today, Mid-Atlantic Card Shows, Comfort Inn, Pikesville, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Today, Baseball card show, Martin's of Westminster, 140 Village Shopping Center, Westminster, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 922-8366.
Dec. 9, Baseball card show, Quality Inn, Towson, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 239-7446.
Dec. 14, Baseball card show, Eldersburg Community Center, 549-1478.
Dec. 15, Baseball card show, Baltimore Ramada, I-695, Exit 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m, 922-8366.