Easily the most eye-catching basketball cards of the 1990-91 season are those from newcomer Skybox.
The first hint came in a two-page ad in the Sports Illustrated pro basketball preview issue. The cards in the ad are different from the usual color photos of players shooting or rebounding. Computer graphics and a black background give them an art-poster look.
Skybox cards come in a foil pack and have, on the back, candid, color photos and statistics designed to warm the hearts of coaches of fantasy basketball teams everywhere. The numbers are field-goal and free-throw percentages and averages for rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and points -- for the player's National Basketball Association career, last season and extrapolated for 48 minutes of play, and for all NBA players at his position last season.
NBA Hoops and Fleer have more traditional looks.
NBA Hoops has action photos on the front and color head shots and NBA and college stats on the back. All-Star cards contain players' All-Star game stats. The player's name and position are in the upper left corner, and the picture is within an arc under the name. The team logo is in the lower right corner, with the NBA Hoops logo on a stripe across the bottom, giving the card a neat appearance.
Fleer uses a square picture on the front with the team logo in the upper left corner and the player's name and position on the bottom of the card under the picture. Cards of players wearing last season's uniforms have ovals reading "Traded to ---." Backs contain stats, blurbs and shaded blocks with extrapolated stats for points and rebounds or assist averages for 48 minutes.
Artistic license department: Getting a set of 1991 Topps basebalcards for Christmas is possible only if you work for cartoonist Chance Browne. In Sunday's "Hi and Lois" comic strip, Ditto Flagston bought baseball cards for his father, and the box is clearly marked "1991 Topps." In the real world, dealers won't be getting them from their distributors until after Christmas.
Baseball card update: Score Series 1 1991 wax packs are available, joining the Donruss Series 1.
HTC Attention, hockey-card collectors. O-Pee-Chee wax packs havrandomly distributed cards of the Central Red Army; there are 22 Central Red Army cards, numbered separately from the 528-card O-Pee-Chee set. The Central Red Army subset contains the only rookie card of Detroit Red Wing Sergei Fedorov. Score has printed a Canadian set, which is just like the U.S. version except that the information on the back is in French as well as in English.
The U.S. Postal Service has announced its 1991 stamp program, which includes several issues of interest to sports fans. There will be a $1 Olympic stamp issued in June and a five-stamp Summer Olympics set released in July in Los Angeles. Basketball's 100th birthday at Springfield, Mass., will be commemorated with a stamp Aug. 26. No date has been set for a booklet featuring five designs of fishing flies.
Jan. 4, 5, 6, York Expo '91 Sports Card and Memorabilia Show, York (Pa.) Fairgrounds, auction 3 p.m. Jan. 4; 9 a.m. Jan. 5; 10
a.m. Jan. 6, (717) 741-0954 or (717) 741-9495.
Jan. 12, Carrolltowne Mall Baseball Card Show, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 549-6269.
Jan. 13, sports card show, Towson Sheraton, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
Jan. 13, sports card show, Towson Quality Inn, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Jan. 19, baseball card show, Newark (Del.) High School, (201) 821-0311.
Jan. 19-20, Baltimore-Washington Sports Collectibles Show, Holiday Inn BWI Airport, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 19; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 20, 964-8022.
Jan. 20, sports card show, Glen Burnie Elks Hall, Severna Park, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
Jan. 26, sports card show, Security Holiday Inn, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
Feb. 2-3, Spring Training Celebration and Card Show, Caravel Academy, 2801 Del Laws Road, Bear, Del., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., (302) 834-6825.
Feb. 3, sports card show, Freedom District Fire Hall, Sykesville, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
Feb. 3, sports card show, Towson Quality Inn, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Feb. 9, Towson State University Autograph & Sports Memorabilia Show #1, Towson State University Union, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 830-3284, 821-7893, 638-0360 or 838-7433.
Feb. 9, sports card show, Comfort Inn-Airport, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
Feb. 23, sports card show, Security Holiday Inn, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.