If inquiries to card dealers are an indication of interest, collectors can't wait for Topps' Stadium Club cards, which Topps hopes to have in dealers' hands next month.
Topps' first foray into the premium-card market is a 300-card baseball set (Series I of two), with 297 player cards and three checklist cards.
Availability will be a problem. The cards will only be sold in poly-wrapped packs of 12 (suggested retail price of $1.25), and stocks will be allocated.
"We're probably not going to be able to meet the demand," says Topps spokesman Timm Boyle. "We're trying to spread it around the country.
"It's a production issue. We've got so many other thing we're going to produce [Series II Stadium Club, Bowman, football, hockey]."
This is not your average, predictable Topps set of pedestrian photographs, flimsy cardboard, gray backs, the usual lifetime statistics.
These cards are made of glossy-finish high-quality paper (the gloss is so high and the cards so slippery that they go sliding around during sorting). They are borderless, increasing the photo area by 25 percent.
The photographs are stunning, and not just in comparison to old Topps. The photos are cropped closer, the reproduction is crisper, and the pictures are a lot more intersting than what collectors have come to expect from Topps.
Four players (Orel Hershiser, Nolan Ryan, Eric Show and Dave Stewart) are shown out of uniform. Ryan and Stewart are pitching in tuxedos. Hershiser's and Show's cards are horizontal portraits, a pensive Hershiser in black sweater, a playful Show in a hammock. These are reminiscent of Score's black and white subsets, but the Stadium Club cards are not a subset.
Most cards have action pictures, but there are some interesting portrait treatments -- Ken Griffey Jr. by the bat rack, Frank Viola in sunglasses.
"We wanted to have certain cards that were different," says Boyle.
The backs are a departure from Topps' regular issues, too. Each contains a small reproduction of the player's first Topps card and BARS (Baseball Analysis and Reporting System) statistics -- hitters' batting averages in nine strike-zone locations and pitchers' frequency of pitch selections. The background simulates an aerial view of a dirt infield -- you can see third and the pitcher's mound -- and the miniature card is placed over a baseball. This infield/baseball background motif is repeated in the checklists.
Baltimore Orioles in Series I are Jeff Ballard, Dave Johnson, BeMcDonald, Randy Milligan, Gregg Olson, Joe Orsulak, Bill Ripken, David Segui and Mark Williamson. One error Marylanders will notice: Topps put hyphens in Havre de Grace, Ripken's birthplace.
The Orioles' first commemorative card set is available at Crown stations for $1.99 with qualifying fillup. It was a Memorial Stadium giveaway May 18. . . . William Feldman's 12th baseball-park print is called "Yankee Stadium Classic" and depicts Mickey Mantle's home run off Sal Maglie in the fifth game of the 1956 World Series. Six hundred signed and numbered lithographs are available for $160 each from Bill Goff Inc. Feldman's other prints include "Baltimore Memorial Matinee" and "Forbes Field Forever." For information, call (800) 321-GOFF or write: Bill Goff Inc., P.O. Box 508 New York, N.Y. 10028-0005.
Saturday, baseball card show, Arbutus Fire Hall, 5200 Southwestern Blvd., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 788-8378.
Sunday, baseball card show, Pikesville Hilton, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 243-1705 or 529-1624.
Sunday, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
June 7-8, baseball card show, Holiday Inn Timonium, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. (June 7), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (June 8), 254-2729.
June 7-8, baseball card show, Towson Marketplace, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (June 7), noon to 5 p.m. (June 8), 837-0870 or 837-7632.
June 8, baseball card show, C.M. Wright High School, Bel Air, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 879-7529.
June 8, baseball card show, Towson Sheraton, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
June 15, baseball card show, Comfort Inn-Airport, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
June 23, baseball card show, Security Holiday Inn, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
July 14, baseball card show, Glen Burnie Elks Hall, Severn, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
July 14, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.