Capt. John Anderson is a card collector and a hockey fan. He played Division II hockey at Norwich University and is a season-ticket holder at Michigan Tech University, where he teaches in the Air Force ROTC program.
In October, he decided to combine those interests, and last month his 31-card Michigan Tech hockey set went on sale at the campus.
Five hundred sets were produced, and although they came out two days before the end of the spring semester, more than 400 have been sold.
He got the idea from a hobby publication.
"Sitting at home one night, I noticed Minnesota-Duluth did a set ++ in 1985," Anderson says. "That's Brett Hull's pre-rookie card."
Because of Hull's card, the set is popular with collectors. With Tech's hockey tradition and its history of sending players to the pros, Anderson thought he had the makings of a set. He received permission from the athletic department and access to photos from the university's publications department.
He soon found out that collecting cards and producing them are very different activities.
"As I became more involved, it became more complex," he says.
First there was cost. Anderson thought he could do 500 sets for $1,500, and was able to get a $1,000 donation from the Daily Mining Gazette of Houghton, where the university is located. The low bid came in at $2,800, so Anderson was scrambling to raise money for the project because he had planned to donate all profits to the Huskies hockey team.
Then came picture selection. "I must have looked at hundreds of pictures," he says.
He wrote the card backs. That meant gathering material for the informational blurbs on each player and combing old yearbooks and the resources of the sports information office for each "Huskies Hockey Fast Fact," historical trivia.
Since the cards were a fund-raiser, players did not get complementary sets, but they were given first crack. Everybody bought at least one set, and Kelly Hurd, the star of the team, bought 12.
"They love the cards. The coaches think they're great," says Anderson, who adds that since he's planning a set for the upcoming season, the cards have become a recruiting tool.
"Now people are expecting next year's, so I want it to be better," he says.
His plans are ambitious. The 1991-92 set will use heavier paper, feature more former Huskies now in the pros and current players drafted by NHL teams. Instead of MTU trivia, each card will feature an unusual NCAA hockey rule. Houghton-area fans will help by naming four special cards. Winners will receive credit for the name (such as "Heavy Hitter" for the most physical player), hockey tickets and an uncut sheet of cards.
Each set will have a bonus: an autographed NHL card. Anderson purchased hundreds of NHL cards and is arranging with former Huskies for the autographs. Randy McKay has gotten Detroit Red Wings teammates to sign, and there will be signed Washington Capitals cards, thanks to assistant coach Mark Leach's brother Steve, who was traded to the Boston Bruins Friday. Anderson hopes to get a yes from the Los Angeles Kings' Tim Watters.
Fleer Ultra and Topps Stadium Club cards are in town. Ultra, with its more moderate price (14-card packs averaging under $2), is more popular than Stadium Club, whose 12-card packs have been seen for between $4 and $5.
Today, baseball card show, Security Holiday Inn, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
July 13, baseball card show, Carrolltowne Mall, Sykesville, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 549-6269.
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.