Baseball cards can be found everywhere these days.
They're in the usual places -- hobby shops, candy and convenience stores, card shows and boxes of Cracker Jack (on and off since 1914).
They're also turning up at gasoline stations, in cereal boxes, with soft drinks and in Giants Magazine, the San Francisco Giants' program.
Giants Magazine isn't your ordinary baseball program, and it's not just the six baseball cards inside. Like most programs, it is sold at the ballpark ($3.25), includes a score-card page and has public service information on the team and park. But this one runs a hefty 176 slick pages and has features on baseball train travel, Giants alumni and a guide to transaction talk (options, waivers, Rule 5 draft, etc.).
The magazine comes out five times during the season, and there will be a sixth if the Giants make the playoffs. The baseball-card inserts were the brainchild of Pat Gallagher, senior vice president for marketing.
There will be 30 cards in the set, and Gallagher says there has been no decision yet on whether to include cards in a postseason issue. The cards have color action photos on front, with the Giants logo framed by crossed bats. Backs have the player's career statistics and energy tips from Pacific Gas & Electric, which became a Giants sponsor to do the cards.
"Most of the people who buy the magazine want a souvenir," says Gallagher, adding that the Giants sell game-day score cards with up-to-date statistics for $1 for fans who don't want to use the score sheet in the magazine. "We've tried to do something unusual [with the cover] over the past two years. It's become a status thing for the players to be chosen for it.
"We wanted to do some added-value thing in the magazine," Gallagher says. "Last year, we did a poster [that was inserted in the center]."
He says that fans seem to like the cards, but he doesn't think the Giants have sold more programs as a result of the cards. "We think it makes the magazine more valuable."
But the cards aren't the team's first attempt to make collectibles available. Old uniforms are sold through San Francisco Giants Memorabilia (P.O. Box 193, Alamo, Calif. 94507), which is run by Bay area dealer Dick Dobbins. Dobbins receives a commission for selling the uniforms, and profits are donated to charity. Each uniform comes with a certificate of authenticity, and collectors are only permitted to order one. The Giants sell smaller-ticket memorabilia (lineup cards, used caps and helmets, cracked bats) in their five retail outlets.
"We try to make that available at reasonable prices," says Gallagher.
Single copies of Giants Magazine are available for $5 each postpaid ($25 for all five issues) from Giants Mail Order Dept.,
Candlestick Park, San Francisco, Calif. 94124.
Kayo Cards has a unique No. 1 card for its boxing set. It is a portrait of Joe Louis by renowned sports artist Leroy Neiman. The original has never been exhibited in the United States and was only shown one time, in the Soviet Union. Neiman painted the picture from an action photo in 1983, two years after Louis' death. The back of the card has a head shot and biographical sketch of Neiman. . . . Looking ahead to 1993, Chicagoland Processing has struck a silver commemorative coin honoring the National League's Colorado Rockies. All members of the 25-man Opening Day roster, the manager and coaches will each receive a coin. Fans can purchase coins for $29.95 each, plus $3 shipping, by calling (800) 933-2669.
Saturday, baseball card show, Columbian Center, 335 Gov. Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 987-5919.
Saturday, baseball card show, Comfort Inn-Airport (I-695, Exit 6A), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.