Maybe Topps' heart belongs to baseball. Or maybe it's never developed a feel for football.
There are some photographic gems in the 500-card Stadium Club set, but many of the shots are merely pedestrian.
In its initial Stadium Club offering, Topps did some creative work, showing baseball players in many moods -- pensive, active, playful. There were some arty shots, as Topps broke away from its usual way of doing things.
However, in the NFL set, Topps often fails to capture the essence of the sport. Football can be violent and graceful and is most often kinetic. Pro Set does a good job in this respect, and access to the NFL's photographic library obviously helps. (That's why it pays to be licensed as the NFL's official card.)
However, NFL photographers don't have a monopoly on good football pictures. There are far too many Stadium Club cards showing players just standing around. Others are too cluttered, and the subject is hard to pick out.
There are some outstanding cards in this set: a close-up of Marcus Allen reaching across the goal line; Greg Montgomery placing the ball for a kick; Pat Terrell and Scott Stephen bringing down ball carriers; Greg Townsend looking up after sacking Don Majkowski; and Derrick Thomas punching the air after a tackle.
Stadium Club baseball included portrait shots of players in street clothes. In the NFL set, only Darryl Talley is out of uniform, and he appears to be at a post-game news conference.
Washington Redskins fans might be amused by the "Sporting News Analysis Report" on Ricky Ervins: "He will not see much action this year in the Redskins one-back attack behind the likes of Earnest Byner, Gerald Riggs and Brian Mitchell."
"Don and Carol Harrison's Official Minor League Checklist Book is not as slick as Beckett's or Krause's guides and has some annoying typos, but it's a minor-league card collector's dream. Cards are listed by sets, arranged chronologically by years and alphabetically by cities. The authors, who specialize in selling minor-league cards, have included Australian, Pan Am and college teams. There's also information on condition (quality control is a problem), scarcity, variations and first cards. The book is $19.95 plus $3.50 postage and handling from The Tenth Inning, 3324 W. Mercury Blvd., Hampton, Va. 23666 or (800) 292-5096.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame's holiday gift catalog (P.O. Box 590A, Cooperstown, N.Y. 13326) includes two keepsakes from Jim Palmer's 1990 induction: a pin and a cachet. Items available range from a $2 patch to $350 reproduction warm-up jackets. . . . Upscale catalogs have discovered sports TTC collectibles in time for the winter holidays, too. The latest Hammacher Schlemmer catalog includes: autographed baseballs with certificates of authenticity, wooden bases and clear plastic covers ranging from $79.95 to $599 (living players with 500 home runs); autographed bats ($249.95 each); autographed Joe DiMaggio prints ($399 unframed), and a print of the 11 living players who have hit 500 homers autographed by each ($699 unframed). No baseball cards, though.
Today, baseball card show, Fairgrounds, Gaithersburg (I-270 W to Exit 11), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (301) 329-2188.
Today, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn (I-695, Exit 26S), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Today, baseball card show to benefit Pikesville Volunteer Fire Co., Pikesville Volunteer Fire Co. (40 E. Sudbrook Lane), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, sports memorabilia auction to benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Sheraton Inner Harbor, (410) 771-9000.
Saturday-Dec. 14, Silent auction of uniforms worn on Memorial Stadium final weekend to benefit Santa Claus Anonymous and Orioles Children's Charities, Hit and Run Club, Memorial Stadium, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., (410) 547-6140.