Relax, collectors. There's a baseball card set that doesn't cost a fortune (suggested retail price of 49 cents a pack and $4.99 a set) and whose corners seem to cry out to be rounded.
There can't be any error cards because the information on the backs is fictitious.
"The Baseball Enquirer" is a spoof on baseball -- and baseball cards. The 64-card set is produced by Confex. The front of each card carries the company logo, "Fun Stuff," and the cards really are fun.
Each front carries a caricature of a well-known baseball player, often wearing his team's colors (since this is not a licensed product, there are no team names or logos), and a blank box where his name would normally go.
The back has a box where the name would go and a fictitious interview with the player, focusing on a well-known feature or interest. The fun is identifying the players. Wade Boggs talks chicken, Jim Palmer discusses underwear, George Brett is asked about pine tar and Pete Rose talks about life on the memorabilia circuit. The humor is reminiscent of Mad magazine, broad rather than subtle.
"I wanted to bring some fun back into card collecting," says Bill Colrus, the cards' artist and creator.
Bookshelf: Baseball fans should think about adding Robert Obojski's "Baseball Memorabilia" (Sterling Publishing Co., New York, 160 pp., $8.95) to their collections. He covers the varied areas of baseball collecting, including cards, balls, uniforms, press pins, stamps, programs, autographs, tickets and auctions. also discusses the Hall of Fame, how to collect and spotting fakes. This is a good, basic reference at a reasonable price.
Opening cards: If you went back to your low-number Upper Deck team checklists with the ballparks and players on them and wondered how the players did in their home-park openers, box scores reveal: three players not on that team (Danny Tartabull, Eddie Murray, Greg Swindell), two on the disabled list (Rob Dibble, Nolan Ryan), four pitchers (Scott Erickson, Dave Stieb, Jim Abbott, Ben McDonald) and one other player (Kevin Maas) who weren't in the lineup and nine players (Ellis Burks, Cecil Fielder, Greg Vaughn, Fred McGriff, Frank Thomas, Shawon Dunston, Delino DeShields, John Kruk, Doug Drabek) who produced. The remainder (Rickey Henderson, Edgar Martinez, David Justice, Craig Biggio, Willie McGee, Howard Johnson, Todd Zeile) had subpar days. Of course, Upper Deck prepares its lineup cards around Christmas time.
Unusual sponsor: Star Pics, the card company that features pro prospects, is sponsoring one. The Farmington Hills, Mich., company is the corporate sponsor of Ben Hogan Tour golfer Steve Brady, a Michigan native. Brady wears a Star Pics logo cap.
Recognizing skill: Upper Deck is honoring baseball skills with a 10-card subset of American League Diamond Skills players. Among those honored are Cal Ripken (best defensive player), Jose Canseco (best athlete) and Ken Griffey (most exciting player).
College merchandising: The NCAA, sponsor of Final Fours and other assorted championships, is also in the retail business. Collectors can order T-shirts from their favorite sport's championship, not to mention sport and NCAA-logo squeeze bottles, warm-ups, jackets, caps, mugs and duffel bags. There are also books, videos and clothing for infants and toddlers. To request a catalog, write: NCAA Visitors Center, P.O. Box 410559, Kansas City, Mo. 64141-0559.
Today, All-American baseball card show, American Legion Post 148 on South Marlyn Avenue in Essex (across from Marlyn Pharmacy). Open 4-10 p.m. Free pack of 87 Topps to the first 50 people. Proceeds will benefit 16-19 Little League.
July 19, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn (I-695, Exit 26 S), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 239-7446.
Aug. 9, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn (I-695, Exit 26 S), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 239-7446.