Collectors ready to throw out first baseball cards


November 29, 1992|By Ruth Sadler | Ruth Sadler,Staff Writer

Baseball season, as all fans with dreams of warm weather know, begins in mid-February when pitchers and catchers report to training camp.

The baseball-card season no longer follows the sun. Collectors can beat the pitchers and catchers to start the 1993 season, but they'll have to contend with the holiday rush. Most manufacturers will have their first series out in time for holiday shopping.

Topps, which went to white backs in its 41st year, continues to upgrade its sets. For 1993, backs are full color and include photos for the first time. The nine cards on the promo sheet show good action photos and portraits (Bobby Bonilla leaning on his bat against the New York skyline at night).

There will be 792 cards in two sets of 396 cards each. The first set will be released Jan. 1. The second series, which will include players drafted by the expansion Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins, will be out in late winter. That series also will have players involved in other off-season transactions.

Donruss plans to ship its 396-card first series early next month. There will be another 396-card series but no factory sets, and the company says it is reducing production for the third straight year. Backs of cards are dominated by color photos, and stats are limited to a player's last five years in the major leagues. The Diamond Kings subset will be back, with 15 cards randomly inserted in Series 1 packs.

The Limited Edition Card Series features Will Clark, with 5,000 autographed cards randomly inserted in Series 1 and 2. Robin Yount will be honored for his 3,000 hits as the Legends Card. The Elite subset for Series 1 includes American League Cy Young Award winner and MVP Dennis Eckersley.

Upper Deck also has put bigger photos on card backs as part of a re-design. The company has junked the diamond logo and put its name in the top of the photo, giving the cards a very different look. Series I, 420 cards strong, will be released in mid-December. Series II, also with 420 cards, will come out in mid-May.

Subsets feature top rookies, teammates (from the Orioles, Cal Ripken and Brady Anderson) and players active in community service. There's a limited-edition card, No. SP5, honoring Yount and George Brett for their 3,000th hits. Willie Mays is the subject of an eight-card Baseball Hero insert set, and Walter Iooss Jr.'s candid photos of 26 top players make up another insert set.

Fleer's second minor-league venture, the 250-card Excel set, is a vast improvement over last summer's team sets. The cards feature UV coating, gold-foil stamping and color photos front and back. Backs feature stats and team logos superimposed on a card-filling photo. The cards include top players from all minor-league classifications. There's also a 10-card all-star subset randomly inserted in the 14-card foil packs. There will be no factory sets. Orioles fans can watch for Damon Buford and Brad Pennington.

Score's new mid-price Select line of 405 borderless cards makes its debut next month, but Pinnacle won't be out until February and Score until March.

Sports auction

Baseballs autographed by Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Mike Mussina, a football helmet signed by John Unitas, a basketball signed by Julius Erving and a hockey puck signed by Bobby Hull headline the items to be auctioned to benefit the National Drive to Cure Paralysis. The event is Saturday at Towson Marketplace from 2-5 p.m.

High-flying cards

Passengers age 12 and under who order a child's meal on any domestic or overseas Delta flight between Tuesday and Jan. 31, will receive a pack of NFL Pro Line Collection cards. Some of the cards are randomly inserted autographed cards.

Coming events

Today, baseball card show, Towson Sheraton (I-695, Exit 27A), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.

Friday, Orioles memorabilia sale as part of Moonlight Madness (toy donation requested), Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 6-11 p.m., (410) 547-6150.

Saturday, sports memorabilia auction to benefit the National Drive to Cure Paralysis, Towson Marketplace, 2-5 p.m., (800) 727-WALK.

Sunday, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn (I-695, Exit 26 S), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 239-7446.

Sunday, baseball card show, Freedom District Fire Hall, Sykesville (Route 32 between I-70 and Route 26), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.

Dec. 12, baseball card and craft show to benefit Joppatowne High athletics, Joppatowne High School (555 Joppa Farm Road), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call Steve Rapley (410) 538-6821 or Steve Sharpeta (410) 679-1878.

Dec. 12, baseball card show, Towson Sheraton (I-695, Exit 27A), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.

Card of the Week

Pro Set's NHL I, which features the company's new logo, has 270 player cards, five special cards and a 12-card insert set, Pro Set's first. Expansion-team players are shown in 1992-93 game action. Random inserts are a five-card Parkhurst preview set and autographed Kirk McLean cards. Pro Set says only 8,000 cases have been produced.

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