'Mr. Memorabilia' wears many hats, with enthusiasm

NEIGHBORS

January 04, 1994|By MAUREEN RICE

Heavens to Betsy, it's 1994. If all of those resolutions to quit smoking and lose weight are kept this year, we'll be the healthiest nation on Earth.

I, of course, have not made such mundane resolutions.

Instead, I've resolved that this year I will shake Ed McMahon's hand as the winner of the sweepstakes and be a millionaire.

Failing that, I will win the lottery when it tops $10 million or so, and be a millionaire several times over.

I figure doing that is a heck of a lot easier than losing weight.

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On New Year's, many of us put on hats, put on the dog, and had a wonderful time celebrating the birth of a whole new year.

Sykesville's Robert Urban wears many hats all year long.

To the children in his daughter's kindergarten class, he's known as Alex Urban's dad.

To the children in the afternoon kindergarten at Eldersburg Elementary, he's known as Santa Claus.

To sports memorabilia fans across the nation, he's known as Mr. Memorabilia.

And to participants at his many memorabilia shows, he's known as the Auctioneer.

Mr. Urban is enthusiastic under all of these guises.

"Playing Santa [for the kindergartners] made me so happy. . . . That was about the best thing I ever did," he said. "I had such a good time, and they all made me cards. I read those cards and they made me cry, I was so overwhelmed."

Not so overwhelmed that the dealer/broker for sports memorabilia, from uniforms to baseball cards, could forget the coming visit from Gino Marchetti, former Baltimore Colts defensive end.

"It's very rare to see him," Mr. Urban said. "He's only signed [made a public appearance for that reason] one other time in his whole life."

Mr. Marchetti -- who played for the Colts in the '50s and '60s, made All Pro six times, played in seven Pro Bowl games, and played in "the greatest game of all time" (the 1958 championship, in the age before Super Bowls) with a broken ankle -- will leave his Philadelphia home this week to visit with Mr. Urban and sign autographs for loyal fans at "Mr. Memorabilia" shows and auctions this week.

You can see Mr. Marchetti on Saturday and Sunday at the shows Mr. Urban has arranged for sports memorabilia fans. He'll sign your football from 11 a.m. to noon both days, and you can bid on items such as football jerseys, Oriole uniforms and other memorabilia in silent auctions, or just have fun trying to outbid another fan in the verbal auction Mr. Urban will conduct in the afternoons.

The "Mr. Memorabilia" shows, with 30 dealers, should be fun for Oriole fans everywhere, and if you like (or liked) the Colts, don't miss this opportunity to see one of the team's most famous players.

The shows will take place at the Holiday Inn in Frederick on Saturday and at the Holiday Inn in Towson on Sunday.

For information, or to add your name to the "Mr. Memorabilia" newsletter mailing list, call 795-0033.

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The Catoctin Group of the Sierra Club is planning a hike.

Not just any hike, and the goal is not to raise money.

Those who wish to participate must register, rise early and, regardless of the weather, get to the Morgan Run Environmental Area (off Route 97, junction Bartholow Road) by 8 a.m. Saturday.

The hardy souls who do so will be treated to a stroll with Morgan Run's Department of Natural Resources Ranger Frank Ryan, to see the signs that wild creatures leave behind to be found by the practiced eye.

"The early hour was chosen so that we would have a chance to see deer, fox and other animals usually shy during the day," said Deanna Hoffman, Piney Run Park naturalist and Sierra Club member.

"Even if we don't see the animals, we can undoubtedly find tracks and other signs of their presence. It should be a great hike."

Anyone who wishes to learn about tracking animals, or wants to enjoy a hike with a knowledgeable ranger, should call (301) 831-7606 to register or leave a message for Frank Ryan at (410) 795-1322.

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You just love seeing those lilies, forget-me-nots, carnations and hibiscus blooming in the yard of your neighbor, the one with the green thumb.

You'd like to see their glory in your yard, too, but your parents lived in the city and you haven't the faintest notion how to plant them, take care of them, or even what their names are.

The folks at Piney Run had you in mind when they asked me to do my next class, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11 in the Nature Center.

Here is your chance to learn how to amaze your gardening neighbor with a sudden burst of color in your yard this summer. Now is the time to get a head start on planning the garden of your dreams.

Join me at Piney Run next Tuesday to learn how to design a perennial bed, choose the right flowers, plant and care for them, and what to do when they overgrow their allotted space.

Call Piney Run at 795-6043 to register. The class is free.

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