An uncommon price guide for baseball card collectors

MEMORABILIA

February 27, 1994|By Ruth Sadler | Ruth Sadler,Sun Staff Writer

Spring training has started, and card collectors' thoughts might be turning to baseball.

One of their tools is a price guide, often a thick book listing players from No. 1 to infinity in every set. Alphabetized guides help locate individual players' cards.

Paul M. Green takes a different approach in "The Complete Price Guide to Baseball Cards Worth Collecting" (Contemporary Books, $8.95).

Green, a contributor to Sports Collectors Digest and Baseball Cards, leaves out the commons. He has a section of Hall of Famers and "key players," listing some of their important (or expensive) cards. He also comments on each player. Sometimes he talks about the player, sometimes about card value. If the player isn't listed, he's a common, and you're directed to the back of the book, which lists major sets from 1948 to 1992, giving set and common player prices.

In the preface, he discusses the history of cards and collecting, price guides and factors affecting card value. One factor he mentions is geography, but he considers only the big picture, with players in big markets commanding higher prices than those from smaller ones. He fails to mention what hometown fans know: They play a premium for their heroes' cards, but they get the best selection. Sure, there's likely to be less interest in Orioles cards in Cleveland than in Baltimore, and hence, lower prices, but the selection will probably be smaller.

Who's in? Mostly current players or just-retired stars not yet in Cooperstown, plus four of the eight 1919 Chicago Black Sox (Eddie Cicotte, Chick Gandil, Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver), Pete Rose, Billy Sunday, Ray Chapman (the only major-leaguer to die from being hit by a pitch) and Smoky Joe Wood.

Fans might disagree with his opinions on the players' baseball abilities -- or on their card values. Ben McDonald doesn't rate a listing, but collectors among Orioles fans will never consider his cards common.

The comments in this book will probably start to look dated in April, so it almost cries out for an update next year. In the meantime, it's an interesting approach, but, as always, collectors are advised to follow the sport (to know how they're doing at work) and form their own value judgments.

Fleer joins crowd

Fleer is joining the insert crowd, putting an insert card in each pack of NBA Series 2 cards. There are five insert sets (a total of 76 cards), including the metalized "living legends." The basic set is mostly rookies and players traded since Series 1 was issued. Washington Bullets fans will find rookies Calbert Cheaney and Gheorghe Muresan.

Pinnacle baseball

Pinnacle has given up its basic black look. The redesigned premium card is borderless, and the first series has 270 cards. Insert cards include the "Museum Collection," each common card redone with a metallic look. The double-sided Rookie Team Pinnacle is a nine-card insert set focusing on 18 players projected to have the biggest impact in their first year. Pinnacle is also producing 1,000 "artist proof" sets of Series I.

Coming events

Through Oct. 31, "Sheriff and His 'Boys,' " exhibit on Sheriff Fowble, who helped develop major-leaguers Al Kaline, Ron Swoboda and Tim Nordbrook, Babe Ruth Museum, 216 Emory St., (410) 727-1539.

Today, card show, Columbia Mall, noon to 5 p.m., (410) 329-2188.

Friday, card show to benefit West Middle School and Carroll County Special Olympics, West Middle School, 60 Monroe St., Westminster, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (410) 346-7837.

Saturday, card show to benefit Cape St. Claire Elementary School (expected guest is the Oriole Bird), Cape St. Claire Elementary School (Blue Ridge Drive), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 757-2457.

Saturday, card show, Maryland National Guard Armory, 3727 Putty Hill Ave., Parkville, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 494-9590.

CARD OF THE WEEK

Classic's 1994 Pro Hockey Prospects features 30 rookies of the 1993-94 season and top prospects of the 1994 draft. Exclusive signee Radek Bonk, who may be the top draft pick, has his own subset. The 250-card set also has the two female goalies in pro hockey -- Manon Rheaume and Erin Whitten. There are 10,000 randomly inserted autographed cards.

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