Collector Kulick covers all bases

MEMORABILIA

March 13, 1994|By Ruth Sadler | Ruth Sadler,Sun Staff Writer

Bill Kulick has been an avid collector since he was a child and a serious collector for the past 20 or 25 years.

The native Baltimorean's primary interest is the 1890's Orioles. He also collects pre-1960s Orioles items, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig items, and those of such nonsports persons as Albert Einstein and U.S. presidents. He's trying to complete a set of team-signed baseballs from all of the Orioles major-league teams; he's missing 1958, 1978 and 1981. He has the bat Roger Maris used to break Ruth's single-season home run record. He's a hockey fan and has Clippers uniforms and photographs from the Orioles hockey team of the 1940s.

"I collect just about everything," he says.

The Babe Ruth Museum calls on him for authentication and valuation of items for insurance purposes.

His knowledge -- he hates the word expert -- comes from an investment in time over the years.

"I get tons of catalogs sent to me because I bid at auctions," he said. "I go to shows all over the country. That's how you get to know prices. . . . And you read a lot."

Kulick recommends that collectors attend shows and read catalogs to familiarize themselves with memorabilia prices and that they understand factors that determine value -- what it is (ball, bat, uniform), whose it is, condition (the most important factor) and authenticity.

For autographed material, he says, there are other factors -- what was signed and how (a hand-written and signed letter, a typed and signed letter, a letter written by another), who signed and where (on a ball, the "sweet spot" between the stitches is considered the best).

Rarity, he warns, doesn't automatically make something valuable.

"The value of any item," he said, "is really what you can get for it."

Ruth, he says, was a prolific signer, and his authentic signed items are not rare, yet they command high prices because the signer is Babe Ruth. "Usually the more household [a name], the more valuable."

The most unusual item he has seen? "I had a lady come in from New Jersey," Kulick said. "She had a bat Babe Ruth used, and he had signed it." She wasn't interested in selling, just wanted it authenticated. Kulick says he tried to get her to consider donating it to the Babe Ruth Museum, but she declined.

Collectors who want to contact Kulick should go through the Babe Ruth Museum, (410) 727-1539.

New-look Upper Deck

Upper Deck baseball has had a make-over. Gone are the white borders. Instead, card fronts carry large color photos plus narrow, stretched black-and-white versions of the same photo. Backs have also eliminated white except in the statistics box. Series One has 280 cards. Each is also produced with holographic foil stamping, and each pack has one of these cards. Checklists have changed, too. There are four (numerical, alphabetical, by team and insert cards). They're 5 x 7, and there will be one in the bottom of each hobby box. Subsets feature a fantasy team (for fantasy-league fans), top rookies, National League parks and 15 top major-leaguers (25 or younger). Watch the Diamond Collection 30-card insert set -- Upper Deck plans to ship by region, so dealers in the East will receive boxes with East Division inserts. In a 21-card insert set, Mickey Mantle picks the 20 players he thinks could challenge his record 565-foot home run (the 21st card commemorates the hit). There are also exchange cards redeemable for the set. Mantle and Ken Griffey have autographed randomly inserted cards. Look for them in mid-March.

More Finest hockey

There are 12 Finest cards randomly inserted in Series II of Topps Premier hockey. All are one-time No. 1 draft picks, including Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros, Mike Modano and Dale Hawerchuk. There is a 23-card set of the U.S. Olympic team randomly inserted. Each 12-card pack includes a gold card, and 25 percent of the packs have two gold cards. There are also 12 randomly inserted BlackGold cards.

The past -- in cards

The Conlon Collection comes back for a fourth season with another 330 cards. The cards are made from Charles Conlon's baseball photographs from 1905 to 1942. Subsets include the 1934 All-Star Game, the Black Sox Scandal, the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics and brothers who played in the major leagues. Five Hall of Famers' cards have been colorized -- Hal Newhouser, Hughie Jennings, Red Faber, Enos Slaughter and Johnny Mize. Each 12-card pack contains one gold-foil card, and each 24-card pack has two. There are 10,000 gold-foil versions of each regular card.

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 at Holiday Inn Cromwell Bridge, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 239-7446.

March 25-27, 13th annual Olympic Collectors Show, Lake Placid, N.Y.

March 25, autograph signing at Archbishop Curley High School Annual Spring Festival (expected signers are Dave Johnson and Tim Nordbrook), 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 467-0652 after 6 p.m.

March 26, sports memorabilia auction at Christie's East, 502 Park Ave., New York.

April 22-23, Professional Sports Equipment and Memorabilia Show, Econo-Lodge (I-695 and Route 40, Exit 15A), April 22, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., April 23, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (202) 780-1212.

CARD OF THE WEEK

This is the sixth season Southwest Missouri State has produced cards of its women's basketball team. The school distributes 1,000 at each home game. There are 16 in the set, and card backs have player stats and Lady Bear trivia questions.

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