Menchine puts stamp on postcards with book

MEMORABILIA

May 01, 1994|By Ruth Sadler | Ruth Sadler,Sun Staff Writer

The first picture postcards in the United States featured the Columbian Exposition of 1893. In the past 100 years, all sorts of things have been put on postcards -- buildings, events, advertisements, cartoons, travel scenes, photographs of people -- and all of them have appeared on baseball postcards.

Ron Menchine, the last radio voice of the Washington Senators, is a postcard collector, and his favorite subject is baseball.

He's turned his hobby into a book, "A Picture Postcard History of Baseball."

"I had a lot of fun doing it," says Menchine.

He says his favorite postcards include the first one in the book, showing Honus Wagner and two teammates -- the earliest-known postcard showing a baseball player. Another is of the only postcard known of the home park of the hTC turn-of-the-century American League Orioles. A series of four postcards from 1911 shows the reconstruction of the Senators' park, which burned down during spring training. Since Menchine saw his first game at old Oriole Park, its postcards also are favorites.

Baseball fans can see long-gone ballparks when they were new (or under construction), people boating in the floodwaters outside Pittsburgh's Exposition Park in 1902, a series of cards honoring the 1907 Chicago Cubs with teddy bears fielding the players' positions, ballplayer-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday and Bill McGowan's umpire school.

"Baseball has a preponderance of cards," Menchine says. That gives collectors many possibilities -- stadiums, ads (often for players' restaurants) and player photos. Today, he says, postcards aren't used as often as advertising vehicles because of cost. Menchine says hotels located near ballparks would try to include the park in their postcards. In the 1960s in Houston, the Astrodome was a popular backdrop.

Some teams issue postcards of players, but they can't be mailed because the backs often are filled with messages or statistics.

Menchine also has collaborated with former All Star Cards owner Don Bevans on "Baseball Team Collectibles," a guide to team-related items from give-aways to scorecards and advertising items. It is available in bookstores.

To order the postcard book, send $14.95 plus $2 shipping to: Ron Menchine, P.O. Box 1, Long Green, Md. 21092. Books are autographed, and personalizations are available on request.

Anniversary postmark

Harvey Haddix's hometown is commemorating the 35th anniversary of his 12-inning perfect game with a postmark. Collectors may send items to be canceled to: Postmaster, 3987 West U.S. Highway 36, Westville, Ohio 43083-9998. Items will be accepted from May 15 until 30 days after the May 26 postmark date.

Fun Packs are back

Upper Deck's second edition of Fun Packs will be available early this month. Designed for younger collectors, the 240-card set includes holograms, cards that reveal cartoons when touched, cards that stand up, cards that fold out into bigger cards and scratch-off game cards. There is a subset on little-known rules of baseball. Each pack has five cards and a scratch-off card. Suggested retail is 89 cents.

Bonus baseball

Topps is inserting pre-production versions of its popular Finest series in Topps Baseball Series II. All Finest cards will be marked "pre-production" on the back. Topps says its insertion rate is one every 36 packs. Series II, meanwhile, has 396 cards, including a Hank Aaron special card. There is one ToppsGold card per pack and one BlackGold card approximately every 48 packs.

Coming events

Through Oct. 31, "Sheriff and His 'Boys,' " exhibit on Sheriff Fowble, Babe Ruth Museum, 216 Emory St., (410) 727-1539.

Friday-next Sunday, card show to benefit the Sports Boosters of Maryland (expected signers Saturday include Chris Sabo and Rafael Palmeiro), Owings Mills Mall, Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., next Sunday noon to 6 p.m., (410) 561-0065.

Saturday-next Sunday, Spring Festival Card Show, National Guard Armory, Towson, Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., next Sunday 1 to 6 p.m., (410) 296-6556.

May 21, card show to benefit St. Michael's School athletic fund, St. Michael's (I-695, Exit 32 south, about 1 mile), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 284-3181.

CARD OF THE WEEK

This is a copy of one of the most famous baseball cards, the T206 card of Honus Wagner. Only about 40 are known to exist and have sold for as much as $451,000. This copy is one of 50 produced by the promoters of an Atlantic City antiques show from a card owned by Josh Evans of Leland's in New York. The original has been valued at $100,000.

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