Rosters does a number on old uniforms

MEMORABILIA

May 08, 1994|By Ruth Sadler | Ruth Sadler,Sun Staff Writer

Uniform collector Mark Stang had about four dozen flannel shirts and wanted to know who had worn them. He contacted the Baseball Hall of Fame, Major League Baseball and The Sporting News seeking a list.

"Nobody'd ever done it," he says. "They'd had people call for information [but couldn't help]."

In 1987, he started collecting photocopies of old score cards. He went to private collectors and the Hall of Fame.

A computer-programming friend, Linda Harkness, suggested he build a data base of the information he was collecting. She designed the software, and she is his partner in Rosters, a four-volume uniform-number guide for the years 1930 to 1971.

The data base contains more than 30,000 entries and is organized by name, number and team. Stang says they're working on verifying 1,200 more entries. One problem, he says, is with players brought up for a game or two who wore the uniform, sat on the bench, but, because they never played, are not listed in the "Baseball Encyclopedia."

Stang says score card names are sometimes misspelled and that cross-checking is difficult because the teams don't have the records. Another source of confusion is that some players used more than one number in a season, and teams would sometimes issue the same number to several players, each for a couple of games.

The New York Yankees, in 1929, were the first team with numbers -- based on the batting order. All the American League teams had numbers by 1931, the National League by 1932.

"The owners were against it because they thought people wouldn't buy score cards," Stang says. "Players thought they'd look like convicts."

Rosters was published in 1991 and is updated regularly. It was honored that year by the Society of American Baseball Research. Collectors can purchase Rosters by league, by team, by complete set, or request a search for a player or number. For information, write: Rosters, 2141 P St. NW, Apt. 902,

Washington, D.C. 20037 or call (202) 775-7495.

World Cup 'Toons

The Looney Tunes crew joins Upper Deck for a 120-card World Cup set aimed at younger collectors and soccer fans. The set is scheduled to be out this month under Upper Deck's Pyramid label. Bugs Bunny and his friends help youngsters learn about the World Cup and the countries participating in it.

Finest empire expands

Topps gives the NBA its Finest treatment with a 220-card set coming later this month. There will be a 180-card base set, plus a 40-card subset of the 10 best players in each of the four divisions. In addition, each card comes in a refracting foil version. Each pack contains six cards plus one subset card. Suggested retail is $4. There also will be a 14-card jumbo pack for $8 with 11 regular cards, two subset cards and an insert card available only in jumbo packs. The 27-card insert set has one card for each NBA team.

Trade: card for shirt

One of the insert cards in SkyBox's 1994 USA Basketball sets is an exchange card good for a limited edition T-shirt. According to SkyBox, chances of getting an exchange card are one in 300 packs.

Joining the field

Kovels, the antiques and collectibles guides people, are now into sports memorabilia with a monthly newsletter. Write to: Kovels Sports Collectibles, P.O. Box 420024, Palm Coast, Fla. 32142-9906.

Coming events

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

Today, Card show to benefit the Sports Boosters of Maryland. Expected signers include Chris Sabo and Rafael Palmeiro, Owings Mills Mall, noon to 6 p.m., (410) 561-0065.

Today, Spring Festival Card Show, National Guard Armory, Towson, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., (410) 296-6556.

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

CARD OF THE WEEK

Dream Team II gets full-set treatment from SkyBox with its 90-card USA Basketball set. Each team member is featured on six cards, which focus on a different facet of his career. The "Magic On" subset, which appeared in SkyBox's Dream Team set in 1992, returns. Johnson offers comments on each of the players. Other cards in the set include profiles of the four coaches and a look at international rules. There also will be four insert sets, including an exchange card. The set is due in June, and Dominique Wilkins (shown) will be pictured in a Clippers uniform.

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