Simpson items take flight, too


June 23, 1994|By Ruth Sadler | Ruth Sadler,Sun Staff Writer


In Thursday's article on O. J. Simpson memorabilia, Jerry Warner of Mack the Plaque was quoted as being critical of some collectors. He was referring only to people who suddenly wanted Simpson items because of the notoriety of the murder charges

against him.

When The Dugout opened in Ellicott City three years ago, an O. J. Simpson rookie card was one of the cards chosen for a place of honor in the display case.

"It sat there and nobody ever asked about it," said Dianne Hubata Monday. "We sold it last weekend."

The sudden interest in Simpson's cards and other memorabilia last week was brought on by speculation that he was involved in the double murder of his ex-wife and a male companion, his flight from authorities and the nationally televised freeway procession that ensued, ending with his arrest. The Simpson rookie card is a 1970 Topps and was listed at $125 in the June Beckett's.

Local card dealers normally don't get requests for cards of retired football players who didn't play for the Colts, even Hall of Famers. But the Simpson case brought out the buyers.

Jerry Warner of Mack the Plaque in Glen Burnie calls them vultures.

"It's like when [race car drivers] Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki died. [Buyers] didn't know who died," he said. "They just wanted cards of 'the dead guys.' "

People called Warner for Simpson cards and autographs, but he had nothing. "I've probably had one O. J. autograph in the last six months, and that was sold . . . a couple of weeks ago," he said.

There used to be a football autographed by Simpson on display at Larry Beck's in Baltimore. It's in the safe now, according to Tim Collins. It carried a price tag under $200, but it's no longer for sale.

"We figured it would go up in value, so we decided to pull it off the shelf," Collins said. "He won't be signing too many more."

Collins said he sold his last Simpson rookie card six months ago. He said Tuesday that he got some Simpson cards and sold them all.

Tom Blair, at Jeff's Sports Cards in Timonium, said after Simpson got in the Hall of Fame, there would be interest in his cards when someone broke one of his records, but "they'd see the price and back off."

Blair said he got several calls from people trying to sell Simpson rookie cards, but no one looking to buy. "They waited until Friday, when it was definite he was going to be arrested," said Blair, who compared the activity to the reaction to Magic Johnson's admission that he was HIV-positive. "The prices didn't hold up," said Blair.

At House of Cards in Wheaton, where football card interest tends to be limited to the Washington Redskins, a half-dozen Al Cowling cards have been sold. Cowling, Simpson's lifelong friend and former teammate in Buffalo, drove the car in which Simpson tried to flee from police. "He's only a buck or two, but he's selling, anyway," said Noli Nalda.

However, most of the demand is for Simpson cards. Nalda said the store's two rookie cards have been sold. "People are asking if the prices are going to go up or down," said Nalda. "I guess people are going to try to make a buck."

Calls to Anything Collectible in Severna Park are for autographed material, but Walter Miller says there isn't any. "We have one [non-rookie] card in the case now," he said. "Normally we wouldn't consider taking up the space with it."

Robbie Davis at Robbie's First Base in Timonium sold the last of his Simpson cards Saturday.

"I started selling them in the middle of the week," he said. "[The buyers] assumed he was guilty, so they started buying his cards. . . . It's sad, but that's the way the hobby is going."

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