Strike makes business unusual

MEMORABILIA

September 04, 1994|By Ruth Sadler | Ruth Sadler,Sun Staff Writer

Business during the baseball strike has been -- different.

Some Baltimore-area memorabilia dealers say their business has slowed since major-league players went on strike Aug. 12 and that their customers are altering their buying habits.

Bud Williams, of Bud's Starting Lineup in Baltimore, says his customers are talking about nothing but the strike, but they're buying football cards.

"Usually football doesn't settle in until school starts or the first game," he says.

He also sells a lot of Orioles T-shirts to fans, who wear them to games. The shirts aren't selling, either. "By last year this time, I was sold out," he says.

Individual cards of top baseball players are still popular.

"[The strike is] just terrible for business," says Robbie Davis at Robbie's First Base in Timonium. "They're not chasing those guys who are chasing those records. . . . A guy will buy a Griffey or a Thomas but not because of what he did last night."

But mostly Davis is selling football and basketball cards. He says NBA cards are half his business now. "People have gotten baseball out of their minds."

"It's been an odd month," says Tom Blair at Jeff's Sports Cards in Timonium. He says that he's selling football cards at a rate he never sees until midseason and that cards of top baseball stars are popular.

At The Old Ball Game in Reisterstown, Dee Bosley is also seeing a different sales mix. She says sales of older memorabilia (Colts pennants and bobbing heads and Orioles items) have jumped, as have sales of autographs. Collectors are buying wax packs instead of sets. Customers are venting their feelings about the strike.

"It seems like there are a lot of people who feel like they're hurt by this," she says. "[Business is] slow, but it's not miserable." She notes that the past few Augusts have been slow, anyway.

Tim Collins, at Larry Beck in Baltimore, says business is "very slow. . . . I was doing halfway decent until the strike, and I think people lost interest."

He says sales are strongest in memorabilia, especially Cal Ripken and Brooks Robinson autographed material.

But some stores have been unaffected by the strike. "Everything's still pretty good," says Mike Tanner at Baseball Card Outlet in Eastwood. "They still want to get lucky, get a $50 card in a $2 pack."

August isn't the best month at Doubleplay Sportscards in Severna Park, anyway, says A. J. Jones. "It's just a bad time of the year. It doesn't seem that cards sell just before school starts," he says.

Natural foils

The Naturals is a 25-card set of the most talented major-leaguers printed with Pinnacle's Dufex process. Players are shown on a textured foil background. There will be 100,000 sets packed in sealed, numbered boxes. The set includes Ripken.

Electronic memories of Babe

The Babe Ruth Museum, with WBAL-AM, is producing 100 "Babe Ruth Minutes" to be aired beginning Oct. 29, 100 days before Babe Ruth's 100th birthday. Fans with interesting stories about the Babe can call (800) 435-BABE.

Back to school with NFL

The NFL and its card licensees have produced a 12-card back-to-school set. Each card features a different player. Collectors can get the set by sending 20 wrappers from NFL-licensed cards to: NFL '94 Back to School Offer, P.O. Box 7228, Osseo, Minn. 55569-7228.

CARD OF THE WEEK

Action Packed is celebrating "Monday Night Football's" 25th anniversary with a 71-card silver-foil set. There will also be randomly inserted .999-percent pure silver cards and 25 certificates for a sterling silver card by Tiffany of Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin. (Shown is former "MNF" announcer Howard Cosell.) Most of the cards focus on key players and their 1994 Monday night games.

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