Since major-league baseball players went on strike in August, irate fans have abused players at autograph sessions and vented their feelings on radio talk shows.
However, the Tufton Group in Lutherville might as well be on another baseball world. The company, which handles Cal Ripken's appearances and endorsements, continues to receive a lot of phone calls and mail -- all positive.
"There have been supportive letters, and letters calling on Cal as a team leader to do something to end the work stoppage," says JoAnn Peroutka. She says there have been more requests for the Orioles shortstop's time than in the other two off-seasons she has worked at Tufton. "The letters I've been getting have been phrased 'Since he's off . . .' " she says.
Ira Rainess says that although commercial interest in Ripken remains high, companies have been more reserved than fans.
"We're kind of in a period where '95 is Cal's big year [when he could break Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games]," says Rainess, "but companies are reluctant to commit advertising dollars" to streak-connected products because of the uncertainty about the season.
He says Ripken has approved several memorabilia items that should reach the market next year, including a truck from White Rose Collectibles, fine art from Totally Dynamic Sports Impressions and a line of T-shirts from Opposite Attractions.
"We thought there'd be a great [negative] impact from the strike," says Rainess.
Last month Ripken approved having his likeness put on a bobbing head doll by Sports, Accessories & Memorabilia. SAM will produce 3,000 dolls to be released in the spring to coincide with Ripken's 2,131st game.
Mark Skigen of SAM was surprised by the intense fan response.
"We've never had a response like that," he says. "It's unbelievable."
Collectors can have their names put on a list to purchase the Ripken bobber or get on the mailing list for SAM's newsletter on bobbing heads by calling (800) 4-TEAMHD.
Trucking with the CFLs
No moving vans. White Rose Collectibles of York, Pa., has two trucks featuring the Baltimore CFLs: a 1/64 scale die-cast truck made by Ertl Co. and a 1/64 scale Matchbox pickup truck. The larger truck is available from White Rose Collectibles ($35), and the pickup should be at dealers this week. Call (800) 710-8697.
Pinnacle's Select Football remains a hobby-only product for 1994. It features 225 cards plus two insert sets (24 cards) and one insert card of rookies Marshall Faulk and Dan Wilkinson. Pinnacle says production is limited to 3,950 numbered cases.
Today, card show, Talbot Community Center, Easton (Route 50), Nov. 25-26 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 27 10 a.m to 4 p.m., (410) 437-9927.
Friday-next Sunday, card show, Towson Marketplace, Best wing, Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m., (expected signer is Ken Singleton, Saturday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.), (410) 337-6935.
Saturday, card show to benefit Potomac State baseball team (expected signers include John Kruk and Ryan Klesko), Kelley National Guard Armory, Keyser, W.Va., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (304) 788-6880.
Saturday, card show, Earleigh Heights Fire Hall, 10 a.m. to 4 pm., (410) 672-5859.
Next Sunday, card show, Holiday Inn Cromwell Bridge (I-695, Exit 29 south), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 239-7446.
CARD OF THE WEEK
Upper Deck's NHL Series One features 36 star rookies. There will be 270 regular cards and four insert sets. Inserts include SP (one per pack) and Predictor. The set, in 12-card packs, is due in December. There will be a 300-card Series Two in the spring. (Shown is Wayne Gretzky.)