Cal Ripken as the object of collectors' affection is not just a local phenomenon. Baltimore remains the center of activity and the source of many collectibles, but more out-of-towners are signing on as Ripken approaches Lou Gehrig's streak.
That's why Mark Kerwin, devoted Indians fan from Cleveland, was in Pikesville last weekend at a card show -- to buy, sell and swap Ripken items.
He began collecting Ripkeniana in 1991 and started dealing by mail the next year. He went to Baltimore-area shows and discovered that collectors wanted "oddball" items, not regular-issue cards. Kerwin's strategy is to pick up collectibles of other players and trade them for Ripken items and to get multiple oddball items to use for swaps. He says long six-day workweeks as a millwright have virtually ended his mail-order business and limited his card show visits in the past year.
"Through the strike, [Ripken has] gotten a lot more national," says Kerwin. But "I'm still trying to give away regular issues."
What collectors seem to want instead are milk cartons, TV
books, magazines, cups and other items with Ripken on them.
Kerwin says the favorite item in his collection is a Kitty Clover disk, a 1985 item produced in Omaha, Neb.
Larry Nicholson of Middletown also was at Pikesville. The pool table salesman has collected Ripken items for about six years and attends between eight and 10 shows a year to swap and sell. He says he hasn't seen any drop-off in interest in Ripken since the baseball strike began in August. He also visits flea markets and keeps in touch with other Ripken collectors. His table displayed magazines, books, cachets, milk cartons, posters and glasses.
He avoids uniforms and autographs ("There's too much counterfeit stuff out there," he says) and echoes Kerwin on what's popular. "You find a lot of people getting away from the cards," he says. "The oddball memorabilia is a lot harder to find."
Nicholson says he has sold or swapped items from his collection when it was "stuff I've thought I could replace." The one piece he says he won't give up is original artwork for a card.
Mammoth gets bigger
Action Packed's redemption program for football Mammoth cards has been extended until April 30. The company will also accept package backs from 1994 All-Madden Team and 1994 rookie/update set. Collectors can redeem their wrappers through dealers or mail them (with $3 for shipping, making checks payable to Action Packed) to Action Packed Mammoth
Offer, P.O. Box 748, Itasca, Ill., 60143-0748.
Super Bowl coin
Environmint has produced 5,000 Super Bowl silver ($29.95) medallions and 500 24-karat gold select ($49.95) medallions. Each carries the Super Bowl XXIX logo, date and serial number on one side and Joe Robbie Stadium on the other.
Charge it, with Mickey Mantle
Upper Deck's newest Mickey Mantle card is a credit card -- a MasterCard featuring Mantle hitting a home run. Users will be able to earn points that can be used toward the purchase of Upper Deck Authenticated items. Call (800) 847-7378.
The Leaf Limited Rookie set features 60 players who made their major-league debut in 1994. It is a companion to the Leaf Limited baseball set and has been limited to 30,000 boxes, half the run of Leaf Limited. Orioles fans can find Armando Benitez and Mark Smith, while Jeffrey Hammonds is one of 10 players in the Rookie Phenoms insert set.
Today, card show, Holiday Inn-Security, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Today, sports card and memorabilia auction (expected signer is Roy Sievers, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Rounding Third Sports Center, Elkridge, 3 p.m.Next Sunday, card show, Holiday Inn-Cromwell Bridge, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Feb. 2, sports card and memorabilia auction, Holiday Inn-Cromwell Bridge.
Feb. 4, card show to benefit Arundel High baseball team, Arundel High, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (expected signers include Denny Neagle, Josh Bullock, Brian Rolocut, Zach Collins, Mark Foster and Kenny Pumphrey).
Feb. 4, card show, North Plaza Mall (I-695, Exit 30B), 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.Feb. 4-5, Baltimore Colt Reunion Show and Auction, Holiday Inn-Cromwell Bridge, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (expected signers include Raymond Berry, Art Donovan, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker and Gino Marchetti, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), auction at 3 p.m..
CARD OF THE WEEK
Upper Deck is bringing basketball cards to Japan. Sample three-card packs were distributed last month at two games played in Yokohama. Regular distribution begins late this month. Player biographies on the card backs are written by Kazuhiko Shimamoto, a basketball broadcaster on the NHK-TV network. (Shown is the card back for Detlef Schrempf.)