$35,650 bid for Ripken lineup card Judge will determine if Baltimore contractor is allowed to buy item

December 10, 1998|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore contractor and sports memorabilia collector bid $35,650 yesterday for the lineup card used in the game in which Cal Ripken broke baseball's consecutive-games record. But whether he actually buys it is up to a judge.

James Ancel said he is an Orioles fan who was unable to obtain tickets for the Sept. 6, 1995, game when Ripken passed Lou Gehrig by playing in his 2,131st straight game.

"I guess this is my way of getting a little bit of it -- well, a lot of it," said Ancel, who turns 37 later this month.

"You can say this is my birthday present," he said. He owns James W. Ancel Inc., a general contracting company.

Whether he ever opens the gift is up to Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court Judge Albert Green, who is presiding over a case hurriedly filed Tuesday by the Orioles after team owner Peter Angelos read of the pending sale in The Sun on Monday.

The Orioles claim the card is their property, as is the pen used to fill it out and the lineup card from the previous night's game. All those items were put up for sale by former Orioles manager Phil Regan, who filled the cards out, took the items home and gave them to his daughter.

Regan, who left the team after the 1995 season, said he acted on his daughter's behalf in arranging for their sale this week through a telephone auction service, North Shore Sports of Chicago.

Ancel was the high bidder for the 2,131 card and pen and an anonymous Virginia-based collector was the high bidder for the 2,130 card, for which he offered $6,882.

But the Orioles won a temporary restraining order Tuesday night preventing the consummation of the sales until ownership of the items can be established in court. Yesterday, the two sides were back in court after the team learned that the auctioneer had continued to take bids -- while warning bidders of the dispute -- after Green's order was issued.

Yesterday, Judge Green rejected a request by Orioles attorneys that the company be held in contempt of court. But the judge issued a second order demanding all efforts to sell the cards cease until a Dec. 21 hearing.

"The lineup cards are not the independent property of the field manager. The Orioles produced them, the Orioles own them," Richard Phelan, a Chicago attorney representing the Orioles, said in a telephone interview.

Angelos said he wants to get the cards back so they can be displayed at the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore. He said he had not asked for the cards sooner because he thought Ripken had them.

Regan, reached last night by phone at his Byron Center, Mich., home, said: "I don't have a whole lot to say at this point until I find out what's going on."

He said he has not hired a lawyer yet, and might agree to a settlement with the Orioles. The team's vice chairman, Joseph Foss, called him on Monday and asked for the cards back, but Regan said the auctioneer had them, according to court documents.

North Shore Sports president Steve Ryan predicted the matter will be settled in favor of Regan because managers often dispose of lineup cards.

"It's going to be fine. It's just legal stuff," Ryan said. As auctioneer, he will receive 15 percent of the sale price.

Ancel said he might allow the items to be displayed at the Babe Ruth Museum as well -- but wants "to leave my options open." He has a friend in the sports memorabilia business who would like to display them at his store for a while.

"I've lived here all my life. I would hope I would do the right thing," he said.

He has contributed money to the Babe Ruth Museum in the past, he said.

"I'm from Baltimore and Cal Ripken is special for that reason. The streak was amazing," he said.

As for the ownership dispute, Ancel said: "I'll leave it up to the lawyers."

Pub Date: 12/10/98

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