Belle adds crunch to breakfast lineup with release of his `Slugger Cereal'

April 29, 1999|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

The grocery stores are getting a little crowded with sluggers, but don't worry about bumping into the latest: Albert Belle isn't doing any promotions for his designer cereal.

Orioles outfielder Belle's "Slugger Cereal" begins to hit grocer's shelves this week, batting second to Cal Ripken's "Cal's Classic O's," which led off earlier this month.

The two products are part of a trend among athletes to take advantage of their celebrity by assigning their name and photos to cereal boxes, candy bars, barbecue sauce and other goods. In the case of Ripken's and Belle's cereals, charities will receive a portion of the sales.

Belle, whose disdain of public appearances other than on the field is legendary, plans no events to drum up interest in the product. In fact, he snapped at a WJZ broadcaster who was munching on the cereal in the dugout for a story this week.

"Of course, on the promoter side, I would love Albert to go out to all the retailers and sample it, but that's not who he is," said Grant Dinner, owner of Global Sports & Promotions of Cleveland, which put together the deal.

Belle's cereal is a cornflake made by Grist Mill, a Minneapolis company that makes private-label foods. Each box includes a chance to win an autographed baseball or print. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Children's Cancer Foundation.

Belle's business manager and brother, Terry Belle, said they didn't know about Ripken's cereal until Belle's was well under way. But he said he doesn't think one cereal will hurt sales of the other.

"I think all Baltimore fans will eat Albert's in the morning and snack on Cal's in the afternoon," Terry Belle said.

Plans call for the cereal to be sold during the baseball season in Baltimore, Washington and possibly Bell's hometown of Shreveport, La.

Belle's previous food experience includes a candy bar sold in Cleveland when he played there.

Global Sports & Promotions is also coming out with cereals named for Indians player David Justice, to be sold in Cleveland, and for the late All-Star, Roberto Clemente, in Pittsburgh.

The prototype of the athlete-cereal is Buffalo quarterback Doug Flutie's "Flutie Flakes," which became a merchandising phenomenon in New York last year.

The Ripken cereal is being marketed by Famous Fixins Inc., a New York-based company formed in 1995 to produce celebrity edibles.

Pub Date: 4/29/99

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