Visit to favorite dealer will bring spring closer


It's midwinter, and the predominant color seems to be gray. The crocuses are starting to come up, but pitchers and catchers don't report until later this week. The weather has turned colder again. Is there any way to rush spring?

Try a visit to your favorite baseball card dealer. All the major companies have come out with their initial offerings for the 1991 baseball season, so buy a pack or more, and enjoy the pictures -- it always seems to be midsummer.

If your favorite color is yellow, you'll love the '91 Fleers. The backgrounds are blindingly bright banana yellow. The effect, though, is similar to that of the smiley faces of a decade ago: The first one is cheery, the second one is still cute, but after that, your senses are dulled.

The backs are a comparatively muted yellow and have a color head shot, the player's team logo and complete statistics. The stat box is attractively done with five alternating stripes in the team's color (for example, the box for Mark McGwire of the Oakland A's has three green and two yellow stripes). However, VTC the All-Star cards, with their black backgrounds (front and back), have a pleasing design that doesn't wear out its welcome.

Upper Deck is back for its third season with a 700-card set that closely resembles its predecessors. There are the same high-quality card stock and crisp color photos. This year, the Upper Deck logo moves to the upper right and the team logo to the lower right (inside a home plate turned on its side). The green border line runs down the right. The only changes on the back are the hologram (a home plate), the obligatory Major League Baseball and players' association logos (in color this year) and the stat box (still a maximum of five major-league seasons, but it's really a box this year, outlined in red). Oh, yes, the foil wrapper color is blue.


The 396-card set of Donruss Series 2 baseball cards (green border; Series 1 had a blue border) is available. John Olerud, Kevin Maas, Ben McDonald, Dave Justice, Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson and Bo Jackson are in it. Also there are cards with Darryl Strawberry in a Los Angeles Dodgers cap, Danny Jackson wearing a Chicago Cubs cap and holding his Cubs jersey, and Mike Boddicker wearing a Kansas City Royals caps and holding his new jersey. It includes the National League All-Stars and major-league award winners.


It may not exactly be baseball, but it is Upper Deck. Comic Ball Cards Series One features the "Looney Tunes All-Stars" in 17 comic-book stories formed when the card "panels" are placed in order. Is this just for youngsters? Dealers report cartoon fans of -- all ages buying them. By the way, Sylvester plays for the Baltimore Orioles and Tweety is a St. Louis Cardinal. . . . Upper Deck has been licensed by the National Football League to produced football cards beginning with the 1991-92 season. It expects to ship its first football cards in August.


Pacific Trading Cards has a first -- a set of cards of a suspended league. It had begun production of its 160-card 1991 Senior Professional Baseball Association set when the league suspended operations in December. The cards have crisp, bright color photos (some action, some posed) and team logos on the front, and the backs, which are white on a lime-green background, contain the player's Senior League statistics, standard baseball biographical information and a short blurb on the player's Senior League season or, if he didn't play in 1990, his major-league career. The 12-card wax packs have been shipped to dealers. Pacific had issued a 220-card set for the league's first year, 1990.


If you thought everyone was putting on card shows these days, you could be right. Even the card companies are doing it. Pro Set has scheduled an eight-city "National Hockey Tour" for 1991 and 1992. The two-day events, billed as "Total Celebration of Hockey," include clinics, collectibles shows, auctions and a Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit. The closest one will be in Philadelphia in November 1992. . . . Pro Set's Hockey Series II is available, featuring coaches and referees, rookies, team history cards and player changes.


Pete Rose will be back on the card-show circuit next monthRose, who is staying at a Cincinnati halfway house, will attend shows in New York and Connecticut, his first since going to jail in August.


Upcoming events:

Saturday, Babe Ruth Museum 2nd Annual Baseball Card Show, Memorial Stadium, Hit and Run Club, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 727-1539.

Saturday, Catonsville/Baltimore Baseball/Sports Card Bash V, Patapsco K of C, 1010 Frederick Road, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 247-2589.

Saturday, sports card show, Security Holiday Inn, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.

March 3, baseball card show, Running Brook Elementary School, 5215 West Running Brook, Columbia, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 740-3368.

March 3, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

March 9, baseball card show, Holiday Inn Timonium, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 254-2729.

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