It may be June, but for collectors it's kickoff time


According to most calendars, this is baseball season.

But the football season has begun at your local sports card dealer's.

Pro Set's 447-card Series I was in first and will be followed this month by Action Packed, Topps and Fleer.

This year, Pro Set has redesigned its cards, using larger photographs front and back, a design first used on its 1990 Final Update set. Thirty percent of the cards will employ a horizontal format.

It's not an error. There are two No. 1s in this set, Emmitt Smith and Mark Carrier, because Pro Set crowned co-Rookies of the Year. The next card is No. 3, Joe Montana.

If you like subsets, you'll be in your element with nine: two for World League of American Football, Merv Corning art cards, awards/milestones, 1990 Replay cards, officials/referees, NFL message cards, Super Bowl XXV Replay and NFL Newsreel.

In forming its subsets, Pro Set has the album-oriented collector in mind. Most of the subsets come in multiples of nine, so they can be displayed in standard nine-pocket sheets.

There are also randomly distributed limited-edition cards: 1,000 autographed Lawrence Taylor cards (500 of his All-NFC team card, 500 of his 1990 Replay card); No. 1 draft pick Russell Maryland; Red Grange memorial card; Walter Payton Team 34 card; Pro Set Gazette and Super Bowl XXV logo card.

Again, Pro Set has come out with a good-looking set. The photos are bright and interesting. The card backs are clean and informative. NFL Newsreel really covers the season, from Robert Tisch buying half the New York Giants to the NFL Teacher of the Year to Whitney Houston signing the national anthem at the Super Bowl to U.S. troops in gas masks watching the Super Bowl from Saudi Arabia.


Fleer's second-year football set should be in East Coast stores late this month.

There are 432 cards in the regular set, which includes three subsets (NFL Hitters, league leaders and rookies) and four checklists. There are also two limited-edition subsets, Fleer's All-Pro team and Pro Visions, 10 stars depicted in original artwork.

The regular cards are bordered in green and unexceptional. The All-Pro cards are silver-bordered portraits with action shots superimposed on the lower corner of the portraits. The backs are attractive, where the forest green contrasts nicely with the statistics boxes (color coordinated by team color -- gold for Pittsburgh Steelers, purple for Minnesota Vikings, etc.). Color head shots dominate the backs.


Chicagoland Processing's newest championship coins honor the Chicago Bulls' NBA Central Division championship, the Minnesota North Stars' Norris Division and Campbell Conference NHL playoff championships, the Pittsburgh Penguins' Patrick Division title, Rickey Henderson's stolen-base record, Nolan Ryan's seventh no-hitter and George Brett's three batting championships. Each is available for $29.95 plus $3 shipping and handling by calling (800) 765-0123. The 75th Indianapolis 500 has a coin, too, and it goes for $34.95 plus $3 shipping and comes with a pamphlet on the race.



Upcoming events:

Saturday, baseball card show, Comfort Inn-Airport, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.

June 23, baseball card show, Security Holiday Inn, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.

July 14, baseball card show, Glen Burnie Elks Hall, Severn, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.

July 14, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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