Baseball town turns to basketballCollectors giving gift...


Baseball town turns to basketball

Collectors giving gift of Shaquille

For fan and collector interest, the Orioles are dominant in Baltimore.

So, as shoppers work on their holiday lists, what's warming up collectors in the days before Christmas is -- NBA cards.

Don Bevans, at All Star Cards in Baltimore, had trouble selling basketball cards last year, even at give-away prices. This year, Upper Deck basketball is a hot item in a store where baseball normally reigns.

"I think Shaquille O'Neal being so great a basketball player is making the set hot," says Bevans. He says Fleer Ultra's NBA cards are doing well but running second to Upper Deck. His customers are also asking for '93 Donruss baseball and '91 Stadium Club football. He has also seen an increase in interest in autographed items and says demand for Cal Ripken cards remains strong despite a lowered value for Ripken's rookie card in the latest Beckett.

"There's more interest in basketball right now because of Shaquille O'Neal," agreed Mike Tanner of Baseball Card Outlet in Dundalk. His top sellers are Classic's four-sport draft pick cards and '93 Donruss.

"Most of the people who come in here have special cards on their list for gifts," says Chuck Hoffman at Doubleplay Sportscards in Pasadena. "It's been more single cards than sets [for gifts]."

His most popular items are the new Select, Donruss and Topps baseball cards, '91 Stadium Club cards of Ken Griffey and Nolan Ryan and '92 Team Pinnacle cards featuring Ripken, Griffey and Frank Thomas. He's also moving a lot of Classic and Upper Deck basketball.

"There's been more people buying basketball cards because of [O'Neal]," he says. "It's funny how one player can rejuvenate the cards of that sport."

Other dealers seeing a greater interest in basketball cards are Tom Blair of Jay's Sports Connection in Towson and Rick Habata of The Dugout in Ellicott City.

Blair is selling a lot of Upper Deck NBA, '93 Donruss and Score Select. Habata's top sellers are '93 Topps and Donruss baseball, Classic four-sport and Upper Deck basketball.

For Robbie Davis at Robbie's First Base in Timonium, "It's a typical Christmas. . . . We gift-wrap a lot of baseball cards." The wrapping is where his package service and card store intersect. He's selling a lot of autographed baseballs, "everything Cal Ripken" and premium card lines. People are asking for '93 Select and Topps baseball, Upper Deck and Ultra NBA and Classic basketball.

Not so at The Old Ball Game in Reisterstown. "People are just fed up with the new cards," says Joe Bosley. He's seeing an upsurge in interest in older cards, his specialty.

It's always baseball season at the Orioles Baseball Store. Manager Barbara Pompey says tree ornaments and adult and youth jackets are the best-selling Orioles items. Popular All-Star Game logo items are balls, sweatshirts, T-shirts and sweaters.

"Most of the time, it seems to be for gifts," says Pompey, whose husband, Pete Pompey, is Dunbar High School's basketball coach. "They ask for gift boxes."

Auto-racing fans are stocking up on fifth-anniversary Maxx black sets and NHRA sets, according to Sharon Knecht at Pit Stop Racing Souvenirs in Catonsville. Maxx update sets also are selling well, as is anything connected with the recently retired Richard Petty.

Stadium photos

Scott's Pastime framed photographs of the last game at Memorial Stadium and Opening Day at Camden Yards are available by calling (410) 437-7558. Joe Dobrosielsky has been selling them at craft shows, and they will soon only be available at retail outlets.

Coming events

Tuesday, baseball card show, North Point Plaza Bingo Hall, 5-10 p.m., (410) 563-9032.

Sunday, baseball card show, Arbutus Fire Hall, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 242-6286 or (410) 788-8378.

Jan. 9-10, 1966 World Champion Orioles Reunion baseball card show with portion of proceeds to benefit Epilepsy Association, (expected signers include Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Luis Aparicio), Pikesville Armory, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 581-9531.

Card of the Week

NFL Properties' Pro Line Santa is back, wearing No. 92 this season. The first 10,000 collectors sending 10 Pro Line Portrait and 10 Pro Line Collection wrappers and a 52-cent stamped, self-addressed envelope to NFL Pro Line Santa Card Offer, P.O. Box 410312, Charlotte, N.C. 28241 will receive a Mrs. Claus

rookie card.

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