If you think the whole business of trading cards has gotten entirely too serious, visit the Delaware Art Museum.
"The Artist and the Baseball Card," which runs through June 27, puts the fun back in baseball cards.
Syracuse University art professor Murray Tinkelman asked artists from across the country to create a baseball card. He gathered 150 of the 8 1/2 -by-11 3/4 "cards" into an exhibit that has been touring the country.
You can't buy these cards, and, unfortunately, you can't buy an exhibit catalog, either. They're memorable, but a catalog would be nice for the fan's collection.
The cards feature a variety of players -- and creative approaches.
Many artists went for whimsy.
George Brett is shown with a bat dripping in pine tar. Phil Rizzuto's card is decorated with the inevitable holy cows. Tom Lasorda receives a halo and canonization. Nellie Fox has a fox's head. Dave Winfield is shown in a stadium full of gulls.
Fun doesn't stop with ballplayers. The Cracker Jack kid and his dog get their card as do the infield fly and Alfred E. Neuman. It's not an all-male preserve, either. Bill Gallo serves up Basement Bertha, a robust female player.
Annapolis artist Kim Barnes, a former student of Tinkelman's, contributed a card showing Casey Stengel releasing a bird from under his cap. "I wanted to do something with a concept," she says. "I got a book out of the library on baseball pranks." She was faithful to the story as told in the book, but Tinkelman pointed out several errors to her, including having Stengel on the wrong team.
From the comic pages, Bill Hinds puts Tank McNamara on the Bashers (position hot dog) and Mort Walker features Beetle Bailey and Sarge.
Veteran Mad magazine editor and artist Nick Meglin played it straight with a sepia ink portrait of Jackie Robinson.
Vincent DiFate captures Hank Aaron as a young Brave on a card out of the '50s, complete with space for the player's autograph -- and it's signed by Aaron. Most of the cards are signed by the players portrayed.
The Delaware Art Museum also is featuring "This Sporting Life, 1878-1991," an exhibit of sports photography, through June 13. There are nearly 190 photographs -- of a range of sports, of fans, stadiums, famous athletes and lesser known athletes.
Friends of flannel
There's a newsletter for collectors of baseball uniforms and equipment. Diamond Duds features information on uniform jerseys, patches, caps and other equipment, classified ads and tips on caring for the collection. The bimonthly publication also tracks auction prices and keeps collectors informed of warnings from dealers of material they think may be misrepresented. The editor is uniform collector and sports-talk host Phil Wood. For a sample issue or to subscribe ($20 yearly), write to Diamond Duds, P.O. Box 10153, Silver Spring, Md. 20904-0153.
NBA Hoops sent out 25,876 lottery pick sets to collectors. Some 24,461 were redeemed for exchange cards, and 415 were won in a second-chance drawing. One thousand sets were exchanged because they were damaged or incomplete, and another 1,000 were distributed for promotional and public relations purposes. Hoops says it kept 500 sets for its archives and destroyed all other sets printed.
These stars 'R' young
Topps is taking Stadium Club to the younger set with a special 100-card set sold exclusively at Toys 'R' Us. The set features players with five or fewer years in the majors. Highlights of the set are Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey, Gary Sheffield, Pat Listach, Eric Karros, Larry Walker, Roberto Alomar, Tim Salmon, Brien Taylor and Mike Piazza. Topps says it limited production to one printing of 7,500 cases, and each set comes in a replica of a Toys 'R' Us store.
Through July 11, "The Artist and the Baseball Card," Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays, (302) 571-9590.
Through Oct. 31, "The Babe, The Birds and Baltimore: An All-Star Tradition" and exhibit on Rex Barney's 50-year sports career, with memorabilia from his Brooklyn Dodgers days, Babe Ruth Museum, (410) 727-1539.
Today, card show, Catonsville Community College, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (expected signers include Steve Barber, Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell and Cal Eldred).
June 4-5, sports equipment collectors show, Catonsville Econo-Lodge (5801 Baltimore National Pike), June 4 6-10 p.m., June 5, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.