Michael Jordan retired, and the collectors came -- or called.
Robbie Davis, at Robbie's First Base in Timonium, says he had pictures of Jordan displayed on his walls for three months. Nothing moved them until Jordan's retirement announcement Wednesday.
"I'm here selling Michael Jordan everything," says Davis. "We had people who are not even collectors wanting Michael Jordan."
He says he has gotten calls from people pricing Jordan rookie and second-year cards and that sales have topped those of Shaquille O'Neal, normally his best seller.
At Doubleplay Sportscards in Severna Park, Chuck Hoffman saw sales jump, too.
"The day after he retired, five or seven came in and bought cards," he says. "They looked at his [Fleer] rookie cards, but at $850 [for the 1986-87 Fleer], it was a little steep for them."
Hoffman has special displays of Jordan and O'Neal, "so they know I have these," and, he says, people ask for Chris Webber and the other new players.
Jordan cards are usually popular at House of Cards in Wheaton, but Bill Huggins says, "The day it happened, we sold a bunch of cards" in the $100-$150 range. "Since then, there's been a lot of talk. . . . It remains to be seen what will happen."
Huggins says a man asked about selling his Star Jordan rookie card (1984-85), which Huggins says he does not stock and only carries if he has a buyer lined up. It's listed in the latest Beckett for $4,500.
Tom Blair has heard only talk at Jay's Sports Connection in Towson.
"People are calling me asking if their Michael Jordan cards are going up," he says. "A lot of people trying to sell them [have called]."
Blair says normal requests are for O'Neal, Webber, Harold Miner, Larry Johnson, John Stockton, Dan Majerle's rookie card and "the new Jordans."
Even in the Chicago area, where Bulls and Jordan merchandise abound, sales were brisk.
"We basically sold over a hundred of his cards, probably closer to 200, since he retired," says Brandon Smith at Barrington Square Cards in suburban Hoffman Estates, Ill.
He says photographs, autographed merchandise and posters, anything related to Jordan, has been selling well.
"We raised the price, and they're still buying," Smith says. "It's unreal."
The future of Jordan cards?
Hoffman expects a rise of 15 to 20 percent initially.
Blair wonders about the value of Jordan's Fleer card, even at $850. He says it is a card that was a favorite of counterfeiters and that a rarer card, Lew Alcindor's (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) 1969-70 Topps rookie card, has dropped $150 in the past year to $550, after a high of $1,000 when he retired.
"I don't know that they're going up in the real near future," says Huggins. "It's probably not the last we've heard from Michael Jordan -- or the price of his cards."
Upscale for '94
Topps is coating its baseball cards next season and rushed its sample cards out before the 1993 season ended. Sample cards carry a disclaimer that the design may change. Look for the new cards before spring training -- in January.
Next Saturday, card show to benefit Johns Hopkins Children's Center, White Marsh Mall (expected signer is Jeffrey Hammonds), 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., (410) 879-4651.
Oct. 21, sports auction to benefit Jarrettsville Elementary School, Jarrettsville Elementary (3818 Norrisville Road) preview at 4:30 p.m., children's auction at 5:30 p.m., main auction at 6:30 p.m., (410) 557-9812.
Oct. 21-24, card show, Harundale Mall (expected signers include Hoyt Wilhelm, Don Buford and Harold Baines), Oct. 21-23 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Oct. 24 noon to 5 p.m.
Oct. 23, autograph session, Katzenstein Custom Frame Shop (Ridgely Plaza, Lutherville), Sherman Obando, noon to 2 p.m.
Oct. 23, card show, Arbutus Fire Hall (5200 Southwestern Blvd.), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 242-6286.
CARD OF THE WEEK
Pinnacle Brands (formerly Score Group) is saluting sluggers with a 48-card Home Run Club set. The premium cards feature established home-run hitters such as Cecil Fielder and Eddie Murray and newcomers Tim Salmon and Mike Piazza. The cards are sold as a set in a container.