During last summer's All-Star FanFest, Ted Williams unveiled a baseball card set. Prominent in the set were players whose achievements are often unrecognized: stars of the Negro Leagues, the Girls All-America Baseball League and players of the pre-television era.
In time for the Super Bowl, Williams tackles the NFL with "Roger Staubach's NFL Football Preview Edition '94," a legends set.
The 130-card set, licensed by NFL Properties and the NFL Players Association, will be limited to 5,000 cases and shipped to dealers late this week.
He is working with other former players in picking players for the subsets, is selecting subset topics and contacting former players who might be reluctant to be pictured.
"People thought enough about me to provide the leadership," he said by phone from Dallas, where he lives and works in real estate.
Staubach, who also was a standout baseball player at Navy, is familiar with trading cards. "I collected baseball cards like crazy," he said. "I wish I still had those cards."
He has saved mementos of his football career, and his children are collectors. His son collects cards, and his daughter collects autographs of country singers.
What continues to surprise him is what other people have collected.
"We still get a ton of stuff sent to our office [to be autographed]," he said. "It's amazing the number of people who collect."
Staubach said at a recent charity dinner he was autographing old Time covers.
"It means people want to be attached to what they want to remember," he said. "I think people relate to the past. You can't live in the past, but you can relate to it."
Staubach's role isn't purely advisory: He appears on four cards, half of them inserts.
Baltimore Colts fans are treated to three of their heroes -- Art Donovan, Bert Jones and John Unitas. Unitas appears on three cards plus anine-card insert set. One-time Colts coach Don Shula is in a subset. Former Maryland quarterback Neil O'Donnell shares a subset with Brett Favre -- the only active players to appear in the set -- and appears in two insert sets. Reaching back to pro football's earliest days are Bronko Nagurski, George Halas, Red Grange and Jim Thorpe.
There are three insert cards -- NBA star Charles Barkley, irrepressible Fred Dryer (card titled "Hollywood Makeovers") and Ted Williams (known here as "Teddy Football").
Collectors may have a harder time finding Olympic pins this year. "There's just not much around" a month before the Games, says John Kinnaman, of Olympic-oriented Treasures of the Games in Savage Mill. He says the Norwegian pin licensee refused to allow reproductions of the Lillehammer logo. Two licensees in the United States can produce corporate-sponsor pins, Lillehammer/Atlanta and Lillehammer/Calgary pins and obtain the Norwegian pins to wholesale. Kinnaman says pins available depict the Olympic mascot with flags of participating countries and competing in Winter Games sports but a larger
variety will come out of the Games.
NBA Hoops Series 2, 150 cards strong, includes a Magic Johnson-Larry Bird commemorative card and a chance at an autographed version with an exchange card. Insert sets feature fifth-anniversary cards (one per pack), Johnson's all-rookie team, David Robinson commemorative rookie card, more Admiral's Choice cards and the second annual Supreme Court.
Saturday, Ken Singleton will sign autographs at Babe Ruth Museum, 216 Emory St., noon, (410) 727-1539.