Baseball fans of the late 20th century can find souvenirs of xTC their favorite team in variety and abundance, almost anywhere in the country.
A hundred years ago, it was very different.
According to Joe Bosley, an expert on old baseball memorabilia, "Much of the [19th century] stuff you see is from tobacco products." The first baseball cards were produced by Old Judge in the late 1880s as "a gimmick to get you to buy tobacco."
There are team and individual photographs -- taken in studios. Items such as pins were usually only produced in championship years.
Bosley has put part of his collection on display at his store, the Old Ball Game in Reisterstown, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Orioles' first championship and the 50th anniversary of their Little World Series title.
"A lot of people know I collect old Orioles stuff," he says. "They always ask to see . . . this and that."
The display has memorabilia from three eras -- the 1870s and '80s, the championship years of 1894-95-96 and the Federal League Terrapins.
Among the items are one of two known Terrapin pennants (the Babe Ruth Museum has the other), Cracker Jack Federal League cards, rare player photos, score cards and souvenir pins. One pin, from 1894, shows the Temple Cup (baseball's championship trophy) and the legend "The Birds are in it -- Watch them win it." Another 1894 pin shows photos of the members of the championship team.
Bosley is researching a book on old Baltimore baseball memorabilia. He's looking for information on items from amateur teams of the 1860s and 1870s and professional teams before 1954. Contact him at (410) 526-4898.
Bosley says he will put new items out from time to time and probably will change the display in September to focus on the 1944 champion International League Orioles.
Pro Insignia produced 1,994 commemorative bats for the 1994 All-Star Game. Each costs $49.95 plus $5 shipping. Call (800) 533-0726.
Drivers on your phone cards
Finish Line Collectibles' second series of prepaid phone cards will feature 10 Winston Cup drivers. Finish Line says it is producing 1,800 of each driver and 600 each of gold cards featuring Ernie Irvan and Bill Elliott. Regular cards will have $10 worth of phone usage and the gold cards $25. They will be available through hobby dealers.
Topps football details
For football season, ToppsGold and Topps BlackGold are history. The inserts in this year's NFL set will be foil cards (one every two packs) and Finest cards of 1,000-yard runners and 3,000-yard passers (one every 36 packs). There will be 660 cards in two series, 12 cards per pack. Series I is scheduled to be shipped in mid-July, Series II in October.
Action Packed football cards are getting bigger -- 7 1/2 x10 1/2 . Initially, Mammoths will be a hobby dealer promotion. Dealers will receive a box of Mammoths for every case of Action Packed football ordered. Collectors can bring 10 back panels of packs to their hobby dealer, who sends it in for the free Mammoth. The big cards feature the 24 members of the Quarterback Club.
Today, Starting Lineup convention and auction, Brandywine Terrace, Claymont, Del., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.Aug. 6-7, card show, Carrolltown Center, Eldersburg, Aug. 6 10 a.m. to 9 p.m, Aug. 7 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 781-6648.
CARD OF THE WEEK
SkyBox Impact returns this month as a 300-card, single-series set. For the first time, there will be comprehensive NFL stats and career totals. A rookie exchange card can be redeemed for a limited-edition set of first-round draft picks in their NFL uniforms.
Shown is the Steelers' Ron Woodson.