Major-league baseball players went on strike Aug. 12, and the season was declared over Sept. 14.
But fans haven't stopped coming to Camden Yards -- or buying " souvenirs at its Orioles Store.
"Obviously, [the strike has] had a pretty good financial impact," says Bernie Kloppenberg, ARA's regional manager of Oriole Park. "It's not as bleak as people would think. . . . You still have people coming in here."
Larry Moorjani, ARA's general manager of retail and merchandise, says the Orioles stores have started their fall sale early; normally it wouldn't begin until mid-October.
"Apparel is our No. 1 seller," he says. Sales of smaller items such as pennants and lapel pins, popular with tourists, are up, he says, since those people now make up the bulk of visitors. Baseball fans, he notes, tend to purchase caps, shirts and higher-priced items.
He and Kloppenberg say that there are fewer people than when the Orioles were playing but that the draw of the ballpark tours has helped.
"Luckily we still have the newness and ambience of the ballpark," Kloppenberg says.
Don Grove of the Orioles says the four daily regular tours of Oriole Park on Tuesday brought in about 60 people with another 60 for the one or two group tours. Now the tours are on their fall schedule of twice daily during the week and four on weekends.
He says right after the strike, business doubled. "People were in town [for the games] and had nothing to do," Grove says. In July and August, 300 a day took tours. That ballooned to 600. "It has tailed off . . . with school going back."
At the Babe Ruth Museum, however, attendance is off 35 percent compared to this time last year, according to Michelle Herwig.
"We've definitely had a slump," she says. "Our tours and program parties, everything that was tied to the season, has fallen through."
I= As a result, Herwig says, employees' hours have been cut.
There will be nine cards of O. J. Simpson in the second series of football cards produced by the Ted Williams Card Co., and Simpson will autograph 3,000.
Simpson, who is on trial for the murder of his ex-wife and her friend, had signed a contract with the Williams company in January. It considered not including him in the set.
An article in Sports Collectors Digest urged collectors to tell the company how they felt. "We received a significant response from the collector," says TWCC president Tony Loiacono, "that he was innocent until proven guilty."
Fleer's Flair Baseball Series 2 has 200 cards plus three 10-card insert sets. There are no card repeats from the first series. Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken is in two of the insert sets, recognized for his hitting and fielding.
Pinnacle's 270-card NFL set is heavy on the gold. Player names and Pinnacle's logo are in gold foil. There is a rookie card exchange program with a season-ending twist: If the collector holds the card until the end of the season and the named rookie is Player of the Year, the card can be redeemed for a 10-card Pick Pinnacle set. Look for them this month.
Add Mitchell & Ness to the lineup of companies offering merchandise related to Ken Burns' "Baseball" documentary. The manufacturer, which specializes in flannel reproductions, has two versions of a wool crew jacket with the series logo on the back, one with suede sleeves ($375) and one all-wool ($300) and a flannel logo pennant ($20). Call (800) 483-6377 or write to Mitchell & Ness, 1229 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19107.
Classic Hockey for 1994-95 features a 40-card insert set, Women of Hockey. It includes the Canadian and U.S. national women's teams, which finished 1-2 at the World Championships and pro players Manon Rheaume, Erin Whitten and Kelly Dyer. vTC There are 120 regular cards, including 14 All-Americans, Hobey Baker winner Chris Marinucci and 22 first-round draft picks.
Friday-next Sunday, NBA Jam Session Mall Tour, Eastpoint Mall.Saturday-next Sunday, "When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore Weekend," Babe Ruth Museum (216 Emory St.), featuring book signing by William Gildea ("When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore," Oct. 8, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.), appearances by former Baltimore Colts, memorabilia and highlight films, (410) 727-1539.
Oct. 29, card show to benefit Catonsville High boys basketball team, Catonsville High School (421 Bloomsbury Ave.), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 461-5443.
CARD OF THE WEEK
Coca-Cola brings Halloween greetings with a set of 30 ghoulish NFL cards. There are two Monsters of the Gridiron per specially marked pack of Coke products. The set has one player from each team plus mascots of the 1995 expansion teams. (Shown is the Washington Redskins' Ken Harvey.)