According to NFL Properties licensing director Colin Hagen, sales of football cards are 25 percent ahead of last year.
He attributes that to interest in the league's 75th anniversary and strong performances on the field by veterans and rookies.
Baltimore-area dealers, whose customers have no hometown NFL team, think it's the baseball strike.
Rick Hubata, of The Dugout in Ellicott City, says his football card business has doubled since last year. "Across the board, football sales are dramatically up," he says. "That starts to make up for baseball product sales, which have gone down since the strike."
He says some people are buying football instead of baseball and that some football card collectors are buying more.
"The football cards are going good, but the baseball . . .," says Nick Hershan, of Fielders Choice in Arbutus. "I think baseball kind of hurt itself. . . . I've had more customers coming in now for football." He says people are especially interested in rookies.
Football cards are also selling better than in the past at Padonia ++ Crown in Timonium. "I think a lot of people shifted their interest to football," Doug Sunday says. "We just put out whatever's new [in cards]. . . . A lot of people have lost interest because of overproduction and expense." He says sales of Crown's Orioles 40th anniversary video and the Cal Ripken poster were brisk, but have tailed off since the strike. He says he expects sales to pick up around the holidays.
New super-premium baseball cards like Upper Deck SP and Leaf Limited are big sellers at Robbie's First Base in Timonium. Robbie Davis says that football isn't more popular than last year. "It just kicked in earlier because the baseball season had ended earlier," Davis says. Autographed items remain popular at his store, and he has added auto racing cards.
At All-American Cards in Essex, football cards have always done well, says Linda Avaritt, and they're a strong seller again. She says hockey is also popular.
At Eastside Cards in Overlea, however, the customers don't tend to collect football cards. "I've never really had a lot of demand for football," says Gregg Taylor, who thinks there would be more interest if Baltimore had an NFL team. His top sellers are super-premium baseball, Leaf Limited and Fleer Flair.
Fleer Ultra Football Series I has 325 basic cards and six insert sets totaling 68 cards. There is also a 10-card insert set of AFC Rookie of the Year Rick Mirer. Fleer promises one insert card per pack and random packs filled with only insert cards.
Kenner Starting Lineup
Kenner is bringing its Starting Lineup NHL All-Star Collection back for a second season with 20 figurines. Its NBA All-Star Assortment features 26 figurines. Each of the figurines comes with a trading card and has a suggested retail price of $5.99.
Jordan basketball cards
Michael Jordan will be the subject of Upper Deck's 10-card Basketball Heroes insert set. He is the fourth former player in the series, following Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird. Other inserts in NBA Series One include a draft exchange card and predictor cards, redeemable for special sets if the pictured player is a category leader. The series, due this month, has 180
regular cards and will be sold in packs of 12.
Today, NBA Jam Session Mall Tour, Eastpoint Mall.
Today, "When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore Weekend," Babe Ruth Museum (216 Emory St.), featuring 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
MAXX Race Cards and Texaco Havoline-Robert Yates Racing have produced a 50-card set, including gold-foil-stamped cards commemorating the team's first five victories with Ernie Irvan. This is the first Texaco set available nationwide. No oil or gasoline purchase is necessary. There will be a 10-card update set available by mail after the season ends. (Shown is Robert Yates.)