The strike-delayed baseball season is six weeks old, and the Orioles are off to a slow start.
Local card store owners have seen an improvement in business, albeit a slight one, since the strike ended. They say that business is better than at the depth of the strike but not as good as before the strike. But Cal Ripken, whose cards were popular during the strike when almost nothing else sold, continues to be a best seller.
Usually May starts the summer slowdown at All-American Cards in Essex, says Karen Smetana, because her customers rediscover other interests. However, this year they are buying cards.
"This month we're doing better than last year," she says. "I'm very pleased. I think everything's on the upswing." Smetana says new products are popular, especially Leaf Hobby because of its Ripken card.
"Business had picked up [two to three weeks ago]," says Joe Bosley of The Old Ball Game in Reisterstown. "Then that big show came to town, and that drained some business . . . . followed by a holiday. . . . It had definitely shown signs of an upturn."
Dave Herndon, of Uncle Dave's Cards in Eldersburg, says, "Ripken stuff is picking up some, but the [other] Orioles are not." dTC Herndon, who worked card shows for several years before opening his store last summer, has seen a shift in habits, with people buying packs rather than individual cards and not buying cards of players who are suddenly hot.
Jerry Warner, of Player Sports Collectibles in Harundale Mall, has also noticed changes in collectors' habits. He says people are buying older cards and NASCAR collectibles and attributes a lot of it to the strike. But "Ripken still sells . . . Ripken anything," says Warner.
Opening Day cards
Donruss is offering collectors an eight-card set with photographs from Opening Day. Featured players are Cal Ripken, Ken Griffey, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, Jose Canseco (in a Boston uniform) and Larry Walker (in a Colorado uniform). Collectors must send eight wrappers from 1995 Leaf, Donruss or Studio, plus $2 shipping to: Donruss Opening Day Offer, Leaf Specialty, 870 Mark St., Elk Grove, Ill. 60007.
Today, card show, Harundale Mall (expected signers are Armando Benitez and Manny Alexander), mall hours, (410) 760-5052.
Saturday-next Sunday, second annual Olympic Memorabilia Show, New Weave Building, Historic Savage Mill, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., (410) 290-7953.
CARD OF THE WEEK
SkyBox's E-Motion Basketball set has 121 cards, including Michael Jordan. There is little text, and photos focus on evocative words such as pumped and intense. There are also 30 insert cards in two insert sets and a mail offer for a moving card that shows Pistons rookie Grant Hill dunking. (Shown is Hill on a non-moving card.)