Baltimore collectors can't get enough of Cal Ripken. They've been buying his cards for years and, according to area dealers, are a big part of the buying frenzy as the Orioles shortstop nears Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games.
Hit and Run Baseball Cards in Aberdeen is across the street from the Ripken Museum, which will open next year.
"Everybody comes up here looking for the museum," says Jerry Schweiger, who estimates that 70 percent of his business comes from local collectors. He has two shelves devoted to Ripken items and says best sellers are cards, pennants, pictures and autographed balls. And he's surprised that the collectors' appetites seem insatiable.
"They bought so much [Ripken] the past couple of years," he says. "His cards are moving real well. . . . We keep getting so much new stuff."
At The Dugout in Ellicott City, Dianne Hubata has seen Ripken sales pick up over the past two weeks.
"We have rookie cards that just sat two weeks ago," she says. "I think the closer it gets the more excited everybody gets. . . . People I've never seen before. . . . A lot of mothers want to buy Cal Ripken rookie cards for their kids."
She says all 1995 Ripken cards, insert cards and "oddball" cards are moving best and she has sold out of autographed material.
Dave Herndon says it is "the more unusual Ripken items that are selling" at his Eldersburg store, Uncle Dave's Baseball Cards. Things like 23-karat gold cards and plaques with cards as well as autographed balls.
Ripken is big business at Baseball Card Outlet in Eastwood.
"It's usually just me in the store," says Mike Tanner, "but for the past week we've had to have three people just to sell the Ripken stuff." He says they are averaging two autographed balls a day and that other top sellers are rookie cards, minor-league cards and autographed bats and magazines.
Rookie cards and '95s are popular at Front Row Sports in Severna Park, says Bill Bryant. "My regulars have 'em. . . . His stuff has always sold well here. It's more the people who are getting caught up in the hype."
Cindy Pennington has seen little of the hype. She bought Bud's Starting Lineup in January and has renamed the Baltimore store American Sports and Trading Cards. "I have one guy who'll come in and if he doesn't have [a Ripken card], he'll get it. . . . It's a matter of getting the collectors back [in the store], rather than the kids with the pogs."
However, all the attention focused on Ripken has not resulted in interest in Gehrig memorabilia.
"They ask to see [Gehrig cards], but that's it," says Dee Bosley at The Old Ball Game in Reisterstown. "We have probably, in the past month, sold no Gehrig stuff except [cards from the Ted Williams Card Co.]."
Stallions team sets
Colts Corral No. 27 expects to have Baltimore Stallions team sets by Saturday, which feature 18 players. It is also selling CFL team logo milk caps and Stallions paraphernalia including flags, license plate holders and magnets. Call Marc Lombardi at (410) 544-8240.
Ripken, Gehrig in miniature
Highland Mint's first Mini Mint-Cards feature Ripken and Gehrig and will be packaged as a set with identical serial numbers. There will be 2,500 bronze, 500 silver and 250 gold-plated sets. Cards measure 1 1/4 by 1 3/4 inches.
Saturday, card show, Earleigh Heights Fire Hall, Severna Park, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 672-5859.
Saturday-next Sunday, Auction, Westview Mall, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Saturday-next Sunday, card show, Park City Center, Lancaster, Pa. (U.S. Route 30 at Harrisburg Pike; expected signers include Rich Ashburn, Bob Feller and Buck O'Neil), Sept. 9 10 a.m.to 9:30 p.m., Sept. 10 noon to 5 p.m., (717) 569-1478.
CARD OF THE WEEK
Score hockey is redesigned for 1995-96 and will be a single-series, 330-card set with seven insert sets. There will be a parallel set in black foil. (Shown is Martin Brodeur.)