Cal Ripken's consecutive-games streak has gotten collectors interested in Lou Gehrig, the man whose streak Ripken broke.
But people used to buying new collectibles are discovering that vintage Gehrig material is rare and expensive.
"His cards are virtually the only thing that's collectible," says Joe Bosley of The Old Ball Game in Reisterstown, "and they're so high-priced that most people don't collect them."
There are about 35 or 40 cards of Gehrig from his playing days, says Bosley, but most are exhibit cards or obscure cards. The most popular are Goudy's issues of 1933 and 1934, which often sell for about $4,000. He says the W-517s from 1931 is "pretty popular because it's not as much money," selling for $500 to $600.
Autographs are high-end, too. "A Gehrig single-signed ball is awfully hard to find," says Bosley, adding that prices can range from $4,000 to $7,000.
Ticket stubs and programs from Gehrig's farewell game are not for collectors on a tight budget, either.
Bosley calls these items "collectible stuff that people cherish." The original owners held onto them. "When it comes up for sale," says Bosley, "[the buyers are] real collectors, not people interested in the streak."
He says that collectors who want to make Gehrig a part of their Ripken collection without breaking the bank have to be creative. Often that means buying a modern Gehrig card (recently from Conlon and Ted Williams and from Topps and Fleer in 1960-61). Conlon also printed a card of Everett Scott, the man whose record Gehrig broke (Scott is called, formally, Lewis E. Scott on the card). Bosley also recommends as affordable glossy photographs of Gehrig and contemporary magazine ads.
Collectors also can find Gehrig on a postcard showing his Hall of Fame plaque (available from the Baseball Hall of Fame) and on a 25-cent U.S. postage stamp from 1989.
500 club show
The Babe Ruth Museum wraps up its yearlong Babe Ruth 100th birthday celebration with a reunion of players who hit 500 home runs and a companion card show Sept. 29-Oct. 1. The sluggers and other Hall of Famers scheduled to sign autographs include Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, Reggie Jackson, Harmon Killebrew, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Al Kaline and Steve Carlton. Call (914) 576-2900 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and (718) 224-1795 after 4 p.m. for autograph price information and autograph tickets.
SP Championship Series
Ripken's consecutive-games streak rates a tribute card in Upper Deck's new SP Championship Series baseball set. SP Championship Series is a 200-card super premium set available at selected retail outlets. It has different card, wrapper and box designs than hobby-only SP and does not include HoloView insert cards. Insert sets feature postseason highlights since 1969 and 10 players and rookies who have not appeared in the World Series.
The NBA's newest teams, Toronto and Vancouver, are represented in Topps Basketball Series 1 with a 15-card subset. The set includes 181 regular foil-stamped cards, a parallel set, a draft redemption insert card and one insert set.
Nomo update card
Los Angeles Dodgers rookie pitcher Hideo Nomo is not in Pinnacle Select 1995, but he will be on an update card that will complete the set. Pinnacle says the card will be produced at the same rate as the Select set, and his card will be in the same style as that of other rookies in the set.
Today, vintage memorabilia and equipment show, Holiday Inn on the Hill, 415 New Jersey Ave., N.W., Washington, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (expected signers include Warren Spahn and Tom Cheney).
Sept. 29-Oct. 1, card show, Fifth Regiment Armory (expected signers include Willie Mays, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Ernie Banks, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Al Kaline and Whitey Ford), Sept. 29 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sept. 30 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 1 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (914) 576-2900 or (718) 224-1795 after 4 p.m.
Oct. 5, auction at Christie's, 502 Park Ave., New York (items include a player piano owned by Babe Ruth; autographed baseballs; and game jerseys of Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax), (800) 395-6300 to order catalogs.
Oct. 7-9, card show, Eastpoint Mall (expected signer is Rick Dempsey), (410) 682-4375.
CARD OF THE WEEK
Upper Deck's Collector's Choice Basketball returns with a 210-card first series and two parallel foil sets. Insert cards include cards that can be redeemed for a 10-card draft set and a 27-card interactive set. (Shown is Calvert Hall alumnus Duane Ferrell.)