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July 13, 1990 - Image 53

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-07-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



Once the domain of children, sports-card collecting has
become an investment opportunity and a big draw for adults.


Special to The Jewish News

Photo by Gle nn Triest


n the old days, kids used
to buy packs of baseball
cards for the piece of
bubble gum inside. That
was when 12 cards
came in the pack, with the
gum, for 10 cents.
But baseball and other
sports cards are not just for
kids anymore. Grown-ups now
are into this former kids' hob-
by and have made card-
collecting an investment.
lbday, Bo Jackson and Don
Mattingly are the "hot"
cards. And names of players
who haven't even played more
than two years — such as Ben
McDonald, Barry Larkin and
Ken Griffey, Jr. — are on the
tips of collectors' tongues.
"It's still a hobby," one
dealer said. "But now people
can make money from it and
there is no problem with
Card collections in the
Detroit area and elsewhere
range from a few dollars to
$15,000-$20,000 in some
cases, much more in others.
One observer noted there are
those running mail-order
transactions for whom the
business is in the hundreds of
thousands of dollars.
Not surprisingly, card-
collecting shows fill the
weekend schedules of many
collectors and it's not unusual
to see $1,000 or more spent on
one card.
"I was in the sauna at the
Jewish Community Center
reading the Sports Collectors
Digest," said Alan Lopatin of
West Bloomfield. "The man
next to me was reading the
Wall Street Journal. I told
him what I was doing was
very similar to what he was
doing. He was checking his
investment and I was doing
the same. He thought that

Alan Lopatin says card-trading comes naturally to him.

was very interesting."
Lopatin has been a scrap
metal trader for the past 20
years and says his job and
card-collecting are very
similar. "Collecting cards is
trading," he said. "You want
to buy the card at the lowest
price and then sell it at the
best possible price. It comes
natural to me — I am on the
phone buying and selling
from six in the morning to six
at night."
Many believe the rise of
baseball card collecting began
in 1981, when Topps, the on-
ly card-maker for many years,
lost a lawsuit which allowed
competition in the market.
Fleer and Dunruss began
making cards and, with the
competition, came higher
values. Score, Bowman and
Upper Deck further split the
card-making market.
At the trade shows, not on-
ly can a collector find
baseball cards, but also
memorabilia — from jerseys
to autographed baseballs, pla-
ques, figures and bats and
anything else one can thing of
— is usually on sale.
Sports Collectors Digest, a
weekly publication many
regard as the bible of card-
collecting, contains the up-to-
date prices of the hot cards
and where some of the rarer
cards can be purchased. One
of the rarest items is a one-of-
a-kind uncut proof strip that
includes Honus Wagner and
which is available from Al
Rosen of New York for $2
While $2 million is as ex-
treme 'as it gets, the hobby
and business of collecting has
become so serious that recent-
ly a National League umpire
was arrested and indefinitely
suspended from baseball for
stealing 4,180 baseball cards
worth $143.98.
Arnold Grant of West



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