Collecting just seems to be in the cards for some baseball fans, more than 650 of whom turned out over the weekend for a baseball card show in Hagerstown.
About 35 dealers displayed their wares, including Ben Harper of Wilmington, N.C., whose collection includes a Mickey Mantle rookie card he said is coveted by many a baseball card fanatic. The card was priced at $1,800.
"Baseball card collecting has really taken off," said Joseph Deter, a Hagerstown baseball card dealer and one of the sponsors of the semiannual show. "People are coming to realize there are values in these cards."
Deter said he had 4 million cards, and noted that not all of them command prices in the range of the Mantle card.
"The majority of the business is $50 and below," said Deter. "Of course, cards range anywhere from 5 cents and up."
Prices vary depending on the age, condition and player pictured on the card, according to dealers.
Betty and Bob Grauer of Chester, Md., who have a 60,000-card collection, said they attend about five shows a year as dealers, and go to others just to browse.
"Something just comes over you when you're going through the boxes" of cards, said Betty Grauer. We started out doing it as a joke. Then we got hooked."
The Grauers find cards to sell and trade, but many go into their personal collection.
"I don't think we'll ever become major dealers because we like to collect too much," Betty Grauer said.