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Readers hopeful for a Perez-Steele return

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With the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies this year likely to be one of the biggest crowds - if not the biggest crowd - ever in Cooperstown, it's hard not to hope that the Perez-Steele HOF Postcard Series might be resuscitated.

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With Cal Ripken atop the marquee this year - and Tony Gwynn a none-too-shabby second fiddle - it seems like it would be the perfect time to revive the franchise. Last fall I asked the readers to weigh in on the topic, and what follows are some of the letters and e-mails we received after my column plugging the idea of restarting the Perez-Steele franchise.

 To the Editor:
I received my copy of SCD today and your article was the first one that I read after seeing it listed in the table of contents. In all these years, this is my first "letter" to SCD.

I am one of those collectors who subscribed to the original offer of the Perez-Steele postcards and I am happy to say that I was fortunate enough to get 92 of them signed over the years.

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I was very disappointed when I heard that the postcard series was being discontinued due to the death of Frank Steele since I looked forward to receiving every new issue and then getting the cards signed. I even thought of adding gold plaque postcards to the collection after they were discontinued.

The fact that I started early in collecting and getting the signatures in person (or mailing some to HOFers for a small fee) meant that my cost of all 92 signed cards was approximately $1,150. Today, there is not a new Hall of Famer's signature available at a show for less than $65, and their prices keep climbing. If Bonds, Sosa and McGwire make it, you can expect autograph fees of $300-$400 dollars each. That would be the only negative reason for issuance of the new cards, the prohibitive cost of getting them signed today.

I would certainly subscribe to a new issue even if I left the new cards unsigned. I feel that there is a need for the cards because they so accurately portray the likeness of the Hall of Famers and they start at the very beginning.

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Thanks for taking the time to pursue this matter. I am sure many other collectors feel as I do.
- Kurt Zimmermann

 To the Editor:
I just read your column on the Perez-Steele set and I agree that I was sorry to see it end, but that's Dick Perez's prerogative, unfortunate as that may be. I'm not sure anyone could do it with the same quality, except for Ron Lewis, perhaps.

I've got all but one signed (missing Lloyd Waner) and consider the set my most-prized possession.

I also remember that you, and it was your dad, used to sell very nice illustrated card sets which I also bought back in the 1980s.
- Jeff Share
Houston, Texas

 To the Editor:
I'm taking you up on your offer to discuss the relaunch of Perez-Steele cards. Although I would not consider myself an autograph collector, I have enjoyed over the years collecting player autographs on premium-sized cards such as the 1964 Topps Giants and various Donruss Diamond King sets. When Perez-Steele announced the introduction of its HOF Postcard and Greatest Moments Series, I eagerly subscribed to both and happily sent these cards to be autographed by my heroes.

I viewed these cards as true works of art that could be obtained at an affordable price. I believe the Turkey Red cabinet cards were so successful last year because of the artful beauty of the cards and the void these cards filled for many collectors wishing to obtain player autographs.
- Kevin Nelson
Jacksonville, Fla.

 To the Editor:
I am writing in response to your article in the Sept. 22 issue regarding the Perez-Steele Hall of Fame Postcards.

I have been collecting baseball cards and memorabilia from my childhood on and off since 1971. Over the years I have managed to acquire various items, but my personal favorite has been the Perez-Steele Hall of Fame Postcards. I still remember how I felt as the various series would arrive and I was able to see and admire the artwork for the first time. In the beginning I was reluctant to even have them autographed because I thought it would deface them.

I am definitely in the camp for restarting the set. I would hope that records are still available as to who are the owners of the 10,000 numbered sets. As one of them, I believe the owners should be given first right of refusal for buying the new sets. Additional postcards could be manufactured and sold as unnumbered cards.

I would think that to ensure the staying power for the postcards, an organization such as the Baseball Hall of Fame should commission the work and manufacturing to be completed. I would not be against the Hall of Fame reproducing some of the more popular players, such as Ruth, Mantle, Robinson, and so on. This would allow younger generations to appreciate not only the artwork, but baseball tradition and history.

As the best testimony I can offer up on the Perez-Steele HOF Postcards, I would relate a little story about my wife. Over the past 17 years of marriage and many moves, she has put up with my collection of cards, autographs, photos, etc. Our most recent move occurred this past spring, and as I was unboxing items and putting them away she was watching me. I mentioned to her how that years from now, when I am no longer on this Earth, that all of this will be hers. I then asked her how long would it be before she sells the collection. She smiled and said that it probably would not take very long. She then picked up my binder containing the Perez-Steele HOF Postcards, and said "Yeah, I could get quite a few dollars for all of your stuff, but I will keep these postcards - they are really neat."
I could not have agreed more.
- Mike Harper

 To the Editor:
Regarding your Sept. 22 column on the hoped-for rebirth of the Perez-Steele Hall of Fame Postcard series, count my vote as strongly affirmative. I am a longtime collector and own each card in the first 15-series and love every one of them. The artwork is fantastic and each portrayal gives us baseball fans a great look at the facial character and strength of each person.

To answer some of your questions, I believe that the initial print run should be at least 2,000 postcards and the ultimate market potential should be between 5,000 and 7,500. Some marketing effort will be required to reconnect us all to these cards because they've been gone for several years, but I'm quite sure the reception will be outstanding. Nothing else rivals the Perez-Steele Postcards' beauty in our baseball memorabilia industry. The old dealer network will need to be revitalized but I'm sure those contacts still exist.

I would think that Dick Perez would readily embrace the rebirth concept. The key issues will be HOF support (I believe they will) and the challenge of financing the enterprise. A so-called banker needs to emerge to front the dollars to get this off the ground. Perhaps one of the card companies like Topps would find it interesting to help recreate this hobby favorite.
Thanks for championing this thought.
- Mike Hartnagel
Wilmington, Del.

 To the Editor:
Read your article in the Sept. 22 issue of SCD. I have a numbered set of the Perez-Steele HOF Postcards and would love to see the set continued. It is one of the best collectibles I have seen.

I would think that the market should be close to the original 10,000 that Perez-Steele started. I would suggest that the first series include all new Hall of Famers since the last printing.
Hope you can persuade a continuation.
- Steve Kappel

 To the Editor:
I read your article about the proposed restart of Perez-Steele Hall of Fame cards and was compelled to share my thoughts on the subject. In three short words, "Sign me up." I purchased my subscription at a Fort Washington show before the cards were ever produced. The vivid colors and style of the cards immediately caught my eye. I would look forward to receiving my letter every two years letting me know that a new series was going to be issued. When I was notified that Perez-Steele Galleries would no longer be issuing these cards, I was greatly disappointed. I understood that Frank Steele had passed away but thought that these cards would continue to be produced as long as there was a Baseball Hall of Fame.

When these counterfeit cards hit the market, I was very surprised. I did not know Dick Perez was still painting portraits for the Hall of Fame. That immediately made me wonder why the cards were not being produced. It seems to me that that someone should be able to produce these cards since the same style paintings have continued to be created.

I must admit that, although I do not support counterfeiters, if I would see these new, unlicensed cards sitting at a show for sale, I would probably purchase them. I feel that strongly about the cards.

As far as a solution, why can't the Hall of Fame produce these cards? Obviously, they still have Dick Perez produce the paintings. I would think that is the hardest part. I would like to see the cards produced in the original quantity of 10,000 sets. Previous subscribers could pre-register with the Hall of Fame. That would prove to them that there is still a market for these cards.

Like Perez-Steele Galleries did, single sets could be available for purchase in addition to registered sets. I always purchased these for autographs. How cool would it be for these to be available for a player's induction ceremony? Single cards would sell like hotcakes. I think this would complement the Hall autograph session that weekend.

In short, I see it as a profitable venture for anyone. I believe enough demand still exists for the cards. I would think that the Perez-Steele Galleries would be willing to provide the previous registration numbers. The fact that the Hall of Fame is still having Dick Perez create the original paintings, creating cards would be relatively easy. This also makes the Hall of Fame the logical party to produce these sets.
- Shawn Gelnett

 To the Editor:
Just a quick note to heartily second your call to restart the Perez-Steele Hall of Fame Postcard series. I'm a longtime Hall of Fame autograph collector and, in my opinion, the Perez-Steele cards were the best vehicle ever on which to obtain signatures. I'm very much hopeful that Dick Perez will be able to work out a deal with someone (maybe the Baseball Hall of Fame itself?) that will let him return to the drawing board and fill what has become a large void in the hobby.
- Dwight Chapin
Mill Valley, Calif.

 To the Editor:
Being a longtime Ozzie Smith fan and huge collector of his cards, I would love to see one of his legitimate cards hit the market. All of the Perez-Steele cards are done so beautifully they would make a great addition to anyone's collection. Just my thoughts, but I support you all the way.
- Steve Lipe
Pensacola, Fla.

 To the Editor:
I have collected Perez-Steele Great Moments since I was in middle school. I hate that they are no longer going to make them. It does bother me to think I will never have a Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith, etc., to add to my collection, or the fact that a chance of getting Kirby Puckett on a Great Moment Card will never happen.

The main point I want to make is that I have found a void for the time being. Topps has made the Turkey Red line of cards, with a one per box insert of a cabinet-size card. I have almost completed my collection of at least getting the cards. Now I am going to try to get them signed; so far I have obtained signatures from Scott Rolen, Manny Ramirez and Johan Santana.

Topps just came out with the 2006 version and has increased the number of cabinets significantly. I believe there are 42 now, and HOFers like Gary Carter, Mantle, Snider and Yaz are included. This is great, especially the Ryan and Carter.

I believe others are collecting these for the same reasons; if you look at their resale value on eBay they are always over book value, which, as you know, doesn't happen much with cards. I can't imagine Topps will make these cards too many more years, but these will always have a place in the hearts of Great Moments fans.
- Bill Love
Dallas, Texas

 To the Editor:
I am a collector of the Perez-Steele cards. I was a subscriber and feel that it is imperative that new cards be issued. They add a great touch to a wonderful sport and the collectors cherish them.
Thanks for taking up the cause.
- Marty Olinick

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