WASHINGTON – The House of Cards in Wheaton has had a showcase of Washington Senators memorabilia — cards, programs, ticket stubs, bats and buttons — since it opened in 1976.
But with the announcement this week that baseball is coming back to Washington, manager Josh Wulkan thinks it might be time to “beef up” the stock.
“I have a funny feeling that there will probably be a gradual increase in things that are being looked for as the team gets ready to move here, as they start getting RFK Stadium ready over there,” Wulkan said of his Senators gear.
Wulkan is not the only one who thinks “the memorabilia hype is going to occur.” From the Internet to shops like his, merchants said they are getting ready for a bit of a blitz on Senators merchandise.
Online auction site eBay reported that 134 new Washington Senators items were posted Tuesday, everything from cards and autographed balls to jackets, jerseys and Santa figurines. On Wednesday, when D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams appeared in a Senators cap to formally announce that the Montreal Expos were moving to Washington, another 121 items were posted on eBay.
“What we see, in general, on eBay, it can be a barometer for what is on the minds of people and for what’s hot in the news,” said spokesman Hani Durzy.
Mickey’s Place in New York has seen a spike in online sales of Senators caps, especially in the days surrounding the announcement.
“We’ve had people calling left and right” to ask about Senators hats, said Sarah Mower, who works at Mickey’s Place.
The baseball memorabilia store offers New Era caps that replicate styles from the 1920s to the 1971 red cap with a white “W” that Williams and D.C. officials wore for Wednesday’s announcement.
“We have had a real run on Washington Senator hats,” said owner Vincent Russo, who sold close to 100 in the past three weeks. “We’re out of stock of several of them. We’re waiting on the arrival of additional hats at this moment.”
Randy Kiser, 53, is one of the old Senators’ fans looking for a new cap. But the Shady Side resident also plans to hold on to his originals — an old cap, a 1950s pennant and 1960s-era black-and-white signed photographs, programs and scorecards that he used when his dad took him to the games.
“It’s simply a memory of mine to hold on to,” said Kiser, who does not plan to part with any of his stuff. “They’ll have to pry (it) out of me. It wouldn’t mean as much to anybody else as to me.”
Kiser hopes to take his 79-year-old dad to the first game, once he buys a new hat to replace the kid-sized one he now has.
Kevin Karpin, 42, understands Kiser’s attachment to his souvenirs. Karpin is not letting go of his Senators banner or root-beer mugs, or the 1960, 1970 and 1971 programs he got when he attended games as a Forest Heights Elementary student in Prince George’s County.
Karpin will go to the first game in April with his son who is 9, the same age he was when his grandfather took him to the last Senators’ game in 1971. He plans to pick up his program collection where he left off.
By opening day, Exlsports.com sales agent Bill Gelders expects demand for Washington baseball merchandise to peak.
“It won’t come until they actually finish all the transferring and all that kind of stuff, till they come up with the uniforms,” Gelders said.
After that, he said, a lot will depend on how the new team performs on the field.
“There’s been no reason up until this because they were not that big, that popular a team,” he said of the old Senators. “It depends a lot on how the team is received in Washington.”
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