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When it comes to cards, here's the players' choice

As a starting pitcher for the University of South Florida, Mark Reed can be excused if he has a distaste for opposing batters.

But when it comes to collecting baseball cards, Boston's Wade Boggs is at the top of his list of favorites.

"I probably have about 15 to 20 of his rookie cards," said Reed, who has three of the rookie cards autographed. "I have all his cards and don't have intentions of selling any of them right now. In a couple of years, when they become more valuable, I might take them to (card) shows and sell a couple of extras."

Reed joins Brett King, Chad Crossley and Darren Stumberger as Bulls who collect baseball cards and memorabilia.

Stumberger, a sophomore born in the shadows of Yankee Stadium, rates Don Mattingly as his favorite to collect. With two 1984 Donruss rookie cards valued at $60 apiece, Mattingly is one of the most valuable in a collection that features a 1980 Rickey Henderson rookie that brings $150.

"I am a Mattingly freak and a huge Yankee fan," he said. "My dad was a cop at Yankee Stadium and when I was 5 or 6, he took me to batting practice and into the dugout. That was about 1979 and I remember getting autographed pictures of Cliff Johnson, Jay Johnstone and Jim Spencer."

For King, it was a case of following the lead of his brother Brian, who is currently a minor league umpire.

"He got me started when I was about age 10," King said. "I would go to the 7-Eleven, buy a couple packs and put sets together. The 1983 Topps set was the first one I bought as a whole and one of my favorites."

King's most valuable card, though not mint condition, is a 1973 Mike Schmidt rookie. A top-grade version can bring up to $450.

Nonetheless, cards of Schmidt, Johnny Bench and Pete Rose rank high in the shortstops' collection.

Crossley and his teammates like to joke about how much the sophomore righthander resembles Ben MacDonald. Consequently, the Oriole pitcher has become a favorite for the Armwood High product to collect.

"I got a chance to see him in person and was impressed with his pitching ability," Crossley said. "I collect his cards and those put out by Topps and Upper Deck. I also like collecting minor league cards. They are not very popular, but I speculate when the players are young and the cards are cheap."

Crossley's most valuable card is a minor-league card of Dwight Gooden. The New York Met is pictured in his Lynchburg (Carolina League) uniform.

Autographed baseballs of Nolan Ryan and Willie Mays are among the more cherised pieces of memorabilia in Reed's collection. Collecting autographs is a favorite of the New Hampshire native.

"I was able to get an autographed ball of Ted Williams a couple of years ago," he said. "I like getting baseballs and cards of top past and present players signed."

King, who has an autographed ball of Mickey Mantle, collects football cards of Pittsburgh's Aaron Jones and Miami's Sammie Smith.

"It's one of those sentimental things because they went to the same high school I did," said the Apopka High grad.

When it comes to making trades and finding the good buy, Reed has the edge over his teammates, especially King.

"Aside from Boggs, I really like my 1972 Carlton Fisk rookie card," said Reed of the $125 card. "I bought it for $18 two years ago when it booked at $50. The fact it was such a good buy is the main reason why I like it."

On the other side of the coin, King traded a 1968 Tom Seaver (now valued at $200) for a 1987 Topps commemorative card of Roberto Clemente. The Clemente card, part of a subset within the 792-card Topps set, can be had for 10 cents.

"But one time I did trade a bunch of worthless common cards to somebody for a Dwight Gooden rookie," he retorted.

Among the quartet of USF collectors, Stumberger boasts the best all-around card collection. Included are complete sets back to 1977 and a host of older Yankee cards including Berra's and Rizzuto's from the 1950s.

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