Baseballs Provide a Perfect Presentation for Autographs
One of the best surfaces upon which to obtain an autograph is a baseball. Just buy an official MLB game ball – complete with its machine-stamped, facsimile signature of MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. gracing one side – and attend batting practice at your local team’s ballpark. Be sure to bring along a blue ball-point pen and don’t be bashful! But remember: ask the player to sign on the sweet spot and know that the price of admission will cost you a few bucks.
The baseball, provided it’s an official MLB Rawlings ball, retails for around $10 at most sporting goods stores. And the ticket you purchase to access the MLB stadium where ballplayers are swinging their lumber could set you back anywhere from $25 for nosebleeds up to hundreds of dollars for box seats. But the point of this post is to start a fire within your soul to simply start the chase – the thrill of not only going to the ballpark, but meeting one of your heroes and walking away with a prized keepsake from the encounter. I prefer using baseballs to get player signatures because they’re easy to carry and present beautifully inside stacked acrylic display cases.
What’s been of specific interest to me lately is the impressive prices single-signed baseballs command at auction. According to PSA’s Sports Market Report Online Price Guide, single-signed baseballs are truly an appreciated (and appreciating) commodity. Baseballs from deceased players enshrined in Cooperstown command the highest payday. Obviously, the number of their autographed baseballs is finite and since scarcity drives value, it stands to reason their signatures are worth more than a current or retired ballplayer who’s still signing.
Did you know that a baseball signed by Hall of Famer Ty Cobb could fetch as much as $60,000 in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition? What about the late, great Christy Mathewson? A single-signed baseball autographed by the overpowering right-hander with 373 wins to his credit commands up to $175,000 in PSA Mint 9 condition. (For the record, there have been no Gem-Mint 10 condition autographed baseballs ever documented from “Matty.”) And what about Babe Ruth? Well, the lovable “Bambino,” when he wasn’t crushing home runs, enjoyed signing baseballs. In fact, he was prolific at signing his name on a wide array of surfaces – baseballs, photos, bats, you name it. Still, a single-signed Ruth baseball could bring as much as $55,000 if it’s found in PSA Mint 8 condition and as much as $225,000 in PSA Mint 9. What about a Gem Mint 10 Ruth-signed baseball? It’s considered so rare that it would be too difficult to accurately price.
Which brings us back to today’s ballplayer. Let’s look at perennial All-Star Mike Trout of the L.A. Angels. Considered the second coming of Yankees great Mickey Mantle, Trout launched 196 home runs during his first full six seasons (2012-17). Ruth, in his first seven seasons, hit a total of just 103 round-trippers. Granted, he was used primarily as a pitcher during his first four years with the Boston Red Sox (1914-17), but turned out to be the biggest gate attraction in New York Yankees history. And his 22-year MLB career ended with 714 bombs to his name. If Trout keeps up his current pace (33 HR per year) for another 15 seasons, he could wind up with 696 home runs. And if the two-time A.L. MVP plays one more season than Ruth, that number could balloon to 729 home runs. Today, Trout’s single-signed baseball sells for between $150 and $200. What do you think it will be worth 100 years from now?
It might be worth your while to head out to the “Big A” for a game one of these days? Your next of kin would be very appreciative of the effort.