Apple Pie & Autographed Baseballs

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 8/17/09

On the Mount Rushmore of sports memorabilia, the autographed baseball is George Washington.  It’s the crown jewel of the sports collectible industry.  Signed jerseys and helmets are great too, but there’s something uniquely appealing about a signature on a baseball.

According to Steiner Sports CEO, Brandon Steiner, a signed baseball is simply part of American culture: “There’s Chevrolet, apple pie, and autographed baseballs,” he says.  “Nothing beats it!  A signed baseball is at the very heart of collecting.”

In recent years, companies like Steiner Sports have introduced new and creative ways to collect, developing exciting new products and giving life to the game used industry.  Though the memorabilia industry has evolved, the simplicity that is an autographed baseball still reigns supreme in the collectibles world.

Why Collect Baseballs?

A baseball is inherently collectable.  It’s small in stature, but largely coveted.  Because they’re so little, autographed baseballs are very easily displayed and stored.  When wall space is at a premium, collectors opt to stack baseballs on shelves and desks rather than clutter up walls.

Its size also makes it a perfect candidate to bring to a public signing or the ballpark.  Collectors have a much easier time transporting a few baseballs than photos or jerseys.  Very rarely will a fan pull out a batting helmet inside a stadium and ask for a player’s autograph.  In addition, the clean white palette of every ball’s sweet spot provides the perfect canvas for baseball’s biggest stars to sign.

Which Players Should You Collect?

Like snowflakes, no two collections are alike.  The only similarity from one to the next is the emotional investment made along the way.  While some choose to collect top players, potentially bringing the largest payday down the line, others prefer to gather autographed baseballs from players they grew up watching and have a connection to.

“I collect moments,” says Steiner.  “I go to games with my son, I watch players develop and improve, those are the things that move me as a collector.  Those items will always have value to me.”

Since determining a ball’s monetary worth over time is not an exact science, it’s important to collect players of personal rooting interest.  This approach will ensure long term satisfaction for the collector.

If looking for a little more direction, Steiner recommends collecting those who are, quite simply, best at what they do.

“If I were starting a collection today, I’d focus on my top ten,” says Steiner.  “I’d have to get a ball from Mickey [Mantle]Ted Williams, and Joe DiMaggio…have to start with those guys.”   Rounding out Steiner’s top ten are: Derek JeterMariano RiveraNolan RyanWillie MaysHank AaronCal Ripken, Jr., and Sandy Koufax.

Protect What You Collect!

Sports memorabilia is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, not hidden away in a closet or attic somewhere.  Of course, it is up to the individual collector to decide how best to exhibit a collection.  No matter what forum is selected, one rule should always apply: keep autographed baseballs out of direct sunlight!

In order to maintain its white complexion and crisp signature, avoiding open windows and bright rooms is key.  The ideal shelter for these gems are behind UV protected glass – not an expensive proposition, and completely worth it over the course of time.  When investing time and money into a collection, protect it, and put it in position to last a long time.

Your Memories are Authentic, Your Signed Baseballs Should Be Too!

“There’s nothing like meeting a player and having him sign a ball for you,” claims Steiner.  “You will always have that story to tell and it adds a personal touch to the collection.”

If a collector can’t personally witness a ball being signed, it’s important to acquire items from a trusted source.  There’s a lot of stress involved in purchasing a signed baseball on the second-hand market.  One might never feel completely confident that what they own is real.  More often than not, it’s worth spending a little more for the peace of mind that comes with owning an authentic piece of memorabilia.

“Why would you get a baseball that wasn’t authenticated?  It’s foolish,” says Steiner.  “If someone told you they had a great deal on a Mercedes, but all the logos would be stripped from the car, including the hood…would you still want it?  Would you still feel good driving it?  Having our hologram on a baseball adds to the value and selling power, should you decide to sell your collection some day.”

Companies like Steiner Sports guarantee the authenticity of their hand signed collectibles.  Each item autographed at a Steiner Sports signing is witnessed by a Steiner representative before being cataloged and inventoried.  Athletes are asked to sign an affidavit to document the date and location of the signing and a tamper-proof hologram is affixed to each item, declaring it 100% real.  Certificates of Authenticity are also issued, further guaranteeing its genuineness.  Such measures not only provide serenity, but will help the item maintain value over time.

Collect with Passion

It would be naïve to think that collectors looking for financial gain don’t exist.  There are some who collect baseballs to eventually sell them off for a profit.  However, if monetary goals were paramount, there are other, more lucrative things to invest in.  People choose to collect signed baseballs because they are passionate about, well…baseball.

Many collectors have aspirations of one day passing their prized possessions onto their children, a symbolic way to share the stories of their childhood, and at the same time, leave behind a piece of themselves.

For some, collecting baseballs is an escape from reality, a source of pleasure, and a way to preserve the accomplishments of childhood heroes.  Whatever the reason, Steiner has one simple piece of advice for all involved.

“I always tell people to have fun with their collection,” he says.  “If you aren’t having fun, what’s the point?”

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