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Invest in Baseball Autographs LIKE A PRO in 2020! | Players, Authentication, and What To AVOID

July 08, 2021 16 min read 1 Comment

Invest in Baseball Autographs LIKE A PRO in 2020! | Players, Authentication, and What To AVOID

Well baseball autographs are some of the most sought after autographs in all of sports memorabilia. We're talking about guys like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jackie Robinson. I mean these guys are iconic names. Not only of course just in baseball, but all around the world, and of course for collectors here in the united states. Football is kind of America's game now but baseball has always been our favorite game by far. It wasn't even close for many years. Pretty much every kid grew up playing baseball either emulating their favorite guy in the backyard, for me it was Will Clark, I always loved being Will the Thrill. That was my guy growing up, and of course all of us as a kid pretty much collected baseball cards and so when we got into being adults and had a little bit more money than mom and dad gave us our first inkling to go into collecting would be baseball stuff.

Baseball autographs because that's what we grew up with and what we started collecting as a kids. So this video is going to be all about how to invest in baseball autographs. It's going to be slightly different than collecting. The main goal with investing of course is regardless who the athlete is, we are buying the item to make money. Yes if we like the guy or we like the team, even better, but the main goal is to make money on this autograph.

So this video is going to have three parts. Part number one is going to be about authentication, part number two is gonna be the types of items that I see going up in value the most, and part three will be the players that I recommend and also will give you some undervalued players in my opinion. So without further ado let's start off with part number one here, authentication. Of course this is paramount when it comes to autographs and there are many different types of autographs that you can get for baseball autographs. The one that I prefer the most is Major League Baseball authentication. This is the MLB program. Why do I prefer this? Well that means essentially every single autograph that you purchase with the MLB hologram on there has been witnessed by a representative from Major League Baseball. Usually these are retired police officers or whatnot that work for Major League Baseball and they attend the signing with the baseball athlete. They are there to witness the autograph, they put the MLB numbered hologram on there. Maybe you've seen these and then when you go on to MLB's website to verify the autograph it says the item and the athlete and then the date that it was signed.

A couple reasons why I really like Major League Baseball authentication is well, obviously, if MLB is authenticating your baseball autograph that is pretty freaking cool. That is the way to go. It's coming directly from that source and also MLB has a huge brand to protect. They are going to do everything they can to prevent any fraud with Major League Baseball authentication. This is their baby, their brainchild. I think they were the first league to actually do this so the MLB program has been around for a little bit of time now. They also authenticate game used items that they see in person. So I really prefer Major League Baseball when you can buy a baseball autograph. Now it's not going to come with every single signing. Some of these guys don't participate in stuff with MLB, but if you can buy Major League Baseball authentication. There is other authentication that also has the witness component to it, meaning a representative from these companies was present for a signing with this baseball athlete. These companies are also PSA DNA, JSA and then of course also Beckett authentication. All three of these companies have a witness certificate of authenticity that they provide for signings that they are present for.

They differ because of their basic certification. Their basic certification are autographs that they deem authentic after the fact, so these are autographs that people have sent in to them, they go through their database, they compare it to known authentic autographs, and they give their opinion on that autograph. This is different than the witness. The witness is a 100% authentic. They were there for the signing, they witnessed it being done, and they have issued their witness certificate of authenticity. They'll say that on the certificate of authenticity that a representative was present for the signing. So two different ones, just be careful when you're buying those as well. Some other baseball ones authentications.

Fanatics of course is a good one. Interesting thing about fanatics is they are actually a license holder for Major League Baseball authentication. So when you buy a baseball autograph from Fanatics you also get the Fanatics authentication and also the age of the baseball authentication. So two different ones. That's actually very cool as well. Yes they do have MLB representatives at their signings for baseball autographs. Tristar of course is another good one. They handle mainly a lot of the Texas guys and then Steiner Sports. Steiner Sports is kind of an interesting one to be honest with you. They were just purchased by Fanatics last year I believe in 2019 and Steiner had a really good reputation. They had some issues towards the end of course with the Eli Manning game used helmet issue, and I've seen it's well known in the industry that they had some holograms that were either stolen or knocked off. I don't know what the deal was with it but anytime you see an item with just the Steiner hologram on there without a number and no card, then no, not safe. Of course they had the exclusive representation for Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera for a very long time, but again just be careful with those holograms. Make sure you're buying something with a numbered hologram if possible and also the MLB authentication.

As far as game use stuff for authentication, I've already mentioned them, Major League Baseball authentication, PSA DNA also does authentication for bats and all that kind of stuff, and then Mirrors is another good one as well for game use items. 

So moving on, part number two here, what are the best types of items to get? These are the types of items that I see are going to be going up in value the most and you're not going to be wasting your time with these smaller little nuggets. Now don't go come hollering at me because you sell Funkos and Funkos make money for you. I get it, there are really dozens of items that you can sell, I'm not going to cover everything here. These are just kind of the major ones that I see going up in value just to keep it simple for everybody.

So number one, autographed baseballs. These are a no-brainer. These are a staple in the baseball autograph industry, especially vintage players on single sign baseballs. Guys like Ruth, Mantle, Dimaggio, Ted Williams, Mays. Those are just bread winners right there. Those are really iconic stuff that you have to have in your collection and stuff that's going up in value. Baseballs with special inscriptions or on specialty baseballs. For example, World Series baseballs or all-star logo baseball. It's like Mike Trout's first all-star of the 2012 all-star baseball. These are all highly sought after and extremely valuable.

Baseballs are just so easy to display. You can buy a hundred of them and it doesn't take up that much room. Imagine buying like 100 bats or something like that. It would take up a ton of room, or 100 framed jerseys. I mean you'd have to buy a whole nother house in order to store all that stuff. So that's why people really like baseballs. They're very easy to store and they actually tend to be probably the most inexpensive items when it comes to autograph, comparing apples to apples for an athlete versus a jersey. They're way cheaper than the jersey of course.

Speaking of jerseys, autographed jerseys are a great way to go. I've harped on this channel for a long time, stick to the officially licensed ones. You're only going to buy the jersey one time. Don't get some custom one or some knocked off one. Spend the extra 50 bucks and get a nice jersey with special inscriptions, they are always going to be going up in value, especially once tied around the world series with world series MVP, world series champions, or hall of fame inscriptions. Superstars only though! Yes I know David Eckstein was a world series MVP, but his autograph's not going up in value. So stick to the guys who are proven hall of famers, proven stats, and we'll talk about some of those guys in part three of this video here.

Game used items probably should be number one on this list here, but game used items tend to be a little expensive for most people depending on who the athlete is. You can get some cheaper game stuff. I remember back in the day I'd buy Ricky Henderson game used bats for $300 or $400 or so, not signed or anything like that, but you can find some deals on some of these auction sites, but again game used items are just simply because there's lack of supply on them. So those are gonna hold value very well, especially if you find a guy that is a superstar or a hall of famer and you find it undervalued at some point, and boom the guy has a great year or ends up being in the hall of fame. Those are great additions to your collection.

Autographed bats I wanted to touch on very quickly. I'm not huge on bats and the only reason I say that is I'm just going off of my sales data and what people buy, and autograph bats are basically non-existent. Yes I know some people really like bats and so I figured I would just bring up bats. It just depends on the player. Derek Jeter signed bats. Yes people really like those Albert Pujol signed bats. Hank Aaron signed bats, but it'd have to be a real big superstar for me in order to get some bats done by them. I wouldn't do any of the lower tier guys I've already mentioned. It's just kind of difficult to display them. You got to get a huge display case that takes up a decent amount of space in your wall and I'm just not a huge fan of holiday display, just me. I like baseballs over bats any day of the week.

Part number 2-b here I guess you could say, would be items to avoid. I would avoid photos that don't necessarily pertain to a certain play that the athlete was involved in. For example like the Nolan Ryan Ventura play, where Ventura charged them out. Obviously that's an iconic picture but I would avoid just a basic Nolan Ryan 8x10. I don't think that's going to be increasing in value for you. I would also avoid  batting helmets. I don't know why batting helmets have never really caught on with baseball like football helmets have with football. I think it's just because we've got the one ear hole on there and it kind of sits at an angle in your display case and you kind of gotta tilt your head to look at it. I don't know. They've never caught on and again I'm just going off of my sales data and that is on the low end along with those autographed bats.

Let's move on to part number three. This is probably the part that everybody wants to know. Will you just tell me who to buy? Just tell me who to buy and I'll buy it. So now that we know kind of the authentication, the types of items to buy, these are gonna be what I would consider some of the best players to invest in. Essentially if they're a likable player, they don't sign much, that's kind of my big one right there. I don't want guys that are signing every other week. Big time stars. If they have a good social media following even better, but some of these older players don't. Hall of fame careers that have a notable moment, that's a big thing for me and if they play in a great team. The Yankees or Red Sox. Those types of guys are always going to have huge fan followings, but as a reminder we're basically looking for guys that are safe. That are going to be going up in value. Rookies are fun, don't get me wrong, I like it when I hit a big home run on a rookie, but you're going to be wrong 99% of the time on those guys. They're extremely volatile and I want you guys to make money.

So these are the guys that I see that are going to be going up in value. You got to be patient on probably some of them. Patience, I know that's like the worst thing. I think these guys are can't miss guys. I realize some of these autographs are going to be really expensive. At the end I'm going to give you some undervalued guys that are a little bit more affordable, but some of these guys on this list here I think are still undervalued and still rather affordable for where they are currently right now. So anyway let's go ahead and get into this list here on some of the guys that I think you should be picking up and kind of why.

First off Mike Trout. This guy is the modern day Mickey Mantle. He's won three MVPs. Yes he plays on a crappy team, but he does play a big market in Los Angeles and I think collectors all over the country are interested in Mike Trout. He's got a great personality, he's great with fans, he signs a decent amount. Don't get me wrong, he is an expensive autograph, but that's just telling you everything you need to know. Signs a decent amount, but I think he signs probably two or three times a year. He's four to five hundred dollar per autograph, a little bit more for premium items right now, but every signing sells out for the guy. Three-time MVP. Imagine if he ever ends up going to like a winning team what might happen. I mean the guy's gonna be a hall of famer for sure, but again today's Mickey Mantle and a very likable guy. You really can't go wrong with Mike Trout. I've told this story I think a few times in here. I had the chance when he first came up in 2012 to buy autographed baseballs of his with MLB authentication for like 50 bucks. I had to buy like 70 of them though and I turned it down. This is before he won rookie of the year and I was like, “what am I going to need 72 Mike Trout baseballs for? Like what is this guy going to do?” Now I should have probably bought those balls, but hey, hindsight's always 20/20.

Moving on here, Mickey Mantle. I still think this guy is completely undervalued. Authentic Mickey Mantle baseballs that are in decent condition and for the right price. Right meaning $500 to $800. They sell in about five minutes. This guy is that popular. Especially items with inscriptions. Baseballs are an absolute must with Mantle. If you get anything of Mantle you gotta have an autographed baseball. The guy signed a lot when he was alive. There's no denying that and there's baseballs still out there for him, but I really think that at some point that supply is going to kind of dry up because people aren't going to be selling a lot of their collection. Once they get a nice Mickey Mantle baseball they're going to be holding on to that. So Mickey Mantle is a guy that is just not going to be going down a value. That is 100% sure. So definitely be picking up Mickey Mantle.

Another guy, Willie Mays. I've been harping on Mays for a long time. Mays is so undervalued right now. He's getting up there in age. He's around 92 right now. Like me and you he's not going to be on this earth forever and the guy has not been signing for the last couple years. You can still find authentic stuff out there, just be careful that you don't pick up stuff with just that “say hey” hologram. That stuff is junk. It's not real, don't buy it. You can find JSA and PSA and Beckett authenticating $10k baseballs for like $150. I mean Willie Mays is just an iconic player. I don't think people realize what they have right here, right now, that they can pick up. If you can find an authentic photo of “the catch”, do it. One that is authentic. Autographed bats are out there. There's some jerseys, but baseballs are really cheap. Last I looked they were about 150 bucks for a decent one, maybe a little bit of toning on there, but authentic, and this guy I mean my gosh it's Willie Mays people! $150, what the heck. You guys are going to spend more than that on Fernando Tatis. So that's just my take on Mays.

Another guy you got to have, Sandy Koufax. I'm really shocked at some of his pricing for some stuff, especially stuff from the descriptions. I think it should be well higher up here. This guy has a mystique about him in the collecting world. I don't know how he developed this. Autographed baseballs are great. He's got some iconic photos out there. The guy threw four no hitters, four. Nobody throws four no hitters in the big leagues, it's just insane. It's kind of a weird thing too, but I really like his connection to the Jewish culture as well. I think that's a kind of unique angle for Sandy Koufax.

You really just don't see that much today as far as an athlete's connection to religion. So I think that's kind of an interesting aspect with Koufax, but this guy's autograph is just, I mean, three to four hundred dollars for an autographed baseball. For arguably, probably, the best pitcher of all time. Certainly top five, and he played for an iconic franchise in Brooklyn and of course now the Los Angeles Dodgers. Koufax is getting up there in age two and when that time comes there's gonna be a big run on his autographs. So do yourself a favor, pick up something that's good quality right now with great authentication. There is some MLB authentication stuff out there for you so if you see some of that stuff I would definitely be picking that up because I don't believe Koufax is going to be doing any future signings with MLB authentication. Not that I know of.

Also on this list, this one is a no-brainer, more expensive of an autograph here, but Jackie Robinson. Obviously just an icon in baseball and of course in American culture. If you're a baseball or really just a sports nut, Robinson is one of those guys that rather you like baseball or not that's an autograph that you got to kind of have in your collection. You got to have Robinson. I mean I really don't need to explain anything to you about Jackie Robinson, but he's a tough autograph of course. Tough autograph to find on really quality stuff, but he's guaranteed to be on every collector's list and I don't see Jackie Robinson ever going down in value by any stretch of the imagination.

Babe Ruth is on this list. Another guy that I really don't need to go into any reasoning for. Very expensive though so don't go to Starbucks for like 10 years in the morning, save that money, and then buy a Babe Ruth autographed baseball. Another guy that's just not going down in value. His teammates are also on this list here.

You got Lou Gehrig, he's not going down in value at all. I mean Lou Gehrig is again another guy that's got this kind of mystique about him with Lou Gehrig's disease and then of course the consecutive games play streak. Again another expensive autograph but do you really think any of these Yankee guys are going down in value? No, absolutely not.

Joe Dimaggio, of course he'll always have ties to Marilyn Monroe. He's a Yankee for life. The hit streak as well. You just really can't go wrong with any of these guys.

So now let's move on to some of the undervalued guys, and these are some of the guys that I would probably start off with if I was just getting involved in collecting and didn't maybe have a ton of cash that I wanted to spend, and was kind of maybe looking for some undervalue guys to kind of start off with.

Number one on this list here for me is Ken Griffey Jr. and he's recently done a couple different signings which have of course sold very well. Again there is mystique around the kid. As kids we love the kid so Griffey is a guy I personally think is still undervalued. You got a couple hundred dollars for an autographed baseball. You can get ones with inscriptions for I think still under $400 or so. Jerseys are $700. I mean I just don't see Griffey doing the amount of signings that he's doing right now forever. I can see him doing one, two, or maybe three now, but then going five or ten years in between signings. As you’re not getting him in person, he's not picking up a pen, he does not like to sign. I still think he's extremely undervalued.

Another guy, Fernando Tatis Jr. This is more into the speculation side of the baseball autographs but if you've watched baseball, what kind of talent this guy is, I don't have to explain that to you and I still think he's very undervalued. You can pick up autographed baseballs in the $100 - $150 range right now and I think, I really think, he's going to be taking off here as he potentially gets maybe an MVP or two under his belt, and then you're going to start seeing that pricing going up.

Ted Williams, I mean talk about another guy. Hit 406 one year and his autographed baseballs right now are still like hovering right around the $300 range. $300 to $400 depending on the quality played for an iconic franchise in the Boston Red Sox and is there any argument that he's not a top 10 baseball player of all time? Of course he was a pilot too, so he's also got that going for him. For that kind of mystique around him as far as off the field baseball stuff, I don't know about you, but let me know in the comments below, do you think Ted Williams is undervalued at a $300 to $400 autographed baseball? I do.

The last one on this list is Hank Aaron. Another guy that's getting up there in age. I've seen autographed photos, JSA authenticated of his 715th home run. They were selling framed, I want to say for $130. You can find autographed baseballs for about $150 at his recent signings. I'm really surprised he did a signing recently here in 2020 or 2019. I'm just shocked. So that's really undervalued for a guy who's the home run leader and also has an iconic play in the 715 and also 755. He is the homerun king for most people. I would assume yes Barry Bonds technically owns the record, but I think most people consider Hank Aaron to be that hall of famer. I mean can you really go wrong? Don't you think that's undervalued at $150 autographed baseball? When Hank Aaron passes, what's going to happen to that stuff?

So last thing here guys to stay away from, I know a lot of us like those steroid era guys, Sami Sosa or McGwire. I personally would stay away from all of them. The one guy I would consider at some point is Barry Bonds. He's really the only one I would consider with the caveat that he's got to get in the hall of fame. If he doesn't get in the hall of fame, I don't really see his prices going up at all, but if he does he's going to be a big one. Autographed bats I think were under $300. Autographed baseballs you can find really cheap too especially old-school ones like with the BBS signature on there. So stay away from the steroids guys, but Bonds you may make some money on that one if he gets in the hall of fame.

1 Response

Dave Nay
Dave Nay

September 01, 2023

I enjoy reading your articles and think you do a great job with your business. This article was ok but I felt you could have got into players that aren’t necessarily in the “no-duh” category. You mentioned Sandy Koufax who had 4 no hitters but never touched on Nolan who had 7. Other then his brawl but what about his strikeouts in a season as well. It would be nice to hear about players 10-20 years down the road; Cal Ripken Jr, George Brett (pin Tar and top 25 all time. What about futures like Kershaw and others still playing. I don’t feel like you are wrong on any of the guys you mentioned but getting into second, third, and long shots would make for an interesting reading. Rookies as well as that is such big news these days. It think you touched on the risk which I agree with but maybe name a handful out of those that are good bets. Not meant to be negative but I think the audience you just covered are the people that just woke up on third and realized they hit a triple or are VERY new to baseball and not likely buying much in the way of collectibles. Thanks for listening…

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