The Most Undervalued Baseball AUTOGRAPH Since Babe Ruth? - Buy While You Still Can
July 15, 20226 min read
Moreso recently, I've been really talking a lot about players who you should really be considering to have in your collection. Some of those players are still active, but also a lot of them are not as active in the sporting scene anymore due to age or what have you, such as Willie Mays and Bill Russell, but that doesn't mean they aren't valuable. In fact, I would say a lot of these players that you don't hear about as often, are really undervalued because they are legends and icons within the sports industry, and their items are only going to become more and more rare as time goes on. And so today we are going to continue this trend of talking about undervalued players. I'm going to be talking more about a specific athlete today and:
why he is undervalued
what items you should be looking to pickup from him
what authentication information you should probably know about when looking to pickup his items
So the guy we are going to discuss today is definitely well known by a lot of people, but also hasn't been in the scene for a while because his career ended early due to arm troubles. He is a bit of a legend in the baseball industry and is looked up to by a lot of people. He won 4 World Series, was a league MVP, 3x Cy Young award winner, pitched a perfect game, threw 4 no-hitters, and lastly he was inducted in the baseball Hall of Fame at the age of 36. This guy is just astounding. It's Sandy Koufax.
Now, before we jump into this topic a bit more, I just want to throw up my typical disclaimer here. You should only take what I say as an opinion. I can be wrong about things or you might disagree with my views. You don't and shouldn't make any financial decisions just because of what I say. Make sure you are always looking out for yourself when looking to collect new items and do what is best for you and your collection.
Moving on, I was actually surprised to see that Koufax actually signed as recently as this year, 2022. That's actually pretty impressive considering the guy is 86 years old now. A lot of retired athletes are doing things like that at 86. I don't know if he does signings during the Spring training sessions though, so if you know, feel free to leave a comment and let me know. I think that would be pretty interesting if he still was doing that.
So, why is he undervalued?
Well, as some of you will know, he is a bit of a cultural icon. It could be argued that he is the most famous Jewish athlete of all time. Of course, there are other great Jewish athletes, but I think Koufax probably comes the mind more often for most people. He purposely sat out Game 1 of the 1965 World Series so he could observe Yom Kippur. If you don't know, Yom Kippur is one of the most important Jewish holidays, and so I think a lot of people really respected him for taking that time for his own beliefs, and so when you are looked at so highly like that, you know you should really probably be on everyone's collecting bucket list.
His career did end early though due to arm troubles, and this is probably where some of the undervalued mentality comes from because he just couldn't be in the game as long as other people. I obviously can't blame the guy though. I remember my elbow feeling like it was constantly on fire during my college baseball career, so I wouldn't be playing professionally either if I had to deal with that kind of constant pain.
So, in 1972, at the age of 36, Sandy Koufax became the younger player to ever be added to the baseball Hall of Fame. That's both impressive, and also another obvious example of how his career got cut so short. Koufax played for the Dodgers, more specifically the Dodgers when they were in Brooklyn, which a lot of people growing up from the 40s to the 60s will have huge memories of. So not only is he iconic on his own, but he played for a very iconic brand during an iconic time. Obviously, he is just a guy we should probably be paying attention to in the memorabilia industry then.
Like I said earlier though, he is 86, so you can't really be expecting him to sign for much longer at this rate. He's definitely not sitting down and signing 2,000 or 3,000 pieces at a time now. I have seen some pretty nice pieces out there recently too. That's the thing about Koufax. He just has a really solid and legible autograph. You know exactly who's it is when you see it and it's got some nice flair to it as well.
So, if I've convinced you to collect some Sandy Koufax pieces, what items should you look for?
Well one of the easiest go-to pieces for any baseball player is of course an autographed baseball. Especially with these older players, an autographed baseball can be pretty awesome to have, and it's even better if it's a ball from that period of time. So not the current league branded baseballs, but the old ones from the times they were playing. Of course, there isn't really anything wrong with getting a newer balled signed by Koufax, but those old ones really hold a lot of value and connection to when he was actually playing. Also, if you can get an inscription along with the autograph, that's a big plus as well. Really, any item with a Koufax inscription is always going to have great value, such as the HOF 72 inscription or something like that.
I saw recently those are going for around $2,000. Yeah, that's definitely expensive, but it's not too bad when you see some of the Willie Mays balls going for $3,000+ easily, and all he does is right "HOF" on those. So in some ways, you get a little bit more for a little bit less with Koufax.
Mitchel & Ness also make some great jerseys from Koufax's time. Generally Sandy Koufax will sign those right on the front, just below the number. Those are available in either white or grey jerseys, so you can go with whatever you like, but I personally always like the white jerseys. I think the autograph just pops on those more which is really cool. Pricewise, they aren't too bad either at around $2,400, which I think is a fair enough price for a guy like Koufax. Again, just make sure they are officially licensed jerseys. Watch out for any kinds of cheap knock-off jerseys out there.
It can also be worth looking at photos to have autographed in inscribed. Now for me, and I've talked about this a lot, I don't really go for the whole photo thing like some collectors do. It's just not really my thing, unless it's from a very historic moment in sports history or something like that.
With Koufax you can find some cool images from his no-hitter games, or there's another cool one of him holding 4 baseballs which I really like too. For a 16X20 they run around $1,000. So if you're into photos, then those can be some options to go looking for.
Last, but not least by any means, authentication.
I harp on this a lot in my videos. Authentication is so important. This is where you really get the value from. Having somebody that people trust put their seal of approval on an autograph and/or sports items is what gives people the confidence to spend these huge amounts of money on an item for their collection, so you have got to make sure you have the right authentication when looking at purchasing items.
The big three, and I pretty much always talk about these guys for authentication is JSA, PSA, and Beckett. Those are what you are going to see a lot of for authentication, and they are definitely trustworthy. Now keep in mind, in a lot of cases with these guys, the authentication is an "opinion" certification. It's JSA or PSA or whoever, comparing your autograph with a known legit autograph, and saying if they do or do not believe what you have to be real. Again, with these bigger guys that is still often okay because they really know what they're talking about, but just keep that in mind. Unless the autograph was visually witnessed at a signing by an authentication group JSA, PSA, Becket, Fanatics, or someone else, then it's only an opinion certification.
Other names to look for are again Fanatics, of course, but also the MLB Authenticated sticker, MLB has a great authentication program in the industry, and also Upper Deck is a good one as well when it comes to Koufax.
So that's everything I have to say about Sandy Koufax. Again, he is just such an inspiring baseball icon, really loved by a lot of people, but also someone who I don't think is given enough attention in the sports memorabilia industry, but really probably should be. So definitely check him out some more if you're interested, and again, just do what's right for you and your collection. You know yourself best, I'm just here to kind of keep the gears turning and giving you places to look at.
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