You often hear about collectors upgrading pieces in their sports memorabilia treasure trove. Many times that involves trading cards.
That doesn’t mean they are dumping their 1989 Upper Deck Baseball for 1959 Topps, it means they are taking cards they own, such as a 1960 Stan Musial and getting a different card that is in better condition. It’s a common practice and it usually comes into play as collectors age and have more discretionary income to pursue such items.
But does that also happen with autographs – be it signed baseballs or jerseys? As a youngster, do you buy that Mickey Mantle signed ball with a faded signature on an unofficial baseball just to get one in your possession and then later opt for a clean, sweet-spot signed version? Do you go even further and buy a third-party entombed version?
The reason I ask is because some of the signed jerseys I’ve seen recently would be excellent pieces of memorabilia even without the signature – and that’s without looking at the price tag.
I’ll admit I’m not on top of all of the fancy replica jerseys you can purchase these days. For instance, you can buy a 1966 Brooks Robinson Baltimore Orioles jersey from Mitchell & Ness as part of the company’s Cooperstown Collection. The jersey is gorgeous – throw some dirt on it and Brooks could have worn it himself. The price tag for the jersey is about $250. And then I see versions where it’s signed by Brooks or even signed by the members of the 1970 team, for instance.
That takes a some bit of financial commitment, and adding the signature may at times cost just about the same as the jersey.
So when you are starting out collecting autographs, do you graduate from mail-order photos to getting items signed in person? Do you go from cards to balls to bats to jerseys? Do you get a mass-market retail jersey and then move up to a Mitchell & Ness variety? The choices are endless, and manufacturers, dealers, etc., will no doubt offer as many choices as possible to grab a larger share of your wallet.
For me, I’d love to have the top-of-the-line of everything, but that’s just not going to happen. I’ll be content with my Robin Yount signature on a cool collage my wife created and will keep my generic jerseys and hopefully get them signed at some point. Upgrading will probably be kept to the carpet in my house.