View Full Version : Buyer Beware!

02-05-2006, 12:21 AM
I'm amazed at some of the auction prices paid for modern minor-stars, those who aren't serious candidates for the Hall of Fame. I have a feeling a lot of people are going to get skinned paying multiple thousands of dollars for future junk. Anything Yankees also seems to bring far more than what I'd consider a reasonable price point relative to the rest of the sporting world.

Kind of reminds me of the rookie card craze in the 1980's where any and all rookie cards were coveted. Now turn the clock forward 20 years and what still holds value and is sought after by collectors?

I'd say collect what you personally like and want to keep/display in your home, especially if you are going to be "financially buried" in new items of players with no legit chance of enshrinement in their respective HOF. Buyer beware!

02-05-2006, 09:39 AM
I understand what you mean. In fact I was just thinking about this recently as Joe Mauer is my favorite player. I know someone who just sold a uncracked Rookie year gamer of Mauer's (that shows lots of use) to a buddy of his and I am offering his buddy a high price (over $1,000) that I'd buy it for, because I want the bat really bad.

Now I just recently got a Mauer 2005 Uncracked gamer that shows plenty of use as well for just $325.00. And I started thinking, well, if he does become as great as say even one of the untouchables like Joe Sewell or Ty Cobb, then this bat would be worth just about as much as the 2004 gamer (as from what I seen, older bats don't affect the price too much, in fact I saw that the oldest dated Ty Cobb GU bat was priced less than a more current GU model).

I mean hell, it is from Mauer's first full season(2005). And to touch on points you bring up, who is to say that Mauer will make it to the HOF? I mean he is not far enough into his career to even speculate yet (Not like Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez) and he already has had a major knee injury to cloud his horizon. On the other hand, if his knee does not give him anymore trouble, if he does meet his true potential for hitting for average and power, if he continues to call a good game, then he will make it to the HOF.

So I would be taking a big risk in putting a lot of money into the bat. At least more than if I purchased Pujols and A-rod stuff. But that's what makes collecting fun too. You see players you like based on attributes and what not and you take risks in collecting them. I like Mauer because he is one of the few players these days that has great plate discipline. Anyways, I may still get that 2004 gamer if this guy's buddy agrees to my offer. But for now, I will just have to wait and see.

Let me know what you think and give me any advice if you can.

02-05-2006, 04:32 PM
All of this is assuming that people are buying these pieces as financial investments, rather than for personal enjoyment and simply paying whatever it takes to acquire the piece they want, regardless if it completely drops in value in the future or not.

Several months ago on Ebay, for example, a 1990 Jays Kelly Gruber jersey garnered many bids and eventually sold for slightly over $600. It didn't attract that much attention and sell for that amount because Kelly Gruber is an excellent investment. Kelly Gruber was a 'common player'. It sold for that amount because Gruber was one of the most popular fan-favorites of the late 80s/early 90's era Jays. I'm pretty sure whoever bought it was a big Jays fan, rather than an investor thinking that one of these days Kelly Gruber is going to skyrocket in value. For $600 that person now has a jersey of one of the biggest fan-favorites of their youth. Does it really matter that the market would say that the jersey isn't really worth $600? They most likely never intend on selling it anyway. They paid $600 for a rare, tangible link to the fondest memories of their youth, not for an investment. If you want to 'invest' $600, stick it in a mutual fund. You'll make a nice return, with little risk, and in a few years you'll probably have made more than you would've on a Mauer bat even if Mauer turns out to be a perennial All-Star. If you want to engage in a fun hobby, buy your favorite player and don't worry if completely loses it's monetary value.
Personally, whether my pieces drop in monetary value or not is completely irrelevant to me. I'm not a dealer. I don't have any financial stake tied to my pieces. My mortgage payments aren't riding on whether I can turn a profit on that '04 Pujols. I collect them because I enjoy the hobby itself. It's a sunk cost in return for the enjoyment it brings me. I imagine once I start treating these things as investments, I'll lose most of the enjoyment they bring. Besides, if you're looking at these things as financial investments, there are easier, more reliable, stable ways to make money. I'd hardly recommend this hobby for someone looking to grow their cash over the next 20 yrs.

Most of the high prices you're seeing on unproven rookies are born out of hype from dealers whose lives financially depend on this hobby and collectors who really want to believe they can get rich if they just find the next Barry Bonds. It's no different than the card shop owners of the 80's and 90's, selling Ben McDonald rookie cards for $20. Who cares how Ben turns out in 5 yrs, they have bills to pay today and a sea of collectors willing to pay in hopes of striking it rich. All they need to do is be made to believe that McDonald is the next Roger Clemens. Their financial livelihoods depend on riding the wave of hype from rookie to rookie. Yesterday it was Todd Van Poppel, today it's Joe Mauer. In 3 yrs, you're left with an 'investment' generating meager returns, and they're on to the next class of big rookies. They make huge returns at the outset purely from all the hype and speculation. They gotta pay the bills and it's tough to do in a hobby where the overall long-term investment potential isn't all that great.


02-05-2006, 08:22 PM
Rudy- Nice post. That's the way I look at it, as a hobby and the enjoyment it brings. (BTW, remember the hype for a Ben McDonald Desert Storm card from 1991?)

02-05-2006, 09:52 PM
Those who have stayed with this part of the hobby for the 20 or so years I've been involved with it are fans who love the game and love to collect. The ones who have dropped by the wayside are those who have had price guides rolled up and tucked under their arms at card shows. It's a great hobby but that's what it is -a hobby. And most hobbies cost money. Don't get me wrong. I look for the deal if I can get one but from now it's a deal that involves something I plan on keeping from a player or team I like.

02-05-2006, 10:14 PM
My hope is that if I had to sell off the collection tomorrow, I would come out even, or marginally upside down. I only buy stars from the teams, or from impeccable dealers. Lessens the chance of the big score, but also lessens the chance of the big burn...
And I never, never, never buy Yankee$ stuff. I loathe and detest the organization, and how it has hijacked the history of the sport, and their uniforms are ugly and out of date. Every time I see them, I get mental pictures of the draft riots of '64...1864!

02-05-2006, 10:53 PM
I also agree with collecting your team or players for personal fun. This all reminds me of the hype on the 86 donruss Canseco rookie. Now look at it.


02-06-2006, 01:25 AM
I agree. I mean I don't really want to lose money on it, but I collect it because it is my favorite player and it is a game used item which puts me closer to the game. And that's worth something to me.

02-06-2006, 09:23 AM
Buying sports memorabilia is no different than buying stocks or real estate. There are no guarantees in stocks or real estate so why should there be guarantees in sports memorabilia? Timing is everything.

02-06-2006, 02:17 PM
I like how Brian Borash put it.It get me closer to the game thats my feeling exactly about collecting game used items and to collect a favorite player or a player you like.Thanks Geoff