People from all walks of life have a passion for sports and their sports heroes. Throughout the years, sports have moved from a pastime to a serious business venture worth billions of dollars to the right people. Athletes now make more in a week than their counterparts made in a year, or a career fifty or one hundred years ago.
While the fans can only seem to appreciate these superstar athletes from a distance, sports memorabilia has become a serious enterprise for many people. Even these athletes who make endless sums of cash don’t seem to be immune to the decadent art of greed and will charge young children fifty dollars or more for their autograph and a baseball, or a baseball card.
There are items from past championship teams as well as some of the greatest players in the entire world of sports that sell for millions of dollars. A single baseball can sell for over a million dollars, if it’s authenticated to be the ball that actually was used at that time.
Baseball cards are the most common item thought about when talking about sports memorabilia, but it can include a number of other items.
The term sports memorabilia usually refers to anything that can be directly connected to a sports event or personality. These items are generally gathered by the fans of the particular sport, athlete or team that the item signifies or by collectors who find value in the rarity time-value of these collectibles. "Sports memorabilia" often refers to autographed sports items as well.
What is the Fascination?
Ask a dozen psychiatrists what the fascination is with sports memorabilia and you will likely encounter a dozen different answers. Some attribute it to youthful exuberance when these people were children. Others can categorize it as an obsession with something that they feel they can connect with on some level.
Others may describe it as simple lust for money.
Whatever the reason, sports memorabilia has become an enormous business for millions of people around the world. Becoming a professional athlete is considered so rare that only a fraction of all of the high school and college stars in their sport ever make it to that level.
Even fewer are ever able to become the best at what they do. In tennis, for example, Raphael Nadal recently become only the seventh player in history to win all four major tennis championships in his career. When you consider how many professional tennis players have come along through the years, that is a rare accomplishment. Even those who are considered some of the best players ever, such as John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, and Bjorn Borg didn’t manage that feat.
With that, someone who managed to collect a piece of that historic win for Nadal, whether it was a programme or a tennis ball or a signed bandana that he wore during that record tying win, will be worth a tremendous amount to certain sports memorabilia collectors.
Becoming involved in sports memorabilia collecting requires a passion that goes beyond simply enjoying watching a game. It delves into an aspect that some may consider intrusive to life, or obsessive, but for others, it is simply a way to live vicariously through their sports idols, to remember golden ages from the past, or to invest in the hope that the object that they came across will be worth a great deal of money someday.
Stepping Up to the Plate: Starting a Collection
Perhaps you’ve been a sports fan for a long time, but haven’t really collected many items from your athletic heroes or the teams that you love the most, but you want to start now. Or maybe you have been collecting for years, storing them in a box in a nice, safe, dry place and are thinking that it’s time to get organized with your treasures.
Either way, it’s never to late to get started in a sports memorabilia collecting life.
One of the most important first steps that you need to do is to educate yourself on the value of different items. Some cards, though they may look old, will not hold their value too well. Others will register off the charts.
It’s a lot like stamp or coin collecting in that condition and printing make a significant difference. There are many books printed and updated annually that will list the most popular and common items, from uniforms to trading cards to programs and ticket stubs. These books will list the demand for some of these rare items and the condition factor.
Perhaps you have a rookie Babe Ruth card in a box somewhere, but it’s not in the best shape. Maybe it has some creases or folds in it and the picture is slightly worn. Believe it or not, that card may still be worth a lot of money to the right collector.
If you’re looking to begin a collection but you don’t want to spend a lot of money on it, then think current sports. You can post ads through the Internet or in your local newspaper advertising what you’re looking for and that you’re not looking for priceless gems.
Someone may have gone to the playoffs last year and their ticket stub isn’t worth much to them. If it’s something you’d like to add to your new collection, then you can offer them a few dollars for it. Over time, you never know how much it could be worth.
Items of Interest
While many people tend to pay a great deal of attention to baseball cards, there are, of course, many other items that constitute sports memorabilia and these can all be separated into two types: modern and antique. From baseball gloves or part of a uniform worn or used by Babe Ruth to the baseball that broke the all-time home run record hit by Barry Bonds, from the cleats worn by Emmitt Smith to the jersey of Mean Joe Green, there are countless sports memorabilia items throughout the world and basically what it all comes down to is price and availability.
Some sports stars make their wares available, for a nominal fee, on a regular basis. There are those athletes who donate their memorabilia for charity and, of course, those who sell it to line their own pockets.
Sports memorabilia doesn’t even have to be limited to the major professional sports, such as football, baseball, hockey, or basketball, but can cover any number of sports, including track and field, swimming, table tennis, golf, and anything else under the sun.
People consider sports memorabilia to be objects that were used or worn by world leaders and dignitaries when they played or participated in an activity. Even auto racing, such as the world of NASCAR, has an enormous fan base, as well as horse racing and other types of competition.
When you look around enough, you will find a host of items that are collectible, from Diecast figures to ‘Bobble’ head dolls, from posters and special sportswear, such as the Nike Air Jordans. When these items are in perfect condition and maintained well, some of them can be worth a great deal of money when enough time has passed.
Cataloguing and Displaying of Sports Memorabilia
One of the online encyclopedias mention that collecting sports memorabilia is based predominantly on sports that have a particular interest to the individual. It also mentions that sports memorabilia collecting is often done with a high level of organization, is catalogued well, and ultimately displayed attractively, for all visitors or guests to see.
When you begin your own sports memorabilia collection, you will want an efficient way to catalogue the items that you own. For starters, pick up a notebook or an accounting ledger. A notebook tends to be a more economical and efficient method for cataloguing, simply because of the fact that you can add many personal notes about each item in the description. You can add comments such as where you picked up the memorabilia item, how much you paid or whether you personally received it from an athlete, and any personal impressions, thoughts, or ideas about the item.
Computer spreadsheets and other programs can also be used for cataloguing items, and this is especially useful when your collection begins to grow beyond a few select items. By using a computer, you can organize these items by any number of parameters, including alphabetically, by team, sport, player, year, and a number of other factors.
When you’re ready to show off your sports memorabilia, whether you do this at home or in the office, you will want to make sure that the items are protected. The more valuable the item, of course, the more care you want to show it.
Using clear display boxes or product frames is one of the best ways to protect and display your sports memorabilia. Frame manufacturers make impressive looking displays that are ideal for just about any purpose, from showing off a team ball autographed by all the players of that particular year to a banner with your favorite team’s insignia on it.
How you display your sports memorabilia is almost as important as what kind of items you have. Make sure that you give them the respect they deserve and display them with loving care.
What to Focus On
While there are a dozen different professional sports to choose from, most people don’t have a passion for all of them. Some actually only prefer one or two. Maybe three or four.
When you’re looking to begin or build a sports memorabilia, whether it’s for prestige, display cases, or for long-term investment, focus on the sports that matter the most to you. If you’ve never been to a soccer game and couldn’t care less about the sport, then it’s not wise to try and collect items from this sport. If you happen to stumble upon something, like a programme from a championship game, then it could add something to your collection, but it’s best to simply focus on what interests you most.
When you start stepping outside of your interest level, then you can lost interest quite rapidly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there money to be made from sports memorabilia?
People can be fanatical about their sports, so yes, there is money that can be made from the right sports memorabilia. If you’re looking to get into collecting sports memorabilia for money, then you should make sure that the sports you concentrate on are those that you truly enjoy, otherwise you will lose interest in it quite quickly.
Where can I find some good items cheap?
Comic books stores or baseball trading shops are some locations that are ideal for finding items of interest for a reasonable price. The more rare an item is, the more expensive it will be.
Baseball Card Collecting
One of the most common sports memorabilia items is the baseball card. Kids from all walks of life can often recall the days of their youth when they were collecting baseball cards and trading them with their friends. Ripping open that pack of ten cards with the gum in it was a treat that many kids took for granted.
Sifting through the players one by one, usually flipping past most of them quickly, hoping for that one special card they still needed, elicited a level of excitement that few things in childhood could match.
A baseball card is a type of trading card relating to baseball, usually printed on some type of paper stock or card stock. A card will usually feature one or more baseball players or other baseball-related sports figures. Cards are most often found in the United States but are also common in countries such as Canada, Cuba, and Japan, where baseball is a popular sport and there are professional leagues.
Sports memorabilia have been around since the beginning of professional sports and while many of the items that could be worth money have been lost through the years, there are those who take collecting sports memorabilia very seriously. This is a hobby that can be started at any time and with just about any budget.
It’s important not to focus on the cost or the rarity of the item, but rather on the significance it has to you. Unless, of course, you plan on making money in the long-term, in which case sports memorabilia collecting would be so much a hobby, but a profession.
In any case, knowing what has value and what doesn’t is the important first steps to take before diving in head first and spending way more than you should have for a particular item.