You might groan when you realize this column is about yet another court case regarding sports memorabilia. But this is a little different.
This court case has nothing to do with card manufacturers suing each other or any member of the hobby running afoul of the law. This is more about a frustrated collector and, in my opinion, a case that is either frivolous or opens a door so wide to more court action that you’re going to see more court TV shows on daytime television.
Let’s get to the details.
I received an e-mail the other day letting me know of a scheduled court date in Ohio on Sept. 10 involving Aaron Cookson, an assistant principal, and pitcher Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez. Those who closely follow baseball are aware that Carmona was busted before the start of the 2012 season for falsifying his name and birth date, which came to light when he applied for a visa to return to the U.S. to pitch. Hernandez, which turns out to be his real name, has recently returned to the mound for the Cleveland Indians in limited action.
So why is Hernandez being summoned to court? The Ohio collector is seeking a return on his investment of Hernandez’s rookie cards, which have taken a hit with these new-found developments. Cookson has 323 rookie cards of Carmona/Hernandez, mostly autographed cards with a lot of high-end and high grade examples. Cookson estimated he has more than $5,000 invested in the pitcher’s cards and is seeking the maximum allowed by Ohio’s small claims court – $3,000.
Cookson said he has been asked to move the case to the Judge Mathis Show on TV, but Carmona and his representatives would have to agree as well.
Cookson firmly believes collectors should be entitled to retribution from any athlete who knowingly lies, and he expects to get something out of this case.
“I would expect a decision in my favor,” he said. “Carmona/Hernandez lied about his age and identity. He was arrested, not allowed to re-enter the U.S. for months, suspended by MLB and had his contract restructured by the Indians as part of his age/identity fraud.
“As you know, the age of an athlete plays an important factor in his/her on-field performance and how collectable investors/collectors view their cards or memorabilia. I spent a lot of time and money collecting and investing in a guy that I thought was three years younger than he really was. I believe I was defrauded.”
Carmona broke into the big leagues in 2006, and had a big year in 2007, compiling a 19-8 record with a 3.06 ERA that left everyone impressed. The thing is, people have been waiting for the same results ever since. His best year since then was in 2010, when he went 13-14 with a 3.77 ERA.
So, thinking about this logically, his rookie card values should have diminished dramatically based solely on his results on the mound, regardless of what he did off the field.
But why stop there? What about collectors who invested in Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa? Their suspected use of performance-enhancing drugs has left these players’ rookie cards at rock bottom levels.
And what about players affecting fantasy leagues? If I invest heavily in a fantasy football league and a running back gets busted, am I entitled to money back? I look forward to others’ thoughts