Those making the trek to Cooperstown in July will have two more players to honor along with front office executive Pat Gillick, with the additions of infielder Roberto Alomar and pitcher Bert Blyleven to the 2011 class.
Neither is a surprise, as even Blyleven will tell you that the Hall finally got it right with his inclusion, and Alomar was a bona fide stud second baseman. However, neither is overly sexy when it comes to the sports collectibles hobby.
Blyleven played for Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, California and Texas, and while all have their own fine traditions, they are not the big cities of Boston, New York or Chicago and therefore lack a large, broad following. While many remember Blyleven as a Twin, he doesn’t have the continued longevity on the team as someone like fellow Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew or Rod Carew.
Roberto Alomar, too, jumped around in the major leagues, but in his prime with the Padres, Blue Jays, Orioles and Indians, you knew he was one of the best in the game, regardless of position.
The main black mark on his resume is an ugly spitting incident with umpire John Hirschbeck over a disputed third-strike call. They have since reconciled and both call each other a friend.
However, neither player sends fans into a frenzy to grab their memorabilia, even with the new accolades. There will be some increased demand that comes with the “HOF” designation as hall of fame collectors look to add to their collections, but to see what impact that has had on values, we have to dig into the secondary market.
With any significance news happening to a professional athlete, such as an induction to a hall of fame or death, there will immediately be a flood of new material on the secondary market. Even with a new-found supply – with the thinking of new-found demand – prices are often the highest immediately out of the gate (when looking over a short period of time, say six months to a year), much like when a hot rookie finally has a trading card hit the market.
That said, as of this writing a few days after the induction ceremony, a single-signed Alomar baseball could be had for $65 and a single-signed limited-edition bat (numbered to 100) would set you back about $100.
Alomar’s cards are all over the map, with highest examples selling for close to $200, such as a Topps Sterling MVP jumbo logo patch numbered 1/1. His 1988 Score Traded “glossy” cards can approach $50 if it falls in high grade as deemed by third-party authenticators (i.e. PSA 9 or higher). In 2006, Alomar’s 2001 Rawlings Gold Glove Award sold for more than $5,000 in a Sotheby’s/SCP auction. A 1993 game-used World Series bat brought $516 in 2006.
When it comes to Blyleven collectibles, you are going to pay a higher price for his cards, and a big reason for that is Blyleven’s rookie card dates to 1971, vs. 1988 for Alomar. Two different eras of collecting, indeed.
A PSA 8 1971 Topps Blyleven card is worth $350 according to the , while a PSA 9 can top $3,200. Lesser grades will cost significantly less.
Blyleven single-signed baseballs are available for less than $50, and signed photos and cards can be less expensive than a ticket to the movies.
When it comes to game-used material, a Blyleven 1976 Minnesota Twins jersey has sold for $4,200 at auction, and a signed, game-used glove has brought $1,025.
There will no doubt be some nice, signed, splashy collectibles featuring the two new Hall of Famers in the weeks and months ahead – that comes with the plaque – but when adding to your Hall of Fame collection, these two will be additions that go easy on the pocketbook.
So look for these two on the signing circuit in the months ahead, and if you head to Cooperstown, you’ll have plenty of options of which hat to wear to honor the newest inductees.