Online Auctioneer: Collectors drawn to political baseballs, Babe Ruth and Pete Rose

By Larry Canale

STUMP SPEECH 

Have you had your fill of political campaigning? Or will you be sorry to see the process end?

Whether you’ve found entertainment and enjoyment or stress and anxiety out of the long presidential election grind, you probably wouldn’t mind having a baseball autographed by the next U.S. Commander-in-Chief.

To that end, we scoped out the oa-hillary_450-jsa-psp_fwofferings and found that baseballs signed by Hillary Clinton, while not in great supply, nevertheless can be had. Several authenticated examples recently changed hands on eBay at prices between $150 (a number of balls signed in Sharpie—not ideal—sold around that level) and $500 (signed in ballpoint). She often signs “Hillary Rodham Clinton,” which extends well outside the sweet spot on both sides.

As for Donald Trump, selling prices of signed and authenticated baseballs fill a much wider range, from a low of $30 to a high of $600, with a heavy concentration in the $50 to $150 range. As with Hillary, Trump listings include a number of balls signed in thick Sharpie.

We won’t engage you in a political oa-trump_sig_300-globalauth_fwdiscussion, but in the area of handwriting legibility, Clinton is the winner: Her sig is precise, clean and readable. Trump’s is bold and distinctive but illegible. In other words, you can’t make out any of the letters he scrawls in a heavily vertical style, but you sure know it’s his.

Now… when election day arrives in your state, get out and vote!

BAMBINO INK

Talk about a perfect pull! Check out this beauty: a Babe Ruth cut signature embedded into a 2016 Panini Diamond Cuts card. The 1-of-1 card appeared in an eBay listing in early October and went on to draw 30 bids, ultimately selling for $7,100. The sig itself is bold and clean, an instantly recognizable and iconic piece of baseball culture.

oa-babe_ruth_panini-sig_fwOf course, the 2016 Panini Diamond Cuts card isn’t the first time a Ruth cut signature has been fashioned into an insert card. Several others showed up on eBay and were still available at press time. Among them:

• A 2001 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Signatures card with a (perhaps optimistic) Buy It Now price of $95,000. The Ruth signature here was cut from an actual baseball.   

• A 2001 UD Legendary Cuts autographed card offered at $14,000.

• A 1999 Upper Deck Legendary Cuts card with a price tag of  $18,000.

ROSE OF THE REDS

Pete Rose’s ongoing attempts to earn his place in baseball’s hallowed Hall of Fame continue to get batted down. But collectors aren’t cold-shouldering our national pastime’s all-time leading hitter. Not only has his rookie card been drawing surprisingly oa-pete_rose-1969_topps_fwbig prices (one that had been graded PSA 10 brought a stunning $150,000 in an eBay sale in August 2016), but later Rose issues have been enjoying a rising demand too.

One beautiful example of an underrated Rose is a PSA-10 specimen of his colorful 1969 Topps card. Offered in October, it fetched $14,514 on 31 bids. At the time the card was originally issued, “Charlie Hustle” was a six-year veteran and had collected a mere 1,109 hits. He would play for 18 more years and finish with that magic all-time hits record of 4,256.

FAR OUT!

Anyone who has collected Topps’ groovy, colorful, psychedelic-looking 1972 baseball set knows that off-center cards seemed to be the rule rather than the exception. So it wasn’t surprising to see a big-dollar figure—$15,999—paid on eBay for a PSA 10 Gem-Mint specimen of Carlton Fisk’s first card.

oa-carlton_fisk-1972_topps_fwFisk appeared with two other players on his Topps 1972 Red Sox Rookie Stars card. One of them was Mike Garman, a pitcher who played nine years and posted a 22-17 record. The other was Cecil Cooper, a lefty hitter who played 17 seasons and batted a robust .298 with 241 homers and 1,125 RBI. As for Fisk, the 11-time All Star’s distinguished career encompassed 24 seasons and featured 376 homers, 1,330 RBI, a .269 average and induction into the Hall of Fame.

INDIAN ACE

Cleveland Indians stopper Corey Kluber—winner of the AL’s 2015 Cy Young Award—scuffled out of the gate in 2016, compiling a 4-6 record and an ERA north of 4.00 in April and May. But when the weather warmed up, so did Kluber. He finished the 2016 campaign with an 18-9 record, 3.14 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 215 innings. He didn’t miss a beat once the playoffs began, winning two of three starts against the Red Sox and Blue Jays.

Collectors haven’t quite caught up with Kluber, so related cards and memorabilia can be had at friendly prices. Autographed (and authenticated) baseballs, for example, go for $50 to $100, and signed photographs typically can be had for $15 to $50. Signed Kluber cards issued by trading card manufacturers have recently sold for just $5 to $10.

BIG-TIME BRYCE

oa-bryce_harper_chrome_fwThe likely suspects filled up our Top 10 Chart this time out: You’ll see a preponderance of 1950s gems featuring the likes of Mantle, Mays, Aaron and Clemente. Just outside the Top 10, though, was a card featuring one of today’s most productive sluggers, Bryce Harper. A 2011 autographed Bowman Chrome Refractor jersey card of the Washington Nationals star brought $25,000 in an October sale. The card is numbered 34 out of 500.

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