Baseball is a sport full of excitement. Sports are running a bit different this year due to COVID-19, but that hasn't changed interest in baseball collectibles.
Starting a collection
When starting a collection, Jeff Figler, author of “Picker's Pocket Guide to Baseball Memorabilia” and “Collecting for Beginners,” recommends focusing on a particular area of interest.
"That might mean only collecting a specific type of baseball memorabilia, certain Hall of Fame players, focusing on varied items relating to a specific team, favorite player, a specific game or season, and now a hot collectible of recent because of their 100th anniversary — the African American heroes," he said.
According to Figler, collectibles related to African American ball players, such as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Jackie Robinson, are increasing in value and memorabilia.
Baseball cards are a great option for starting a collection. Many of us older folks started our collection by finding our first baseball cards in a box of Cracker Jack popcorn, a loaf of bread or a pack of bubble gum that included superstar players like Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle, to name a few, found at the local drug or corner store.
“Cards hit their peak of popularity in early 2000 when values were going sky-high, but they haven’t bounced back in value to those top levels," Figler said. "Cards are still available, and they make a great starting point for a baseball memorabilia collection. Nowadays, the autographed and game-used cards are the ones to have.”
Collecting autographed baseballs can run cheap to expensive, but it doesn’t have to be expensive if you want to add a vintage ball to your collection. I have told readers and those who attend my workshops to know the item(s) you want or are even selling. Buy from a reputable source willing to guarantee the signature is authentic if you’re going to invest a good sum of money in a signed ball.
Other baseball collectibles
What else is available beyond cards and baseballs? Bobblehead dolls, bats, pennants, posters, baseball gloves and mitts. There's something for collectors of all ages.
Finding collectible items
Cards are sold on the internet, at local hobby stores, such as Book Review in Rochester, auctions, garage and estate sales, sports card shows, flea markets, toy shows, thrift or consignment stores, and antique shops and antique malls.
Paul Larsen, of Mantorville Square: “We have the vintage Twins baseball caps $15, Twins pin backs $8.95, playing cards $12.95, framed Roger Maris photos $29.95, and a Mickey Mantle porcelain plate at $39.95.”
Brenda Jannsen, of Treasures Under Sugar Loaf Antique Mall in Winona: “We have various baseball merchandise, including framed sports posters that include Minnesota Twins, Kirby Puckett. We have bats that are full-size wood that are economically priced under $10 each. Sport jerseys, baseball cards are various brands from the '50s to current, and some are the several hard-to-find sport cards. Our baseball mitts are priced around $20-$25. We do have a new dealer at Treasures, who specializes in baseball and sports collectibles and has a wide range of baseball collectibles, including cards, autographed baseballs, jerseys, replica bats (mini promotional), game giveaways, Minnesota Twins scorecards, and all types of equipment. His baseball memorabilia also includes lots of items from the Twins, Brewers and Cubs.”
Neil Hunt, of A-Z Collectibles in Winona: “A few items, Twins Wheaties boxes from 1988 and 1992, glasses/mugs. Some pin back pins made by WinCraft, Winona, and a pennant or two still here from the playoffs.”
Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at email@example.com.