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Diamond Dreams

In the World of Baseball Memorabilia, it is Best to Keep Your Eyes on the Ball
Ken Shouler
From the Print Edition:
Michael Richards, Sep/Oct 97

(continued from page 5)

In an odd way, the players who sign least, and those who refuse to sign at all, contribute to the forgery market more than those players who appear at many autograph shows. "If they don't sign, you get forgeries on the market," says Mark Jordan, of Mark Jordan Inc. in Arlington, Texas. "Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Kirby Puckett--there are many forgeries of them because there aren't legitimate channels to get their signatures. Unscrupulous people take advantage of the situation."

2. Buying single cards is preferable now to buying sets. "I like Gary Carter," says Oto, "even though nobody cares about Gary Carter today--but I have every Gary Carter card. It doesn't matter to me." This is preferable to having whole sets of cards from 1980 on. But even buying individual cards has its drawbacks. "Heroes fade," Oto notes. "I know a guy who bought 100 Will Clark rookie cards, another guy bought 100 Jose Canseco rookie cards. Today, you can't get rid of 'em." The value of their cards decreased as their performances declined. Ken Griffey Jr. cards and Cal Ripken cards are liable to keep their value.

3. Buy old. "Older stuff has had time to prove its value," says Oto, standing before a display of 1950s through 1970s cards in mint condition, including Eddie Mathews, Harmon Killebrew, Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax and Lou Brock. "Those were the times when people weren't really saving them; they were putting them in bicycle spokes. Those that survived, and survived in good shape, are valuable--it's a basic law of supply and demand. Today millions of cards are being printed and everyone is putting them away."

Cards collectors might also refer to two standard price guides--the Beckett Official Price Guide (Ballantine Books, 1997, $6.99) and the Consumer Guide Baseball Card Price Guide (Signet, 1997, $6.99).

Above all else, Oto says, "the hobby should stay a hobby." It's supposed to give you pleasure. --KS

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