I have a Derek Jeter autographed baseball. How much is it worth? We hear this question all the time. Everybody wants to know how much money they can get for their sports memorabilia. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple to determine.
The short answer is, and the answer that many sports memorabilia dealers tell their customers, is that your sports memorabilia is worth what someone is willing to pay you for it! Although this answer is simple enough, there is a way to determine the value of an item. It may not be what we can sell the item for, but we certainly can find out what similar items have sold for.
Let’s take the Derek Jeter autograph baseball as an example. We are at Yankee Stadium and Jeter is signing autographs on the rail before the game. We toss him a ball, and low and behold, he signs it. It’s our lucky day! We happened to be in the right place at the right time. We now own Derek Jeter autograph baseball.
What’s it worth?
When we get home from the game, the first thing we do is check the internet to see if we can find a value for our new prized possession. We go to our favorite search engine, type in “Derek Jeter autograph baseball” and, needless to say, we get the phone book. There are literally thousands of sites that have this.
We do some more searching and click on to Steiner Sports. Now Steiner is one of the largest memorabilia companies around, are based in New York, and do exclusive signings with Derek Jeter. They sell Derek Jeter autographed baseballs for $500 each. Does that mean my ball worth $500?
Next stop, a sports memorabilia store that sell Jeter autographed baseballs for $399. In fact, this company is a Steiner authorized distributor, the ball is authenticated by Steiner, and is the exact same item that Steiner sells for more. So is my ball worth $399?
Not so fast, lets move on.
On to ebay. Here we find a very wide range of Derek Jeter autographed baseballs from many different types of sellers. Some have COA’s from Steiner, some from PSA/DNA, some from Joe’s Baseball Card Emporium, and some that have no COA’s at all. Selling prices are all over the board, from as low $50 in some cases, to over $900 in others. We don’t even know if half of these are real.
At this point we are totally confused. How can there be such a price difference for the same Derek Jeter autographed baseball? Well the answer my friends, is that they are not all the same! There are many factors that determine the value of similar items. Two of the most important factors are condition of the item and authenticity.
When you pay top dollar from a company like Steiner Sports for an autograph baseball, you get a brand new, snow white baseball, with a strong, smudge free Derek Jeter penned signature on the sweet spot. It is a top condition ball. If you pay less, you usually get less. A Derek Jeter autographed baseball signed on a dirty or soiled ball, or one that is signed on a side panel, or one where the autograph is fading, is certainly going to be worth much less.
The same is true about authenticity. If you are not sure that the ball has actually been hand signed by that player, it is worthless. Because of their reputation, a Derek Jeter autograph with a Steiner Sports COA is the best you can do. They witness every ball signed. You can’t beat that unless you see the player sign the item yourself, which is impractical in most cases. Other companies, such as Mounted Memories, Tri-Star, and UDA are reputable as well and their authenticity is not questioned in the industry. Reputation and integrity of the company or individual standing behind the product is more important than the product itself. That is why some people will pay top dollar for their items, because they know that it’s real.
So how does my ball compare with these. Well, it was a new ball before the game, but after Jeter signed it, he threw it back to me and I dropped it and it got a little dirty. Plus my friend got some mustard from his hot dog on it. Oh yea, Jeter signed it on the side panel with a sharpie, but I did witness it. Although who’s going to believe me if I want to sell it. But I still want to know what’s it worth?
The answer. It’s worth what someone is willing to pay for it!