Hobby Musings: Piece of the Game, Authenticated Masterpieces – One thing in common with every company that produces cards and memorabilia is their never-ending quest to bring something unique to their customers. Whether it’s a rare cut autograph or some insane piece of game-used memorabilia, everyone hopes to make something special. Piece of the Game has the chance to lay claim to doing that with their Authenticated Masterpieces Baseball line. Combining autographs, game-used material and artwork among other things, these aren’t your typical autographed baseballs. To find out more, I had the chance to catch up with company founder and owner David Prince. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: There have been plenty of products that feature autographed baseballs, but it’s fair to say yours is a bit more involved and unique than what’s already out there. What made you decide to create your Authenticated Masterpieces Baseball line?
DP: We saw some things that were done by other companies. We knew we could do something more detailed and better than the hobby has ever seen before. We wanted to create the ultimate collectible. Something that grabs your attention and brings you closer to the game than ever before.
KS: For fans or potential buyers who may not know, this isn’t your typical blind box collectible. What exactly do you receive in each box?
DP: Each single box will contain a random 1/1 MLB Authenticated game-used baseball from one of the super stars in our checklist. Everything from Singles, Doubles, Triples and HR. MLB Debuts and record breaking balls and events are inserted into this product. These baseballs are then given to Master Artist Monty Sheldon, who puts his world-renowned flair on each one with over 21 hours of detailed artwork. The ball is signed by the player it belongs to, and we give you what we call a Baseball Identity (Patent Pending) that you can look up in our database and see every last detail regarding your new Baseball Authenticated Masterpiece.
KS: This combines game-used baseballs with custom artwork and autographs. It can’t be an easy product to put together, seen in part by the limited release run. How were you able to go about acquiring the different game-used baseballs, matching player autographs and artwork for each item?
DP: It has been an overwhelming task. We have had an absolute blast tackling the challenge and doing whatever it took. We have spent the last 16 months on the phone every day trying to find the absolute best game-used baseballs we could. Working with MLB Authenticated departments and MLB team stores, game-used collectors, player agents, Major League Alumni Marketing Association, player reps, private signing companies like Steiner Sports and Fanatics. Monty Sheldon would then grab images of the player he was painting from the actual date the baseball was collected.
I can’t tell you how receptive owners of other collectible companies have been towards us and how they have helped us out and given us guidance like Onyx Authenticated’s Lance Fischer and Leaf’s Brian Gray. On top of that multiple vendors have shown tremendous support, including Scott Bates’ Nasty Breaks, Tom Fish at Blowout Cards, Rich Layton from Layton Sports Cards, David Reel at GTS Distribution, Sean Bennett of Steel City Collectibles, Big G at Platinum Breaks and David Gelfman of Ripping Wax. There are also so many great folks in the media who have done stories and write-ups about us and the product. I think it just shows how the hobby supports and is excited for something new. The really see the dedication and effort we put into this collection.
Hobby Musings: Piece of the Game, Authenticated Masterpieces
KS: How long did it take you overall to get the product created and ready for consumers?
DP: We are still working as we speak. Trying to make sure everything is the absolute best it can be and all complete. We knew eight months ago that it was impossible to rush this project. It’s just way too special. The concept was sketched out within a few days and the last 16 months has been a nonstop effort by many individuals on my team. Of course, Monty Sheldon is doing some of the heavy lifting with 150 painted works of art.
KS: Among the checklist, you have a Babe Ruth signed baseball. How did you go about acquiring that?
DP: The Babe Ruth was special. It’s the only ball in the entire product that could not be verified game-used because of the time period. The process started at last year’s National in Cleveland, OH. We wanted to make sure the ball we selected had iron-clad authentication by multiple authentication companies. On top of that, the ball we selected was run by two people that we consider experts on Babe Ruth. It’s the ultimate hidden prize in our product and you have a 1/150 chance of getting it. It’s a true work of art and masterpiece.
KS: The checklist reads like a who’s who of baseball stars and rookies. How did you decide on the subjects for the product and how many of these you were going to create?
DP: Funny you ask that. The list started at 10 players and we were like, we can’t leave this guy out! We did that nine more times and settled on 19 main players. We tried to pick guys that had the biggest fan base and were most influential to the game in the last 10 Years. We also have seven Rookies from 2018 and 15 dual player baseballs. I know we left so many good players out. Don’t worry, we plan on getting to them in the future!
KS: The artwork on these is beautiful. How did your artists decide which poses to use?
DP: Monty had the full creative on many of the baseballs. We bounced some ideas back and forth and worked very well together. He worked within the framework of the project, which was three portrait and three action of every player in the main set. Like we discussed earlier, where possible he tried to use images of the player from the day the ball was collected and authenticated.
KS: Even the boxes the baseballs come in are pretty cool. What more can you tell me about their design and features?
DP: My background is in packaging business and I really wanted the display box to be an incredible work of art on its own. We spent over 40 hours designing it. I knew from day one I wanted it to be made from real wood. The same maple and ash wood used to make Baseball Bats. Along with that we used LED lighting, UV protection covers and interior ball cases. We created a custom 3D knob that resembles a baseball. The wood on the bottom is laser engraved with our Piece of the Game logo. The display is incredible just like receiving a high-end watch. I think you’re going to love the packaging.
Hobby Musings: Piece of the Game, Authenticated Masterpieces
KS: Authentication is such a key part of any hobby collectible. What kind of verification does each ball have?
DP: Authentication, authentication, authentication. You could not have said it any better. It’s one of the most important aspects of our product. We wanted air tight authentication on every ball and signature we obtained. All balls are certified by MLB Authenticated, all our signatures are authenticated by one of the major third party authenticators like MLB, JSA, Beckett, PSA/DNA, Fanatics, Steiner and Onyx Authenticated.
As we stated earlier, we are Patent Pending on a process we call The Baseball Identity. This process is a way to incorporate everything about your item in one spot. Each ball has our security hologram, which you can pull up on our website. We give you details on your item to tell you its complete story. Fans and collectors have been waiting for authentication and information on this level. It’s just something nobody has done before. We give you every single detail about your ball. From the player’s career hit number to the temperature that day and umpire crew. We give you the complete box score. What did your player do that day? All the data you have been craving. Our research team has spent countless hours verifying and compiling all the data to create your Baseball Identity. We really feel this process is going to change the hobby going forward and will be the new standard in the industry.
KS: Looking ahead a little, what are your plans for future products? How do you go about topping this?
DP: We have already begun pre-production with Master Artist Jacob Burgess on the start of a future product. All we can tell you at this point is it has something to do with game-used MLB Authenticated lineup cards and masterpiece 1/1 artwork. We also plan to expand on the Baseball Authenticated Masterpieces and Piece of the Game brands. Stay tuned for some exciting new projects in our pipeline for 2020 and beyond.
KS: If a collector is interested in trying to purchase one, how can they do so?
DP: Baseball Authenticated Masterpieces can be found at major distributor GTS Distribution, online retailers and breakers such as Blowout Cards, Layton Sports Cards, Nasty Breaks and Ripping Wax. Collectors can also go to our website PieceoftheGame.net and purchase directly from us.
All the support has been great. We really listened to the collectors. We wanted to give them something new and something the collecting world has never seen before. Something that will grab you from across the room and pull you in. Then when you find out about the item’s history, it’s the icing on the cake. We hope you love these as much as we do. They make us smile every time we look at them, and I hope they bring you the same happiness.