Hobby Musings: Could World Series Cause a Shift in the Hobby – With the World Series set to begin, interest in the sports world and hobby is running high because of the match-up between the Indians and Cubs. With story-lines and star power aplenty, I’ve been wondering how a victory, for either team, could affect the hobby market for the player’s cards and memorabilia of the winning team. To find out more, I had the chance to catch up Sports Collectors Daily founder and editor Rich Mueller. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: In your experience, how much does a World Series tend to affect card and memorabilia values of the players involved in it?
RM: I think players who stand out in the World Series, especially one that generates a lot of interest for one reason or another, can see a spike. Part of that, though, comes from casual collectors or even fans who get caught up in the buzz and want to buy cards to have a tangible connection to a moment they’ll remember. What a player does over time is still the main factor in the true value of a player’s cards and autographs. If Kris Bryant winds up as MVP, it’ll just add to an already strong market. For a while, there was more interest in the Kansas City Royals after what happened there but it has to sustain over the long haul.
KS: Given that we have such a high-interest between two teams in the Cubs and Indians that haven’t won in a long time, what kind of market shift have you been seeing for the players on both teams?
RM: With the Cubs, I think it feels almost like a destiny. They were favorites pretty much from the first day of the regular season so I’m not sure how much added interest there has been so far. Cleveland has a more veteran-oriented roster and it seems like with a couple of exceptions, interest is pretty regional in nature.
KS: Which player on the Indians do you think has received the most heightened interest this postseason?
RM: I think Francisco Lindor is really breaking out. He hasn’t been a secret to prospectors or dedicated fans and collectors but seeing him in prime time for a few weeks has done wonders for his national appeal. Andrew Miller is getting a lot of attention, too, and rightfully so.
KS: On the flip side, which player on the Cubs has received the most heightened interest this postseason?
RM: Javier Baez is kind of the Cubs’ answer to Lindor. This is a guy who was striking out a lot, didn’t really have a position and seemed like a bit of a disappointment back in the spring but he’s really become an exciting player with a knack for making big plays with his bat and his glove. He’s still fairly young so I think collectors and dealers are keeping a close eye on whether he can become a star with long-term appeal.
KS: If you had to guess, which player do you think could see the biggest spike in value pending a good performance in the World Series?
RM: Kyle Hendricks was lights out this year and so dominant in the NLCS clinching game that so many will remember for a long time. He’s kind of flown under the radar until now but if he has a couple of great starts and the Cubs win, I think he’ll be extremely popular.
KS: Looking at the skippers, both are fairly well-known and popular in Joe Maddon and Terry Francona. While we don’t often look at collectibles for managers, what has the demand for their items been like?
RM: Maddon would obviously be a legend in Chicago if he can finish the job and do something that hasn’t been done since 1908. He’s a rock star among managers already and winning it would put him on a different level. Francona is one of those guys who has become far more well known and successful as a manager than he was as a big league player. It’s funny how some guys like Whitey Herzog and Sparky Anderson have fairly valuable rookie cards not for what they did as players but for their Hall of Fame managerial careers. There’s more interest now in Bruce Bochy’s 1979 Topps rookie card because of what he’s done as a manager. Maybe someday Francona’s 1982 rookie cards will be something more than commons.
KS: There’s also Theo Epstein. Executives don’t often generate interest among, but he’s always proven to be a favorite among collectors, even having his own trading card. Given his role with Boston’s title in 2004, how do you think a World Series win affiliated with the Cubs would affect his market?
RM: I don’t know. I see non-field personnel as not having a lot of collector value. I suppose if the Cubs win, there might be added interest since he was the guy who put it all together but I doubt there’d be a huge rush. I think there might be a market for Cubs team signed items with his signature as part of the group because of the circumstances.
KS: I’ll get you out of here on this. While the Indians have a strong fan base, it may be fair to say the Cubs have a bit more of a national fan base/rooting interest. If they can pull it off and win their first World Series in over 100 years, how do you expect the market to respond to their card and memorabilia markets?
RM: If you run a shop or are a show dealer in either Cleveland or northern Illinois right now, you should have no trouble making money if you know anything about marketing. Cleveland has LeBron and the Cavs, too, which means there has been months of non-stop excitement. I suspect demand for sports collectibles has never been higher there. If the Cubs win, sales of cards, autographs and everything else associated with this team might be bigger than anything we’ve ever seen, partly because of the national fan base and the historic nature of it. The thing is that the core of the roster is young enough that even if they don’t win, interest will be incredibly high for a long time if they can keep them together. The negative side is that prices will most likely keep going up, which might keep a lot of really dedicated collectors and fans on the sideline.
Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
Hobby Musings: Could World Series Cause a Shift in the Hobby
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