TRISTAR Acquires The World’s Greatest Autographed Baseball Collection – When it comes to collecting and authenticating baseball autographs, there are very few people who possess the combination of knowledge, experience and expertise of Kevin Keating.
Keating began collecting baseball autographs in 1969 at the age of ten. With the exception of his time honorably serving our country, first at the United States Military Academy at West Point where he graduated in 1982 and then in the Army as an Airborne-Ranger qualified Infantry Officer (until 1988), Keating has been an avid autograph collector since that early age. Keating, the founder of Quality Autographs in 1992 (and his full-time business from 1999-2016), is widely recognized for his expertise in the autograph industry. In 2016, Keating left his own business to become a full-time authenticator for PSA/DNA, the leading authenticator of sports autographs, where he previously served as an autograph consultant since 2009 and now serves as their principal authenticator.
Keating also wrote an award winning screenplay and multiple baseball books, including the current Amazon best seller, Waiting for a Sign. Keating has appeared on many television and radio shows as a guest expert on baseball autographs and forgeries and has been frequently interviewed and quoted in print and online media. Keating has provided authentication and/or appraisal services for nationally-recognized auction companies and other private and government organizations, including the Washington Nationals baseball team, the White House, and many private collections. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) frequently consults with Keating on matters related to forgeries, and he served as a consultant and expert witness for the bureau during its well-publicized investigation, Operation Bullpen.
For many years as a young collector, TRISTAR founder and CEO Jeffrey Rosenberg admired Kevin Keating from afar both as a collector and as an industry leader for both his business ethics and acumen in the sports autograph world. When Rosenberg first met Keating, Rosenberg has said he knew he had met a kindred collecting spirit and someone with whom he felt an instant connection. The two immediately hit it off, swapping stories of their youth, when they each chased players to secure their autographs. Then, they started delving into deeper issues, including both the challenges and opportunities in the sports autograph business.
In 2018, Keating and Rosenberg began a discussion about the possibility of Keating parting with his beloved autographed baseball collection. Keating had spent more than 30 years putting his collection together, obtaining more than 95% of its contents directly from the signers. Rosenberg knew that the opportunity of a lifetime was a possibility, so a meeting was set up at Keating’s home office where Rosenberg and his team at TRISTAR could view the legendary collection.
Upon arrival, the TRISTAR team could not believe their eyes. Immaculately organized and positioned was the greatest collection of signed baseballs they had ever seen. From Mel Ott to Jimmie Foxx, Cy Young to Jackie Robinson, Thurman Munson to Honus Wagner, there were single-signed, multi-signed, inscriptions, vintage and modern baseballs; it was all there. After three full days of searching and cataloging, the TRISTAR team had only scratched the surface, but one thing was clear: the collection was coming to Houston. The only remaining piece was the negotiation.
When friends negotiate there is always potential for conflict, but in this case the biggest challenge seemed to be finding time in their busy schedules. It was important to Keating that his collection went to a place where it would be appreciated, and he knew that the mutual love he shared with Rosenberg made Rosenberg and his TRISTAR team the perfect home for his collection.
Rosenberg recognized that Keating had spent a lifetime building the collection piece by piece, so he understood the monetary value of such a collection, meticulously built over decades by an industry expert. And while a purchase of this magnitude would normally come with risks related to potential authenticity issues, Rosenberg knew that because the collection was Keating’s, he could be assured of the collection’s authenticity—down to the last ball.
After just a handful of discussions spanning several months owing the two’s busy schedules, Keating and Rosenberg struck a deal. Keating then rented a U-Haul truck and, together with the help of his close friend Hank Thomas (Walter Johnson’s Grandson), he personally drove the collection to Houston to find its new home.
Many would be surprised, even shocked, that Kevin Keating himself would actually personally drive across the country for three days from his home in Virginia to Houston to deliver his collection to TRISTAR. But, this is no ordinary individual. Keating is a perfectionist, and he did not trust a third-party common carrier that would not be able to differentiate a Jackie Robinson single-signed baseball from a blank baseball. Keating felt he had to do the job himself to ensure his collection’s safe arrival.
And after the 120 packed boxes of more than 12000 autographed baseballs were taken off the truck and loaded into the TRISTAR warehouse, Keating bid them farewell. The next day, other members of the PSA/DNA authentication team began a three-day process of authenticating the key components of the massive collection, absent Keating who had no part in PSA’s independent and formal authentication process.
Now, a small portion of the collection is finally available for collectors to add to their private collections, exactly as Keating had imagined. All of the high-value signed baseballs offered here are from The Kevin Keating Collection and have been authenticated by PSA/DNA or JSA, and in some cases both. The autographed balls that are not as high in value include TRISTAR Authentication, as well as a letter from Keating attesting to each ball’s origin as an authentic item from his personal collection.
Autographed baseballs currently available from The Kevin Keating Collection can be found on TRISTAR’s website. For those interested in learning about The Kevin Keating Collection autographed baseballs as they become available in the future, please sign up for the mailing list on the bottom of TRISTAR’S homepage.