When I started collecting autographs in the late 1980s, if a baseball player was hired to sign autographs at a card show, you could frequently get a signature for $10… sometimes less. A star or Hall of Famer might cost $20 or $25. Larger shows would often have a free signer with paid admission.
I give JP’s Sports & Rock Solid Promotions credit for keeping the free signer tradition going for most of the shows that they run. At their White Plains show later this month, perfect game pitchers Tom Browning and Len Barker will sign for free on Saturday, Jan. 14th.
But some of the guests seem out of my league.
- Mets infielder Gavin Cecchini – lifetime MLB record: 2-for-6 with 2 doubles, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored – will cost $35 per autograph plus $10 per inscription. Good thing he signed something for me when he came through Trenton as a Bighamton Met a few years ago.
- Mets pitcher Stephen Matz, who’s biggest claim to fame to date is starting a World Series game for the losing team, will cost $69 plus $19 per inscription. Matz has signed a bunch of stuff for Topps, so if you’re just looking for a signed baseball card (like I collect), you have plenty of more affordable options.
- Mets backup catcher Rene Rivera‘s autograph will run $39, but at least you get one free inscription. Unfortunately, I do not have Rivera’s autograph… and at those rates, it’s going to have to stay that way.
I get it… inflation has made almost everything more expensive than it was when I was a kid. The rapidly climbing baseball salaries make this even more pronounced. When a ballplayer made a five- or low-six-figure salary, earning a little bit extra for spending a couple hours signing baseballs and photos was very attractive. Now that players are making high six-figure and seven-figure salaries, it’s harder for that “extra money” to seem important unless it’s a lot of “extra money.”
As long as the market will support the higher prices, promoters will continue to charge them. And if it doesn’t, odds are that players will just choose not to sign anymore. And that’s ok.
But if you’re wondering why I don’t keep track of current & former Mets players autograph show appearances like I used to… well, here’s your answer. The rising prices are keeping me away.
Does anyone else feel like they are getting priced out of the hobby?