Affordable Alternatives in 2009

Everywhere you turn, someone is talking about the economy. On television, on the radio and in social circles, it's the topic that refuses to die. It seems to have more lives than Michael Myers but, since it's real, it's even scarier than the horror film icon. It has also become the go-to excuse for anything that goes wrong.

During a softball tournament, after my teammate hit into a double-play to end an inning, he came back to the dugout and yelled, "Damn that recession!" We all had a nice laugh and then proceeded to tell him that a full grown man just hit that dribbler in the infield. Sometimes, the only way to deal with a tough situation is to inject some humor into it. This time, it worked...although it was probably assisted by the many pitchers of beer we consumed at Round Table Pizza that day.

We all know people who have lost their jobs, their homes and their sanity in these troubling times. Of course, this is no laughing matter. For collectors, some have been fortunate and have not had to curtail their spending but, for others, a more conservative approach may be in order this year. If you have that collecting gene, it's hard to simply stop altogether. You may not have to go with a cold turkey approach as long as you have some affordable alternatives available to you.

This is where expanding your horizons may be in order. Let's say you are collecting a run of PSA NM-MT 8 or better Mickey Mantle cards. Most of those cards are going to run at least $500 or more, with many of them priced at $1,000 and up. So, if you can't afford to add that 1953 Topps Mantle in PSA NM-MT 8 at $10,000-plus or that 1955 Bowman Mantle in the same grade at $1,800 or so, perhaps you should look at less pricey ways of building your Mantle shrine.

For example, you could add a beautiful autographed photo to your collection for about $200. You could also purchase a variety of ticket stubs from World Series and All-Star Games that Mantle participated in during his playing days for well under $200. In addition, you can collect magazines and programs that feature The Commerce Comet, many of which can be obtained for a fraction of the amount needed to add a high-grade card. These are just a few examples that come to mind but there's plenty to choose from if you just open your mind and consider new ways on continuing your endeavor.

If you are a collector of game-used equipment such as professional bats, gloves or jerseys, items that may cost well in excess of $1,000 each, you might consider vintage store model equipment as an alternative. You can pick up some very cool, pre-1950 era gloves for a couple of hundred dollars or less. Other alternatives might come in the form of old advertisements (ads that feature pro athletes endorsing a particular brand of equipment) or photographs (vintage or modern) that show the athlete using or wearing some of the tools of the trade. They can make for some nice companion pieces to your existing game-used collection.

The alternatives available to the collector are too numerous to list in this short column but, as you can see, there are plenty of creative ways to expand your existing collection without drifting too far away from the theme you have decided to focus on. This is extremely important as it would make little sense to add an autographed Duke Snider baseball to a collection of high-grade hockey cards. The Duke was great but he is better off in the company of sluggers, not skaters.

Never Get Cheated.


Joe Orlando has been an advanced collector of sportscards and memorabilia for over 25 years. Orlando attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California where he studied communications and was the starting catcher for the baseball team. After a brief stint in the minor leagues, Orlando obtained a Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School in Southern California in the spring of 1999. During the last fourteen years, Orlando has authored several collecting guides and dozens of articles for Collectors Universe, Inc. Orlando has also authored two books for Collectors Universe. Orlando's first book, The Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby, was released in the summer of 2002. His second book, Collecting Sports Legends, was released in the summer of 2008. Orlando has appeared on several radio and television programs as a hobby expert including ESPN's award-winning program Outside the Lines and HBO's Real Sports, as the featured guest. Currently, Orlando is the President of PSA and PSA/DNA, the largest trading card and sports memorabilia authentication services in the hobby. He is also Editor of the company's nationally distributed Sports Market Report, which under Orlando's direction has developed into a leading resource in the market. Orlando also contributed the foreword and last chapter to The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories, a 2010 release, and to The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players, a 2013 release.