Taking My Hacks

The HOF Hobby Blessing

Joe Orlando

This year, Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven will be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York alongside other baseball legends. They both had long, productive careers and, while it took one man a little longer to receive recognition than the other, what matters now is that they are both immortalized forever.

Alomar, with his lethal bat and terrific glove, and Blyleven, with his wicked curveball and durability, have now reached the ultimate individual goal that a baseball player can dream of. They both earned this distinction through hard work and performance on the field. That said, what both of these men may not know is how their achievement will also impact the collectibles that bear their name or likeness.

Hobbyists, by nature, are always looking for a theme to build their collection around. Some collectors focus on certain teams while others may focus on a particular career milestone such as 3,000 hits or 300 wins. There are endless themes to choose from and create but, of all the themes available, perhaps the one that is most natural is a theme built around Hall of Famers.

This isn't limited to baseball either. It is a popular theme for collectors of virtually every sport. The theme or checklist evolves, naturally, as more players are recognized over time and the HOF recognition is the kind of blessing that ensures that the people enshrined will, for lack of a better description, always be "worth" collecting to a large number of hobbyists. When an athlete becomes a Hall of Famer, they are - by definition - one of the best in the history of that sport.

That is also the designation that makes these athletes a necessity for so many collections. The collections, whether they are comprised of trading cards or autographs, will never be complete without them. Now, there have been some outstanding athletes who have never been enshrined but have remained exceedingly popular with collectors. Baseball stars like Gil Hodges, Joe Jackson, Roger Maris, Thurman Munson and Pete Rose remain popular for various reasons despite their absence from the hallowed hall.

The HOF may not technically be needed for players, like the ones just mentioned, to be desirable in the hobby but becoming a member of baseball's most prestigious club is a one-way ticket to the checklists of many collectors. No matter what team a collector follows or whether or not the collector ever saw the athlete play, once this occurs, memorabilia relating to the athlete becomes a must-have.

So, congratulations to this year's inductees. Not only do they permanently become part of baseball lore, they also become a permanent part of the hobby for generations to come. Over 100 years from now, people may not have personally witnessed these two stars shine but Blyleven and Alomar will be named on countless collector lists... and appreciation for their accomplishments will carry on through their collectibles.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief

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.