Well, I know that sounded a bit direct but, now that PSA is going to be grading single signed balls, I had to ask. It's always exciting to launch a new service and, to be honest with you; this service is one of the most exciting services PSA has created in some time.

Now, of course, many of you know about our PSA/DNA Authentication service -- it's the premier autograph authentication service in the industry for both sports and non-sports signatures. Since we already have that service in place and PSA is known for its strong brand name in grading as well, we figured the time to combine our services was now.

I will tell you this, creating a guide and grading standards for this new project was certainly a challenge because there are a host of factors to consider when grading a signed ball. In addition, since we are going to be grading both the autograph and the ball itself, the standards had to be tailored to deal with the strength of the pen and the medium.

Here are just a few thoughts about the subject:

  1. Autographed balls are bought and sold with the element of grading already -- it just hasn't been done by a third party like PSA ever before. You can check any auction catalogue you want and what does it say? Lot 258 - This single signed American League baseball (excellent) was signed by Babe Ruth in bold fountain pen "8" on the side panel -- and so on. It's already happening but it's time for PSA to provide the unbiased opinion.

  2. The values of signed balls have been in great flux without the third party grading component. Do you remember how it used to be with cards before the advent of grading? I am sure you do. First of all, the card was graded by the seller. Second, since the grading was all over the place, so was the pricing. By creating a standard for signed balls, a better understanding of quality and a more stable pricing structure should both emerge as a result. Currently, when someone looks at a Mickey Mantle signed baseball, they may be asking themselves, "I think it's an "8" but I am not sure -- what should I pay?" With the help of an established standard, that dilemma should erode over time.

  3. People often collect autographs by theme so the PSA Set Registry should be a great fit. Just like with cards and tickets, a PSA Autograph Registry will be created in conjunction with this service. Again, collectors often assemble autographs by theme such as 500 Home Run Club, 3,000 Hit Club, 300 Win Club, Hall of Famers, MVPs, Rookies of the Year, Yankee Legends, etc. This should be fun to watch as the market grows.

When this piece was written, we were still working on the process, standards, etc. and we may still be now. PSA wants to be sure, as we are when we launch any other service, that we offer the highest quality service possible and that we do things right. That's the bottom line. As we get closer and closer to offering this service, officially, keep it in mind. Of all the collectibles in the autograph world, signed balls are the most popular by far. They are a symbol of collecting and provide wonderful conversation pieces.

Please keep an eye out for the details -- autographed ball grading is coming soon!

Joe Orlando has been an advanced collector of sportscards and memorabilia for over 30 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 sixteen 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 numerous radio and television programs as a hobby expert including ESPN's award-winning program Outside the Lines, HBO's Real Sports and the Fox Business Network, 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. Recently, Orlando helped put together a new hobby book entitled The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs, which was released in the summer of 2016.