The world's largest authentication and grading service will now document and certify all rookie autographs under these two new programs. Any autograph submitted to PSA/DNA at any time prior to the beginning of the athlete's second full season as a professional will qualify for this special service.
Since game-related balls, especially baseballs, are widely considered the most popular form of autograph collecting, PSA/DNA has decided to label these items in a unique fashion.
Any game-related ball, including baseballs, basketballs, footballs, golf balls and the like will fall under this service. The key rule is that the ball must relate to the sport that the signer is a part of.
For example, a football signed by an NFL quarterback prior to the start of his second full season would qualify as a RookieBall under this service.
On the other hand, a baseball signed by the rookie quarterback would not since he is a football player. In the event that the signer is a two-sport athlete, each respective sport or ball would qualify.
Any autographed item that is not a game-related ball would fall under this service including but not limited to items such as bats, helmets, photos, jerseys, etc. In addition, unlike the RookieBall service, the autograph here does not have to relate to the sport.
For example, a basketball rookie could sign a baseball and that baseball would qualify under this RookieGraph service.
General Requirement and Explanation
Any item that is autographed and received by PSA/DNA prior to the beginning of the athlete's second full season of play may be submitted under these services. There are, of course, rules that will apply to each sport as the rules in each sport vary.
Baseball, Basketball, Football and Hockey Rookie Autographs
Any autographed item by a rookie athlete must be received by PSA/DNA prior to his or her team's Opening Day/Night during the athlete's second full season. The key issue under this rule is the definition of "second full season." In each of these respective sports there are rules that pertain to and define this issue.
For example, in baseball, a position player must exceed at least 45 days of service on a major league roster and/or 130 official at-bats while a pitcher must exceed at least 50 innings-pitched in order for the rookie clock to start ticking. If a baseball player reaches those criteria, the following season, they are no longer considered a rookie.
It is fairly commonplace for a baseball player to be called up from the minors in late-September for a few games yet, the following season, that player is still considered a rookie. In fact, there have been many Rookie of the Year award winners who have experienced this, including the likes of Mark McGwire who played several games in 1986 but did not qualify as a rookie until 1987.
Keep in mind this important note: The autograph does not have to be signed during the actual rookie season. PSA/DNA's requirement is that the autograph be signed at any time prior to the second full season of play. What this means is that any autograph received by PSA/DNA within this time frame, even when the athlete is in the minor leagues or in college, will be acceptable.
Remember that players who, for example, play overseas and/or in other leagues are still considered a rookie under the rules. For example, Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees and Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners were still considered rookies during their first full year in MLB despite having years of experience in Japan.
Miscellaneous Rookie Autographs
When it comes to sports like boxing, golf, racing and tennis, a rookie athlete in those respective sports and others can be defined in a variety of ways. For the purposes of this PSA/DNA program, an autograph that is received prior to the beginning of the athlete's second full year of participation will qualify for this program. The clock will start running from their first professional appearance and then stop one full calendar year later. For example, if a boxer makes his or her debut on May 3rd of 2016, an autograph from that boxer may be submitted until May 3rd of 2017 in order for the autograph to qualify for the Rookie designation by PSA/DNA.
Just think about what a Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali or Babe Ruth rookie autograph would be worth right now with an official rookie designation from PSA/DNA! The opportunity might have passed on those legends but which rookie athletes will be the legends of tomorrow?
Don't wait! The clock is ticking on the current crop of rookies so have those autographs certified today. Once the time is up, no more rookie autographs will be certified under these new services.