Steroids impacting the world of sports collectibles is nothing new. Just look at the lack of demand for (and value of) Mark McGwire collectibles. Same thing goes for Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and even Roger Clemens. Simply put, people aren’t going to buy collectibles from athletes with tainted numbers.
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees third baseman
Of course, the most recent admission of steroids comes from Alex Rodriguez. This admission is particularly damaging to baseball and sports collectibles as many fans viewed A-Rod as the last great hope to break Bonds’ home-run record legitimately. A-Rod was, in many ways, the poster child for clean, steroids-free success in baseball.
Until last week.
Even though the results were from five years ago, the fact that A-Rod took steroids is a crucial blow to the sport. No longer does baseball have that hope that the home-run record will be taken back by a clean player. More importantly, this latest steroids admission just further sullies an entire era of players. Unless evidence comes up to the contrary, people are going to cast a skeptical eye toward any player from this period, and that’s the biggest shame of it all.
So, what does this mean for A-Rod’s collectibles?
If history is any indication, the demand for A-Rod’s memorabilia is going to decline drastically. The reasons for this are simple.
1. Parents aren’t going to spend hundreds of dollars on collectibles of a known steroids user for their kids.
2. A-Rod likely won’t get into the Hall of Fame, drastically reducing the value of his collectibles.
3. A-Rod’s numbers are tainted and meaningless. In short, they no longer add value to collectibles.
4. Many sports memorabilia shop owners refuse to carry pieces of known steroids users.
Just do a quick check on eBay to see how collectors are responding to this. Some 795 A-Rod pieces are up for sale, and most of them are sitting there with no bids or interest.
Alex Rodriguez 1994 Foxes card
Another A-Rod Foxes car
Two cards from A-Rod’s days on the minor-league Appleton (Wis.) Foxes. To learn about the one on the left, click here. For the one on the right, click here.
And it’s not just because fans are holding some high moral ground. It’s because collectibles from the steroid age are more and more proving to be poor investments.
That’s why I think A-Rod’s positive test doesn’t just affect him—it affects this entire era. Fans and collectors are starting to see how widespread the problem of steroids is/was, and they’re going to respond accordingly.
How will they respond? By buying collectibles from the pre-1980s. Players like Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Roger Maris, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and many others will now be held in even greater regard as the value of the numbers they put up and of their collectibles sharply increases as the modern era takes yet another black eye.
So, if you’re looking to make an investment, look to the past. Until this steroids issue gets taken care of once and for all, I wouldn’t feel comfortable sinking my money into any player from recent times.
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