Since their inception in 1998, the Tampa Bay Rays have suffered through some of the worst seasons in MLB history. Not a good record for collectibles. Every year, the team would finish with one of the worst records in the entire league. It seemed the franchise would never be able to turn things around.
Then, the 2008 seasons happened. Not only did the Rays end their losing ways, but they also won their division—a division with both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. As I write this article, the Rays are in the ALCS up on the Boston Red Sox 3-to-1, one win away from going to the World Series.
From worst to first—how did the Rays do it? Young players have helped give the Rays a new winning image.
Here are collectibles from some of the rising youngsters on this Rays team.
• Evan Longoria—If you’re looking for collectibles to invest in, Evan Longoria memorabilia might be for you. Since making his debut earlier this season, the youngster hit .272 over 122 games with 27 home runs and 85 RBI. In his first two postseason at bats, Longoria hit two home runs, becoming just the second player in MLB history to accomplish this feat.
An array of Longoria is still available at very reasonable prices. For instance, an autographed Evan Longoria baseball can be found for less than $100. A signed bat can be purchased for close to $150. If Longoria’s career stays on its current path, these collectibles will skyrocket in value. Invest now, and it could pay off later.
• Carl Crawford—Even though Carl Crawford has been playing since 2002 and is the longest tenured member of the Rays, he’s still fairly young at 27 years old. Every season, Crawford has improved considerably, and he’s established himself as a true MLB All-Star. His future is bright, and he seems poised to keep improving.
Like Longoria, Crawford’s collectibles can still be found at affordable prices. If you’re looking to invest in Crawford memorabilia, you can buy autographed baseballs for around $80 each. His rookie cards are still very cheap, and they could make for great investments. As the Rays continue to have success, Carl Crawford’s talent will no longer be a secret. Think about investing in his collectibles soon.
• B.J. Upton—At 24 years old, this center fielder looks to be at the center of the Rays’ future success. In 2008, Upton hit .273 and stole 44 bases over the course of 145 games. However, the youngster still has a lot to learn. On two occasions, manager Joe Maddon disciplined the center fielder for a lack of hustle. I expect Upton to get past these growing pains and to have a successful future.
Since B.J. Upton is less proven than others on this list, his collectibles can be found at very low prices. Admittedly, he isn’t guaranteed to be successful. However, he seems to have all the talent necessary to have a great career. Pick up his rookie cards now while you can still get them for a few bucks at your local collectible shop.
Eric Brantner is a baseball fan and freelance writer living in Houston.
Other stories by Eric Brantner:
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Olympic Baseball Collectibles
Sports Collectibles Memories
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