The USA baseball team may have taken the bronze in Beijing, but you win gold with Olympic baseball collectibles. Although it has waned in popularity over the years, Olympic baseball has provided a showcase for some of the best young stars in the sport, which increases the desirability of their card collectibles.
In 1984, a baby-faced Mark McGwire made a splash at the Olympics. Just eight years ago, in Sydney, Roy Oswalt and Ben Sheets captured the world’s attention by pitching the United States to a gold medal. So, who should we pay attention to on this 2008 team? Here are three Team USA Olympic baseball players whose collectibles could prove to be great investments.
• Stephen Strasburg—Scouts all around the nation have fallen in love with 20-year-old pitcher Stephen Strasburg, a sophomore at San Diego State University. Perhaps no other player has looked so impressive at such a young age. Strasburg’s fastball has been clocked at an unbelievable 101 miles per hour. He was the only collegiate player on Team USA. The rest of the team was filled with minor leaguers. And in his first game of the Olympics, Strasburg showed why he deserved to be on the team. Over seven innings of play, the young flamethrower gave up just one hit while striking out 11 batters. Keep an eye out for any Stephen Strasburg collectibles you can get your hands on. This kid is poised to be something special.
• Matt LaPorta—Matt LaPorta is an outfielder playing in the Cleveland Indians minor league system. The minor leaguer was one of the stars on the 2008 USA Olympic baseball team. What’s so great about him? He can flat out hit. LaPorta brought much-needed power to Team USA. Before the Olympics started, Team USA played a series of four exhibition games with Canada. During those games, LaPorta smashed three home runs. The kid is sure to rise quickly in the Indians’ farm system, and now is the ideal time to pick up Matt LaPorta collectibles.
• Dexter Fowler—Dexter Fowler is a member of the Colorado Rockies farm system. He’s a switch-hitting center fielder who many believe will be in the major leagues shortly. His speed and defensive skills are impressive, and he has started to become more consistent at the plate. Before the beginning of the Olympics, Fowler was batting .337 for his minor league team. The speedy center fielder could be an impressive role player in the upcoming years. Consider investing in his minor league and Olympic memorabilia now.
These are the 2008 buy-now Olympic baseball collectibles picks. And two other Olympic baseball memorabilia items that have caught my eye?
• Mark McGwire 1984 Autographed Olympic Baseball—In 1984, baseball still wasn’t a medal sport. It was played at the Olympics, but it was only for exhibition purposes. However, Team USA was comprised of some great players that year. Perhaps the most recognizable face on the ’84 team is Mark McGwire. After his Olympic debut, McGwire went on to smash home-run records in major league baseball. Today, his achievements are dampened by a cloud of suspicion that he cheated. However, his 1984 autographed Olympic baseball is still valued pretty high at $500. The balls are individually numbered, and they contain the Olympic logo on them.
• 2000 Sydney Olympics Baseball Poster—Posters make great collectibles because they represent a historic event, and they are inexpensive. In 2000, the United States took home the gold medal in baseball. For this reason, I recommend adding the official Olympic baseball poster from that year. It can be purchased for around $20, and it represents an important moment in Team USA history.
Today, Olympic baseball collectibles can be purchased at a reasonable price. However, with the news that baseball will not be in the 2012 Olympics and perhaps may never return, now is the ideal time to grab these collectibles. Should baseball really never return as an Olympic sport, the value of these items could increase significantly.