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Sports Collectibles News & Notes: More Trouble for ‘King of Sport Memorabilia’

by Rob Bertrand (03/11/14).

Collector Howard Rosing is suing William Mastro alleging that in 1998, 1999 and 2001, he and a business partner deliberately misrepresented the value of baseballs autographed by Baseball Hall of Famers Henry Chadwick, Mickey Welch, Jack Chesbro and Frank Chance. Rosing paid $130,369 through MastroNet Auctions that ended up being forgeries. This Mickey Welch autographed ball sold for $677 through Coach’s Corner Sports Auctions in Sept. of 2008.

In a previous article, we reported on the legal issues that the former CEO of MastroNet Auctions, Bill Mastro, has found himself mired in for much of this past year. Charges he was facing ranged from alleged shill bidding, wire fraud and card doctoring.

While the previous legal proceedings related to these charges all took place in a federal criminal court, Mastro now finds himself back in court. This time he is being sued by a collector who alleges he purchased four autographed baseballs for $130,369 through MastroNet Auctions that ended up being forgeries.

The collector, Howard Rosing, filed suit last week in Cook County Circuit Court of Illinois alleging that in 1998, 1999 and 2001, William Mastro and his business partner, Douglas Allen, of Legendary Auctions (formerly known as Mastro Fine Sports), deliberately misrepresented the value of baseballs autographed by Baseball Hall of Famers Henry Chadwick, Mickey Welch, Jack Chesbro and Frank Chance.

The challenge that Mastro will face is that in civil court—unlike criminal court—the burden of proof necessary to prove guilt is established by a preponderance of the evidence. Proving a proposition by the preponderance of the evidence requires demonstrating that the proposition is more likely true than not true as, compared to in a criminal court, where the burden of proof being beyond a reasonable doubt. What all this legal jargon translates to is that the plaintiff, Rosing, will have an easier time proving his claim in civil court than if this was being adjudicated in criminal court.

This eventual judgment in this case could open the flood gates for future civil litigation against Mastro and other principals of the former company.

Panini America expected to revolutionize high-end hockey collecting by issuing 2010-11 Luxury Suite Hockey set, offering three cards for $50, guaranteeing that the three-card set would include either a memorabilia card, an autograph card, an autographed memorabilia card (as seen above) or a rookie card. Now, the NHL, its Player’s Association and trading card manufacturer Upper Deck agreed to terms of a multi-year agreement granting Upper Deck the exclusive rights and license to produce NHL hockey cards.

Trend of Exclusive Sports Card Licenses Continues
A stunning announcement was made late last month that caught many hockey card collectors off guard. The NHL, its Player’s Association and trading card manufacturer Upper Deck agreed to terms of a multi-year agreement granting Upper Deck the exclusive rights and license to produce NHL hockey cards. This means that now, three of the four major sports in America (basketball, baseball and hockey) all have trading cards produced by a single manufacturer. The lone exception (for now) is football, where both Topps and Panini America currently produce NFL-licensed cards.

The announcement came as a big shock, in particular, to Panini America, which had been awarded an NHL license beginning for the 2011-12 season. The company was immediately challenged by a shortened season as a result of a labor dispute. This impacted the number of officially designated rookie players that could be included in their products. In sports cards, rookies drive sales, putting the company behind the proverbial eight ball from the very start.

Many collectors took to social media to voice their displeasure about the decision. Common sentiments were that the company wasn’t given a long enough time to establish brands, equity and a following.

Company CEO, Mark Warsop, released the following statement in response to the NHL/NHLPA decision. “We are disappointed to learn of the NHL and NHLPA’s decision to go in another direction in the trading card category. During the term of our agreement we faced many challenges, including a late start to the agreement and an NHL work stoppage … while we never like to lose a license that we were committed to, this decision gives us the opportunity to further enhance our other sports licensed products.”

The company’s existing licensing agreement expires at the end of June of this year.

Topps Waxes Nostalgic with Wall Décor and Apparel
The legendary American trading card, gum and candy manufacturer has been expanding their product line to capitalize on the nostalgia associated with some of their iconic brands, trading cards, logos and more. The introduction of wall décor and apparel has become popular, not just with current collectors but former ones as well.

Would you like to have Nolan Ryan on your wall? Topps can make it happen for you.

Does your wardrobe cry out for a Topps T-shirt? It’d look great under that tweed sports coat!

The apparel line is called the “The Topps Homage Collection”. It is advertised as being, “inspired by the magic of card collecting . . . features original Topps artwork from actual wax packs and old baseball cards found deep in the Topps Archives . . . proudly Made in the USA.”

Taking some of the most iconic baseball cards from the 1960’s, ’70’s and ‘80’s the card images have been digitally re-mastered to super-size them. Fans and collectors can now hang there favorite cards on their wall. Available in three sizes, 10.5 x 14, 17.25 x 21.35 and 23 x 31 inches, the prints are made on art quality cotton paper and come matted with a choice of framing and glare resistant glass.


Rob Bertrand has been an active collector of sports cards and memorabilia for more than 20 years. His involvement in the hobby community is well documented, having been the content manager for the Card Corner Club website before the company’s merger with CardboardConnection in 2011, where he is now a staff writer and multimedia content producer. Rob is also the co-host of the sports collectibles hobby’s only live and nationally broadcast radio show, Cardboard Connection Radio. He is the author of the highly respected and trafficked blog, Voice of the Collector and you can follow him on Twitter @VOTC. A dealer himself, Rob runs an online business through eBay, and is frequently asked to consign collections.

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