Every year, the first half of the baseball season showcases some amazing starts from a few players. Newspapers, sports talk radio and the Internet become inundated with conversation about the player and speculation as to whether he can continue the historic pace he has set. Statisticians try to project his first half numbers over an entire season to see if he will break any records.
But the hype doesn’t stop there. Its arm reaches into the collectibles world, too. Collectors love players who get off to hot starts. Online auctions are filled with baseball cards, autographed memorabilia and other collectibles from hot players around the majors. (Sometimes it’s only a question of where to find the baseball cardsThis season has witnessed three players in particular who have set the sports-collectibles world on fire with their play on the diamond.
1. Lance Berkman—Without a doubt, Astros’ first baseman Lance Berkman has gotten off to the best start of his career. At the time I’m writing this article, Berkman is hitting .358 with a slugging percent of .685. And that’s after he’s cooled off a bit. A few weeks ago, the average was hovering around the .400 mark. At one point, Berkman joined Pete Rose as only the second player since 1957 to put together a 31-for-50 stretch at the plate. Online auctions are overflowing with bidders hopping on the Berkman bandwagon.
2. Chipper Jones—At age 36 and in his 14th season as a professional, Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones is accomplishing extraordinary things on the field. As we near the All-Star break, Jones is batting .391. Both statisticians and collectors are excited at the possibility of Jones being the first player to achieve a .400 season since Ted Williams did it 67 years ago. Hoping to own a piece of baseball history, collectors are buying every Chipper Jones piece they can get their hands on. Bobbleheads, game-used bats, cards and jerseys are being auctioned off at a feverish pace.
3. Josh Hamilton—One of the hottest stories in baseball has been the turnaround of Texas Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton. Hamilton was suspended by Major League Baseball in 2004 for failing numerous drug tests. He had severe addiction problems, and he fought hard to overcome them. Now, in 2008, Josh Hamilton has completed his comeback by becoming one of the hottest players in the league. He’s hitting .308 while leading the league in runs batted in. His story has been featured on news outlets throughout the country, including his cover story on Sports Illustrated. At age 27, he has a bright future ahead of him, and collectors are hoping he can continue to be the star he is playing like. In fact, Houston Sports Connection owner and Worthologist Howard Lau recently named Josh Hamilton collectibles as one of the top investments right now in the baseball-card market. Read my story on investing in baseball cards if you want to start a lucrative collection.