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Sports Collecting 101: Signed Baseballs need Protection from Light and Air

by Rob Bertrand (11/07/12).

A basic baseball cube, with three prongs at the bottom that keep the ball facing the right direction. These cubes should come with a UV Certification Report that will the level of Ultra-Violet protection the holder provides.

Other than game-used memorabilia and equipment, no other collectible connects a fan and a player more than a signed baseball. The stark white leather and the accented red stitching envelop the ball, creating the signature sweet spot—the narrow area between the stitching creates a natural framed surface area that allows for the player’s signature to reside. The dark color ink contrasts from the leather to vividly capture a moment in time, fan to player.

Unfortunately, autographed baseballs are subject to fading of the ink and yellowing of the baseball itself over time due to exposure to light, both natural and artificial. Integrity degradations of both kinds can significantly impact the value of your treasured collectible, so preservation becomes an important issue with regards to the “life” of the ball. Fortunately for collectors, there are several resources available to not only display your ball but that will protect it as well.

The standard acrylic Ball Cube is available in a couple of different models and you also need to be aware of imitations. When choosing a Ball Cube, be sure to choose on that comes with a UV Certification Report. This will show you the level of Ultra-Violet protection the holder provides and are often stamped with a UV on the bottom of the cube. There are three primary manufacturers of quality Ball Cubes; Pro-Mold, BCW, and Ultra Pro.

In addition to the obvious benefits of UV protection, I recommend choosing a Ball Cube that has the raised three-point ball cradle on the bottom panel. This will prevent the ball from moving within the cube and allowing easy display of the sweet spot signature.

Another type of holder, albeit more expensive, is the Gold Glove.

A new ball holder has emerged on the market in the form of the Ball Dome

Another type of holder, albeit more expensive, is the Gold Glove. It features a wood pedestal and mounted baseball glove in a gold finish, scaled in the appropriate dimensions to cradle any official sized baseball. The entire piece is then enclosed with a UV acrylic cube for protection. The brightly polished gold finish adds a certain eye-catching appeal that makes for a truly professional presentation.

In recent years, a new ball holder has emerged on the market in the form of the Ball Dome. Made by the company of the same name, the Ball Dome features a shatter proof, UV protective design that provides archival quality preservation. The ball can be ordered with custom labeling to accompany the base and provides a superior fit with no movement of the ball. The case can be permanently sealed by ultrasonic technology by a third party authenticator/grading service.

This 1954 Cleveland Indians autographed baseball has the signatures of six Hall of Famers and 11 other All-Star signatures, including Larry Doby, the first African-American to play in the American League. It sold for $50,000 in 2007, and with a baseball this valuable, it needs to be protected from light and the fading of the ink that simply comes with age.

Regardless of which display piece you choose, the single most important characteristic is the UV protection. Prices for single signed baseball vary greatly based on the condition of the ball and the signature that accompanies it; therefore don’t skimp on protection.

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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