Drugs, Baseball, and Collecting

With recent news of the Mitchell Report accusing 86 baseball players of using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, people have been talking about the players and the sport, but what is going to happen to the value of cards and memorabilia?

WorthPoint went to Howard Lau, a Sports Memorabilia Worthologist and owner of Houston Sports Connection to see how this recent black eye on baseball may be affecting cards and memorabilia collecting.

When asked about the steroid allegations, Howard replied, “There’s no doubt something like this will affect a players popularity, but it’s premature to tell what is going to happen to baseball memorabilia at this point. Everything now is an accusation.” Howard thinks that collectors will wait to see how Donald Fehr and the association handle these allegations before doing anything.

The baseball card and memorabilia world has experienced low points in the past. A memorable valley was during and after the players strike in 1994. Howard recalled, “The strike in 1994 affected the hobby tremendously. Disappointment like that is a personal thing for sports fans.” It took some time, but collectors eventually learned to forgive and forget their disappointment, and the hobby has thrived since.

Howard attributed a large part of the returning interest in baseball memorabilia to the home run battles between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire in the late 1990’s. However, these athletes have also faced allegations of steroid use that appear to have affected their memorabilia prices. Howard said, “McGwire’s rookie card back in 1998-2001 when he was hitting all those home runs was a $300.00 card. That card today is worth $25.00.”

The McGwire rookie card seems like damning evidence that The Mitchell Report may leave a wake in this hobby. Howard pointed out that many collectors focus on Hall of Fame players. If the Mitchell Report allegations prove to be true, it jeopardizes their chances of being considered for Hall of Fame.

All things considered, Howard is pleased that the issue is finally being addressed and he commends MLB and the commissioner for how they are handling the situation. For now, we have to wait and see what happens, but Howard believes that “the longer this drags out, the worse it will get” for the hobby. It’s a good thing history has shown that fans are forgiving and this hobby has proven capable of rebounding.

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