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The potential money boost of election to the Baseball HOF

January 9, 2015

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Pedro Martinez, one of the 2015 HOF crop. Via Flickr.com

Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Craig Biggio were all elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday, guaranteeing each a spot in the game’s most sacred place.

But fame and glory aren’t the only things the four new Hall of Famers will get with their elections. Big money is also a huge upside to being enshrined in Cooperstown.

While searching for a money angle to this story, I came across a great New York Daily News column by Bill Madden. He starts off by discussing Andre Dawson’s election to the Hall in 2010 and his reluctance to be listed as a Montreal Expo (RIP).

Then he gets to the point: a plaque in Cooperstown means the demand and price for a player’s memorabilia skyrockets. 

Here’s what sports dealer Alan Rosen told Madden:

“I’ve always said making the Hall of the Fame is worth a minimum of a million dollars,” Rosen said. “To begin with, guys who were getting $10 per autograph, as Dawson was, immediately jump to $40, but then you have to take into account the greatly increased demand for his autograph. Once you’re in the Hall of the Fame there are hundreds of thousands of collectors who have to get your signature on their Hall of Fame pieces — photos, balls, bats, plaque cards whatever. It doesn’t matter what uniform you’re in on your plaque. All that matters is you’re in.”

Madden points out Goose Gossage went from getting $3,000 an appearance to $25,000 after he was elected to the Hall.

So. What about our newest Hall of Famers? What can Johnson, Smoltz, Martinez and Biggio expect to get from their new status?

I took a definitively unscientific approach to figure this out.

Sportsmemorabilia.com has a ton of autographed baseballs, jerseys and cards from these four players, pre-HOF. Now, their listings can add HOF. So, I compared the difference in prices between a regular signed ball and a signed ball that either has a Hall of Fame logo or mentions the HOF in some way.

Here’s what I found:

• Randy Johnson regular signed ball: $280
HOF: $400

• John Smoltz regular signed ball: $130
HOF: $232

• Pedro Martinez regular signed ball: $250
HOF: $400

• Craig Biggio regular signed ball: $180
HOF: $350

This translates to 30, 44, 38 and 49 percent increases for Johnson, Smoltz, Martinez and Biggio respectively, for just having the Hall of Fame name attached to their signatures. And, if you look on Ebay, you can see that sellers are already updating their listings with that HOF designation.

It’s unclear how much or any of this money these players will see from Sportsmemorabilia.com, but it’s safe to say that they will see similar appreciations at other outlets.

Meanwhile, the 2015 quartet have the extra cachet of calling themselves Hall of Famers for the rest of their lives. It will be a credential they can leverage in speaking engagements, autograph signings, salary negotiations and just bragging rights.




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