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“Pitchers, like poets, are born not made.”

The legendary baseball Hall of Famer Cy Young once said that.

Some would argue that the same can be said for any top investor – it’s either in your blood or it isn’t.

And leading investors cannot fail to recognize the potential of baseball memorabilia. Stocks and bonds will always stand as the foundations of a strong portfolio, but America’s national pastime, like several areas of the collectibles market, can help provide that vital diversity to ride out the tough times.

The often-overlooked investment area of baseball memorabilia is one of the strongest in the collectibles market, with auctions of the finest items almost always seeing strong results – few investments can offer a 16.3% pa return over an eight year period.

That is the fantastic gain seen by the finest Babe Ruth signed baseball in existence, which made $388,375 in August 2012, having previously sold for $115,000 in 2004.

The sport has long been providing memorabilia investors with a lucrative area in which to place their money, whether it’s trading cards, autographs or bats and balls.

15.5m reasons to own collectibles

Signed Baseball

As America’s national pastime, this market has a large collector base.

A total of 15.5m dedicated US fans watched game four of 2012’s World Series between San Francisco and Detroit, and it is this same audience that bolsters the high prices seen for baseball’s finest items.

That’s 15.5m potential collectors, pouring water on the claim the collectibles market has no liquidity.

Of those 15.5m, at least half would give their right arm to own the game-used bat from Detroit Tigers star Ty Cobb that broke the previous auction record for one of the Georgia Peach’s bats by 84.6% in July 2012.

And as dads continue to play catch with their kids in the yard, a new legion of fans and collectors will move up through the ranks – ensuring the long-term future of the market.

Values continue to grow, as demand increases for the finest pieces.

In a 2011 interview with leading baseball memorabilia auctioneer David Kohler of SCP Auctions, Paul Fraser Collectibles asked how the business of sports memorabilia has changed.

He replied: “Well, we've probably added a zero to the prices of everything!”

Need proof?

  • The world record for any item of sports memorabilia was set by Babe Ruth’s earliest game-worn jersey at $4.4m in 2012 - a 17.8% pa gain on the previous record for Ruth’s memorabilia, achieved in 2004.
  • The infamous “Buckner Ball” from the 1986 World Series sold for $418,250 last year, beating its $100,000 estimate by 318.2%.
  • The value of a VG3-graded Honus Wagner T206 baseball card – the rarest in the hobby – was up 6.7% pa between 2008 and 2012.
  • Curt Schilling’s famed bloody sock sold for $92,613 at a February 2013 auction.

If you are anything like me, you’re already a bit of a baseball fanatic. This means you have the knowledge needed to pick a winning item. You already know the greatest players, the most memorable games.

Acquiring the required knowledge is one of the most difficult aspects of succeeding in collectibles and you’ve already overcome that hurdle.

Swing big and buy the best you can afford.