We are about to witness the Battle of the Sports Memorabilia Reality Shows. Just a few days after Discovery released information on its All Star Dealers series featuring the boys from Grey Flannel Auctions, ABC-TV offered details on its own production, set to debut a month later.
From the producers of cable's top rated "Pawn Stars," "Ball Boys" follows the sports memorabilia business at Robbie's 1st Base in Baltimore, Md., and the family-like relationships of the sports fanatics who work there - Robbie Sr. and Junior, "Sweet Lou" and "Shaggy". ABC has ordered 12 half-hour episodes to start.
The show will feature the negotiation of buying and selling unique memorabilia, both at the store and at off-site locations. In addition, numerous sports legends - from football pioneer Jim Brown to baseball great Pete Rose to former NBA star and current ESPN commentator Jalen Rose - stop by the store to join in lively debates, smack talk and comical antics with the staff. The show premieres with two half-hour episodes, Saturday, March 24 24 (3:00-4:00 p.m., ET) on ABC.
The network describes Robbie's 1st Base as "an old school hometown barbershop where everyone has an opinion and is eager to share their stories and love of the game. Touching on the unique capability of sports to bring people together, "Ball Boys" tells the stories beyond the action on the field - using the symbolic value of the merchandise changing hands to represent a rare and valuable social bond uniting individuals across all ages, races, genders and economic classes. Both the collectors and the merely curious come to the store to experience a shared affinity. And when the situation calls, the staff hits the road to buy and sell memorabilia with some of the top collectors in the nation."
"Lord of the Ring" - In the premiere, store owner Robbie Sr. introduces viewers to his shop and searches for a very special Notre Dame gift for a client's husband on his birthday. Robbie is forced to buy an expensive item from an off-site dealer, hoping he can turn a profit with the client back home, knowing he risks never selling it to anyone else if she doesn't care for it. Later, a customer brings in a Cleveland Browns helmet autographed by Jim Brown himself... but is it an authentic signature? To find out, Robbie Sr. asks his friend, the football legend, to pay the shop a visit to have a look himself, and eventually Brown presides over an awkward negotiation over his own autograph. Plus, does an unsigned baseball caught by a fan over the glove of Baltimore Orioles Right Fielder Nick Markakis have any monetary value? One eager customer certainly thinks so... but does Robbie agree?
"Take Your Base" - In the second episode, the boys visit a multi-million dollar collection in search of a birthday gift for Senior, and end up haggling over a piece of Yankee history. Meanwhile, Junior is introduced to the man who invented the World Series, and Senior tries to buy a Packers jersey that belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Leftfield Pictures produces "Ball Boys," with Brent Montgomery and David George serving as executive producers. Shawn Witt is co-executive producer.