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Best Bets for 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame Election

Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice and Joe Gordon are in and prices are up. So in whom who should you be investing your autograph and baseball card dollars for next year?

by Chris Houston

Any time a player is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, expect the going rate for his autograph to jump. Baseball cards of Hall of Famers also take on an added respect in the market, although price increases sometimes aren’t as noticeable.

With the 2009 ceremony behind us, 2010 is shaping up to be a very interesting year when it comes to Hall of Fame inductions.

When the ballot is mailed out to members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in December, let’s just say there will be a lot of decision making to do.

Infielders Robert Alomar and Barry Larkin head the field of newcomers. It’s not a stretch to say both could be elected, but Alomar would have the edge. Fred McGriff is also an interesting newbie to the candidate pool. Edgar Martinez and Andres Galarraga are in the field too.

Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven were both close in 2009 and both figure to be strongly considered for another shot at induction. In this year’s vote, Dawson received 361 votes which equals 67 percent while Blyleven wasn’t far behind with 338 votes. But will the two be able to surpass the 75% mark needed to join in 2010? The speculation will certainly add fuel to the fire for the baseball card and autograph collector.

Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson autographs have already jumped in price since their recent Hall of Fame induction. Their Hall of Fame postcards are already being sold on eBay. Rice cards and other memorabilia have certainly seen an increase in demand and market price, especially in Boston where the long-time slugger is getting new respect. The team is retiring his jersey this week, too. The same can be said for Henderson cards and autographs. With his career now five years in the rearview mirror, collectors and fans are taking another look at Henderson’s phenomenal career as the greatest leadoff hitter in history and perhaps one of its five greatest players.

Andre Dawson If I were going to speculate at all, I’d say Andre Dawson is the card and autograph that will rise in price the most for actual Hall of Fame candidates in 2010. Dawson wasn’t far at all from landing the nomination and he played much of his career in a large media market with the Chicago Cubs. Let’s just say Cub fans are excited about the potential future Hall of Famer. Over 320 Dawson items were listed on eBay earlier this week with some even attempting to sell "The Hawk" items with a "Future Hall of Famer?" tag. Baseball fans dig the long ball and Dawson was a big time home run hitter and immensely appreciated during his prime by the Wrigley faithful.

Blyleven? just 108 items were up for bid. Blyleven didn’t play in a large media market and he was a pitcher. Blyleven had much more control over a game’s outcome than Dawson could ever have dreamed about and he was one of the best during the 1970s and 80s. Still, pitchers often come up short when it comes to sports and memorabilia values. His statistical numbers are good but he didn’t reach 300 wins and he wasn’t a dominant pitcher. Playing for mediocre teams much of the time didn’t help his win total. Still, Blyleven’s potential Hall of Fame induction would certainly put his cards on a different level.

Larkin, who was a Reds favorite for years, is almost certainly going to be close if not in on his first attempt. The same can probably be said for Alomar. But the Hall of Fame is a tricky thing to predict. That’s kind of what makes it fun and yet sometimes very frustrating for fans of great players who are considered by the writers to be only marginal. And those thoughts are echoed in the memorabilia community year in and year out. Neither player has lit a fire under collectors.

Who knows how high a Dale Murphy or Don Mattingly autograph would rise if the two were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Both were hugely popular players who will most likely never get in. Just to put things in perspective, there are 1228 Mattingly items listed on eBay. Even though he probably won’t ever make the Hall of Fame because his career numbers don’t equal some of the all-time greats, Mattingly still has captured the fascination of autograph seekers and memorabilia collectors everywhere. He was the consummate Yankee during a period when the franchise didn’t have a lot of championship talent surrounding him. Just imagine what it would add to further enhance an already worshipped guy like Mattingly in the collecting world. He may eventually earn consideration from the veteran’s committee, but Mattingly is a long shot.

Then there’s the possibility that Pete Rose will be reinstated by Major League Baseball. I can’t imagine what his reinstatement let alone potential Hall of Fame nomination would do for his memorabilia. Even though Rose has probably signed more autographs than any player of his generation, Hall of Fame honors would send values soaring–and you know Pete would be ready with pen in hand to meet the demand. Rose wouldn’t talk with local media members in Cincinnati Tuesday, where he was signing autographs at a sports memorabilia shop for $50 a pop.

Pete Rose rookie card At last check, there were 1800 Pete Rose auction items on eBay. Rose’s transgressions haven’t even made a dent in his popularity with collectors. Hundreds, if not thousands more would come out of the woodwork if talk of his reinstatement would gain traction. That might be the single most intriguing Hall of Fame ballot we would ever see. Expect Pete Rose memorabilia to begin to make a gigantic move upward if commissioner Bud Selig brings down the wall separating Rose from Cooperstown. So if you’re going to bet on baseball, or let’s say bet on a baseball autograph, Pete Rose is the one.

For now? Alomar is almost a lock with Dawson a close second. It might be time to grab some signed items of both while you can get them at a reasonable price.