If you’ve been stockpiling rookie cards and autographs of this year’s potential Hall of Famers, you’ve got some courage.
The 2012 BBWAA ballot features 27 players, including 13 new candidates and 14 returnees, none of which probably deserves the “legendary” label often applied to Hall of Famers. In fact, in recent years, the ballot has been devoid of huge star power. Bert Blyleven and Andre Dawson were fine players, but not exactly first ballot material. Roberto Alomar was certainly deserving but there wasn’t much buzz in the collector market afterward.
The 27 candidates (with the returnees in bold and last year’s BBWAA election percentage in parenthesis) include: Jeff Bagwell (41.7%), Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Juan Gonzalez (5.2%), Brian Jordan, Barry Larkin (62.1%), Javy Lopez, Edgar Martinez (32.9%), Don Mattingly (13.6%), Fred McGriff (17.9%), Mark McGwire (19.8%), Jack Morris (53.5%), Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Dale Murphy (12.6%), Phil Nevin, Rafael Palmeiro (11.0%), Brad Radke, Tim Raines (37.5%), Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Lee Smith (45.3%), Alan Trammell (24.3%), Larry Walker (20.3%), Bernie Williams, Tony Womack and Eric Young.
The general feeling is that Larkin is probably going to make it. Hes’ remained pretty popular and his collectibles do carry some value. A game-used, signed bat recently sold on eBay for $525. His single-signed baseballs will cost $40-75. His rookie cards arrived during the overproduction era of 1987 so unless you’ve got a PSA 10, you’re probably still going to be able to buy an ordinary one for a buck or less even if he gets the Hall’s call.
From a numbers perspective, McGwire is easily the most deserving, but with the steroid issue hanging over his head, it’s not likely he’ll make it for awhile, if ever.
Morris’ 1978 Topps rookie card usually sells for $20-25 in PSA 9 condition. Few players whose rookie cards appeared prior to 1980 will enter the Hall at this point. If Morris does, you could expect a slight uptick. Morris isn’t an easy autograph either and despite being a pitcher, it’s possible he could command a decent number on the signing circuit.
Bagwell’s rookie cards came out in 1991. Only rare cards like his Topps Tiffany and PSA 10-type rookie cards draw any action on eBay. And a PSA 10 1991 Upper Deck Bagwell recently sold for a grand total of…five bucks. Autographs might be a slightly different story should Bagwell go in this time.
Next year’s election should elicit plenty of talk. Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa will all be on the ballot for the first time.