You know your hobby has changed when three lawsuits grab headlines within a month.
#1: Mastro vs Daniels: The long-time dealer sued the big auction house over a lot of autographed photos he’d purchased in a 2004 catalog sale. An Indiana judge issued a ruling last week that essentially did what probably should have been done at the time of the problem. Compromise. The dealer didn’t win a major judgment and Mastro Auctions had to pay back some of the money for the photos that didn’t match the catalog description. The company was found not to have intentionally defrauded anyone and that’s always appreciated.
Frankly, we’re a little surprised there aren’t more of these things given the mountain of amazing material that’s presented by the two dozen or so auction houses and the potential for uncertainty when most of the items can’t be seen in person. That being said, it’s a monumental job to acquire all of the stuff and the resulting catalogs are a feast for the eye. Still, collectors should certainly demand accountability.
#2: Florida collector vs FedEx: We’re not sure what to make of this one. Details are somewhat sketchy, but a collector on the east coast of Florida claims he sent a package to "a grading company" including some very old, very expensive baseball cards including a ’41 Play Ball DiMaggio. The package was shipped around Valentine’s Day, didn’t make it, boomeranged back to him apparently looking like it had been run over by a FedEx truck and missing some $50K worth of cards (according to the plaintiff).
The curious thing? The package was, according to court records obtained by the AP, sent to Texas. That, we surmise, means Beckett Grading Service. Nothing wrong with the folks there, but collectors with high priced vintage material generally use PSA and SGC. I wonder what kind of proof this guy has about the exact contents of the box. We’ll try to follow the case for you and pray you don’t have nightmares about the same thing happening to you.
#3: Steiner Sports vs David Ortiz: Ever tried writing your name 100 times? It’s tedious, boring work whether you’re signing checks or being punished for pulling someone’s hair in class. Try writing it thirteen thousand times. That was apparently what Big Papi agreed to do, though. The money was good. We don’t know the contract details, but given Steiner’s prices on places like Amazon.com and the number of items that were supposed to be signed and you can safely assume that it’s well into the millions.
Steiner says Ortiz didn’t exactly take the deal seriously. They claim he hasn’t signed anywhere near 13,000 pieces and he wasn’t always good about showing up when he was supposed to for signing sessions and public appearances. If there are Yankee fans in the Steiner offices (and we assume there are plenty), you’d think they would have waited until the next big series to spring the lawsuit on Ortiz and cause the Red Sox slugger a little consternation. We can imagine the headline that would live in history if they’d done it late in the pennant chase: "Red Sox Collapse Complete: Big Papi Frazzled by Autograph Flap".The National Sports Collectors Convention is less than two weeks away. I’ll be in Cleveland Wednesday through Friday (and staying FREE at a local hotel–gotta love those frequent guest programs) . There will be no Sports Collectors Daily table, but drop me an e-mail or call if you’ll be there and would like to say hello or get involved with the website in some way. For more info on the show, go to NSCCshow.com.