Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Finding Value in Stan Musial
Bill James lists Stan Musial as the 10th greatest baseball player of all time, ahead of Henry Aaron, Lou Gehrig and Joltin' Joe so to find value in Stan on the field is easy, as a collector I'm looking for value in his autographs and memorabilia. I recently acquired the card above on ebay, it cost me $58 shipped, I have no idea what the book value on it is (if anyone knows I'd be curious to find out). The reason I think it's a solid value buy is because it's a hard signed vibrant autograph of a man who in November last year turned 90. Compare the autograph above to the autograph below.
They're both great autographs, one showing off the 1958 All-Star design with a smiling Stan Musial and the other showing a zoomed in smiling 1957 Musial. Again both are great cards but I would take the one above, why? Well the Team Topps Legends Musial is about $80 less than the Real One autograph. Both are vibrant, on-card autographs on classic Topps inspired cards, it's just one costs 250% as much as the other. I think there is still a ton of value in a Musial autograph from a nostalgic point of view as well as a collectible point of view. Given Stan's incredible playing career and the relative scarcity of his autograph (he's usually an SP in everything) I think there is plenty of room for growth on his autographs over the coming years. The other factor that could lead to a spike in the value of some of his older on card issues is the overuse of sticker autographs as well as the decline in the quality of Stan's signature, see below:
Don't think I'm knocking Stan for a minute, his autograph is still better than many players who are a quarter of his age, but it's pretty clear his signature isn't as vibrant as it once was. Talking to a dealer at a recent show he echoed the same remarks after having a piece signed by Stan at the National a few years back. Stan took his time with every piece and made sure his autograph showed off the same pride he had in his craft on the diamond but it was obvious the years had robbed him of the perfection of his earlier auto's.
When I think of the Cardinals and their long history Stan Musial is on the top of my list along with Gibson, Pujols, Dean and Frisch. I'm happy to have this card in my collection and I hope Stan has many more more happy years left, he's the embodiment of class and he deserves a place in every baseball fans collection.