I’ve watched the highlights. I have studied the stats. Barring some insane revelation about his off-season routine, Albert Pujols will more than likely go down as the greatest baseball player of my lifetime. Of course, as collectors we are accustomed to overpaying for what is hot at the moment. I still remember attending a card show during the summer of 1990 and standing next to a man who forked over $300 dollars for two 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco cards.
You can imagine my shock when I read that Albert Pujols charges $200 dollars for every autograph he signs for Upper Deck. The 2008 Sweet Spot version that you see below is #’d to 45 copies. In case you are too lazy to do the math, that’s $9,000 dollars for those 45 signatures which probably took “Prince Albert” an hour or less to complete. The example below sold for a slap in the face, $120 dollars.
What’s worse is that if you live in St. Louis and want that home town discount, you will need to pay a measly $215 dollars for the chance to have Albert sign your item and give you the customary nod and smile. In a time of a full blow recession when people are losing their jobs and homes it seems a little ridiculous that anyone would charge that much for a signature of a player, especially considering Pujols is likely to sign thousands of autographs over the next twenty years.
The sad fact is that this trend is going nowhere. Last year a card shop in the area wanted to charge customers $50-$75 dollars per autograph (depending on the item) for Florida Marlins star, Hanley Ramirez. As an “adult fan”, Hanley is without a doubt the hardest autograph to score at Dolphin Stadium but it’s no rarity to have his autograph. I have seen/heard dozens of young collectors showing off their Hanley auto and sharing their story. Why pay more than the price of a ball, bat, or card when you can get the autograph for free?
As for me, it took me another decade before I was finally able to pick up that fabled Jose Canseco “Rated Rookie”. I may have been late to the party but I cannot complain about the $5 dollar price tag it cost me to enter. I can only imagine whatever happened to that “high-roller” who spent so much on that rookie hype at that card show way back in the day.
I sure hope this is not him.