Is Game-Used Sports Memorabilia Really GAME-USED?

game used sports memorabilia

These days, game-used items are extremely popular. And for good reason. These items are one-of-a-kind, and let’s face it, that’s pretty awesome!

It’s impressive to say you have a game-used jersey from Tom Brady or shoes that were worn by Lebron James or a baseball that was pitched by Clayton Kershaw or a hockey stick used by Sidney Crosby! After all, a game-used item is the only one from that specific game and date, making you the only one who owns that particular piece of sports history. For example, if you bought Lebron James game-worn shoes, from Oct 31st, 2018 against the Dallas Mavericks, you would be the only one who owns them. Correct?

Unfortunately, for some collectors, they are making the unfortunate discovery that many game-used items are not actually game-used. Consider the story below.

We know of a few collectors who purchased game-worn helmets, said to be worn by Eli Manning, that had been bought from Steiner Sports. The consumers now claim the helmets were not game-worn. Furthermore, they say they have proof. As a result, they sued Eli Manning, Steiner Sports, and others. Before the trial began, a settlement was reached. You can read the article here to learn more details.

Or take, for instance, this story about how Heritage Auction House was auctioning a Troy Aikman game-used UCLA Aloha Bowl Jersey. Troy Aikman says, “Unless I’m the one selling it, none of my memorabilia being auctioned is authentic. End of story.” Heritage Auction House responded, standing behind the auction with a lengthy response, along with what they called photographic proof.

So which is it?

I commend Mr. Aikman. I believe him to be a stand-up individual who is trying to keep people from making a mistake, purchasing something that he thinks is not a legitimate game-used item. I appreciate that and take him at his word.

Heritage Auction House believes firmly in who they got the jersey from. Their photographic evidence is enough to go forward with the auction. It’s up to you, then, to determine whether to bid on it or not, after seeing the evidence.

No doubt, there are scammers out there selling game-used items that are, in no way, game-used. I would also go so far as to say that some athletes are actively scamming the public. Game-used might actually turn out to be practice-used — or, even, not-used-at-all. They are just money grabbing attempts. So, be careful and do your due diligence. Be careful who you purchase game-used items from. A little research never hurt anyone!

Game Used Baseballs: The New Baseball Card?

game used baseballs

For a die-hard baseball fan, there’s nothing much better than owning a game-used item. Growing up, if I wanted a game-used ball, I would have to catch a foul or hope a player would throw me one. But catching a foul ball, or having a player or coach throw one to you, requires being in the right place at the right time. Not an easy feat. It’s the ultimate experience to leave a game with a used baseball, for fans and collectors alike.

Today, getting a game-used ball is much easier. You don’t need to pray to the baseball gods that you will catch a foul ball or have someone throw you one. You can go to MLB Auctions and purchase balls, but also many other items. Almost every MLB stadium has kiosks or booths for you to buy game-used baseballs, and other things, from the game you attend, or from other games. I’ve seen game-used baseballs go for as little as $20.

Game used baseballs have become like the new baseball card. If you purchase the baseball from the stadium or MLB auctions, it will come with an MLB authentication sticker and serial number, providing all the details about the ball, such as who pitched it, hit it, whether it was a single or a double, how fast it was thrown, and more. The detail that comes with authentication is impressive. Furthermore, the ability to go online and print the ball’s certification makes it all the more rewarding.

Every baseball has its own story. Just as baseball cards, growing up, told me a story, for a lot of kids today game-used baseballs do the same. And when you combine the two — a game-used ball with baseball cards — they enhance the story to make the presentation comes to life all the more!

If you have time, be sure to check out for more information, to read our old blog posts, to view upcoming signings, and to find everything you need to build your sports collection.

A New Spin On NFL Helmets

Three years ago, the NFL helmet maker, Riddell, decided to make an alternate version. The style of the helmet would not be worn on the field, unfortunately, but it would be a creative way to bring some excitement to the Helmet world. The thought was that collectors, autograph seekers, die-hard fans and even the casual fan would want to collect this limited run of helmets. Each year, in August, Riddell would release a new style of helmet and would discontinue production around the end of each NFL year.

Ice HelmetThe Ice Helmet debuted in 2016. it was the first alternative NFL licensed football helmet. It included an aerodynamic matte white shell, silver facemask, silver decals, and 4-pt chin strap. It was great for autograph collectors because it brought something new that could be signed. Not to mention it was a limited production.

Blaze HelmetIn 2017, the Blaze Alternative helmet debuted. It used the team’s current designs but with alternate colors in a new anodized satin finish. It added a colorful twist to your favorite NFL team by utilizing different color schemes for the shells and face-masks. The Blaze was a huge hit! Ice was good, but Blaze blew it out of the water. The Blaze helmet had such a distinct look that you could see your team wearing it. Where, with Ice, that was not the case. Collectors (autograph and otherwise) wanted this helmet. Once again, production was limited from August to December.

Now, in 2018, Riddell has come out with the latest version, the Chrome helmet. The Chrome helmet uses a vacuum-metallization process to transform each helmet into a mirror-like chrome finish in your team’s color. These are the same helmets the teams wore on gameday yet painted in a new design. These helmets just recently hit the market only a couple of weeks ago. The cool part, this year some NCAA schools are being made in the Chrome, as well as all 32 NFL teams. You can view the teams by clicking here.

If you like new and unique items, I encourage you to check these out. I hope Riddell continues its helmet innovation trend in the coming years. So far, they are doing a great job!

If you have time, be sure to check out for more information, to read our old blog posts, to view upcoming signings, and to find everything to assist in the building of your sports collection.

Sports Dreams Ultimate Fan Cave

If you’re like me, you love sports memorabilia and collectibles. I started collecting when I was five years old. It started with baseball cards, bobbleheads, and starting lineup figures. I remember sending letters to my favorite baseball players asking for an autograph or just telling them how much I loved watching them play. The excitement I felt, waiting for the mailman to show up every day to see if I got a response, was like waiting for Santa to arrive. The times an athlete would respond brought such joy to me and always added one more thing to hang on my bedroom wall or to display on a shelf.

As I grew up, my collection began to grow, maturing to feature autographs, stadium seats, and game-used items. I still love collecting, today, and get such great joy watching my kids collect and transform their bedrooms. For most collectors having a Fan Cave is a dream — if not a reality. However, one of the most fantastic Fan Caves I’ve seen belongs to Stewart McVicar!

The new Netflix series, “Amazing Interiors,” featured Mr. McVicar’s Fan Cave. He is a lifelong Cubs fan who turned his 2,300 square foot basement into the ultimate man cave for Cubs fans. It comes complete with a bar, theater, and arcade. He has over 500 autographed baseballs, 100 bats, 50 Jerseys, an organ from Wrigley field, a life-size bobblehead of Anthony Rizzo, and to top it off he has current and former Cubs who come to his house for Charity functions.

Mr. McVicar’s is living his dream, and in so doing, he is raising money to help those in need. Over 20 athletes have held Charitable events in his Man Cave, raising over $300,000 to-date. What an incredible story!

McVicar said, “This was a dream of mine I had a long time ago. This is something I thought about when I was a little kid, building the ultimate place to watch the Cubs. To see it blossom to where it is now, especially the charity portion of it, is amazing. The opportunity it has given my family and me to help other people truly is the best part.”

He turned his dream into a reality and can now use the fulfillment of that dream to help others. I hope your collection, and mine, are bringing joy to the people who surround us. My guess is, they are!

Protecting Your Sports Memorabilia, Part 1

protecting framed prints collectibles

nolan ryan framed autographed printAfter investing your time and money on autographed memorabilia, it’s important to protect it. If you don’t, your collectible items can get damaged over time. Autographed photos can yellow or discolor, while signatures fade, collect dust, scratch, and even tear. Damage to your item will significantly decrease its worth and, in some instances, can cause it to lose all of its value.

You’ll surely agree, protecting your sports memorabilia is an important investment to make!

One way to protect your autographed photos and jerseys is with custom framing. Many companies offer custom framing, but most don’t understand the special considerations involved in framing sports memorabilia collectibles. While they may provide an array of frame and matting options, they do not use the right materials to ensure sure your collectible stays preserved.

For instance, when it comes to matting options, you need to insist on using acid-free materials. If they use a paper mat with a high acid content, the portion of the photo touching the mat will turn yellow or discolor. Therefore, I always suggest requesting a suede acid-free mat. Suede is a better option because the matte’s colors will stand out better. Make sure the backing-board they use (to help secure your picture) is also acid-free.

Always remember — it’s important to inquire about the materials being used to frame your collectible!

Dan Marino Signed Framed PrintThe same principles apply to framing a Jersey. If you do not use proper materials, its colors will eventually fade. One big concern is how it will be mounted. For instance, you should never use staples or pins to mount a jersey on the backboard. Sewing it down using thread is always the best option as threads will not pull, rip, or stretch a jersey’s fabric.

When it comes to the glass (or plexiglass/acrylic), getting UV protection is your best option. Glass and Plexi both come in UV forms. It is more expensive but worth it. That said, if you do not choose a UV option, it’s not the end of the world. UV helps ensure the signature gets protected from the light. If you use standard glass or Plexi, make sure your custom framed piece is not facing any direct light. That one consideration will considerably help preserve the life of your signature.

emit smith signed framed printIt is imperative to find the right framer for your sports memorabilia photos and jerseys. Choose one who has professional experience working with autographed memorabilia. Also, shop around for a good price. Custom Framing is the most expensive framing decision you’ll make. Many framers are overpriced. Some even use cheap materials while charging premium prices. When you talk to them, ask lots of questions and do your research. We offer custom framing at Gameday Connexion and would be more than happy to help answer any questions you may have.

Be sure to read next week’s article, part two in this series on how to protect your sports memorabilia. We will discuss presentation cases for displaying footballs, baseballs, helmets, etc.

In the meantime, check out for further information, to read old blog posts, to view upcoming signings, and to find everything to assist in building your sports collection.

3 Types of Autograph Inscriptions (and the value they add)

sports autograph inscription

nolan ryan autograph inscriptionAn inscription is anything an athlete or celebrity adds to an item other than their signature. For example, “Happy Birthday to John,” “HOF 07,” “3000 hits,” etc.

Over the last several years, inscriptions have become very popular in the autograph world. An inscription typically adds value to a piece and, in almost any circumstance, the more the athlete or celebrity writes something in addition to their name the more valuable it is. An item with a distinct inscription is rarer than those without and also looks good!

Typically, when you attend an autograph show, you will see that most of the athletes or celebrities offer both, an autograph fee, as well as a fee for the inscription. Each celebrity has a different fee, usually based on how many characters or words are needing inscribing. They usually range anywhere from $10 to $300 (and up), depending on what you want them to write. Some individuals only add specific kinds of things, like “HOF” (Hall of Fame year). Some limit the number of inscriptions they will put on an item. Most abbreviate when they can — for example, “HOF” (Hall Of Fame) and “SB 27 MVP” (Super Bowl XXVII MVP) are two examples.

dwight clark inscriptionToday we will look at three popular types of inscriptions.

The first is personalization. It’s anything that’s made out to you or someone else. For example, I have a personalized autograph football from Roger Staubach. It reads, “To Caleb, Best Wishes and Thanks, Roger Staubach.” Anyone would love their favorite athlete to sign something they can display in an office or home. It’s not only meaningful for you but also serves as a great conversation piece.

On a side note, when an item is personalized it usually doesn’t add to the item’s value. My Roger Staubach football is worth something to me, of course, but if I ever wanted to sell it (which I never would) there isn’t a market for autographs signed to “Caleb.”

Pete Rose InscriptionThe second kind of inscription, and most popular, mentions particular achievements. These add value to the item. Here are some achievements you might ask an athlete to add:

  • Hall of Fame, as well as the year they got inducted (such as, “HOF 07”).
  • Any awards, like “Super Bowl MVP,”Bowl game MVP,” “NL” or “AL MVP,” “Cy Young Award,” a “scoring title,” etc.
  • Prominent stats and achievements. “3000 hit club,” “300 Wins,” “TD passes,” “YDS thrown,” “Rushing Stats,” “Points Scored,” “Home Runs,” “Wins,” etc.

The last type — and this adds value too — is a phrase the player is known for, a motto, or a nickname. Here are two examples:

  • For Mike Tyson, “Baddest Man on the Planet.”
  • Pete Rose, “I am Sorry I bet on baseball,” or “Hit King.”

Inscriptions make items unique, rare, (usually) more valuable, and are always fun!

Sports Memorabilia Collector Saves Tom Brady’s Super Bowl Jersey!

Stolen Super Bowl Jersey

Super Bowl 51 was possibly the greatest game in the history of the sport. Not only did the Patriots make the largest comeback ever, but 18 other Super Bowl records got broken that day. Tom Brady was called the GOAT (“Greatest Of All Time”), and Bill Belichick was named as greatest coach ever.

No matter where you stand, you cannot ignore their greatness.

The following day, something else captured the spotlight, however. A sports memorabilia collector and media member, Martin Mauricio Ortega, had stolen Tom Brady’s Super Bowl 51 jersey after the game. At the time, no one had identified the Jersey-bandit. The investigation was fast underway. Not only was the local Houston PD investigating but the Texas Rangers and FBI both got involved. With little to go on and no eyewitnesses, it was certainly going to be a challenge finding the culprit — not to mention, the jersey.

Luckily, a 19-year old sports memorabilia collector, and die-hard Patriots fan, Dylan Wagner, helped crack the case. Dylan and Mr. Ortega had previously met through eBay, where Dylan had sold him some memorabilia. After sharing pictures of their collections with one another, Dylan noticed one with Tom Brady’s other stolen Jersey, from Super Bowl 49.

It may be an understatement to say Mr. Ortega is not the smartest person on the planet for having flagrantly sent a photo of such a notorious piece of stolen merchandise. But thank goodness he was stupid or else he might not have gotten caught. Dylan quickly reported what he saw to an ATF agent, and the rest is history. (You can see more of this story at the below link.)

I’m cheering the fact Dylan reported this and that Tom Brady received what is rightfully his. Sports memorabilia collectors sometimes get a bad wrap because of unscrupulous characters like Mr. Ortega. For most of us, we collect because we love it and want to own a piece of history. But stealing undermines the good nature of our hobby and is just plain wrong. I hope more people like Dylan will help clean up the kind of unethical behavior and fraud that’s stained our industry.

How To Determine the Value of Sports Autographed Memorabilia

sports collectibles collectors autograph value

Many factors go into determining the value of your signed collectible. Today, we look at five key areas which contribute to your signed collectible’s value.

The top factor concerning your item’s value is who authenticated it. Without authentication, your signed collectible’s value is only worth what someone is willing to pay and has no real value in the open market. But if a trusted source authenticates your item, the signature’s value increases.

There is a demand for authenticated sports memorabilia. A Michael Jordan autographed basketball authenticated by UDA is worth hundreds of dollars more than the same basketball signed by Jordan without authentication. If your item hasn’t been authenticated, I recommend contacting a third party authentication company and have them review it. There is an associated fee charged, but it is well worth it if you ever plan on selling your collectible or if you are passing it down to someone else.

Second, how good was the player? A player’s greatness helps the signature’s value in a big way. For example, Tom Brady is one of the best football players of all time. Because of this, his signature’s value is one of the highest in sports. The same holds true for Hank Aaron, Magic Johnson, and Wayne Gretzky. All three are among the greatest to play their respective sport. Player records, “Hall of Fame” status, along with world championship wins, are just a few aspects that play an integral part in a signature’s value.

Third, how scarce is their signature? Going back to the example of Tom Brady — he does not sign a lot of autographs. His signature isn’t only valuable because he’s a great player but also because there are so few authenticated Tom Brady signatures out there.

Barry Bonds’ signature, back when he was playing (and even today), was almost impossible to get. He did not attend autograph shows and would not sign at the ballparks. To many collectors, his signature is gold because it is so hard to find. On the other hand, there are players like Cal Ripken, Jr. When he played, he regularly signed at the ballparks. And, now, he does autograph shows all over the country. His signature carries value, but not as much as if it weren’t everywhere. The more he signs, over time, the more his signature’s value will diminish.

Fourth, what item did the athlete sign? Value is considerably determined by what gets signed. For instance, a signed Lebron James Jersey is worth a lot more than a signed Lebron James photograph. Helmets and Jerseys are two of the most valuable items you can get signed. Balls, bats, cleats, and gloves (to name a few) tend to maintain stable values. Signed, yet unframed, photographs are usually worth much less had their framed counterparts. Signed game-used items carry a greater value because of how limited the piece is. In the golf world, a photo typically has more value as golf balls do not sign well and are hard to read. Only a limited number of collectors collect signed visors, so the photo is a more valuable when it comes to golf.

Fifth, a player’s popularity can sway value. Derek Jeter was a great baseball player. He played for the Yankees, and the majority of the sports watching world liked and respected him — a fact that contributed a great deal to the increase in his signature’s value. During the time when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled to break Roger Maris’ record for “Most Home Runs in a Season,” both their signatures skyrocketed in value. Once their duel ended, the value began to drop. It dropped even further when all the drug speculation began. Jeremy Lin, when he played for the New York Knicks, was on an incredible run. As a result of his increased popularity, his signature was in high demand. He wasn’t going to be the next Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, but people loved him. Now that he’s come back to earth, and is playing at a very average level, his signature is not worth anything near what it was during that short stretch. One last example is that of Joe Montana — he signs a lot of autographs but is still so popular with fans that his signature’s value holds up.

As you can see, an autographed item’s value is determined by many factors. Not just these five, but also considerations like the pen that was used, as well as its color. Also, where the item was signed can have an effect on its value.

Hopefully, these five key areas will help you when it comes to determining the value of your signed sports collectible. And, until next time, please check out for further information, old blog posts, upcoming signings, and all your sports collectible needs.

Top 3 Reasons To Attend Sports Autograph Shows

sports autograph signings

Some collectors go to stadiums, hotels, and airports (among other places) to find their favorite athlete, to get an autograph. While you can do this, it takes an enormous amount of time, and you can never be sure of the outcome. You may or may not get the autograph you are after. They might hurriedly sign your item in the wrong place or provide you with a horrible signature. So many things can go wrong.

When I first started collecting, I went to the ballparks and stadiums to get autographs. It was fun but took so much time that, if I did not get the autograph I was hoping for, it could be a real letdown. After trying this approach for a couple of years, I changed my philosophy and began attending sports memorabilia autograph shows. At each show, there was a list of players who would be signing and what their autograph fees were. I happily paid their fees for the following three reasons.

  1. Doing so guaranteed the signature.
  2. It saves time.
  3. You get your item authenticated on site.

There are Sports Memorabilia Autograph Shows all over the country. Some have up to 100 athletes while others have as few as five. If you’ve never attended one, I encourage you just to go and check it out. Most shows feature vendors, and it’s always fun to see what they have to offer.

Gameday Connexion takes athletes to several of these shows throughout the year and all over the country. My business partner travels to most of the big shows throughout the USA. In fact, we even provide a mail-order/drop-off service to our customers so we can take items to get signed at all the shows we attend. This service is a really cool way for us to help out because, if you cannot attend a show, we can take your item(s) to get signed on your behalf. All you need to do is mail in your item or drop it off (at our Grapevine location), pay the autograph fee, and we will take your item to get autographed by the athlete. If you mail your item to us, you will need to add the return shipping cost. We do not up-charge you for this service. You can go to our signings page to see the upcoming shows we will be attending. There, you can find the price the athlete/celebrity is charging and get more details.

If you are ever at an autograph show, be sure look for us. We would love to meet you and help you out in any way we can!

In the meantime, check out for further information, old blog posts, upcoming signings, and all your sports collectible needs.

10 Tips to Choose the Right Pen for your Sports Memorabilia Autograph

Autographs by baseball star on black and lights background

When it comes to getting an autograph for one of your memorabilia items, one of the most common questions we get asked is: “What pen should I use on my item?” The question might seem unusual, but it’s a big issue! Items are not all alike, and some pens, on certain things, can fade, change color, or simply won’t show up.

Here are 10 of the best tips for finding the best pen and ink solution for your signed memorabilia.

  1. Buy name brand pens. They are name brands for a reason.
  2. On baseballs, ballpoint pens work best. Blue or black ink. Blue, in my opinion, is the very best. It doesn’t tend to fade as much and stands out better than other colors. However, do not get baseballs signed with Sharpie pens. With time, their ink will eventually fade into the ball leaving almost nothing of a signature.
  3. On jerseys, depending on the material, use either blue, black, or silver fine-point, paint pen. Silver or black are best. Sharpie offers blue or black ink, but paint pens tend to be better.
  4. On helmets, use a blue or black Sharpie. Paint pens work too. Deco brand paint pens are good quality and are a brand we often use. Silver paint is best on darker helmets. And black Sharpies tends to last longer, while blue tends to fade more quickly with time.
  5. Use an ultra-fine, silver paint pen on hockey pucks.
  6. For footballs and basketballs, we have found that Prismacolor silver paint pens are best.
  7. If you are getting a card signed, a blue or black Sharpie is probably your best option. Several card companies have started recommending Staedtler pens, but we suggest that no matter which method you use, make sure your pen is brand new. Worn pens only cause problems while getting your card signed.
  8. Photos are best with either a blue or black Sharpies. Blue Sharpies tend to stand out better and won’t fade as quickly as black. For darker photos, I suggest using a silver paint pen.
  9. Bats or hockey sticks usually get signed with blue or black Sharpie pens — sometimes with a silver paint pen, if the wood is dark.
  10. Lastly, no matter what you are getting signed, be sure to test your pen before the athlete or celebrity signs it. Nothing is more awkward or frustrating than finally meeting them face-to-face, only to deal with pen issues.

As a general rule, I recommend staying away from all pen colors except blue, black, or silver. The reason being, most colors will fade over time. And if you decide on using a silver sharpie, realize it can be hit-and-miss.

You should also be careful using paint pens. They show up best on most items but have a tendency to smear, run, or just blow up. Paint pens are only good for a few use cases and need time to dry. Make sure that, when your item gets signed with a paint pen, you give it plenty of time to dry, so it does not smear.

Of course, this post doesn’t include everything that can be signed, whether books, figurines, seat backs, shoes, etc. But, hopefully, I’ve provided you with a reference point for dealing with other items, as well. There are many trains of thought regarding what works best, but most of what I’ve shared with you is considered standard practice in the autograph world. These guidelines represent what has worked best for myself and my company — I hope it works well for you, as well!

Next week’s blog post will cover how to protect your collection. In the meantime, check out for further information, old blog posts, upcoming signings, and all your sports collectible needs.