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.

Collecting Sports Memorabilia Should Be FUN!

Heisman Trophy helmet

Beginning sports collectors are often unsure what memorabilia to collect. Hopefully, we can help you get started in the right direction!

In our last blog post, “Four Questions All Sports Memorabilia Enthusiasts Must Ask Themselves,” we laid the foundation for how to approach sports memorabilia collecting. Assuming you’ve decided what you’d like to collect, this column will help you take the next step by offering some ideas for possible projects.

As the previous article stated, I began with collecting autographed baseballs. At the time, they were rather inexpensive and didn’t require much space to display. These were important considerations for my limited budget and space. I couldn’t collect everything I wanted at the time, so my conservative approach allowed my collection a start in the right direction.

Since my favorite team was the Atlanta Braves, I collected items related to the team I loved. If someone ever played for the Braves, I wanted a signed baseball from them. But, as time went on, I adjusted my approach to collect with a more distinct purpose.

The list below provides three ideas (from two major sports) for your consideration. There are many more ideas than these, of course, but this will get you thinking in the right direction.


  1. 3000 Hit Club Members
  2. 300 Win’s Club
  3. AL and NL MVP’s


  1. Super Bowl MVP’s
  2. Hall of Fame QB’s
  3. All Time Record Holders (Rushing, Receiving, Passing, etc.)

In addition, for NCAA Football you could collect Heisman Trophy Winners.

For the NHL, consider collecting the top scorers or best all-time goalies.

For the NBA, look at the 50 greatest players of all time and start collecting those. You can find lists of top players, according to their respective positions, all-time team, etc., by visiting the,, and, just to name a few.

You can assemble a great collection starting with one of those lists. After all, there are so many different ideas and categories from which to choose.

With a lot of these kinds of collections, you can start with only one item. For instance, you could begin with a baseball bat and then aim at getting “3000 hit club” members to sign it. Alternatively, you could buy a Super Bowl MVP full-size helmet and start that collection, or you could get signatures from each player, individually, on a particular item.

The fun is in approaching your collection in any way you want. Sports memorabilia collecting is your hobby, so you should never feel compelled to adhere to any specific way of doing things. Collect because doing so brings you joy.

One thing to remember, if you are collecting as an investment, there are some rules to follow if you are going to make a profit. Those will be covered in a future blog post.

In next week’s article, we will answer the question: “What type of pen should I use on my item?”

Check out for further information, old blog posts, upcoming signings, and all your sports collectible needs.

Four Questions All Sports Memorabilia Enthusiasts Must Ask Themselves…

sports memorabilia enthusiast questions

At Gameday Connexion we are often asked, “Where do I begin on collecting sports memorabilia?”

It is a great question. Even someone with an established autograph collection should ask it from time to time. It is so easy to rush into this wonderful hobby, but if you just start collecting, without considering what’s best for yourself, it can quickly get overwhelming. Sports Memorabilia collecting can become a very expensive hobby if you aren’t diligent about how you approach it.

Between the different leagues and all of the players, what should you do? Here are four questions to ask before getting started with sports collectibles, even if you’re already serious about it.

4 Questions for Sports Memorabilia Enthusiasts…

  1. How much money would I like to spend per week, month, or year?
  2. How much space do I have?
  3. What sport do I want to collect? NFL, MLB, NCAA, NHL, Soccer, Tennis, ……
  4. What item or items do I want to collect? Full-sized Helmets, Baseballs, Pucks, Photo’s, Art Work, Game-used Items, Jerseys…

Asking yourself these four questions will help you gain knowledge regarding what is the best for you. All four questions align with one another. For instance, how you answer question one will guide how you proceed with the rest, such as your answer to question four (what items you want to collect). If you have a limited budget, photos are the cheapest item to get signed. Game-used items are the most expensive.

For photo collectors, the two most common sizes are 8×10’s and 16×20’s. With photos, you have to consider the cost of framing, as well as your available space. If you’re not planning to frame your items, then 8×10 photos don’t take up much space, especially if you will be putting them in binder sleeves.

When I asked myself these same questions, many years ago, I was a die-hard baseball fan. As a result, I decided to collect baseballs because they are inexpensive and easy to display. They took up little room, and I could display all of them. I had limited space, so it was a great option for me!

I have since expanded my collection and have moved into collecting memorabilia from other sports, but I still ask myself the same four questions. At first, being a smart sports collector can seem challenging, but it is very simple once you begin asking yourself the most appropriate questions. Don’t make the common mistake of feeling like you need the biggest and best collection from the outset. Take your time and enjoy collecting!

Sports Memorabilia Collecting 101

Over the next several weeks these blog posts will serve as a Sports Memorabilia Collecting 101 course. Next week, I will walk you through some ideas on what to collect — we will cover topics that will apply to MLB memorabilia, NFL memorabilia, NBA memorabilia, autographed baseball memorabilia and much, much more!

Check out for further information, old blog posts, upcoming signings and all your sports collectible needs.

Tis the Season to Give!

Normathon Charity Fundraiser Sports Memorabilia

Sixteen years ago, one man had the vision to help those in need. He decided to use his platform to raise money for the Austin Street Center, which has served the most vulnerable homeless men and women in Dallas for more than three decades. His vision and generosity have inspired many to give unselfishly, both of their time and money — more than $2.5 million, so far — to impact countless lives.

His name is Norm Hitzges, a DFW talk-show host for Sports Radio 1310, The Ticket. His goal continues to be helping the Austin Street Center to care for the basic needs of the homeless while providing individualized care for everyone who asks for help.

This December 28th, the 16th Annual Whataburger Normathon will take place at Star Power. The Normathon is a one-day event where Norm Hitzges will be live on-the-air, all-day, to raise money for Austin Street. Last year they raised $500,000. This year, they’d love to break that record!

For the last several years, Gameday Connexion has been honored to be a part of this effort by donating authentic sports memorabilia to be auctioned. We believe in the work done by the fine people at Austin Street, and I have personally seen how it has changed lives. Click on the link below for more details on how to give to this wonderful organization.

It’s my belief that, no matter the season or day, it is always a good time to give. Give your time, resources, money, or all-of-the-above. Whether you give to Austin Street or another charity, please give. Any donation amount is appreciated. If you can give your time and volunteer, that’s just as valuable. And if you decide to make a contribution to Austin Street, let me say, “Thank you!” — from the bottom of my heart! If you give to another charitable cause, once again, I say, “Thank you!”

One man’s vision changed thousands of lives. What is your vision? How will you change a life today? Ask yourself, “How will I change a life today?”

May God Bless you and your generous heart!

Top 8 Christmas Gift Ideas for Sports Fans & Memorabilia Collectors in 2016

Top 8 Christmas Gift Ideas for Sports Fans & Memorabilia Collectors in 2016

This Christmas season, we uncover the 8 hottest sports memorabilia collectibles that sports fans have spent the year wishing for.

Tom Brady Autographed Helmut And what better gift for the Tom Brady fan than an autographed full-size New England Patriots authentic Riddell helmet? You can own a piece of NFL history, signed by 4-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Tom Brady. What makes this item especially popular is how well Brady is currently playing, putting his team in contention for yet another Super Bowl this year!He doesn’t sign often, so authentic Tom Brady autographed products are very hard to find.

16 x 20 photo is personally autographed by Nolan Ryan Next, one of the most iconic images in sports, but especially Major League Baseball. Celebrate baseball history with Texas Rangers legend Nolan Ryan, a favorite in the world of baseball. This 16 x 20 photo is personally autographed by Mr. Ryan shows him famously beating up Ryan Ventura after he charged the mound, making this photo is a must-have for every baseball fan.

Dallas Cowboys Foam LogoThe Dallas Cowboys are having an awesome season this year — and no game event is complete without some cool merchandise to show your team pride. The Dallas Cowboy’s 3D Fan Foam Logo is perfect for a kids bedroom or fan cave. It is made of foam, making it light and ready to hang on a wall. Constructed with multiple layers of thick, colorful EVA foam, this 3D Foam Logo is sure to pop when you hold it up at the game or anywhere you want to show your passion.

Alabama Plank Wood SignOur vintage-inspired, Alabama Plank Wood Sign lets everyone know you’re a fan. Dress up the rustic mood of your beach house, getaway cabin or basement college game room. This item, no matter the team, is a favorite, because it is made in the USA and shows off your team spirit. Alabama is also going for another national championship this year, so the Alabama Plank Wood Sign the perfect gift for fans.

3D Chicago Cubs StadiumNext, you can bring your favorite stadium into your home. This 3D Chicago Cubs Stadium Reconstruction is a model of Wrigley Fields, along with original artwork and a brief listing of stadium facts. It’s available for many different teams and is great for an office or fan cave. This is one of the hottest items for Christmas this year — especially since the Cubs just won the World Series. That said, any team stadium would look great for the right fan.

Dallas Cowboys Tiki TotemThis is a Gameday Connexion Exclusive! Let our Exclusive Tiki Totem bring you and your Dallas Cowboys luck all year round. The tiki totem is available in NCAA and NFL. It is the hot new item of the year. This Cowboys edition is exclusive to Gameday Connexion.

Steelers Tervis Next up, the Pittsburgh Steelers Black Gridiron Wrap – Gear up for game day with your own officially licensed Pittsburgh Steelers Tervis. These tumblers are made in America with BPA-free plastic, will keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. The Steelers 24 ounce Tervis is the perfect gift for anyone. Tervis tumblers are made in the USA and are available for all leagues.

Packers Christmas OrnamentsAnd if you still have Christmas decorating to do, you’ll want this set of Green Bay Packers Ornaments. These light-up LED ball ornaments are the perfect gift for decorating any sports fan’s Christmas tree! It is the number one selling ornament we have. Each ball lights up and is battery operated.

Give the kind of gift that will excite your sports fan’s passion this Christmas — from your authentic sports memorabilia specialists, your friends at GameDay Connexion!

Real or Fake?: 6 Tips for Buying Legit Sports Autograph Memorabilia

real or fake sports autograph memorabilia

Everyone knows that when a deal is too good to be true, it can’t be trusted. Even still, the temptation to believe has destroyed countless investments, whether in real estate, fine art, or in the collection of sports memorabilia. In fact, scandal and outright fraud have long plagued the sports memorabilia industry, especially in regard to signed collectibles. According to a report in Forbes, “Sports memorabilia is inundated with a morally bankrupt cast of characters who prey on the emotions and vulnerabilities of ardent fans who yearn for a connection with their childhood heroes and icons.”1

3rd party marketplaces helped destroy much of the autograph and collectible market because anybody and everybody sold there, regardless of their legitimacy. No oversight existed and, as a result, the fakes took over. Amazon has recently begun the process of going after those individuals who sell counterfeit goods on their websites. The FBI, for many years now, has been working to stop fraud in the sports memorabilia world.2

Sports memorabilia can be an expensive hobby; therefore, collectors should take care to protect their investments by getting educated on how to best approach any sports collectibles purchase.

6 Tips for Purchasing Real Sports Memorabilia

  1. Become knowledgeable regarding the signing habits of athletes is important. For instance, Michael Jordan is an elite athlete with Upper Deck. If the Jordan autograph you are purchasing does not have an Upper Deck Authenticated hologram and COA it is most likely fake. If you buy a Michael Jordan autograph from a vendor who says they witnessed him signing it and it does not have the Upper Deck COA, it is most likely fake. Jordan only signs at organized events put on by Upper Deck. Another example is Derek Jeter, an athlete who exclusively participates with Steiner Sports.Nolan Ryan signed baseball
  2. Purchase from dealers who will provide you with a legitimate COA and they will share in detail how they obtain their signatures. For instance, Gameday Connexion offers a COA on every piece we witness getting signed, through the signings we attend, as well as our in-store events. We 100% stand behind all of our signatures because we work hand in hand with athletes and their agents. We purchase all of our Jordan autographs through Upper Deck. Therefore every piece of Michael Jordan memorabilia we sell will come with an Upper Deck COA. At Gameday Connexion we work with Steiner Sports, Upper Deck, and GTSM just to name a few. Whoever you are purchasing from, ask how they obtain the autograph, by whom the COA is issued, how long they’ve been in the industry, etc. You are the purchaser, so ask as many questions as you need to make sure your item is legit.
  3. If the deal seems too good to be true, pass on it. Don’t be conned into a purchase that is bad. For instances, Emmitt Smith charges $285 to sign a full-size helmet at autograph shows. That price only covers his signature — helmet not included. So, if you find a full-size Cowboys helmet autographed by Emmitt Smith for $300.00 it’s most likely fake. Otherwise, the seller is losing a lot of money at that price. Go into any potential purchase with a budget. Don’t impulsively buy improperly authenticated collectibles. Do your research beforehand, so you know what you should expect to pay for an item. Don’t believe deals that are too good to be true. And, if you need assistance on verifying the validity of an offer, make sure to get a professional in your corner to help you investigate further. Don’t waste money on a fraud!
  4. Purchase sports memorabilia from authorized dealers. Companies who have a history, work with many different vendors, stand behind their products 100%, attend autograph shows, etc. Do your research. Don’t accept autographed items from vendors claiming to have procured items from anything other than organized events. Otherwise, you can safely assume an item’s signature is fake.
  5. Use third party authenticators like JSA (James Spencer Authentication) for help. A JSA witness certificate certifies a signature is real, because a JSA authenticator watched the athlete sign the item. JSA also authenticates sports memorabilia for a fee. You can send your item to them; they will review it and give you their opinion. You can also see if they might be in your area performing authentications. At least four times a year, Gameday Connexion has them in our stores to examine our customer’s’ collections.
  6. Attend autograph events where athletes make personal appearances, whether that’s at a sports collectibles show or an in-store event. If you witness an athlete sign an item, you know it’s 100% real.

Unfortunately, there is fraud in the world. Millions of dollars of fake autographs and sports memorabilia get sold each year to unsuspecting consumers and fans. But more and more people are fighting back, and there has been a lot of progress cleaning up the fraud. But whether you buy your authentic sports autograph from Gameday Connexion, or another source, always do your research so you don’t fall victim to fraudulent sports memorabilia.

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