Dear Babe: I have a Mike Piazza signed National League ball.
— Jan Garrett Warren
Piazza was a first-timer on Hall of Fame ballots for 2013, along with several players with alleged steroid and performance-enhancing drug use hanging over their heads. No one was elected. Only Craig Biggio (68.2) and Piazza (57.8) among first-timers garnered more than 50 percent of the votes. That bodes well for each of them in the coming years.
The 2014 Hall of Fame ballots go out to sports writers in December with the results to be announced Jan. 8.
There will be some impressive first-timers on the 2014 ballot. Better yet, the top candidates have, so far, no links to steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.
Topping the 2014 ballot are former Atlanta Braves teammates and 300-game winners Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Then there’s Frank Thomas, a two-time MVP with 521 homers; Mike Mussina, who notched 270 wins in an 18-year career; and Jeff Kent, who had 377 homers and 1,518 RBIs with an MVP award in 2000. Kent’s numbers are better than just about any second basemen in the HOF with the exception of Rogers Hornsby.
This ballot will also be the last for Jack Morris. He was close in 2013. Morris was 254-186 in an 18-year career.
Mike Heffner, president of www.Lelands.com auction house in New York, said a single-signed Piazza ball is worth around $50.
In the mid-1990s when Piazza’s career was in its infancy, Da Babe attended a sport cards show in Southern California. The Dodgers’ young star was signing photos and baseballs for $30 a whack. The last call heard was for folks with tickets numbered up to 900.
Back then, Da Babe said: “Yes, even without the new math, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Piazza had just sold at least a cool $27,000 worth of signatures.”
Autograph seekers had to pay $5 to enter the show, so a Piazza sig on a ball cost each person $35 — and that didn’t include the cost of a ball.
Piazza rewarded all those folks with a long career that may land him a spot in the Hall of Fame.
However, if Piazza signed baseballs are worth $50, that’s not much of a return on a 20-year investment.
o o o
BABE NOTE: Secretariat still has it. The 1973 Triple Crown winner, who died in 1989, was a one-of-a-kind racehorse and continues to be just that when it comes to his memorabilia.
In conjunction with the sixth annual Secretariat Festival in Lexington, Ky., in September, www.secretariat.com offered a horseshoe nail from Secretariat’s 1973 Belmont Stakes victory. The Belmont nail is part of a framed montage that included a shot of the horse with jockey Ron Turcotte aboard, another photo of Secretariat and the nail. In addition, Turcotte and Penny Chenery, the horse’s owner, signed the piece. The unique item sold for $7,200. Turcotte and Chenery have been signing for 40 years. Rest assured the vast majority of the value lies in the nail.