Dear Babe: Can you tell me where my son can get his Mariano Rivera autographed baseball authenticated? It was signed in 2002 or 2003. It’s a Little League ball.
— Sunday Tadlock, Redding, Calif.
How many superlatives can one use to describe Rivera, who just retired at age 43 after a 19-year pitching career with the New York Yankees?
Just sticking with the facts is impressive enough.
• He is the all-time leader in saves with 652.
• He has the most postseason saves with 42.
• His earned-run average during the regular season was great: 2.21.
• His ERA in the postseason was even better than that — a minuscule 0.70, appearing in the postseason in 16 of his 19 years.
• He led the Yankees to five World Series wins.
Alas, the news on your signed ball is not great based on the image you sent.
It is not only a Little League ball, but also the signature appears to be faded.
Mike Gutierrez, consignment director for Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com), said that based on the image he thought the signed ball might be worth $20.
He said a ball signed by Mariano without any authentication was probably worth around $100 with a bump of $25 if it were signed on the “sweet spot” between the two parallel seams. The value would jump up to $200-$225 with a certificate of authenticity from James Spence.
That said, www.steinersports.com, which sells authenticated Yankees memorabilia, is offering a variety of baseballs signed by Rivera. The ones Da Babe looked at ranged in price from $299.99 to $1,999.99. The low end of the range is for a game-used ball that was originally priced at $442.42. The high end goes to a Mariano Rivera New York Yankees autographed Fazzino Pop Art Retirement Logo baseball. A game-used ball signed by Rivera was marked down to $700 from $1,000.
Baseballs with added notations such as “Last to wear ?42” or “Enter Sandman” are listed at $499.99. A 2013 All-Star Game ball signed by Rivera with the added notation “AS MVP” is offered for $549.99. A variety of baseballs with just Rivera’s signature are $399.99.
A 1999 World Series ball signed by the all-time great is priced at $419.99 with a 2009 World Series ball at $399, which is also the price for a single-signed Rivera ball.
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BABE NOTE: 2013 UFC Finest from Topps, which is on hobby store shelves, features a 100-card base than includes fighters such as Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva and Benson Henderson. There are also cards for five of the top female fights — Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Cat Zingano, Sara McMann and Liz Carmouche. As always they are plenty of autographs, relics and parallel cards. Each master box contains two six-pack mini boxes. Five cards per pack. Each mini box has three hits (one auto/ auto relic and two relics — either two fighter relics or a fighter relic and a mat relic). Each master box promises an autographed card and a signed relic card.