Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Value in Memory

Though a huge baseball fan, I’ve never been much of an autograph seeker.  I’m actually unsure as to why this is.  Somehow, the idea of meeting the players I watch and admire for their skill and determination always seemed like more of a thrill than having an autograph.  I’ve picked up a signed ball or two over the years, but rarely have I sought an autographed piece of memorabilia.

Those who specialize in such things tell us autographs and other collectibles which are rare are far more valuable than those which are more common.  That rare misprinted baseball card or comic book with a limited print run?  Those are the most valuable.  The antique tea set with a one-of-a-kind stamp on it?  A prized possession to be sure.

Only a few weeks ago, St. Louis and Donora, Pennsylvania, treasure Stan Musial passed away.  In a strictly objective sense, Stan’s autograph on various pieces of baseball souvenirs, most notably baseballs and photographs, is much less valuable than for most other great players.  Sure, the street value of these items have increased following his death, but only slightly.  This is because Stan was so incredibly generous with his signature.  He gave to any who would ask, and to many without their even asking.  This was especially true of children.  I do not know if Stan realized he was flooding the market for his own signature, but regardless, I doubt he would have cared.

The true irony comes in the many stories which have been told, in both television and print media, of the family heirlooms many Stan Musial autographs have become. These items may have varying degrees of resalable value, but such an assessment truly misses the point; not one of these family members ever described wanting to make a financial profit from these items.  They are too valuable right where they are, attached to a story about a handshake, smile, or good deed.

Stan’s autograph may never be a hot item on eBay, but we could all do worse than to have our memory treasured.

Grace and peace,