Sports Collecting: Most Collectible Current Athletes in Hockey, NASCAR & Golf

By JEFF FIGLER
Autograph March 2010

Sydney Crosby signed color photo. Courtesy of Frameworth Sports Marketing. In hockey, 22-year-old Sidney Crosby leads the parade. Many hockey fans only know a few players by name, but Crosby, of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals are two of them. Maybe it’s because Crosby’s nickname is “The Kid,” or maybe it’s because the Penguins are the reigning NHL champions. Fans have had the opportunity to follow his team’s ups and downs, as well as his own ascent to hockey’s elite. “The Kid” has done well and his following continues to grow.

In January I discussed the most collectible current athletes in baseball, basketball and football. Now, my friends, I present to you the most collectible current athletes in hockey, car racing and golf.

Hockey

The value of his memorabilia grows as well. A signed stick was auctioned for over $2,100, a signed helmet went for $1,345 and his jersey for over $21,000. And this young man is younger than LeBron James! But he can strike a puck better that virtually anyone and plays his sport flawlessly. That, coupled with a contagious smile and youthful exuberance, makes him my pick for the most collectible current hockey player—despite the fact that he plays in Pittsburgh.

NASCAR

NASCAR has steamrolled into popularity in the past 25 years. The sport has been around since the middle of the 20th century, but never did it have as many recognizable standard bearers as it does today, including the likes of Jimmie

Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Danica Patrick. But there has been only one driver who has won the Spirit Cup championship four consecutive years: Jimmie Johnson. And in a sport

Jimmie Johnson signed photo. Courtesy Brandon Mysinger.

which pales in collectibles to other sports, Jimmie Johnson is the most collectible. An average collector can’t bid on a car or even its wheels, but items such as gloves, hats and even programs are available. And because Jimmie Johnson is the poster boy of the sport, he is the most collectible. Johnson-signed gloves have been auctioned for over $500, for example, and are steadily rising. Johnson’s recent fourth consecutive Spirit Cup championship has made him so recognizable, that if the average American has only heard of one car racer, it would be Jimmie Johnson. Add in the fact that he stays out of trouble, gives back to the community and has been a spokesperson for the sport, he is by far the most current collectible race car driver.

Golf

Tiger Woods signed jersey. Courtesy Upper Deck Authenticated

Our final current collectible athlete doesn’t really need any introduction. After all, who else has putted against Bob Hope on The Mike Douglas Show when he was two years old? At age five he was featured in Golf Digest. Yes, I am referring to the incomparable golfer Eldrick Tont Woods, aka Tiger Woods. Simply put, he’s mastered a sport like no one else ever has.

His signed memorabilia includes golf balls, flags, shirts, lithographs, cards, menus, and yes, even baseballs. Signed baseballs are a tradition among athletes and celebrities, and Tiger Woods is no exception. Because of his infectious personality, his multi-ethnic appeal and the fact that he’s the best in his sport, his collectibles have set the bar. However, because of recent developments concerning Woods’ non-golf related activities, the value of his collectibles has plummeted. Let me give you some examples.

Tiger Woods signed shoes. Courtesy Upper Deck Authenticated.

A signed-Woods baseball that was auctioned for nearly $6,000 a couple years ago would probably fetch around $2,500 or less, today. A signed-Masters flag would bring in around half of the $1,200 bid price of a year ago. A similar comparison can be made with his high school yearbook that went for over $1,400 last year. We have seen collectible values drop for other fallen sports icons (Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, etc.) as much as 70 to 80 percent. Chances are that Woods’ drop will not be as great, but it will be sharp nonetheless.

Other current golfers, such as Phil Michelson, Ernie Els, Greg Norman, and even Vijay Singh, are collectible but nowhere near Tiger Woods.

So there you have it, the most current collectible athletes in their respective sports. With no disrespect to soccer, wrestling, mixed martial arts, track and field, and God forbid, any other sport I may have missed, I have only focused on six sports in the past two issues. You may think that Roger Federer is the most collectible athlete in the world. You would be wrong, but you are entitled to your opinion.

Tiger Woods signed flag. Courtesy Upper Deck Authenticated.

In our next issue, I will discuss the most collectible athletes of all time in various sports.

If you have any comments, or wish to contact me, I can be reached at collectingwithjeff@sbcglobal.net. Likewise, if you want my opinion as to the value of an item contact me as well. I would like to hear from you.

About Steve Cyrkin, Editor

Steve Cyrkin is the editor & publisher of Autograph, and focuses mostly on forgery, market and consumer protection issues.