Bock’s Score: Protect to Collect

Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire

Brandon Steiner has been in the memorabilia and collectibles business long enough to know that it sometimes behaves like a roller coaster with often unpredictable ups and downs.

That’s why he is eyeing the industry with some apprehension when he considers the current state of the industry.

“Business is booming but there are a couple of troublesome things,’’ he said. “Trading cards are out of control right now. People don’t know what they’re doing. There’s no regulation to it. It’s not the first time. We had the same thing in the nineties. People would come in with cases, boxes, truckloads. And it feels like it’s happening again.’’

People start downsizing their homes and discover long forgotten old cards packed away. Baby boomers and pack rats find packages in the back of a closet and they think, “Wow! This could be worth a fortune!’’

Not so fast.

“Finding an expensive card in a thousand card box is like hitting the lottery,’’ Steiner said.
But people keep trying.

“There is a lot of speculation,’’ Steiner said. “It’s like Wall Street guys. A lot of people are buying at the top of the market. Shares can be very wobbly.’’

In order to bring some order and common sense to the marketplace, Steiner launched a new company, CollectableXchange which enables players to sell their own memorabilia in a safe, authenticated manner. “This is designed to help the consumer and protect the seller,’’ Steiner said. “This enables players to sell their stuff in a safe way.’’

The CollectableXchange website advertises all manner of memorabilia from autographed game-used player gear to photos to jerseys, just about anything a collector might want. Steiner also has assembled a community of buyers and sellers and allows them to set their own prices for the products. Everything is authenticated by Steiner and his staff of experts.

Over the years, Steiner has handled a plethora of items, some routine, some out of the ordinary. When the old Yankee Stadium was dismantled, Steiner customers were able to buy all manner of the old ballpark from signs to bricks to seats, even containers of its dirt. Right now, pieces of Syracuse University’s original Carrier Dome roof are available.

Maybe the oddest product Steiner ever sold was a one-of-a-kind handprint of Hall of Fame relief pitcher Mariano Rivera on a baseball. It was a cool idea but there was one problem.

“We couldn’t get the ink off Mariano’s hand,’’ Steiner said.

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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