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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Are you spending too much time signing baseballs?

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On game days, players ranging from high school baseball players to pro ball players sign the baseballs of hundreds, maybe thousands, of fans. When they come off the field, they take a selfie or an autograph. And there’s a pretty good chance that person is keeping track of every single autograph they get.

“I use the scanners,” said Ryan Romero, who sells the autographs of major and minor league baseball players through his company, APPLE Card Contracts. “Most of the time I’m selling a stack of paper.” He does, however, use an iPad for what might be his most important function: counting down a player’s autograph stamina.

There’s nothing wrong with using a program like the SportSpotter app. It’s free and can be used on Apple and Android devices. But it’s not accurate. “Most people who use it are serial number addicts,” Romero said. “They start with 0 and add one after another,” to create the impression that a player may sign more frequently.

That tells us a few things. One, our kids are getting spoiled: the reality of getting a (pretty lousy) autograph from superstar players like Derek Jeter or Ryan Braun is hard to understand for some kids. Two, they don’t know how much it costs to get that autograph. As a result, we’re getting stuffed with autographs and pocket-stuffers.

While technology is giving us more ways to track what we’re supposed to sign, the high demand has made it impossible for signing contractors to sell to the proper buyers in the right places. Romero sells to minors or 18-to-21-year-olds on campus at universities. Schools are fighting over who they will pay, because many colleges take standard practice with them when they’re on the road.

“It’s cutthroat and buyers are seeking preferred treatment,” Romero said. “They want the ball guys to jump into elevators and sprint to the locker room.”

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