By Ray Schulte
To say fans are suffering Wieters-mania would be an understatement. But just because the 6-foot-5, 230-pound switch-hitting catcher has all the elite skills, leadership qualities and confidence to call a great game, fans need to be patient with reasonable expectations concerning the 23-year-old rookie.
Wieters' approach to the game, both on and off the field, reminds many of Minnesota Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer -- tall, athletic, quiet but confident, focused, a great teammate and a good-looking guy. Both players have very bright endorsement careers ahead of them.
Since Wieters was added to the Orioles' 25-man roster, Major League Baseball licensees are now permitted to create and sell collectible items with his name and likeness, including the Orioles marks, on products such as replica jerseys, T-shirts, photos, mugs and trading cards.
"We have had customer interest in Matt Wieters all year," said Baltimore's Baseball Card Outlet owner Scott Tanner. "Now that he has joined the big league team we are anxiously awaiting new merchandise to arrive."
"We've received a tremendous amount of interest from manufacturers and licensees in regards to Matt Wieters participation in signings and appearances," said a representative at Boras Marketing. "Matt's focus remains on baseball and making a contribution on the field with the Orioles but we will continue to evaluate off-field opportunities as they arise."
One licensed collectible all players look forward to receiving is their rookie card. In today's world, players have several minor league cards produced by licensed manufacturers, but it still isn't the old fashioned rookie card many of us old timers remember.
Numerous cards are created, and many these days are autographed.
Beckett Magazine cited Wieters' three most valuable signed cards to-date as:
• 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Signature Aspirations, No. 120 AU/50 -- $600
• 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Signature Turn of the Century No. 120 AU/100 -- $350
• 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition No. 120 AU/799 -- $250
"As long as Matt performs up to expectations, his first official rookie cards will be in demand regardless of when they arrive," Beckett editor Tracy Hacker said. "He's one of the most hyped and exciting catching prospects in years and collectors have already sent values of the cards he currently has soaring."
There are only two MLB-licensed trading card companies producing a Wieters rookie card, Upper Deck and the Topps Company. Upper Deck has already announced its Wieters rookie card will be included in their MLB Icons set scheduled to hit store shelves July 14. He will also be appearing in the following five MLB sets released by Upper Deck: Ballpark Collection (late August), SP Authentic (October), Sweet Spot Materials (November) and Ultimate Collection (December).
When a player of Wieters' caliber reaches the big leagues, fans and collectors have certain expectations concerning his play on the field. This speculation initially fuels the value of their rookie card, signed replica jersey, baseball or game-used bat.
Values can and will fluctuate similar to the stock market throughout Wieters' career. His on-the-field performance and how he is perceived off the field will continue to determine his signature cost, currently determined by Boras Marketing.
Meet Dwight Gooden at Sports Legends Museum, June 17 between 3:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. prior to the Orioles hosting the New York Mets at Camden Yards. For signature ticket prices, visit www.SchulteSports.com or call 410-350-6226. Tickets will be sold on-site as well.
Contact Ray Schulte at Ray@SchulteSports.com if you have an upcoming event, player signing or non-profit auction and would like to have it posted.
Issue 138: June 2009