Collection time: 3,000 big memorabilia hit

Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit could be a memorabilia bonanza.

From the Yankees captain's bat to his spikes to the base from which he takes a bow, everything he touches on that day can become an instant collectible for a rarefied market.

The most valuable items such as Jeter's Yankees jersey and bats could fetch as much as six figures each, said Brandon Steiner, chief executive officer of Steiner Sports Marketing.

That's because Jeter is about to accomplish something no Yankee has -- not Ruth, not DiMaggio, not Mantle. And the shortstop's memorabilia already ranks among the three most-coveted current baseball players nationwide, along with Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols, said Tom Bartsch, editor of Sports Collectibles Digest.

But once Jeter becomes the 28th member of the 3,000-hit club, there will be more interest. Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator, said there is a significant segment of baseball enthusiasts considered "theme collectors."

They seek items from every member of exclusive milestone groups such as baseball's 500- homer or 3,000-hit club, Orlando said. "A milestone like this,'' he added, "it takes him to an entirely new level."

Any memorabilia off limits?

Just how much of Jeter's uniform and equipment actually makes it to the open market still must be determined, Yankees officials said. First, the Yankees and Jeter must decide which items he will keep, which items the team will put in its stadium museum and which items will be donated to baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Talks to resolve those issues between the Yankees and Jeter's representatives are not expected to take place until Jeter is even closer to 3,000. He needs 14 hits as the Yankees begin a 10-game homestand Tuesday night against Boston.

Jeter told Newsday recently that he hasn't even thought about what he wants to keep. But if, for example, he decides he wants to keep his jersey, the team technically owns that. Major league teams provide all elements of their uniforms.

Yankees officials are confident they will be able to work out a deal with Jeter if he decides he wants something the team owns. Typically, the team will ask the player to autograph special commemorative items for the team in exchange for giving the player, say, his jersey, the baseball and the lineup card.

"We're used to dealing with these type of achievements," Yankees president Randy Levine said.

Players are responsible for their bats, batting gloves, gloves and spikes. Jeter receives his equipment through various endorsement deals. His bat is from Louisville Slugger, his spikes, wrist bands and batting gloves are from Nike and his fielding glove is from Rawlings. He already owns them and could swap some of the items with the Yankees for, say, his game jersey.

The next step is deciding what is donated to Cooperstown. Officials there began lobbying Jeter in spring training; president Jeff Idelson met with him in Tampa "to refresh Derek's memory of how great he's been through the years and how we care for his artifacts," Hall of Fame spokesman Brad Horn said.

Jeter donated the bat he used during Game 6 of the 2009 World Series and the spikes he wore in 2008 when he broke Lou Gehrig's all-time Yankees hits record. Asked what the Hall of Fame's museum would be interested in from Jeter, Horn said, "Obviously, a bat is most representative of a 3,000th hit, but there are other ways to commemorate it."

Steiner completes the sale

Whatever game-used items wind up for public sale will be funneled through Steiner Sports Marketing, a New Rochelle-based memorabilia firm that has separate contracts with the Yankees and Jeter for the sale of game-used collectibles.

Steiner said it will have employees at games to "organize and authenticate" the potential game-used items. The Yankees will decide in the days after Jeter's 3,000th hit which items the team will give Brandon Steiner to place for sale on his company's website.

Steiner said he shares a percentage of the revenues with the Yankees on the sale of memorabilia but declined to offer specifics, citing a nondisclosure agreement in their seven-year business arrangement.

If the game is at Yankee Stadium, Steiner said the team has agreed to swap out the bases several times so he can sell them. Major League Baseball also will use specially marked baseballs when Jeter is at 2,999 in the event he hits a home run and a fan comes up with it, a league spokesman said.

Steiner also plans to take dirt from the field -- if Jeter gets No. 3,000 at Yankee Stadium -- and attach it to a framed photo. Steiner also will sell commemorative ticket stubs from the game and a replica Jeter bat inscribed with the details of the 3,000th hit.

Steiner doesn't expect many of the potential big-ticket game-used items such as Jeter's jersey and bat to wind up for sale because of the many parties in line ahead of him. But he anticipates getting more than just the bases and dirt because of his long-standing business relationship with Jeter.

Jeter has worked with Steiner since his rookie season. The deal is similar to Steiner's with the Yankees: Jeter provides him with game-used items and also autographs items. They share in the revenue. Jeter said a portion also goes to his Turn 2 Foundation.

When Jeter broke the Yankees' hits record at the old Stadium, he agreed to autograph balls, photos and jerseys with special "2,722" and "9/11/09" engravings. This time Steiner hopes Jeter will sign items with the number "3,000" from the day, which industry experts said would multiply their value.

"With Derek, when it comes to the individual stuff, it's tricky," Steiner said. "He doesn't really enjoy doing it. There was a tremendous demand when he broke the [Yankees'] hits record and we always try to get him to sign special inscriptions, but it's always a minimal amount that he wants to do."

DJ3K: Accepting spotlight

There already are signs that Jeter is treating this occasion differently. MLB will start selling a commemorative silicone bracelet Tuesday with the insignia DJ3K, and a league spokesman said Jeter has agreed to wear one Tuesday night. Twenty percent of the bracelet sales will go to Jeter's foundation.

The bracelet is just the first of what aficionados expect will be an array of 3,000-hit memorabilia for fans to choose from, even after Jeter, the Yankees and the Hall of Fame get first dibs. People who follow the market closely said the demand for Jeter collectibles will be high, but so should the supply.

"After a milestone like this, usually some company will latch on to the player and do a quick little licensing deal with them," said Bartsch, the Sports Collectibles Digest editor. "But with Jeter, the Yankees and Steiner, this is going to be bigger than any other 3,000th-hit milestone that's ever been reached."


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