Corrections or additions?
This article by Bart Jackson was prepared for the April 10, 2002
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
A Piece of the Action
The playing field remains one of the few places where
passion meets business. While virtually none of us may ever get to
stand at the plate and knock one out of Yankee Stadium, we can, as
collectors, grab a little piece of that fantasy through Mickey’s
ball or Yogi’s tattered trading card. The recent explosion of the
sports collectibles market in the past decade merely reflects the
innocent passion of folks wanting to recall old memories or build
new dreams. Yet, as with any exploding market, there are a host of
new legal considerations.
Offering a rare chance to both meet the athletes, the collectors,
and the officials and attorneys who link them all together, the New
Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) and the Seton
Hall University School of Law, present the 2002 Sports Law Symposium
on Friday, April 12, at 9 a.m. at Seton Hall Law School in Newark.
Cost: $129. Call 732-214-8500.
The following week, get a different kind of insider look at the sports
world from the "Sports Accounting" seminar offered by the
Institute of Management Accountants on Wednesday, April 17, at 6 p.m.
at Good Time Charlie’s. The controller of the Philadelphia Phillies,
one continuing education credit. Cost: $25. Call Rebecca Machinga
At the April 12 Seton Hall Law symposium,
of Fame pitcher
the players’ side. Providing a little insider information and a lot
of history are
managed the New York Yankees public relations from l968 to 1977.
Finally, to help give all this excitement a sound legal grounding,
Rabstein and Altman joins co-moderator
Hall’s law faculty and
for the Topps baseball card company. The latest addition to the lineup
Giants, now with the commercial real estate firm, the Gale Company.
Appel offers a single anecdote that shows how much the relationship
between business and sport has changed in recent decades: "So
I am standing there in the locker room in l968 as Mickey (Mantle)
unwraps a new pair of cleats, looks up at me, and says, `Guess this
will be the last pair of cleats I ever play in.’ He then takes the
old ones and tosses them in the trash can," recalls Appel. "If
only I had known. You just can’t imagine what they would sell for
Doubtless, sports memorabilia collecting began with the first discus
tossed at the first Greek Olympics. Babe Ruth’s autograph was traded
for substantial cash even during his career. But what really launched
the entire memorabilia collecting explosion was the auction in 1970
of a few rookie Mickey Mantle cards. They set prices that shocked
even the Associated Press. Details of this event, and of the public’s
love affair with sport can be found in Appel’s new book, Now Pitching
for the Yankees.
From that point on, business entered baseball cards, and the fans,
players, players unions, and even the lawyers, were never to look
on bubble gum cardboard the same way again. Topps attorney Gatto adds
that what drove school yard trading into shows, which became giant
conventions, was technology. Says he: "Ebay trading has just
this business into undreamt heights."
Originally from Bloomfield, Gatto, who holds a law degree and an MBA
from Seton Hall, has the fascinating, if not always enviable, job
of signing players to a Topps playing card contract — and
what each’s likeness is likely to bring down the road. Just how much
will this or that rookie impact Topps sales in the seasons to come?
Sports trading is full of business and legal issues, say Gatto and
symposium moderator Narol:
worth $500 because, on Ebay, that is what equivalent signed cards
of equivalent legends currently bring in? Or is it worth that amount
because that is how high one wild, online card auction went? The
has an impact on the players and their unions, explains Gatto. Each
player and his union are striving justifiably to get a fair piece
of this ever-expanding pie. "We at Topps have been offering a
standard contract via the leagues, union, and individuals," says
Gatto, "but there being no set standard of worth, all conditions
When that "excellent condition" card you bought over the
finally arrives with frayed edges, can it really be considered to
be in excellent condition? If not, what is your access to redress?
team card is reissued in 1999 by the original company, then sold by
collector as "A mint condition Green Bay Packers 1965 Team
is that fraud? What are your sources of redress? Narol also notes
that as prices increase, so do the incidents of forgery and
of Web-bought collectibles.
for their deeds, but also for their images. To what extent can a team
or union assume that a player’s autograph or picture is up for sale
or theirs for the promoting? What right does the individual retain
and what are the newest contractual deals being worked out?
happened to turn into serious business. Yet despite all the infusions
of cash, contracts, and negotiations swirling around sports memories,
Narol sees collecting as still innocent and still beneficial. "It
promotes sports and celebrates great athletes," says Narol.
— Bart Jackson
Learn about vaccines, asthma and allergies, teen sex,
and child development at a Children’s Health Forum on Saturday, April
13, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University of Medicine and Dentistry
Medical School, 185 South Orange Avenue, in New Brunswick. There is
no cost, but preregistration is advised, and a box lunch will served.
one of the keynotes: "Do Multiple Vaccines Weaken or Overwhelm
the Infant’s Immune System." Two Congressional representatives,
which is co-sponsored by the state chapter of the American Academy
of Pediatrics, UMDNJ, and the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey,
discuss the vaccine question in a panel moderated by
On an early childhood development panel are
will discuss adolescent health. Other panels will cover asthma and
"The Ill Child." Each panel will be given twice, and there
will be an opportunity to consult with panelists and speakers.
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