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Baseball and Basketball Players -- Get a Signed Photo and Personalized voice message!

I saw a story in the newspaper Sunday about a company called egraphs.com. It was about autographs going “digital.”

This company lets fans of NBA or MLB teams get a player to sign a picture electronically and have it sent to your computer (I have no clue if they’ll ever get NFL players).

Now the first thing I thought about was a company that released baseball cards a few years back that were merely a computer chip. You put it into your computer and the card showed up on the screen. Sure, you don’t have bubble gum ruining the picture and you have a lot more detailed stat sheets than the small section provided by a small card.

Anyway, I thought collectors might not like this, just as they didn’t care for those computer chips. Autograph collectors love to put that glossy 8 x 10 up on the wall.

I went to their website to look at the more than 300 athletes involved in this (a few of the big names had already sold out). I was immediately sold.

It wasn’t because of the signed picture, but the fact that they also come with a personalized recorded message.

I remember when I interviewed the Dream Team in the early 90s, an intern asked if she could borrow my tape recorder. She got Charles Barkley to leave an outgoing message on her phone (this was years before cell phones). We all loved calling her house just to hear him say “This is Charles Barkley, and Amy ain’t home right now, so leave a damn message!”

I’m not sure the athletes would say “damn,” or even how elaborate these personalized messages can be. I just thought about how cool it would be to send something to somebody in your fantasy baseball league. If it’s a player your friend has on their team, or a player they wished they drafted.

I thought about my friends grandfather who loved the Padres more than anything. When he was alive, he had a room in his house with every imaginable item. Something about the fact that you could get a Chase Headley photo with a message that says something like “Don, thanks for supporting us all these years, Chase Headley.”

The prices range from $25 to $125. I saw somebody I have a signed 8x10 from was $125 – that’s Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. I noticed another retired player (who isn’t in the Hall of Fame) was Cedric Maxwell of the Celtics. I immediately thought about my childhood friend, who’s now a professor at Berkley. He loves the Celtics. As kids we’d go back and forth, since I was a Lakers fan. I’d love to get him a message from Cedric Maxwell that says something snarky.

As a Lakers fan, I clicked their page. I think there was only one player, and that got me to thinking – an athlete like Kobe Bryant probably won’t do these. Obviously that NBA fanatic on your Christmas list would love a LeBron James picture. But think about this. You wouldn’t even get those players to sign anything after the game; and if you buy autographed photos of athletes online, the FBI has warned – many are forgeries. It’s something you’ll always wonder about, and often you don’t find out until you try selling them 10 years later to buy your first house. You’re told by an authenticator they’re all bogus.

These items aren’t for the investor, but the fan.

Instead of standing around the parking lot waiting for an autograph in the cold and rain…only to have them wave at you before jumping on the bus and not signing your program…you’re just a mouse click away. 

A few of the prices I saw as I browsed -- $100 for David Ortiz/Red Sox or Miguel Cabrera/Tigers.

For $65, Chauncey Billups, Matt Barnes, or Jamal Crawford.

For $75, future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd or Stephen Curry.

The website states: It’s a shared moment between you and your favorite star…a high resolution photo, and personalized voice message. It’s one-of-a-kind.

They say that you can tweet back to the star and they might tweet you back, but I’m really not sure how that would work. I seriously doubt a star is going to keep in contact with you, but who knows. If that did happen, on top of getting a picture, a personalized voice message, and then communicating with them – this is the best money a sports fan would ever spend.

And for those of you that want that gift for a hardcore sports fan that “has everything,” well…they don’t have a picture that you can have written “Hey Bob, Happy Birthday. You’re turning 65, but can probably still teach me something on the court. Best Wishes, Robert Sacre.”

Views: 275

Tags: Cedric Maxwell, Charles Barkley, Chauncey Billups, Dream Team, Hakeen Olajuwon, Jamal Crawford, Jason Kidd, Matt Barnes, Stephen Curry, egraphs.com

Comment by Chad B on February 12, 2013 at 5:45am

I guess this is a neat idea but it is not for me. I think I would prefer (but still would probably spend money on) http://callachamp.com/. Here you get to speak directly with the athlete. I would like to speak to a couple of the folks on their roster. I mean who wouldn't want to talk to Sgt. Slaughter!?

Comment by Richard S. Simon on February 12, 2013 at 5:56am

If people are dumb enough to spend their money on something like this, there will always be someone smart enough to figure out a way to take that money.

Comment by Ryan on February 12, 2013 at 6:22am

The price gets higher if you want the photo printed out and framed neatly. It's a pretty cool idea, I just prefer the actual ink on my item. But who knows, this may be what future generations like. From the athletes perspective, it's pretty cool. This runs as an "app" on an iPad/Tablet. So on the plane/bus they simply get on their iPad and sign that way. Gives them a neat way of interacting with the fans, while not being swarmed in public. 

Comment by Josh Board on February 12, 2013 at 10:53am

Hey Chad -- I just glanced at that site you posted. Interesting, but I'm wondering why I couldn't find the price anywhere.

Since a few of you posted about this not being for you, I have to say -- I prefer an actual signed photo as well, but the idea of getting one of these for that sports fan in your life that has "everything"...something about that seems so damn cool to me. If you can get the athlete to say something really personal, like "Look, even though Josh kicked your butt in the fantasy baseball league last year, we still both wish you a Happy Birthday."

I've interviewed famous musicians, and had them make phone calls to friends that are huge fans. Sometimes it's on their answering machine. AND THEY NEVER ERASE THE MESSAGE! They love it.

Comment by Chad B on February 12, 2013 at 11:17am

Josh, you have to click on each person for their rate. For example, Bo Kimble is $6.99 a minute while Ken Shamrock is over $10.00 per. It is expensive but a treat if your favorite player is on the list.

 

Comment by Rich on February 12, 2013 at 12:25pm

In a sense, it is a neat idea and opportunity.  On the other hand, I don't agree with celebrities charging for every form of interaction with them. 

Comment by Josh Board on February 12, 2013 at 9:20pm

Chad: for those prices, if I'm talking to Bo Kimble, he better be describing what he's wearing in a sexy voice!

Rich: Here's the thing with "celebrities charging." NONE of these celebrities will charge when you catch them out in public. It's the companies that approach them. It's a great opportunity for the retired players that didn't make the kind of money players make nowdays. Joe DiMaggio has said in interviews, that he got paid more doing autograph signings than he ever did as a player. Now, when the day comes that celebrities don't sign in person and ONLY when they're paid, then we can complain. But when are we going to get a chance to rub elbows with those folks? Never, so this is our best opportunity. And to me, to leave there with two items -- a picture personalized (albeit on computer) and a voice message, is kinda cool.

Comment by Chad B on February 13, 2013 at 11:09am

Josh,

Great comment on Bo Kimble. You crack me up.

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