Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Dice-K Signs With Upper Deck

Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka smiles as he runs during a practice prior to a spring training baseball game in Fort Myers, FL, Monday March 12, 2007. Fans flock for his autograph. Cameras record his simplest moves. He's just one of hundreds of rookies at baseball spring training camps this year, but he's swooned over like a rock star. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa

Memorabilia producer and trading card maker Upper Deck has signed Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka to an exclusive memorabilia and autograph deal. Sources tell CNBC it's a one-year deal.

"Daisuke Matsuzaka has been a big story this year, everyone in the hobby wants to get his Upper Deck exclusive autograph and game-used cards," said Louise Curcio, the company's vice president of marketing, in a statement.

While I feel there's no way Matsuzaka got as much money for the deal as he would have gotten in April, we hit it right on the head when we told you on April 12 that Matsuzaka's per signature fee was going to be so high that the winning bidder would charge more than $400 for an autograph.

Boston Red Sox fan Michael Ardagna of Andover, Mass., shows a baseball, which Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka autographed for him near the Red Sox minor league complex in Fort Myers, Fla, Wednesday, Feb., 14, 2007. Matsuzaka worked out at the complex on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)
Chitose Suzuki

Sure enough, the price for a Matsuzaka signed baseball in English will be $449.99, while his signature with a Kanji inscription will cost $100 more. The public usually pays between double and triple what the player gets per signature. So that means that Matsuzaka is conservatively making $150 per signature, one of the highest in sports memorabilia history.

For those who would rather try their luck, the first of Matsuzaka's autographs will be in packs in Upper Deck's Goudey baseball (release date Aug. 23) and SP Rookie Edition Baseball (release date Sept. 6).

Upper Deck officials have said they believe demand for Matsuzaka is similar to the demand they saw for Albert Pujols six years ago. The question is, how much has interest waned since Matsuzaka made his debut three and a half months ago? He's still a front-runner for American League Rookie of the Year, but we're not sure he has the same buzz with a 13-8 record and a 3.59 ERA.

The data we're seeing backs that up. The average price for a Matsuzaka item on eBay was $15.24 last week. Compare that to who Upper Deck compares him to, Albert Pujols, whose items sold for an average of $35.56 last week. Alex Rodriguez, who, like Matsuzaka is represented by Scott Boras, saw his prices average $54.41 per item on the online auction site.

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