When Deter Jeter announced his retirement in February, it launched a bull market for anything that had been touched by the longtime New York Yankees shortstop. Now, in the wake of his final—and game-winning—hit at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 25, collectors' interest has hit a fever pitch.
"There's typically some resistance to accepting active or newly retired players as immortals," says Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions. "But the proof is in the numbers for Jeter. It's not controversial to call him one of the top five Yankees of all time."
Also helping Jeter's cause is his blemish-free record in an era marred by drug use and cheating. Five years ago, says Ivy, memorabilia associated with Alex Rodriguez was running neck-and-neck with Jeter on the auction market. Today the market for "A-Rod" items has tanked. Game-used Derek Jeter bats don't sell for less than $2,000; Alex Rodriguez bats can be had for less than a quarter of that.
So, is it time to stock up on Jeter memorabilia? Probably not if you're hoping to make a profit, says Ivy, unless it's an exceptional item.
"We're seeing a bump in prices right now because he is in the mainstream news. And in six years, we'll see another peak when he's inducted into the Hall of Fame," Ivy says. "The rare, one-of-a-kind items are probably a good investment, but there's no shortage of signed Derek Jeter material, and he's not going to stop signing autographs … I wouldn't buy those as a long-term investment strategy."
Of course, money isn't the only reason to buy Jeter memorabilia.
"Derek Jeter memorabilia is an emotional thing," says Kelvin Joseph, chief operating officer of New York City-based Steiner Sports.
Check out nine of the most popular—and priciest—examples of Jeter memorabilia.
—By Zac Bissonnette