To generations of moms, baseball cards, helmets and bats are regarded as clutter. So what if some athlete took a pen to them? The stuff often winds up in the trash.
But sports memorabilia is a major business, and like any objects of value, their provenance is interesting. Those stories are featured in ABC’s “Ball Boys,” a half-hour reality show launching Saturday, March 24. It revolves around Robbie’s First Base, a store in Baltimore.
Owner Robbie Davis Sr., a former car salesman, opened the shop 23 years ago. His son, Robbie Jr., works with him, as do Sweet Lou and Shaggy. Though Davis says Sweet Lou knows his sports facts, in the pilot he’s presented as a dolt.
If this sounds like a very close copy of “Pawn Stars” with the father, son and dopey pal, Chumlee, it should. The same producers are behind both shows.
Davis saw the History hit for the first time three weeks before the producers called him.
“They do the same thing, only they are not as good as me,” Davis tells Zap2it. “I could have sold vacuum cleaners before electricity was invented.”
In the pilot, a woman wants to buy her husband a Notre Dame ring, a man needs to sell an autographed football helmet, and a guy wants to sell an unsigned baseball.
The show traces the provenance of each item. The helmet story is especially sweet because a man and his father come in to sell the helmet they say is signed by their favorite player, the legendary Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns.
The most important part of sports memorabilia is proving authenticity, Davis says. When Brown walks into the shop to verify that is indeed his signature, the father and son are thrilled.
Among the items featured this season is the first base that the Yankees’ Derek Jeter autographed after his record-shattering 3,000th hit.
“We have a back story with every piece of memorabilia,” Davis says. “How you got it and what it means to you. You will see how passionate people are about their items.”