Brokering baseball cards: A Q & A with ACE alum Michael Osacky

Michael Osacky
September 29, 2016

Michael Osacky

World-class Sports Memorabilia Appraiser

Michael Osacky is a 2002 graduate of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. With a degree in commodity, food, and textile marketing, what led him to become a certified vintage sports memorabilia appraiser and writer?

On Wednesday, Oct. 5 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Osacky will be at the Champaign Public Libraryto discuss the vintage sports memorabilia industry.  Afterward, he will provide a free verbal appraisal to all attendees who bring in their vintage sports collectibles.

Here is a short interview with Osacky about how he got into the biz, tips on selling and buying, and some of his more memorable appraisals.

 

How did you get into the business of being a certified vintage sports memorabilia appraiser?

MO: Growing up in Chicago’s northern suburb Buffalo Grove, I liked riding my bike to the local greeting card shop or grocery store to buy the current sports cards. Then in 1997, when I was a senior in high school, my grandfather bought me a shoebox full of old baseball cards for my birthday.  These cards weren’t like anything I’d ever seen. They were from the 1950s and 1960s.  It made me want to try to find more of these kinds of cards and learn about the history associated with these professional ballplayers.

What were your career goals when you were majoring in commodity, food, and textile marketing at the University of Illinois?

MO: My plans were to be a commodities trader on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in Chicago. I pursued that career for a while immediately after graduation.

Are there any aspects of commodity trading that you use in appraising sports items?

MO: The commodities degree taught me the art of negotiation.  When trading futures and options, you have to understand if something is a buy or a sale at a moment’s notice and voice your opinion.

The same is true when buying baseball card and memorabilia collections.  I bring cash with me and I only have that moment to make a deal.  I am not returning so I have to offer the highest possible price that’s fair for both parties.

A lot of people probably come to you with a signed ball or baseball card that they think is worth a fortune. How do you break it to them that it’s a forgery or worthless?

MO: I am in this situation all the time.  Some of the well-known baseball cards such as the T206 Honus Wagner are frequently reprinted.  I am blunt and honest.  Sometimes the truth hurts but I am always 100 percent honest.

Do you appraise only baseball-related items or are you also knowledgeable about other sports memorabilia?

MO: I appraise all sports from 1870 to 1970—baseball, football, basketball, hockey, horse racing, you name it. And I appraise all items—cards, programs, autographs, advertising pieces, whatever.

Describe one of your more complicated or interesting appraisals. How do you determine the value and if there is a market for the item?

MO: I appraised a world championship Chicago Bulls basketball collection.  Being a Chicagoan and a Chicago Bulls fan, it was such an honor to be called in by the player and his family. The family didn’t want to sell. They needed to know how much the collection was worth for insurance purposes. Insurance companies won’t sell a policy without getting a third party like myself to appraise the item or collection.  The appraisal was complicated because there was a lot—Michael Jordan autographs, team-signed basketballs, championship rings, pendants, jerseys, and a lot more.

What’s the most valuable item you’ve ever appraised?

MO: I have appraised six-figure collections.  However, the single most valuable item I have appraised is a 1915 Cracker Jack Baseball Card Complete Set of 176 cards.  Cracker Jack distributed cards inside each package.  The cards are vibrant as they were 100 years ago.  The set was appraised at $60,000. It had been passed down through the family.  The couple thought the cards were worth about $2,000.  They were in total shock and disbelief when they heard $60,000.

What are some of the goofier items people have brought to you for appraisal?

MO: I’ve been asked to appraise a plastic cup from a Cubs game. On one occasion a few years ago I was on WGN radio. Someone called in and asked what a jock strap, worn in a game by former Major League Baseball player Joe Garagiola, was worth.  The host of the radio show put everybody on mute while we laughed uncontrollably.  The host finally just said, “Ok next caller.”

What about those baseball cards that came inside a package of gum—are those worth anything at all?

MO: Most people are familiar with getting cards from the five and dime store in the 50s and 60s.  However, the idea of pairing bubble gum and baseball cards actually originated in 1933 with the Goudey Gum Company.  The cards from the 50s and 60s are worth money depending upon the condition and the player.

What sorts of things should people look for in our attics and basements?

MO: The older the better.  Anything pre-1970.

What’s your advice for a novice collector?

MO: Buy what you know and love.  Don’t buy for investment purposes.  If you like old programs, buy old programs and learn everything you can about them.

What about selling/buying from online auction websites?  What should buyers watch out for?

MO: There are so many reprints and forgeries online.  Additionally, the FBI has arrested several auction house owners over the years.  As of this interview, they are all in prison.

In addition to professional sports memorabilia, you also appraise college sports stuff.  Are there any Illinois items that have made it to collector status—or you predict will?

MO: It’s possible.  Maybe a game worn Red Grange helmet or jersey. 


Source: ACES

Want to bring Michael to your next event? Let us know here. We'd love to help make it happen! 

Michael Osacky

Want Michael Osacky for your next event?

Find out more information, including fees and availability.
Find Out More
Keep Reading
How Much Are Those Old Baseball Cards Worth?
Michael Osacky
Michael Osacky
December 14, 2017
Depending on the year, condition and, of course, the player, some baseball cards could be ...
World-renowned baseball card collector searches Bay Area for rare gems
Michael Osacky
Michael Osacky
December 06, 2017
If you want a blank stare from a convenience store operator, ask ...
Ty Cobb Cracker Jack Poster That Hung in Barn For 90 Years, Up For Auction Again
Michael Osacky
Michael Osacky
August 17, 2017
I came across a familiar object at the recent National ...
How Much Are Those Old Baseball Cards Worth?
Depending on the year, condition and, of course, the player, some baseball cards could be worth thousands of dollars. Getty Images Q:I was going through my old baseball card collection and wanted to give some of the more valuable cards to my nephew as a gift. What's been happening to the value of baseball cards, and which types tend to...
Read More
World-renowned baseball card collector searches Bay Area for rare gems
If you want a blank stare from a convenience store operator, ask if they have any baseball cards. "Baseball cards? Not anymore," they say. In fact, employees at Baseball Card Clubhouse on S. Dale Mabry Hwy.believes they are the only baseball card store in Tampa, saying there may be two others in Clearwater. "They are all gone," said...
Read More
Ty Cobb Cracker Jack Poster That Hung in Barn For 90 Years, Up For Auction Again
I came across a familiar object at the recent National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago: one of the world's rarest and most valuable baseball card posters. In June 2016, I reported on aWisconsin policemanwho overheard a conversation at his station. The topic was a TV story about the discovery of theLucky 7 Ty Cobb tobacco cardsin the Sout...
Read More
Brokering baseball cards: A Q & A with ACE alum Michael Osacky
Michael Osacky is a 2002 graduate of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. With a degree in commodity, food, and textile marketing, what led him to become a certified vintage sports memorabilia appraiser and writer? On Wednesday, Oct. 5 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Osacky will be at theChampaign Public Libraryto discuss the ...
Read More
What Your Sports Memorabilia May Be Worth…
Brian Noonan (in for Nick Digilio) welcomes Michael Osacky ofBaseball In The Atticwho appraises listener's memorabilia on the air! Source: WGN Radio Want to bring Michael to your next event? Let us know here. We'd love to help make it happen!
Read More
Sports Appraiser Michael Osacky | Fakes and Forgeries
Michael Osacky runs Baseball in the Attic, a firm specializing in vintage baseball cards and memorabilia. Michael Osacky, '02 ACES, was 17 years old and living in Buffalo Grove, Ill., when his grandfather gave him a shoebox full of baseball cards he had purchased from a neighbor. That gift changed Osacky's life. "There was a 1973 Mike Sch...
Read More
A vintage baseball collection built on memories
Sports memorabilia collector Mike Osacky holds a 1945 World Series baseball signed by the Chicago Cubs at his North Side home, the Cubs lost to the Detroit Tigers and have not been to a World Series since. Thursday June 18, 2015. Osacky is a serious collector. (Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune) ByRick Kogan At least once every week - "déjà v...
Read More
Autographs: The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Father's Day is next weekend, which means millions of Americans probably have yet to buy gifts for the men in their lives. For reasons unknown, ties and shirts are always the go-to Father's Day gifts. Enough! Try thinking outside the box this year. Many baby boomers and empty nesters are starting to buy back their childhood memories, many c...
Read More
Behind the Scenes at 'The Antiques Roadshow'
Nearly 10million people will tune in to watch the season 19 premiere ofAntiques Roadshowon PBS, January 5,2015. Americans have voyeuristic tendencies and love to see what others have buried in their attics, basements and garages. These curiosity instincts were running rampant when I visited the July 2014 taping of Antiques Roadshowin Chicago. Th...
Read More
9 Questions with Chicago Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts
Myname is Michael Osacky, founder ofbaseballintheattic.com. I am dedicated to unearthing vintage sports cards and memorabilia buried in attics, garages, and barns. Each collection comes with a story, and I'm sharing those stories here on Parade.com. If you have a vintage sports card or memorabilia collection, I want to hear from you. Please visi...
Read More