Collecting autographs all started probably when you were a child. For me, it was a Nolan Ryan baseball in 1974. Going to Angel Stadium with my mom and dad, I would grab a baseball that I had been playing catch with, not thinking that maybe someday it would be worth something if I got it signed. Nolan Ryan was my favorite player — being able to control a game with your pitching skills was pretty cool and being able to throw no-hitters — even better. I would hang over the fence by the dugout to see where Ryan was and where he might come out and sign autographs. It always seemed to me that people that were there also seeking autographs were getting the programs they had purchased when they entered the stadium signed. I figured since he played on the field with a baseball, maybe he would sign my baseball. Not only did he end up signing my ball, but he also signed my glove, too. And believe it or not, I played catch with that ball and glove until most of the autograph wore off!

Collecting sports memorabilia, like my ball and glove, cards, autographs, and other pictures and equipment is not just for kids, or should I say it’s for kids of all ages. Very young kids, teenagers, adults all the way up to senior citizens get excited about acquiring a new item for their collection. Many collect favorite players, teams or sports. Some collect memorabilia to decorate their homes, offices or man caves. Some collect for the investment, hoping their treasure will be even more of a treasure when they go to sell it. Whatever the reason, the thrill of the hunt and then the acquiring of a valued piece to your collection, whether it’s value is all in the eye of the beholder, or of actual monetary value, is something that can be exhilarating.

Sports memorabilia can include so many different things, not just sports cards. First, you have all the different sports like football, baseball, soccer, boxing, golf, swimming, rugby, etc. Then you have all the equipment and items that can be signed from each of those sports like baseball, for example. Baseballs, gloves, bats, cleats, batting gloves, batting helmets, jerseys, programs, pictures, sports cards, etc. Golf could have golf balls, tees, flags, towels, clubs, bags, shirts, visors, score cards just to name a few. The number of items are really endless.

You never know where you can find a treasured piece of sports memorabilia. You might just happen upon something going about your regular business and you spot an item that you really need for your collection, you really must have it. You can find things at sporting events like my ball and glove, trade shows, flea markets, antique shops, the Internet, and best of all your favorite sports memorabilia shop.

• Mike Dingwell is owner of Box Seat Collectibles in Ahwatukee, 4855 E. Warner Road, Suite A-18. For more information, call (480) 598-0967.

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