One of my favorite TV series is the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, a PBS program where regular folks bring in their family heirlooms for expert appraisal.
If the Roadshow ever comes to my area, I'd like to get one of my favorite keepsakes appraised. No, it won't be a book. I already know the value of most of my books. Instead, I'd head over to the sports memorabilia table to show those two smart and enthusiastic sports experts, Leila Dunbar and Simeon Lipman, my special autographed baseball.
I wonder what they'd think....
Peter: Hi, I brought in this autographed baseball.
Simeon: Where's it from?
Peter: Dodger Stadium.
Leila: Ah, the home of Koufax, Drysdale, and Tommy Lasorda!
Peter: Yeah...them too.
Simeon: How old is this ball?
Peter: About six months old.
Leila: That's hardly an "antique."
Peter: It's a future antique. I mean, every antique's got to start somewhere, right?
Simeon: Well, let's take a look at it.
Peter: Sorry, it's still in the plastic case. I didn't know how to open it.
Leila: Maybe that's just as well. There's an awful lot of smeary fingerprints on this case.
Simeon: And what are these other marks on the sides?
Peter: You know how kids press their noses up against a candyshop window?
Peter: When I got this baseball, I was so excited I felt like a kid at a candyshop!
Leila and Simeon: EWWW! (They both hurriedly put on latex gloves -- then begin examining the baseball with a magnifying glass.)
Leila: I thought you said this came from Dodger Stadium.
Peter: It did. Last May the annual Book Expo was held in Los Angeles and Random House had a big party at Dodger Stadium. Can you imagine going to a "twi-night" party right on the field of Dodger Stadium?
Simeon: Provenance is always a good thing when it comes to antiques...but I've got to tell you: Random House has nothing to do with baseball!
Peter: Why not? Doubleday did.
Leila: I don't recognize any of the names on this baseball. Are you sure they are major league players?
Peter: Of course. There's Marc Brown, who writes the "Arthur" books. Louis Sachar, who won the Newbery Medal for HOLES. And there's Polly Horvath, winner of the National Book Award. They're all major league writers as far as I'm concerned!
Simeon: I've never heard of them.
Peter: You've never heard of Judy Sierra? Or Marjorie Priceman? And who doesn't know Judy Blume? She wrote FOREVER.
Leila: Oh, is that the new book about the Chicago Cubs' World Series drought?
Peter: No! She also wrote THEN AGAIN, MAYBE I WON'T.
Simeon: Was that a book about the steroids scandal?
Peter: No, the steroids book was called MAYBE I DID, MAYBE I DIDN'T. Judy Blume wrote ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET.
Leila: Now that one I do know! It's Yogi Berra's autobiography, right?
Peter: No, no, no. Berra wrote AM I HERE GOD? ARE YOU MARGARET? Listen, just take my word for it: everyone who signed this ball is a famous author. It's a regular "All Star" roster of children's writers. Look here, Kate Klima even personally inscribed it: "Go Peter, Dragons Rock!"
Simeon: The Dragons must be minor-league team I've never heard of....
Peter: No, they're the stars of her new book, THE DRAGON IN THE SOCK DRAWER. ..And speaking of dragons, look who signed it on this side: Christopher Paolini. You don't get more famous than that!
Leila: I'm not familiar with him. Does he play for the National League or the American League?
Peter: Neither, but based on sales, he's one of the MVPs of the children's book world today.
Simeon: Well, whoever these people are, here's my advice about keeping this baseball in the best possible condition. Don't toss it around, make sure to store it out of sunlight, and whatever you do, don't coat it with shellac or varnish -- it fades the signatures.
Peter: Got it.
Leila: As for value--
Peter: No need to bother with a figure.
Leila: Don't you want to know what this baseball is worth?
Peter: I already know. It's priceless to me.