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$80 for dirt sounds like a deal to me!


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$80 for dirt sounds like a deal to me!
« on: May 15, 2009, 02:41:33 AM »

Yankees Offer the Real Dirt on Stadium Memorabilia, for $80

By Mason Levinson and Michael Buteau

May 13 (Bloomberg) -- A ton of Major League Baseball- quality infield dirt costs $75. That’ll buy about a tablespoonful once it has been to Yankee Stadium.

The New York Yankees said today they are selling about 1,500 pieces of memorabilia from their old stadium, including the dirt used during the last game there in September. All Yankee dirt since 1952, including the dirt used in the new $1.5 billion stadium across the street from the old building, has come from Beam Clay in Great Meadows, New Jersey.

Even though a coin-shaped dirt memento at $80 is among the cheapest souvenirs on offer, it still seems like a lot to Beam Clay owner Jim Kelsey.

“It’s nice to know something we made means that much to somebody,” Kelsey said in a telephone interview from his business about 65 miles west of the Bronx. “But I can just go outside and get some myself. They could buy a 50-pound bag for a lot less.”

His Web site lists the price of Beam Clay’s Baseball Diamond Mix at $5.95 a bag. It’s $75 a ton.

“But it hasn’t been to Yankee Stadium yet,” he said.

And that’s where the value is, said Michael Kott, owner of the Highland Mint in Melbourne, Florida, a memorabilia seller.

“The old Yankee Stadium, Fenway, Wrigley, that’s the upper-echelon of memorabilia,” Kott said in a telephone interview. “The older the team, the bigger the market.”


His company is one of four or five that licenses dirt through MLB’s authentication program, Kott said. It started shaping stadium dirt into coins about 10 years ago.

After the last game at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21, authenticators from Steiner Sports Marketing, the Yankees’ memorabilia partner, watched as dirt from different field locations was put into buckets, sealed and marked with a hologram.

The dirt was then transported to the company’s warehouse, where the same authenticator unsealed the buckets and watched as the dirt was placed into coin-shaped capsules. Each coin was then set in five-inch crystals adorned with the stadium’s final- season logo. When the process was complete, the finished product was again authenticated by Yankee Steiner Collectibles as well as MLB.

The team also will be selling photos affixed with actual stadium dirt: Mariano Rivera exiting the bullpen, with the warning track on the photo covered with authentic dirt; Derek Jeter sliding into third base during a game, with authentic dirt flying up around him.

“You can’t just sell dirt,” A.J. Romeo, director of Yankees Steiner Collectibles, said in an interview. “You have to make it cool.”

Pitchers’ Mound

Rivera was among the current and former Yankees, including Don Larsen, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra, who collected dirt samples from around home plate and the pitchers mound before and after the final game.

“I don’t think any venue will have been taken down the way we are taking down this one,” Brandon Steiner, founder and chairman of Steiner Sports Marketing, said at a news conference announcing the memorabilia sale and auction.

The team will also be selling pairs of seats for $1,499 -- cheaper than some individual tickets at the new stadium -- a single bleacher seat for $399; freeze-dried grass for $80, a 2- foot by 2-foot piece of sod for $280 and ceremonial bricks from Monument Park for $149.

Dented Door

The Yankees are paying for the dismantling of the ballpark themselves before it is demolished by the city, sometime likely in June, Yankees Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost said at a news conference. The team agreed to pay the city, which owns the stadium, $11.5 million in return for selling the memorabilia.

Items to be auctioned later include a clubhouse door that Jeter pounded with his bat before every home game; the foul poles; the section of the wall that Jeter dived over July 1, 2004, for a foul ball, bloodying his face; and seats that were hit by select home runs throughout the stadium’s history.

“We haven’t tried to package the clubhouse air,” Romeo said. “It would be a cool idea if we could do it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: May 13, 2009 00:00 EDT
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