Photo by Corinne Nicholson
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Rumor is Atlanta Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson's mom is trying to nab one.
Gwinnett Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman already has one.
Plenty of Braves fans are clamoring for one.
What are they? Jason Heyward bobblehead dolls, and the Gwinnett Braves will be handing them out to the first 4,000 guests through the gates for tonight's game.
Heyward, an Atlanta Braves rookie and Freeman's roommate, got attention all spring as baseball's No. 1 prospect. He belted a home run in his first at-bat in the bigs, and has created headlines since then with a series of clutch, late-inning heroics.
Now, even though he played only three games as a member of the Gwinnett Braves, Coolray Field is giving out bobbleheads in his likeness.
Which begs the question -- with Heyward's potential, how much will these collectibles be worth some day?
Doug Reid, the founder of sports memorabilia company Venture Sports Shows, thinks the prospects are good.
"That's probably going to be a real good one for people to hold on to, especially if he lives up to all the hype," Reid said. "The more rare ones can be quite expensive."
The rare ones are those in short production (which these are), those that are a certain player's first (these are), and those of a player who turns out to be a superstar (these very well might be).
But when he says "quite expensive," Reid's not talking autographed-Hank-Aaron-rookie-card expensive. More like, say, $100.
"There's a pretty big interest in bobbleheads out there. Like I said, the more rare ones can be well over $100," Reid said, using a Derek Jeter model as an example.
Reid said he's already seen some Heyward autographed balls going for $100, which, in his words, is "crazy" if you go by his relative big-league green-ness (pun intended).
He saw a similar spike in Jeff Francoeur memorabilia when the Gwinnett native made it to the majors, but not like this. The sports merchandise expert pointed to the mid-'90s emergence of current Braves third baseman Chipper Jones for a fairer comparison.
The Heyward phenomenon has reached all ends of the spectrum. And the country.
"I've received calls and e-mails from all over the country -- as far as northern California -- asking to buy one of these bobbleheads," said Courtney Lawson, the G-Braves' community and public affairs manager. "We have people buying blocks of tickets in hopes of getting more than one."
The G-Braves will also be giving out bobbleheads of Tommy Hanson, the second-year Atlanta phenom, in two weeks, an event that should get plenty of fans and collectors salivating, too. They'll dish out dolls of Chopper, their beloved groundhog mascot, on June 16.
Tonight's event, though, is the one that will have people already waiting in line when gates open at 5:30. And make sure you have a ticket -- there is no weaseling your way to get a bobblehead without one.
"We're staying firm," Lawson said. "Only the first 4,000 fans through the gate will get one."