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A Look Into a Growing Royals Collection: ‘It Started With Two'

Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
 2022-01-15

If you would’ve told me five years ago I’d have a collection of Kansas City Royals memorabilia and bobbleheads, I would’ve laughed.

Among cards, hats and bats, bobbleheads are some of the most collectible items to baseball fans. To many Royals fans, bobbleheads line shelves in their bedrooms, living rooms or fan caves along with other memorabilia.

While not their first stadium giveaway (SGA), the first SGA bobbleheads were handed out to fans by the Royals in the 2002 season. The very first SGA bobbleheads, released May 11, 2002 and Aug. 11, 2002, were of center fielder Carlos Beltran — who was drafted by the Royals in 1995 and played from 1998-2003. (The May 11th game was rained out.)

Since, the Royals have made 90 different bobbleheads and statues. In the 2021 season alone, they handed out 10 different SGA bobbleheads with three of them being theme items. (Theme bobbleheads are available only to fans who purchased a special theme ticket to theme games. The Royals have produced bobbleheads for other special occasions: They produced three specifically for season ticket holders, and two — of legends Buck O’Neil and Bo Jackson — for past FanFest events.)

The bobbleheads widely vary in value, like other memorabilia. For instance, a 2018 SGA bobblehead of Jeff Montgomery can be picked up for $10 in most cases. Most bobbleheads vary between $15-40 in value.

The most valuable bobblehead was one of the first. Children attending the Royals/San Diego Padres game on June 30, 2002, at Kauffman Stadium would’ve received a limited edition Sluggerrr bobblehead. Only 10,000 bobbleheads featuring Sluggerrr — the Royals’ lion mascot introduced only six years earlier — posing atop a baseball would be produced. When you consider the bobblehead was only given to children (who either lost or damaged them) in limited quantities, it’s clear why the second Royals SGA bobblehead has since skyrocketed in value. Today, the “2002 Sluggerrr” bobbleheads are the crown jewel of many collections and typically range between $350-400 in value.

SGA bobbleheads are not the only ones out there. Third-party companies, such as FoCo (Forever Collectible — a manufacturer of bobbleheads and other licensed team merchandise) produce bobbleheads to commemorate players, their achievements and different events. These third-party bobbleheads can vary widely in value and size; some third-party bobbleheads are of the “mini” size, which are only a couple inches tall to three-footers that tower over most other bobbleheads.

My collection

As someone who previously had no interest in sports, I should briefly discuss how my love for the Royals and Royals bobbleheads/memorabilia came into existence.

Despite growing up in a town where baseball was cherished — and everyone worshiped either the Kansas City Royals or, more commonly, the St. Louis Cardinals — I wasn’t big on baseball. Or sports in general, for that matter. The “athlete” gene didn’t get passed down to me from my dad and his family.

Over time, however, I started to develop a love for the game of baseball. I started following a couple of teams (the Royals, Reds and Rockies, in particular) in 2020. In 2021, however, my love for one team in particular — the Royals — really took off.

For my 22nd birthday, in June 2021, I went to my first baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. I was instantly hooked, despite the Royals being defeated by the Detroit Tigers that evening by a score of 10-3. It was a great experience and one I repeated four other times before the 2021 season came to a close. (Unfortunately, none of the games I attended favored the Royals.)

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A photo of me posing with Sluggerrr on my 22nd birthday, when I took my first trip to Kauffman Stadium. (Garrett Fuller)

ct was also in 2021 when I started my Royals memorabilia/bobblehead collection.

Wanting to take my love for the Royals to the next level, I discovered one of the many Royals bobblehead/memorabilia groups on Facebook. I joined, introduced myself and asked about purchasing a bobblehead.

Soon after, I was introduced to Don Boes — a fellow Royals fan and longtime collector. (Don has also been a season ticket member since the infamous 1985 season.) A day later, I brought home my first two items — the Danny Duffy/Sadie SGA bobblehead and a lunchbox featuring Mr. Royal.

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A picture of my early collection, taken just after I brought home my first bobblehead (the Duffy & Sadie bobblehead from 2019) and the Mr. Royal lunchbox. I got the bobblehead cup (right) during my first visit to Kauffman Stadium for my 22nd birthday. I'm two bobbleheads away from owning each bobblehead featured on the cup. (Garrett Fuller)

I didn’t stop there. As with many of my other hobbies, I quickly got enveloped in the desire to grow my collection — to the point where others felt I “went a little overboard.”

Thankfully, I’m not the only one in the bobblehead/memorabilia collecting community whose collection exponentially multiplied. It seems others have had the same problem.

My collection has outgrown my display space. I’m hoping to bring the entire collection out for a proper display when I move and have more space for everything. In the meantime, shelves will allow me to expand my display.

But what about the collection itself? What’s in it?

Since August, my collection has grown to contain nearly 40 different bobbleheads with a mix of SGAs and FoCos. Among my bobbleheads are other Royals memorabilia — hats, a Sluggerrr plush, a coin bank, some autographed pictures and more.

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Since I started collecting six months ago, my collection has grown from two items to nearly 40 bobbleheads, three different pennants and more. Shown is just part of my collection, since it has outgrown my display space. (Garrett Fuller)

It would be hard to pick a favorite item, but if I had to choose one, it’d be the most valuable (so far) in my collection — a FoCo of Sluggerrr holding the 2015 World Series trophy. (While it’s the most expensive item in my collection, it is far from being the most expensive bobblehead or Royals item. I’ve yet to buy a bobblehead that costs more than $100.) In addition to being the most valuable item in my collection, it’s a Sluggerrr (since I’m a huge Sluggerrr fan, his bobbleheads make up a considerable portion of my collection) and commemorates the 2015 World Series championship.

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My favorite item — a FoCo bobblehead featuring Sluggerrr holding the 2015 World Series trophy. (Garrett Fuller)

My “wish list” for bobbleheads I’d like to own at some point is very long: a 2002 Sluggerrr, a three-footer Sluggerrr and some SGAs. However, I’m hoping to hold off on purchasing more bobbleheads until I have a bigger space and more room for a proper display. (However, I’ve said I’d take a break from collecting and that promise would be broken by the end of the week, when I’d inevitably see an item I’d like to have for sale on eBay or one of the Facebook Groups.) My goal for the 2022 season is to at least attend one bobblehead game so I can actually take one home myself, instead of buying them from other people.

My collection may be far from the largest and the most incomplete. But the main goal is to have fun and enjoy the items I collect. Getting into the hobby of collecting Royals bobbleheads and memorabilia has allowed me to meet many other wonderful people who I hope to feature in this series.

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