U.S. Women Were the Collector's Choice in '99
The Uni
ted States Women's National Team was undoubtedly the soccer collecting story of 1999, and by most accounts the sports story of the year as well.

While there was certainly other big news in the world of sports collecting, such as the death of icon Joe DiMaggio and the huge auction of Barry Halper's historically significant baseball collection, no single player, team or event approached the marketability of the U.S. Women.

Because the Women's World Cup was such a phenomenon, the retailing and collecting worlds were ill-prepared. Indeed, most of the collectibles and products didnít even hit the market until after the fact.

Because of this, there are fewer of the standard collectible items, such as pins, that are normally produced for big events, and more of a concentration of big ticket personalized items, such as autographs and equipment.

Months after the World Cup ended, and after the end of the holiday shopping season, an eBay search for Mia Hamm produced 86 listings, many from the aforementioned autograph and memorabilia categories. Signed jerseys were attracting bids of $175 and up, and autographed photos $40-$50.

There are, however, alternative for collectors with more modest budgets.

One company, Roox Sports, has produced two different sets of Women's National Team cards, while Wheaties has produced cereal boxes featuring eight of the players.

Many magazine covers featured the Women's team, including Time, Newsweek, People and Sports Illustrated. In fact, in its entire nearly 50 year history, SI has only had seven soccer covers, two of those last year featuring the Women's Team. The first cover appeared the week after the final, and featured Brandi Chastain's shirt waving celebration. The other cover, in December featured the team's selection as Sportswomen of the Year.

For collectors still interested in getting a more personal memento of the team, the players are very accommodating about signing autographs, both following games and at appearances.

An interesting area of pursuit for collectors of the Women's National Team is from the players' college days. Most of the major soccer schools produce team media guides, and some of these have turned up on internet auctions.