From The Kansas City Star by Mark Davis
Gotta get a Royals bobblehead?
Consider yourself a modern Kansas City baseball fan, one of many going all googly-eyed over those head-bobbing Royals giveaways.
They’re bartering, bidding and begging to get bobbleheads as fervently as they’re packing Kauffman Stadium or voting starting jobs for Royals players in the upcoming All-Star Game.
For example, fans braved high heat (the climate kind, not the pitching kind) to get one of the 15,000 Mike Moustakas bobbleheads handed out at the June 20 game against the Boston Red Sox.
It’s a far cry from just a few years ago, when bobbleheads were left wanting at games for lack of attendance and were sold in the offseason. Leftovers regularly allowed Scott Neal, owner of The Baseball Card Store LLC in Overland Park, to pick up inventory.
“The last two years, the interest in the Royals stadium giveaways has been very significant, and they’ve become pretty hard to acquire,” Neal said.
This year’s hottest items are four bobbleheads, featuring Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez, Moustakas and Yordano Ventura, that commemorate moments from last year’s postseason run. And why not? Royals fans hadn’t seen their team in postseason play in 29 years.
Landing one of these bobbleheads means arriving early — really early — to the giveaway game. Neal suggests hunting for someone rooting for the visiting team who may part with the Royals’ giveaway item.
One bobblehead-hungry fan on Craigslist hopes to barter an odd bundle of baseball collectibles — five miniature bats, a purple baseball and a Zack Greinke bobblehead — for the Cain bobblehead that fans received at the June 6 game.
The owner of an extra Cain bobblehead has offered to swap for a Perez model given away May 2. And a Moose owner is asking to swap for a Cain bobblehead.
Another Craigslist posting offers the new Perez bobblehead in trade for the Perez bobblehead the Royals gave out last year.
How about swapping a bobblehead for some fun in the sun? Here’s a recent post on Craigslist:
“Looking for a moose bobble head. Will trade you 2 $40 schlitterbahn water park passes. That’s $80 for a free bobble head. Let me know. Passes expire Labor Day.”
Bobbleheads, at least these Royals likenesses, are anything but free. Those nodding figures in blue are fetching top money online too.
Postings on eBay on Thursday were asking between $40 and $100 for Cain bobbleheads and $60 to $150 for Moustakas bobbleheads. Bids were considerably lower.
“Presale” asking prices ranged from $35 to $83 Thursday for the Ventura bobblehead that will be handed out at the July 25 game against the Houston Astros.
Get the right audience and anything can happen. A Perez bobblehead from this season recently sold for $100 on eBay.
Other teams’ fans are offering bobbleheads of their players for sale, though not with the lofty expectations of Royals bobblehead sellers. For example, San Francisco Giants World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner bobbleheads were listed on eBay at $60 or less Thursday.
Interest in the new Royals bobbleheads has stirred activity in others from the team, such as figures from prior seasons and even giveaways at other ballparks.
Eric Hosmer fans can pursue bobbleheads of the first baseman in a Royals uniform, a Northwest Arkansas Naturals uniform or a Wilmington Blue Rocks uniform. The Omaha Storm Chasers plan to give away a Hosmer bobblehead at their game July 11.
And there are commemorative bobbleheads of Royals players from the past — Bret Saberhagen, John Mayberry, Willie Wilson, Fred Patek, Steve Busby, Larry Gura — and more recently Joakim Soria and Greinke.
The Royals also plan to give away Jedi Alex Gordon bobbleheads to buyers of a special Star Wars Day discounted ticket package. On Sept. 4, a similar special ticket package will include a Royals Zombie bobblehead. Two days later is a Mike Sweeney Royals Hall of Fame Bobblehead giveaway.
One reason prices have climbed for the newest models is the relative short supply. The Royals had 25,000 Carlos Beltran bobbleheads ready when it was the first bobblehead handed out at Kauffman Stadium in 2002.
Giveaways of this year’s four current players are limited to 15,000. And there is no shortage of fans trying to get them.
“Back in 2005, you could go there, right at the gate, get as many bobbleheads as you wanted. And now it’s a crazy ordeal trying to get one,” collector Cody Varnadoe of Lee’s Summit said.