CLEVELAND — Steven Chada had to do a double-take when he looked at this computer screen.
"When I'm looking at these numbers, I'm kind of flabbergasted, to be honest with you," he said.
The owner of 1of1 Sports Cards and Memorabilia in Strongsville saw that old baseball caps, identical to the repurposed Cleveland Indians baseball caps which he bought for under $2, were being resold on some websites for more than $30. One cap with a Chief Wahoo on the front was sold for $52.01, and a Chief Wahoo patch that sold for a mere $0.50 six months ago, fetched $4.95.
Chada said these were prices of actual sales, not prices from wishful sellers. The resale market for Indians gear is surging, just as the baseball team officially begins sales of licensed Cleveland Guardians gear on Friday.
"I have a lot of memorabilia with Indians on it, with vintage Wahoo on it, and people are coming in to seek those out because the MLB isn't licensing them anymore," he explained.
It's a win-win for the sports collectors industry, and possibly for the Guardians. The National Association of Sports Economists found that the successful rebranding of sports teams often becomes a new revenue stream for the teams, from selling merchandise and licensing.
However, on our WKYC Facebook page, the controversial name change still doesn't sit well with some fans, like Sue. She vowed not to buy Guardians gear, writing, "No thank you. I have plenty of Indians/Chief Wahoo gear that I'll continue to wear proudly!"
But Chada believes time tends to heal all wounds.
"I think Wahoo and the Indians name is so deep-rooted in this city," he said. "Initially, people were hurt and upset, but I think that people will come around in the end, because this is your team and this is a baseball town."