The Astros are heavy hitters when it comes to bobblehead popularity
This article originally appeared on CultureMap.
With the Houston Astros 2019 opener barely a month away, it's time to get down to serious business. Like, how many bobblehead giveaways will there be this season?
Answer: Nine, with a few more specials, like Star Wars and Game of Thrones-themed b'heads available for sale.
"Bobbleheads are one of the most popular gate (free) giveaways we provide for our fans," says Anita Sehgal, Astros senior vice president marketing and communications. "Many of our fans treat these as collector items and it gives us a chance to showcase a player, a special moment, or create a series of them where fans want to obtain the entire collection. Our team also has done a great job on the box art and many fans cherish the packaging as much as the bobblehead."
Sehgal did not say which players would be immortalized in ceramic and plastic this year, or what dates they'll be given away. The Astros use a few different companies to produce their bobbleheads, but most come from BDA and Success Promotions. The players do not see their bobbleheads prior to production. So far, no complaints, though.
Bobbleheads, or "Bobbing Heads" or "Nodders," have become such a part of the baseball experience that a Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum recently opened in Milwaukee. We can't snicker. Houston is home to the National Museum of Funeral History. Given a choice, I'd rather be headed to the Bobblehead Museum...than beheaded in the Funeral Museum.
I contacted Bobblehead HOF co-founder Phil Sklar and ran 10 questions by him. Of course, I wanted to know how much presence the Astros command.
Ken Hoffman: How many bobbleheads are on display in the museum?
Phil Sklar: We have about 6,500 unique bobbleheads on display and about 10,000 in the collection. This gives us the opportunity to have several bobbleheads from each team and all different genres on display at any given time. We are also able to rotate bobbleheads in and out and change things up so that people will always find new bobbleheads when they visit.
KH: What was the first bobblehead?
PS: Most people are surprised that the first bobblehead dates back to the 1760s in a painting of Queen Charlotte of England. We have a pretty extensive history section on our website, bobbleheadhall.com.
KH: When did bobbleheads catch fire as MLB giveaways? Which team was first to use bobbleheads as a promotion? Who was the first baseball bobblehead?
PS: The first bobblehead giveaway was on May 9, 1999. It was a Willie Mays bobblehead by the San Francisco Giants. The marketing team wanted some very special promotions during the final season at Candlestick Park. Soon nearly every team was doing a bobblehead giveaway.
KH: What is the holy grail of bobbleheads, the most valuable and hardest to find?
PS: That would have to be an oversized New York Yankees promotional bobblehead from 1961 which sold for just under $60,000 ($59,750 to be exact) a few years ago. We've seen some sell in the $30,000 range, but nothing that high before or after. You can see the picture of that one at the history link on our website.
KH: How many Astros bobbleheads are on display?
PS: We have about a dozen Astros bobbleheads on display right now and just switched out the full set of Houston Astros 2017 World Series Bobbleheads with the 2018 Boston Red Sox on our 'Champions Wall' that features the most recent baseball, football, basketball and hockey champions.
The Astros World Series bobbleheads are among the most popular champions bobbleheads ever because it was the team's first title. Of the ones currently on display, I really like the Nolan Ryan bobblehead from the early 2000s with the vintage Astros rainbow uniform. Other Astros bobbles include: Final Out of 2017 World Series, Alex Bregman, Charlie Morton, Yuli Gurriel, George Springer, and Jose Altuve-Carlos Correa Celebration.
KH: What about politicians, rock stars, and other bobbleheads? How do they compare with baseball bobbleheads?
PS: Popularity is a bit difficult to determine. Given the number of teams and number of games, there are far more baseball bobbleheads than any other type. However, there are bobbleheads in nearly every category, from politicians to actors, super heroes, celebrities, animals and every sport. All of those categories have some very popular bobbleheads.
Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about the long-term collectability and value of bobbleheads.