The Little League World Series is a beautiful event. For 11 days, 11- to 13-year-olds are the focus. Tens of thousands of fans pile into Williamsport, Pa., while millions more watch on television. The spectacle always delivers feel-good stories from the United States and international teams.
The biggest story this year is Mo'ne Davis, a 13-year-old female phenom from Taney Little League in Philadelphia. Davis pitched a two-hit shutout while striking out eight batters in Taney's opening game against Nashville. She played shortstop, third base and pitcher in Taney's second game, a win over Pearland, Texas.
As Davis' story of "girl striking out the boys with blazing fastball" has gained steam, she has picked up widespread media attention as well as support from celebrities on social media.
However, not all of Davis-mania is positive. On Monday, Darren Rovell pointed out a piece of Davis' story that taints the feel-good parts.
Buy it now price on eBay for this ball allegedly signed by Mo'ne Davis? $199 pic.twitter.com/h2tB831Pas
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) August 18, 2014
Yes, that is right. A user on eBay, "raisethesong" (affiliated with Raise The Song collectibles) is trying to sell a Mo'ne Davis-signed baseball for just under $200 (over $200 when you add the $5.99 shipping). The item is said to be located in the central Pennsylvania town of Bellefonte. The description includes what appears to be a very dimly lit picture of Davis signing the Little League Baseball. The user guarantees "my personal Certificate of Authenticity."
While the baseball Rovell tweeted about has a "buy it now" price of $199.99, Raise The Song also lists a signed Davis baseball for bidding. As of 1:25 p.m. ET, the ball was listed at $31.00 after six bids (also $5.99 shipping).
Another user, "patonyfan," is selling a signed Davis baseball with the supposed signature "Mo'ne #3" inscription. At 1:25 p.m. ET, this ball was also at $31.00, but with a $6.50 shipping fee.
Other Mo'ne memorabilia includes an autographed pink helmet (with picture authenticity) for $26.00 after four bids ($9.99 shipping) put up by Raise The Song. Like the signed baseball from the user, the listing includes a picture of Davis making the signing.
There are also signed pictures of Davis for $21.30 after three bids and $9.99 with zero bids. A Taney team picture signed by the entire Mid-Atlantic squad is up to $61.00 after ten bids.
Of course, this all digs into a dangerous field of play involving Little League Baseball players. Coaches, parents and Little League administrators can only protect the children so much. Davis' innocent autographs, making her feel like a major leaguer, have turned into business pieces. Playing for the love of the game is clouded by shady entrepreneurs.
None of this is Davis' fault. She is a 13-year-old trying to propel her team of middle schoolers to Little League glory. She gets free baseball equipment and clothes, the experience of playing at Williamsport and some face time on ESPN out of the journey. Royalties are not included.
For now. It is impossible to ignore the presence of Davis-related items on eBay as a link to the continuing debate over athletic amateurism. While eBay capitalists are making money off Davis, she gets nothing. While ESPN puts her face on its ads for the Little League World Series, Davis makes nothing. While Little League Baseball sells Mid-Atlantic merchandise to fans across the world, Davis makes nothing.
It sounds ridiculous to argue for Little League players to make money, but when signed baseballs are being sold in triple-figures, it has to be mentioned. Johnny Manziel can oblige.
Mo'ne Baseball has arrived.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.