The last week has seen a sudden influx of more niche series spun off from the general antiques/pickers genre of reality programming. You’ve read here about Discovery’s Combat Cash, which premiered this week and focuses on military memorabilia, and also about Discovery’s upcoming All Star Dealers, which will follow sports memorabilia dealers. Now, coming soon, is another reality series based on the sports memorabilia business — Ball Boys, premiering with two half-hour episodes March 24 at 3pm ET on ABC.
Ball Boys comes from the producers of Pawn Stars and will follow the action at Robbie’s 1st Base in Baltimore, and the family-like relationships of the sports fanatics who work there, Robbie Sr. (pictured left) and Junior, Sweet Lou (pictured right) and Shaggy. The 12 half-hour episodes will feature the negotiation of buying and selling unique sports merchandise, both at the store and at off-site locations. Additionally, sports stars — from Jim Brown to Pete Rose to Jalen Rose — will stop by the store to join in lively debates, talk smack and hang out with the staff.
In the first episode, “Lord of the Ring,” store owner Robbie Sr. introduces viewers to his shop and searches for a very special Notre Dame gift for a client’s husband on his birthday. Robbie is forced to buy an expensive item from an off-site dealer, hoping he can turn a profit with the client back home, knowing he risks never selling it to anyone else if she doesn’t care for it. Later, a customer brings in a Cleveland Browns helmet autographed by Jim Brown, but is it authentic? To find out, Robbie Sr. asks his friend — football legend Brown — to pay the shop a visit and have a look himself, and eventually Brown presides over an awkward negotiation over his own autograph.
In “Take Your Base,” the second episode, the guys visit a multi-million dollar collection in search of a birthday gift for Senior, and end up haggling over a piece of Yankee history. Meanwhile, Junior is introduced to the man who invented the World Series, and Senior tries to buy a Packers jersey that belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Ball Boys sounds like the type of show traditionally relegated to cable, so it is interesting that a broadcast network is taking a chance on it. Perhaps broadcast nets are seeing how well these shows are doing on cable, and it will be interesting to see if the rabid audience base for these shows carries over from cable to broadcast.
Credit: Fred Watkins/ABC