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Volume 24 No. 113
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Balls & Strikes: New Balance Adds Molina, Beckett; Mariano Rivera Merch Selling

New Balance yesterday announced the signing of Cardinals C Yadier Molina and Dodgers P Josh Beckett, as well as the re-signing of Angels DH Mark Trumbo and Blue Jays P R.A. Dickey to multiyear endorsement contracts. New Balance will be the players' official on-field footwear and off-field athletic footwear and apparel provider (New Balance).

BANK ON IT: Salem Five bank has launched a new TV campaign featuring Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia. The humorous campaign stars an animated version of Pedroia, comparing his passion for baseball to Salem Five’s passion for banking. The campaign, via Connelly Partners, Boston, consists of two spots with the theme, “The World According to Dustin Pedroia.” The 15- and 30-second spots will run locally on NESN and Comcast cable (Salem Five).

ENTER SANDMAN: In N.Y., Augustine, Tasch, Coffey, Lorenzo & Red cited data that showed Yankees P Mariano Rivera “happens to be the hottest commercial property in the bigs.” A One Mo Legend Rivera T-shirt, which sells for $27.95, is the “top baseball seller this season, up 80%.” That figure is “a huge leap for Rivera, who hadn’t even been in the top 20 in recent years” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/30).

GETTING CARDED: National Sports Collectors Convention Founder & Exec Dir Mike Berkus said that at the group’s annual event, which begins July 31 in Chicago, inventory devoted to baseball cards will “fall to about 15 percent from more than half in the late 1990s.” In N.Y., Mike Tierney noted “illustrating the trend is the reduction in the number of manufacturers licensed” by MLB to “one this season, from five during collecting’s heyday, though at least two other companies still churn out cards.” Industry observers note that the “high-end vintage cards in mint condition continue to increase in value, drawing rather than deterring the well-heeled hobbyist” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/1).

ROUNDUP: Cooper Tire announced it is sponsoring nine MLB teams this summer, including the Yankees, Dodgers, White Sox, Braves, Phillies, Padres, Cardinals, Reds and Royals (Cooper Tire)....Angels RF Josh Hamilton has agreed to a mediated resolution of a trademark dispute with a Dallas-based entity over rights to the slogan “Play Hard. Pray Harder.” Raleigh-based company ScriptureArt last year launched a line of clothing inspired by Hamilton’s life and testimony. The line included T-shirts carrying graphical designs of the message, “Play Hard. Pray Harder.” Hamilton in ’08 began incorporating the phrase into his motivational speeches (THE DAILY).