Collectibles: Baseballs soar, but high-end apparel slumps in recession

autographed baseball
autographed baseball

Signed baseballs are still flying straight and true. But expensive team jackets often have a hard time getting off the bench.
One-of-a-kind baseball cards and antique scorecards? They always have a place in the lineup for high rollers and history buffs.

These are some of the trends in collectibles and sports apparel in the Great Recession, gleaned from the Jan. 15-17 Cubs Convention in downtown Chicago, the country's oldest -- marking its 25th anniversary in 2010 -- and probably still-biggest off-season fan convention. Some 15,000 fans gather in the dead of winter at the giant Hilton and Towers hotel, where vendors know they can juice their sales to an often-captive audience kept inside by the usually frigid weather.