What Firm Has Been Part of Every NFL Score Since 1941?

Wilson Sporting Goods, which calls itself "the world's leading manufacturer of ball sports equipment," has made the official NFL game ball that you see during every snap since 1941.

The Chicago-based firm says its core sports also include tennis, baseball, golf, basketball, softball, badminton and squash, but football is the heart of Ada, Ohio. Since 1955, the town has been the only factory dedicated to making just footballs year-round -- with 3,000 to 4,000 produced a day. Jobs in the factory -- where nothing is automated -- have some unusual titles: bladder maker, cutter and turner.

Willie Smith, who's been with Wilson for 27 years, is the bladder man. The jovial worker is the only one to make Wilson's secret inner casing, similar to an inner tube, and his name appears on every one. For 42 years, Cheryl Mullins has been a Wilson cutter -- creating leather panels to surround the bladder. Mullins and the team of cutters average 1,200 cut panels each day.

On Charles Moore Turn

Then there is Charlie Moore, turner for 44 years. The now-retired Dallas Cowboys fan spent his entire career turning and shaping footballs on the line, the most strenuous job in the factory. Wilson estimates that Moore turned more than a million footballs in his career, averaging around 500 per day. "Forty-four years I turned footballs. Never hurt my hands until I retired," he said, laughing. His name lives on -- the factory's address was recently changed to Charles Moore Turn.

The Wilson brand focuses on its grassroots and community. That happens through its care and attention to employees, athletic clinics and events like the annual Ada factory sale. Because of activity throughout various sports, Wilson considers itself to be in the sport itself.

"It's that hard work. It's that craftsmanship. It's awesome," Wilson President Chris Considine says when describing the football embodying the Wilson brand.

"We are committed to providing the best players with the best product in the world. Without Wilson footballs, the game would be pointless," the company says in an Ohio economic development site.

If you are in northeastern Ohio, look for the white water tower with the Wilson and NFL logos. You're in the "NFL capital of the world," as Moore describes it.

7 Less-Known But Very Valuable Comic Books
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What Firm Has Been Part of Every NFL Score Since 1941?
Why collectors want it: First appearance of the "Silver Age" -- or post-World War II -- version of The Flash, a key member of DC Comics' Justice League. Actor Grant Gustin is set to play the scarlet speedster when The CW airs "The Flash" Tuesday nights this fall.

Recent Heritage Auctions high bid: $179,250 for a copy professionally graded 9.6 out of 10.

Sandoval's advice: "It's the most valuable Silver Age DC comic for good reason. The Flash's costume hasn't changed much in the last 60 years, which is a good thing if you're thinking about the potential demand in years to come. We usually only handle about five copies a year, in any grade, making it much tougher to find than the key Marvel books of the same era."
Why collectors want it: First appearance of the Silver Age Green Lantern. Even though a 2011 movie starring Ryan Reynolds as DC's ring-slinger failed at the box office, Warner reportedly plans a big-screen team-up with The Flash timed for the 2017 holiday season.

Recent Heritage Auctions high bid: $59,750 for a copy professionally graded 9.0 out of 10.

Sandoval's advice: "This book seldom turns up in 'very fine' (8.0) or better condition. Since there's no text on the cover indicating that this is the first appearance of a new character, I bet there are copies of this in some attics or basements because people don't realize it's so valuable."
Why collectors want it: First appearance of Wonder Woman, though she neither appears nor is mentioned on the cover. Gal Gadot will play DC's Amazon powerhouse in May 2016's "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice." She's then reportedly due for a July 2017 solo film. Older fans will remember Lynda Carter from the "Wonder Woman" TV show that ran from 1975 to 1979.

Recent Heritage Auctions high bid: $56,762.50 for a copy professionally graded 8.0 out of 10.

Sandoval's advice: "It's the first appearance of a major character, yet it's not one of the 20 most valuable 'Golden Age' (i.e., World War II and earlier) comics. I can understand why some would see that as a buying opportunity."
Why collectors want it: First appearance of Superboy, although you wouldn't know it from the cover. Instead, his debut is reserved for a five-page insert drawn by Superman co-creator Joe Shuster. Superboy has since headlined the long-running TV series "Smallville" and appeared in civilian form in "Superman: The Movie" and "Man of Steel."

Recent Heritage Auctions high bid: $28,680 for a copy professionally graded 9.6 out of 10.

Sandoval's advice: "At the risk of stating the obvious: Superboy is just Superman when he was younger, which is why some don't see him as a separate character. But a lot of kids wanted to be Superboy, and that makes them passionate about collecting his appearances. The cover is nondescript, so you have to know comics to recognize this one as a key issue."
Why collectors want it: First appearance of Groot, the tree-like "Monarch of Planet X" who goes on to become a key member of the "Guardians of the Galaxy." Actor Vin Diesel voices the character in director James Gunn's upcoming adaptation, which opens on Aug. 1.

Recent Heritage Auctions high bid: $1,123.30 for a copy professionally graded 3.5 out of 10.

Sandoval's advice: "You want to invest in characters that have staying power, and you'd really have to be a riverboat gambler to place your bet on Groot. Personally, I would say take whatever you are thinking of spending on this book and put it toward the best copy you can afford of Hulk No. 181, which features the first full-length comic book appearance of Wolverine."
Why collectors want it: First appearance of Rocket Raccoon, another key member of the Guardians and arguably the star of Gunn's film. Bradley Cooper voices the gun-toting varmint while Skottie Young is writing and illustrating a new solo comic book featuring the character.

Recent Heritage Auctions high bid: $621.40 for a copy professionally graded 9.8 out of 10.

Sandoval's advice: "Lots of people hoarded Marvel Comics from the 1980s, so this book can't be considered rare. Also, for a character that's been around 30 years, the only comic book series he has ever headlined was a four-issue series in 1985. So how broad can his appeal be?"

Why collectors want it: Reprints of Charles Schulz's world-famous comic strip had appeared in other titles, such as "Tip Top Comics" and "Fritzi Ritz," but never before had a comic book simply dubbed "Peanuts" reached newsstands. What's more, this one contains a number of rare reprints from the earliest days of the strip, according to author and comic book historian Dr. Michael J. Vassallo.

Recent Heritage Auctions high bid: $13,145 for a copy professionally graded 8.5 out of 10.

Sandoval's advice: "This one is legitimately hard to find, and you could argue that the Peanuts characters are as popular as Superman or Batman. The Peanuts newspaper strip literally ran for 50 years, a great track record."

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