The world lost a teacher, coach, mentor and collector last summer when Bill Riddell passed away just weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The LaMesa, CA resident and Michigan native was just 58 years old.
He amassed an impressive collection of vintage game-used bats, jerseys and autographs, focusing on high quality items associated with Hall of Famers. Before he died, Riddell directed his wife Diane to have the collection consigned to SCP Auctions. Thirty lots were sold including Riddell’s pride and joy, a signed 1969 Ernie Banks Cubs home jersey, which totaled $151,652. Bats used by Mickey Cochrane, Roberto Clemente and Yogi Berra have also found new homes.
Riddell was a standout pitcher who spent more than 30 years mentoring athletes during his long teaching career. He was passionate about bats and was among the hobby’s early authorities on Hillerich & Bradsby and Adirondack bats. He answered questions freely but also co-wrote the book BATS, which has been used for reference by thousands of collectors, dealers and auction houses since its publication in 1995.
He never lost his love of the Detroit Tigers, despite leaving the cold, snowy climate of Michigan as a young boy. Part of the collection included game-used bats from virtually every member of the Tigers’ 1968 and 1984 World Series championship teams.
In all, the items sold for over $260,000 including the buyer’s premium, providing some financial help to the family, which includes children and grandchildren.
This week’s story in southern California’s Daily Pilot with more on his life and collection is worth a read.