Baseball fans have long loved to get their hands on trading cards or autographs but a growing segment of the baseball memorabilia market involves game used bats. If you’re getting the itch to start a collection of “gamers” , here are some things you should know.
First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that any game used bat which you are interested in purchasing is indeed a bat that was used in an actual game. Many internet sites and auction companies sell Pro-Model bats, which are exact replicas of game bats with one giant difference- they may have never been used in a game. Tricky wording can make a Pro-Model bat appear like a game used one, so be careful. An easy way of making a quick assessment is to look at the bat handle. If there is no tape, pine tar, scuffs or other signs of wear, then there is little chance the bat actually saw big-league action.
While bats from lesser-known players are often authentic and readily available on eBay without any official certificate of authenticity, if you’re buying a high value bat, it’s best to look a little deeper. Bat authentication guru John Taube works for PSA/DNA, the biggest and most widely recognized authentication company. While no authenticator is perfect, Taube is considered one of the hobby’s most knowledgeable “bat guys.”
In an effort to curb fraud, MLB launched an internal program in 2008 that uses holograms and high-tech software to authenticate its merchandise at the source. Bats with MLB authentication will come with a hologram and the ability to view information through their database. Many teams now sell their own game-used bats and other memorabilia through their physical in-stadium shops and/or online.
Milwaukee-based MEARS has a wealth of experience and resources at its fingertips and is also respected as an authenticator of game used bats from all eras.
It warms the heart of a typical fan to see an array of game bats on display that span the entire history of professional baseball. Prior to 1990, wooden bats were made almost exclusively out of ash. The hard, pale wood has been in the powerful claws of sluggers for well over a century.
Older game used bats, like those of legends such as Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth, will likely have a very worn and plain look, as the bats of the early-to-mid 1900s appear more like whittled down tree branches than the finely tuned, perfectly weighted, and colorfully painted clubs of today. Make no mistake, the unglamorous look of the bats of yesteryear only increases their value, and getting your hands on a stick used by someone like Mickey Mantle will cost thousands of dollars.
The bats of the modern era benefit from many decades of progress in the areas of technology and style. Fewer players are going with the traditional wood finish, instead choosing to have their bats painted black, maroon, or a variety of other mellow tones. Additionally, special bats are used all around Major League Baseball on Mother’s Day and a handful of other times during the year, which drastically increases the number of game used bats that are available to the baseball public. Modern game used bats cost much less than those of deceased Hall-Of-Famers, but a David Ortiz game used bat can still fetch well over $500.
Dozens of folks across the country have put together very impressive collections of game used bats. Some of the themes include a collection of game used bats of Yankee greats, Hall of Famers, and bats from a collector’s favorite team. Whatever the theme or depth of the collection, game used bats are a brilliant blend of decor and history.