Game-used bat collectors like their hobby because of the ‘stories’ they say those pieces of wood tell.
Most of them are told with ball marks, center brands, weight and maybe the odd spike mark or two. Exciting? Only to a serious fan or collector.
Pete Rose ordered 30 Mizuno bats just prior to the 1985 season. He was chasing Ty Cobb’s career hits mark with a fervor–knowing time was running short on his long career.
Rose was also racking up some significant gambling debts and to help satisfy his creditors, he sold off part of his memorabilia, including several game-used items. The recipient was Cincinnati collector Steve Wolter.
One of those black bats eventually wound up in the hands of Bill Schubert of Stockton, CA. He traded a Babe Ruth signed ball and cash to Wolter for the bat. He eventually photo matched it to a shot of Rose waiting in the on deck circle, holding the heavily taped bat with his uniform number written on the knob. It wasn’t the only place “14” was written though.
That’s where the story gets really interesting–and has some prominent collectors taking a look at other late-career Rose bats.
Because as Deadspin writer Barry Petchesky tells us, you never know what you might find inside.