The fourth volume in a set of award-winning books on sports collecting is now on the market.
Legendary Lumber: The Top 100 Player Bats in Baseball History is authored by PSA President Joe Orlando with usual collaborators Tom and Ellen Zappala. It joins previous releases The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball’s Prized Players and The T206 Collection: The Players & Their Stories.
Legendary Lumber will be officially unveiled at the National Sports Collectors Convention later this month but you can own it now. The 225-page hardcover showcases the most desirable professional model bats in baseball history and the players who used them.
The book includes a top 25 list of the most sought after player bats in the hobby and then breaks down the rest of those featured by position.
For each player featured in the book, there are two sections: one focused on the player’s career and the other offering characteristics of his bat preparation and usage, his ordering habits and the relative scarcity of his bats on the market today. There’s also a boxed section documenting a player’s best season and his career stats. New England-based writer John Molori again contributed much of the narrative.
The book also includes a brief history of the baseball bat, and tips about collecting professional model bats.
The players selected for the book represent a cross-section of baseball history, from the early days to the present—Nap Lajoie, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and the ultra-popular stars of the post-1980 period such as Cal Ripken, Jr., and Derek Jeter. The bats pictured for each player belong mostly to private collectors.
Like the other three coffee table-style books in the series, the result is a high quality appearance. The pictures of the players (who are appropriately all shown with a bat in their hands) are large and attractive and the photos of the individual player bats, culled from some of the hobby’s top collections, are spread across two pages. The book is visually appealing from start to finish–the sign of a classic coffee table book.
It would have been nice to read some thoughts offered by collectors of some of the high-end bats pictured in the book and perhaps a few more selling prices. I also would have liked to have read a few more bat-related player anecdotes but that might have involved a much heavier research load than was practical.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of fun nuggets hidden in some of the “Tales from Joe’s Bat Rack” sections. For instance:
- George Brett sometimes wrote “Lou” on the knob—a nickname given to him by an older brother because of young George’s love of the “Looney Toons” cartoons.
- In 1958, Yogi Berra started ordering bats branded across the grain, putting the sweet spot of the barrel near the back in a move that compensated for the rolling of his hands as he swung
- Of all the members of the 500 home run club, Mel Ott game model bats are the most scarce.
If you collect game-used bats or just have an interest in those used by some of baseball’s greats, Legendary Lumber is definitely one you’ll want in your library–or on your coffee table. It’s definitely worth the $30 price and you don’t even have to be a collector to appreciate and enjoy what’s inside.
You can find Legendary Lumber or any of the books in the four volume set on Amazon by clicking here.