How long have you been collecting for and how did you get into the hobby?
I’ve been collecting since 2007. I was a big Manny Ramirez fan from his days with Cleveland, and at that time, I starting noticing more trading cards with pieces of his game-used equipment on them. I thought that was the coolest thing – to own a piece of memorabilia game-used by him and displayed nicely on a card – because I thought players’ equipment were protected and not available to regular folks. But once I got the cards, some with tiny jersey “swatches” and others with tiny bat pieces, I didn’t feel the satisfaction in owning them that I thought I would. That’s when I searched “baseball game used” on the internet and saw John Taube’s website for JT Sports. I read the description for every bat he had listed and was hooked. Shortly after that, I picked up my first gamer, a 2004 Manny Ramirez X-Bat. Those cards make me cringe. Have you collected anything other than game used bats?
I started collecting baseball and some basketball trading cards as a kid. I also fetched and collected batting practice baseballs before Portland Sea Dogs games, a farm club for the Red Sox. I used to get those BP balls signed by the Sea Dogs players and also collected signed baseballs of my favorite MLB players. After accumulating thousands of cards and dozens of signed baseballs, I decided to focus on getting highly-graded rookie cards of my favorite players signed. My favorites of these signed rookie cards were a Willie Mays 1951 Bowman that I got signed in person, and a Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer. After a while, getting the rookie cards signed weren’t worth the effort for me, so I stopped collecting cards and switched to collecting original baseball photographs, mostly vintage ones. At the same time, I saw the popularity of game-used jerseys and decided to see what it was about. After buying one jersey – Rickey Henderson’s used during the 1990 World Series – I sold it soon afterwards and knew it was all about bats for me. I agree, jerseys are cool but just not the same. You, like me, began collecting either pre-internet days or during the early stages of the internet, how have things changed since then? The hobby has exploded in popularity, resulting in higher prices for gamers but also more shared knowledge and resources for making educated decisions on buying. The hobby feels more like a community than ever because it’s so much easier to get in touch with fellow collectors with information. What is your favorite era and brand of bat to collect? My favorite era is 1980s-90s and brand is Louisville Slugger. What is the focus of your collection? The focus of my collection is my favorite players when I was growing up. What were the biggest challenges for you when you were starting out in the hobby? The biggest challenges for me were money and knowing if a bat was a genuine gamer. Do bats have to be authenticated, graded, cracked, un-cracked? Any particulars that are deal-killers when deciding on a new purchase? Repaired cracks are my only deal-breakers when deciding on a purchase. Bats don’t need to be authenticated, graded, cracked, or uncracked, as long as I’m comfortable that the only guy who used it is whose name is branded on the barrel. Do you have a favorite player to collect? Although Rickey Henderson and Ken Griffey, Jr. were my favorite players to watch when I was growing up, my favorite player to collect is Eddie Murray.
Murray bats are awesome, great variety across the different eras. If you could only keep one item from your collection, what would it be? Ken Griffey, Jr. 1991 Louisville Slugger model C271 “THE KID” nickname bat, photo-matched to images of him and his father in uniform on the field before a game.
Killer bat! What is your favorite part about the hobby? Besides looking at and handling the bats themselves, my favorite part of the hobby is sharing collections and stories with other enthusiastic collectors and helping others to photo-match and find items they’re looking for. Lastly, what is the ultimate piece you would love to one day add to your collection?
My ultimate piece would be Eddie Murray’s 3000th hit bat.
You never know!
Thanks Rod and continued success with your collection!