Blog: September 2008

September 1, 2008. In footage of the Cards taking BP, Albert was shown using a two-tone Max Bat. Of course, that's a bat he hasn't swung in a game this season. Chalk up August as yet another month where Albert used nothing but a Gwynn-finished Marucci bat... Best case scenario, a minor league jersey... Too bad this isn't all original. Also too bad the restoration was completed using the wrong NOB font.

September 2, 2008. Newcomers Brian Barden and Mark Johnson both made appearances in tonight's game. Barden wore #23, last donned by Anthony Reyes. Johnson, as anticipated, wore #53. Neither guy batted... There was a Sam Bat sighting tonight! Nick Stavinoha swung a black Sam with white hande tape... Adam Wainwright is swinging a different bat. He normally uses an unfinished ash or maple LS, but his bat tonight had a flame finish and a dipped barrel.

September 3, 2008. Jason Motte made his MLB debut with a 98 MPH strikeout and #60 on his back... With Motte's appearance, the Cards have now used eight numbers in the sixties this season. Only #66 (Brian Barton in the spring) and #69 have remained on the shelf. One has to wonder if #66 is unissued so that Ankiel won't see it and possibly have flashbacks to his pitching days. As for the other number, I'm not sure the team would give it out. It's typically reserved for obnoxious guys on college intramural teams. And Bronson Arroyo, who wore it during his Pirates days. Apparently, a guy named Alan Mills also wore it briefly for the Yankees.

September 4, 2008. It's an off day, but I just came across this photo of Troy Glaus from Wednesday's game. Back on 8/30, I noted how the armpit vents on gray Cool Base shirts are looking a bit yellowish as the season winds down. The shot of Glaus serves as visual proof. Between that and sagging plackets, it seems Majestic has some work to do on its road CB jerseys.

September 5, 2008. No new developments tonight... Here's an example of a nice story that just doesn't make sense. Two things about this jersey should jump out at even the most inexperienced collectors. First, it's made by Wilson. Cardinals jerseys, though, were made by Rawlings for about seven straight decades (before Majestic received the MLB contract). And second, are we supposed to believe the embroidered "Cardinals" lettering was removed carefully from around the birds on bat logo? I know this sounds cynical, but it's true: When it comes to memorabilia, dads and grandpas often stretch the truth.

September 6, 2008. This Pujols jersey is an interesting case because it's a Cool Base shirt. As far as I know, Pujols has worn CB only once -- during a jersey-off-the-back day on 6/23/07. There was a famous shot of him getting unbuttoned by a pitch that hit him, but I can no longer find it online. Anyway, the shirt at auction is advertised as being worn before Josh Hancock died. That limits it's possible use to eight games. There were 13 home games scheduled before Hancock's death, but one was rained out, one was Jackie Robinson Day (when everyone wore #42), and the team wore gold-trimmed shirts during the opening three games against the Mets. I've reviewed photos I could find from some of those eight games and it doesn't appear Albert is wearing a CB jersey. I've been told by people who know Albert that he is no fan of CB shirts.

September 7, 2008. Pujols shattered a bat in two pieces tonight, something I haven't seen much this season... There was an interesting article in yesterday's Post-Dispatch about Big Mac hitting #62 a decade ago. In the piece, McGwire said, "I don’t know if I have one piece of any memorabilia from that year. I know what I did with it. I gave everything away. I gave away all my shoes, all my jerseys, all my batting gloves, all my bats — to all the players and coaches, visiting players, umpires, family members and friends. Even Bobby Knight has some stuff. People asked me, ‘Why aren’t you keeping any of this for yourself?’ I said, ‘You know what? I have the memories in my mind and that means more than having something special.’ I wanted everybody on my team, my friends, my opponents to have a piece of this."

September 9, 2008. Brian Barden used a black ash LS in his first plate appearance of the year... Apparently, MLB has all the broken bats it needs for its study. Every bat broken since July 2 -- 1,700-plus -- was collected for analysis. No word yet on the fate of these bats and whether they'll be returned to the teams and eventually sold to the public. Given the limited number of home games remaining, I doubt bats broken from here on out will be available for sale this season. I hope I'm wrong.

September 10, 2008. During tonight's game, the TV broadcasters were talking about the dangers of broken maple bats. Just as they were described as flying spears that could kill someone, right on cue, Felix Pie's black LS M9 shatted, sending the barrel toward Pujols. A short time later, Geovany Soto's bat broke and flew between short and third... In the eighth inning, Brian Barden followed Brian Barton to the plate. Too bad Harry Caray isn't alive to call that one... Welcome back, Josh Kinney!

September 11, 2008. In remembrance of 9/11, the Cardinals again wore the special navy caps they donned Independence Day weekend. Those games also were against the Cubs... Adam Kennedy used a Gwynn-finished Rawlings during tonight's game.

September 12, 2008. The team wore the patriotic navy caps again, though I'm not sure why... Mark Johnson had an infield single in his first Cardinals plate appearance. He used what I believe is a natural Max bat. It was difficult to tell because there was so much pine tar on the centerbrand, but the barrel stamping was consistent with Max Bat... Joel Piñeiro added a natural ash LS to his list of bats used.

September 13, 2008. The recognition of 9/11 has stretched into its third day; the team is still wearing the special navy caps... There are two Pujols bats on eBay right now that have generated several e-mails. Without getting into specifics on them, let me just offer these reminders: Albert uses a gold/brown pine tar near the upper part of the handle; and Marucci bats should all have date stamps on the knob above the #5.

September 14, 2008. By wearing the special navy caps again today, the team has recognized 9/11 (four days) longer than Independence Day (three days)... For the record, the Cards are 1-6 in those seven games. I think it's time to retire those caps and auction them to raise money for the cause for which they were created. According to that MLB release, the caps were intended to be worn during the Fourth of July weekend and on 9/11.

September 16, 2008. For several years, the folks who tried to date LS bats defined 1965-1972 as a distinct labeling era. Eventually, it was split into two segments -- 1965-68 and 1969-72. The minor difference was determined by the "P" in "Powerized." The new standard suggested that beginning in 1969, the loop of the "P" crossed the downstroke. But, I just saw a Bob Gibson Mc47 model, made in 1969 only (shipped 8/1/69), that conflicts with the theory. Personally, I now believe the H&B factory used two kinds of "Powerized" starting in 1969 and that no bat can be determined as being "pre-1969" based on the "Powerized" alone.

September 17, 2008. Brendan Ryan played right field for the first time tonight. He doesn't have an outfielder's glove (which typically is larger than an infielder's glove), so he was forced to borrow Nick Stavinoha's leather.

September 18, 2008. There's still debate among collectors about when Adirondack started putting rings on their bats and when the original narrow bands became wider. Here's one thing I know for sure -- based on this bat, the ring existed in 1969 and was still narrow. The bat is one of Torre's first pieces of Cardinals lumber and predates his signing an endorsement contract with Adirondack. As an interesting aside, here's a Willie Mays H&B bat, also from 1969, that has a narrow band drawn around the handle in black marker. Mays, who was paid to endorse Adirondack, clearly was trying to fool spectators into thinking his LS was an Adirondack.

September 19, 2008. Birdbats.com received a bit of publicity in the current issue of Sports Collector's Digest. I was interviewed about how condition affects the value of bats. My contribution begins about 2/3 of the way down the article... Nothing new in Chicago today, but as the season wears on, the players' Cool Base shirts are looking worse and worse. Schumaker's, LaRue's and Kennedy's jerseys had visibly yellowish armpit vents... Glaus has been using Rawlings bats almost exclusively, but he was using Sam Bat in BP today. Notice he also was wearing a home cap, not a road or BP lid... The Brewers untuck their jerseys after their day is done. Apparently, Carlos Zambrano does the same -- even if his day lasts just 1 2/3 innings.

September 20, 2008. Joel Piñeiro's familiar red glove was benched in favor of a light tan model... I was fortunate this week to acquire a 1967 Orlando Cepeda World Series bat. I'd eventually like to write a piece on Cardinals WS bats, so if you have one issued to or used by a player, I'd love to see photos (especially of the barrel where the WS notation and player's name is). Just send them to me via e-mail. Thanks.

September 21, 2008. One of my friends has decided to part with his 2004 Cardinals team set of bats so he can pursue something he wants more. I'm still waiting on details and photos, but I do know the set includes a sweet, signed Pujols bat (uncracked with "GAME" and "BP" on the knob), a beautiful Rolen, an issued Edmonds and more. Photos and prices are forthcoming. If you're interested, let me know and you can move to the front of the line... Nothing new today. Just one more week until my DVR can go on vacation.

September 22, 2008. Mark Johnson used a natural ash LS tonight. It was still too new for the label to be obscured with pine tar... I didn't catch the entire interview with Nick Stavinoha before tonight's game, but apparently Brendan Ryan isn't the only regular infielder who is using Stavinoha's glove when stationed in right field. By process of elimination, I'd guess Adam Kennedy might be employing it, as well... Still waiting on details about the 2004 bat collection mentioned yesterday, but I now know the nine bats included in the set: Pujols, Womack, Renteria, Rolen, Matheny, Sanders, Edmonds (issued), Walker and Morris.

September 23, 2008. A reminder that the Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum will host its "Heroes at the Hall" event this Saturday, September 27. In addition to seeing the great memorabilia, there will be Q&As with Red Schoendienst, Al Hrabosky and Rick Horton. All three also will sign autographs. Al and Rick are free with the regular $7.50 admission ($7 for seniors, $6 for ages 5-15). If you want Red's signature, a special $50 admission fee will buy a line ticket and a Schoendienst bobblehead, the same one that'll be given out at the stadium Friday night. Several other activities and artifact presentations are planned. I believe tickets are sold in advance only, not at the door -- so if you're going, get your tickets now. Hope to see you there.

September 24 , 2008. Both Louisville Slugger and ash made a bit of a comeback tonight. During a span of five batters, four (Stavinoha, Phelps, Johnson and Wainwright) were using LS -- all ash, all natural or flame burned. Looks like H&B's sales rep is making inroads, especially with the guys who started the season at Memphis.

September 25, 2008. More players using ash Louisville Sluggers today. Barton, LaRue, Piñeiro and Barden all were swinging ash LS. Miles also was using LS, but he had a black M9... Lots of fans dressed as empty seats today... The Authentics Store at the stadium is open only during home games, but it now has more of a presence online. Don't know if the offerings ultimately will include jerseys and bats, but the online access is a step in the right direction.

September 26, 2008. In his last game of the season, Looper pulled out a Gwynn-finished Marucci. Even though he's used Marucci all year, I'm pretty sure Pujols' name was on the barrel. He sure hit like Albert while using it (2-3 with a triple and an RBI)... Speaking of Albert, his bat had maybe the heaviest tar I've ever seen on one of his bats -- about 6-8" of thick, golden tar on the upper part of the unfinished handle... The Schoendienst SGA bobblehead given to fans tonight was outstanding in terms of details. It clearly was a 1962 uniform with his name on back, proper stirrups, pants piping and even a green underbill on the cap.

September 27, 2008. Unless my eyes were deceiving me today, I'm pretty sure Skip Schumaker was using a Gwynn-finished Rawlings bat. Skip has been a devoted X-Bat user most of his career... The "Heroes at the Hall" event today was both fun and educational. Not only did we get to hear Red Schoendienst explain why he liked 33" bats in the late '50s ("I was getting older and they were easier to swing"), but we also heard Rick Horton discuss how Willie McGee and Vince Coleman used to take Horton's C271 bats because of their wide grain and high quality.

September 28, 2008. Schumaker definitely was using a Rawlings bat today... The Reds seem to be having the same problem with their road Cool Base jerseys that the Cards are having. Several players had yellow armpit gussets... Pujols ended the season having used only Marucci bats -- except for a lone plate appearance with a black Sam Bat on April 7. That's an amazing turnaround for a guy who would use multiple brands during a season, and sometimes in the same game... This is the last blog entry for the regular season. I will continue to make posts during the off season, starting October 1, but they will not be daily. Keep checking back, and thanks for reading!