Blog: Off season 2009-10

October 24, 2009. OK, two weeks vacation is long enough. Time to dig back in. Let's start with this Musial bat that just sold on eBay. It should look familiar -- it's the same bat sold on 9/13 for $700. At the time, it seemed the buyer might have made one heck of a steal. But, when it was reposted with new photos, I started having doubts because of the knob stamping. Look at the bat in question (top left) and three other certified Musial Adirondack knobs. Clearly, the font is inconsistent. What you also may notice is the grain count. On the eBay bat, I can count at least 22 lines across the knob. On the three other bats, the grain count is about 10-12. I'm not saying the eBay bat is real or retail, but I have a hunch it will have a hard time earning certification from MEARS or PSA/DNA... I really can't make a call one way or the other on this Pujols bat based on the photos and description. But, it doesn't help when the same seller is offering a McGwire bat that clearly does not have Mac's use characteristics... Ozzie Smith's restaurant in St. Louis has closed and the memorabilia that decorated the walls will be auctioned tomorrow. Unfortunately, Ozzie took his Gold Gloves, All-Star Game jerseys and Hall of Fame bat. All that remains are posters, photos and a few non-Cardinals jerseys that (in spite of the plaques on the frames) don't seem to show any use. I'll be at the auction anyway, looking for a bargain... I'll be listing some new bats for sale (on consignment) tomorrow. Included are a 1958-60 Musial, a 1974 Bob Gibson, a 2002 Albert Pujols (with inconsistent use characteristics), a 1950s Rip Collins and a 1978 George Hendrick.

October 25, 2009. I have five bats I'm selling on consignment, and a couple of these are real gems. First is a 1974 Bob Gibson LS model B268. The bat can be pinpointed to factory records -- Gibby was shipped just three of these bats on 5/7/74. It shows moderate use with visible pine tar, rack scrapes and ball marks. Gibson bats are tough. $2,800... Next is a 1958-60 Stan Musial Adirondack model 57B. It has LOAs from PSA/DNA, GFC, SCD Authentic, GAI and Steiner (on the signature). The bat is hammered with use and ideal except for a 13" handle crack that is repaired by several small nails. Even if you didn't get it restored, you'd still have an outstanding club from The Man. $3,500... Third is a 2002 Albert Pujols Rawlings model 707B. It shows decent use and has LOAs from GFC/PSA/DNA and SCD Authentic (A8). In spite of that, I don't believe the tar is consistent with Pujols use. I'd expect the wood to be darker on the upper handle and clean where he grips it; this bat is the opposite. Even if you agree with that assessment, this is still a nice, early Pujols model at a reasonable price. $950... This 1950s Rip Collins LS model H117 is in almost pristine condition. Ripper was the best offensive player on the '34 Gas House Gang. This stick dates after his retirement, but any Collins bat is rare and desirable -- especially one that's such a clean example of Hornsby's H117 model. $275... Finally, I have a 1978 George Hendrick LS model S44. Hendrick wore #27 during only his first season in St. Louis before switching to #25. This bat shows tremendous use. $100. If you're interested in any of these bats, please contact me.

October 28, 2009. I have it on good authority (yep, my barber, Tim) that the Winter Warm Up will not be held at the Millennium Hotel in January. After several years at that cramped venue, it apparently is moving to another downtown hotel. Tim got his info from a buddy who works at the Millennium. My contact with the team confirms the event is moving, but cannot divulge the new location... Wonder what type of bat Mark McGwire will use as hitting coach, a generic fungo or one of his MAC 25 Rawlings models. Maybe he'll get a customized Rawlings fungo... Reader Rick Lucas suggests if you want to make $1,400, you might want to purchase this Pujols jersey. The seller is offering a double-your-money-back-guarantee if it doesn't pass authentication. It's a post-2001 jersey with an athletic cut (tails). That's all I need to see. Of course, if you buy it and it is blessed by your authenticator of choice, don't blame me -- the risk is all yours.

November 3, 2009. The seller of this Pujols bat suggests that the use characteristics and source gives him confidence that Albert used the bat. I'm going to offer a second opinion. Notice the 5 on the knob is no longer black and there's a 1.9 written next to the 5. The seller suggests this is the bat's weight, which it is (31.9 ounces) -- but the weight also is stamped into the knob, so there's no need to write it, too. Imagine if there was no decimal point; then you'd have the number 19. Nick Stavinoha wore #19. The bat was manufactured on 4/30/09. I saw Stavinoha use a Pujols model bat starting on 5/17/09. These could be coincidences. Or, this could be a Pujols bat used by Nick. You decide... The Bob Gibson bat listed on 10/25 is sold, but the others are still available.

November 5, 2009. The Cardinals announced today that the Winter Warm Up will move to the Hyatt Regency (formerly the Adam's Mark). As always, it will be held during MLK weekend. The other big change affects autograph tickets. There will be no early-bird sales at the stadium anymore. All autograph tickets will be sold online via the team Web site from 1/9 thru 1/13. The only autograph tickets available at the event will be those that don't sell out online. Everything else is the same -- events, auctions, exhibits, even the price of the 3-day pass ($40). Details here.

November 6, 2009. I called it! On my 9/22/09 blog entry, I noted how eBay scammer "wearingitagain" purchased a 2008 Pujols bat handle (item #170384068695) and a 2009 Pujols bat barrel (item #170376361973). I said I'd be shocked if he didn't put the pieces together and try to sell them as a Pujols bat on eBay. Well, guess what? He did it. Amazing. Dude has balls. Needless to say, stay away from this one.

November 16, 2009. Three of the bats I offered here on 10/25 -- the Pujols, Collins and Hendrick -- are now available on eBay. I've also listed a 1973-75 Tim McCarver bat and a 2004-05 Lance Berkman bat... The Musial bat mentioned on 10/25 is still available for $3,500... The current Grey Flannel auction has a few "interesting" Cardinals jerseys, including a Joe Torre shirt that clearly is a minor league issue; someone tried to squeeze the NOB between the high-set number and the collar and call it a Torre gamer. Ugh. There's also the obligatory 2002 Pujols jersey complete with athletic cut, a questionable NOB font and inconsistent tagging. A 1992 Ozzie Smith jersey with what appeared to be a retail 100th anniversary patch already has been pulled from GFC's auction. And the 2008 Rick Ankiel jersey originally was advertised as a 2009 shirt, in spite of the fact it doesn't have the ASG patch. Hard to believe Grey Flannel was once considered the gold standard of jersey authenticators.

November 24, 2009. Congratulations to Albert Pujols on earning his third NL MVP award... How confident was Upper Deck that Albert would win the award? Check out these items, complete with special logo and already autographed by Albert. If you're interested in buying a signed commemorative jersey, bat or ball, contact my friend, Andrew Lang, and he can hook you up.

December 7, 2009. Congratulations to former Cards' skipper Whitey Herzog upon his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. You can be sure the call will go out for the Rat's #24 to be retired. No better time to do it -- Whitey's in the Hall and #24 is not assigned. Even if Rick Ankiel did return, he could wear other digits. And why not? He's already worn #66 and #49 in addition to #24... Brad Penny, assuming he passes his physical, likely will have to accept unfamiliar digits if/when he joins the Birds. His #31 belongs to Franklin; other recent numbers (#36 and #42) are assigned to Reyes and retired. He did wear #30 back in '04, which would be available if Smoltz is allowed to walk. For the record, I hope does not happen.

December 14, 2009. I'm a little surprised nobody has contacted me about this Pujols jersey yet. It's currently being auctioned by the Cardinals on the team's Web site, and lo and behold, it has tails. After researching Pujols memorabilia for a long time, I've maintained that any regular gamer, post-2001, should have a straight hem or be cut off. Every legit Pujols jersey I've seen has been that way. So, how can I explain the jersey currently being auctioned? I suspect it is one of the many extra jerseys Pujols orders each season to be traded or given away to others. I've been told those extras, up to a couple dozen a year, all have tails -- otherwise, they're identical to Albert's gamers. So, is this a Pujols jersey that came straight from the clubhouse? Yes. But, did Albert wear it? Color me extremely skeptical, in spite of the team LOA... I once wrote here that any time I saw a legit Pujols bat on eBay that I'd include a link in this blog. Well, here's a legit rookie bat. I've seen the bat in person and did quite a bit of research around it. I'd like to own it myself. Unfortunately, I seem to be about $94,000 short... If you're interested in a 2007 home Cool Base Mark Mulder jersey for $150, let me know.

December 21, 2009. I can't promise the Cards will sign Matt Holliday during this holiday season, but I can offer you a Matt Holliday game-used St. Louis bat. Matt's Cardinals bats are tough to find. The Authentics Store had four of them, but sold them quickly at $400 each (plus tax). This one doesn't have a team LOA, but it has something better -- a MLB hologram that puts the bat in Matt's hands during a game. No guessing whether it's a gamer, a BP bat or a bat used by someone else. This Sam Bat was manufactured on 9/21 and cracked in October. If you want details, photos and a price, contact me... The Pujols jersey I wrote about last week sold for $7,341. Ouch.

January 6, 2010. The list of autograph guests for the Winter Warm Up has been posted on the Cardinals Web site. Most of the usual suspects will be there. Pleasantly surprised to see Ray Lankford's name; he's been absent for too long. Matt Holliday's name isn't on the list, but I suspect he'll be added. And, no, Mark McGwire isn't scheduled. Would love to see him show up. Prices are not posted, but I'm hearing that, overall, they'll be more affordable than in years past... The Holliday bat I listed on 12/21 sold on 12/22. Sorry to all the collectors who sent me e-mails after that. The good news is, it looks like there will be plenty of Holliday bats available for the next seven seasons.

January 7, 2010. Matt Holliday has officially signed on the dotted line. He will wear #7 next season in deference to Jim Edmonds; because Matt prefers a single digit; because his favorite #5 is taken; and because another Oklahoman, Mickey Mantle, had an OK career with #7 on his back... An updated Winter Warm Up autograph list is posted with prices. Though he's not listed yet, I've been told Holliday will be there; his ticket will be $100... If you have any interest at all in owning a great Stan Musial game-used bat (see entries on 10/25/09 and 11/16/09), time is running out. If this bat doesn't sell before the Winter Warm Up, the owner is reclaiming it and putting back on his wall. Final price: $3,100 plus shipping.

January 14, 2010. This article in today's Post-Dispatch talks about how Mark McGwire has pulled some of his old game equipment out of mothballs since being hired as the Cards' hitting coach. According to the article: "Shortly after accepting the job, McGwire pulled a bat out of his collection and began hitting again. On Wednesday, he used a Rawlings bat, circa 2001, branded with his name. He pulled on batting gloves from a box stamped "2001," and he wore Nike shoes with "MAC 25" stitched on the back." All interesting, but photos included on the paper's site show a bat with no batch code and 1998 barrel labeling. I'm pretty sure this particular bat was made after the 1998 season since its markings are consistent with comments made by Rawlings' Bill Steele in this article... If you want a Pujols autograph ticket for Monday's WWU session, you might be in luck. A reader contacted me last night saying he bought a ticket, but now cannot attend on Monday, so he's selling his ticket for $280. If you're interested, I can hook you up with the ticketholder, who will be at the WWU on Saturday and Sunday. Contact me here... I have several nice bats and jerseys on eBay at the moment. These auctions will end Sunday night.

January 18, 2010. Well, another Winter Warm Up has come and gone. Here are some general observations... The team auctioned two Pujols jerseys. A road gray with tails and no sleeve patch -- likely a spring training shirt that may or may not have been worn by Albert -- sold for $1,500. Another road shirt with the ASG patch, straight hem and very light wear sold today for $5,100. Neither jersey was signed... It seems just about every jersey in the silent auctions was from spring training. Not sure I saw one shirt with an ASG patch... Very few bats were available. There were none in the Cardinals Care store, about half a dozen in the auctions (Molina being the biggest name) and very few in the exhibitor's hall. The Authentics Store had bats, but were charging "stadium prices." I really miss the days when the Cardinals Care store had big bins of bats for $25 each... I'm not sure the Marriott was a big hit with attendees. At a presentation this morning, team President Bill DeWitt asked the crowd to raise their hands if they liked this year's facilities better than the ones used in past years. By my estimate, maybe 5-10 percent raised their hands. When asked if they liked the Millennium Hotel better, about half raised their hands. The rest apparently agreed with me -- it really wasn't any worse or better. In a nutshell, there just isn't enough room for such a large event -- too many bottlenecks, too many snaking lines, too much chaos in general. It's still fun, but it could be so much better... I picked up several jerseys in the Cardinals Care store. A few of them are now available in the for sale section of this site.

January 24, 2010. The Cardinals unveiled the team's 2010 BP cap this week and all I can say is, "Why?" Is there something wrong with plain ol' red? Do we really need the blue apron strings? I understand marketing and the reasons teams introduce new caps every year or two. Doesn't mean I have to like it... When I bought jerseys at last weekend's Winter Warm Up and got them home, I noticed the 2009 road shirt had a lighter shade of gray than the older jerseys. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind if you're trying to date jerseys that don't have patches or year flags.

January 31, 2010. I listed seven jerseys on eBay tonight, most of which were acquired at the recent Winter Warm Up. Please bid early and often... Also, I'm selling a 2007 Braden Looper jersey on consignment. Great shirt with the Hancock patch; it's signed and has a team LOA. $175.

February 15, 2010. I've seen a few questionable items pop up recently and haven't had a chance to post about them individually. So, I'll address several of them today and apologize up front for the length of the post... Let's start with a jersey that hung on the wall at Ozzie Smith's restaurant for many years. The plaque on it said it was a jersey worn by Whitey Herzog during the 1985 World Series. I didn't bid on it because not only did it look too minty, but every other jersey on the walls seemed to date from 1990-93. The Herzog predated the opening of the restaurant by three years, so it was an outlier. The jersey was freed from its frame by its eventual buyer, signed by Herzog and displayed at the Winter Warm Up. It was there my suspicions about the shirt were confirmed by the lettering on the back. Note the elongated font, something that wasn't used by the team until 1989, when the Cards switched to using name plates. This photo shows the Herzog at top, then 1988 and 1989 jerseys from Rich Hacker that illustrate the different fonts, then a 1985 Mike Jorgensen jersey at bottom. Clearly, the font on the Herzog is inconsistent with what should have been on a 1985 jersey. Whitey may have written "gamer" on the front, but it appears the jersey was made solely for display... A couple cheesy Lou Brock items are on eBay right now. This jersey has felt letters and numbers, which would be fine if it was a flannel and not a knit. At least the seller seems to have doubt about it being legit. And this helmet -- well, let's just say the seller has a history of pushing bogus crap (and using creepy dolls in his photos)... WAIT, the helmet has been pulled. Maybe eBay has finally caught onto this crook... Last week, I was contacted about a baseball Rick Ankiel supposedly used in 2000 when he set the Cardinals' rookie strike out record. The ball -- with Rick's signature and notation -- was a N.L. Coleman ball. Those were last used in 1999. In 2000, both leagues switched to a MLB Selig ball. Whoops... Finally, this Musial bat showed up on eBay yesterday. I contacted the seller and explained that it could not be from 1963 because the center brand was first used in 1964. He said his description was clear in saying the source could have received the bat between 1963 and 1966 -- but he would end the auction and change the title to avoid confusion. Well, he relisted it, but the only thing he changed was his starting price. So, if you're looking at the Musial bat, understand it's one of several professional models he ordered between 1964-66, after he retired. It is not from 1963 and cannot be considered a Musial gamer.

February 16, 2010. Another funky jersey showed up on eBay today. It sure looks like a legit 1962 flannel, but the Cardinals had names on the backs of their jerseys starting in 1962. This jersey doesn't, much like the 1962 Bob Gibson jersey SCP auctions has been pushing for a while. If there's no evidence of a name removal, can anyone explain the existence of such jerseys? I know the team's museum staff has researched it extensively and even they have no explanation... Here are a couple of interesting recent articles from the Post-Dispatch: The first provides a look at all the equipment the team ships to Florida for spring training (100 dozen bats!); the second explores some uniform number assignments in Jupiter. Here's the current 40-man roster and list of non-roster invitees.

March 16, 2010. Can't believe a whole month has gone by since my last post. Unfortunately (or fortunately for me), real work has gotten in the way. Not much has happened, but I do have a few tidbits... The Cards have a scheduled off day tomorrow, so once again, no St. Patrick's Day green jerseys. They haven't donned the green since 2008... It was announced the Cards will again play in the Civil Rights game this year. Unlike previously, when it was a pre-season game in Memphis, this game will be May 15 in Cincinnati. One would assume the team will wear throwbacks. They couldn't go wrong with unis from the mid-1960s, when Civil Rights legislation was passed. But, personally, I'm rooting for 1947 unis in honor of Jackie Robinson's first season in the majors. Wonder if Majestic knows how to put a zipper in a jersey... My friend, Don Bell, has listed a rare Ray King bat on eBay. You just don't see those... I've received a few questions about this Pujols bat. I believe the seller is correct in stating it could have been used by another player. Based on the direction of ball marks on the foil-stamped logos, I'm guessing it was used by a left-handed hitter... A rare Bruce Sutter bat is on the Bay, but the seller says it's 33.5" long. As I understand it, Bruce's records show nothing shorter than 34" long. Did this not get recorded correctly at the factory? Or does the seller not know how to use a tape measure? You decide... This Willie McGee uniform is back for its second go on eBay. I've asked the seller to contact me about it because I'd like to know, if this is a 1990 jersey, where is the AAB memorial patch on the left sleeve? The Rawlings word mark on the right sleeve? And why can you see a letter outline in the neck hole when 1990 jerseys had name plates?... I have a nice 2004 Dave Duncan jersey and a (year unknown) Jose Oquendo jersey on eBay right now. Selling them for a friend. The Oquendo is interesting because it has a team alteration -- someone chopped off the tails and hemmed it straight across.

March 31, 2010. You know it's almost opening day when the high-numbered young guys are being assigned lower numbers. Jason Motte will start the season wearing #30. Felipe Lopez also is swapping his spring #8 for Ruben Gotay's #3. Look for Motte and Lopez in their new jerseys during the Cards' exhibition games in Minnesota this weekend... This week, Birdbats.com celebrates its 5th birthday. In honor of this monumental event, my internet provider is raising its rates. Seriously, when I bought this domain name in 2005, I paid just $25 for five years. Everything else has been "free," meaning I've done all the writing, Web design and updating, etc. But, now that my introductory rate is history, I'm having to pay a little more out of pocket to keep the site going. Birdbats.com will never have a subscription or membership fee; I hate those as much as you do. But, if you ever feel the desire to contribute to the cause, donations are always welcomed via PayPal (ID: birdbats@charter.net). If I've ever saved you a few hundred dollars by steering you away from a bad jersey, or helped you find a bat you really wanted, or simply provided information you found useful in some way -- and you'd like to return the favor -- your donation truly would be appreciated.