Blog: September/October 2010

September 1, 2010. Felipe Lopez used a black LS M9 today, the first time I've noticed him using anything other than Marucci or Old Hickory... If you're going to sell a McGwire bat on eBay, it would be a good idea to show the whole bat -- or at least the grip area. The seller of this bat includes two shots of the knob, but none of the most important part of the bat. Hmm... Glad to see this Pujols jersey didn't pull the money out of anyone's wallet. I know Albert was wearing a size 52 as early as spring training 2007, so a size 50 in 2008 is automatically suspicious. Also, though it says the jersey has Pujols' custom hem, it really doesn't look consistent with this 2009 jersey (which also is a size 52). The position of the "5" on the front also looks farther to the left than it should.

September 2, 2010. From today's Post-Dispatch: "Late Tuesday night, after the Cardinals' 3-0 loss, Albert Pujols gave away the bat he used to hit his 400th home run as a gift to a young fan at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. The Houston-area teen, who officials said had a brain tumor, had planned to attend Monday's game to see his favorite player, Pujols, but was hospitalized that day. Pujols said Wednesday he was told about the boy and invited to visit the fan in person by former Houston manager Phil Garner. Pujols had not used the bat since hitting No. 400 a week ago."

September 3, 2010. Matt Holliday isn't wearing his Cool Flo batting helmet, having switched back to a regular solid lid... Brendan Ryan is using a Galen-finished bat. It appears to be a LS M9, but it's tough to be sure. I do know it's a maple bat -- I can see the slope test void.

September 4, 2010. The Cards went old school today. Three batters in a row -- Wainwright, Miles and Jay -- used natural ash Louisville Sluggers. That used to be normal, but you just don't see it anymore... Brendan Ryan's bat is definitely a LS M9. The question is, does the company consider that finish Hornsby or Galen? It used to be an easy call, but not with maple. I'm calling it Galen... Felipe Lopez used a natural LS M9 with dark handle tape, similar to Jon Jay's tape job.

September 5, 2010. Seems when Glenn Beck met Albert Pujols back in June, he had little idea who Pujols was or why he covered his bats in "maple syrup." Wow. It's called pine tar, Mr. Beck. Regardless of your politics, doesn't it kind of irk you that a guy who confesses to knowing "nothing about sports" is the proud owner of a signed Pujols game-used bat?

September 6, 2010. Ray King's 2004 N.L. Championship ring sold for more than $7,400 on eBay... Holliday is still wearing his Cool Flo batting helmet on the road... Felipe Lopez pinch hit with a black Sam Bat. After being a steady Old Hickory user most of the season, Lopez recently has swung Marucci, Sam Bat and two different Louisville Sluggers.

September 7, 2010. A couple guys were swinging different bats tonight, perhaps in search of "slump busters." Pujols switched to a natural Marucci for tonight's game. He hasn't used that particular model since June 13. And Felipe Lopez used one of Kyle Lohse's Gwynn-finished Marucci bats, in addition to a Sam Bat and an Old Hickory... I don't pay much attention to undershirts, but I've noticed that Matt Holliday rips the collar out of his, which conveniently eliminates the Nike logo that was there earlier this season. It looks like Molina may recently have started doing the same.

September 8, 2010. Matt Pagnozzi made his 2010 debut tonight. He swung a Gwynn-finished Marucci (his model)... Pujols was back to his regular Gwynn Marucci tonight... David Eckstein bats generally don't sell for much -- unless "St. Louis Cardinals" is branded below his name. This bat just sold on eBay for $227.50, and it's missing a huge chunk of the handle (and could be in two pieces). Eck clearly remains popular in the Loo... Take a good look at this Pujols bat and save the photos. That way, when a "used" 2005 LS Pujols bat shows up on eBay in a few weeks, you'll have shots of how it looked before its "use." Not that I'm cynical or anything.

September 9, 2010. It's been quite a while since Mark McGwire last wore a jersey. As has become his custom, he was wearing a red shirt in the dugout tonight... A few Colby Rasmus items (cleats, batting gloves) are being offered on eBay by an individual who says Colby is one of his clients... Matt Holliday's Civil Rights Game TBC jersey is still available on the Bay. Originally priced at $2,000, it's now offered at $1,450. If you'd rather have a jersey worn by a guy who actually had a hit in that game, my Joe Mather shirt is still available for $380 shipped.

September 10, 2010. I've updated the Birdbats buyer's guide to Albert Pujols game-used bats. It had been nearly four years since the last revision, and much has changed during that time, including Albert's favored brand (Marucci) and the amount of pine tar he uses. This latest update should be much more helpful to collectors... Jon Jay made the switch to maple tonight, using a natural LS M9.

September 11, 2010. As promised, the team wore its Stars and Stripes caps again today. While I'm still a fan of the white dome/red bill combination, I think I would have preferred a gray dome for this road game... The Cards have game-used bats from Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina on the team's website auction. Molina's bat apparently was issued to him for the 2010 All-Star Game, but it -- like the Holliday bat -- was used and broken on 8/4 in Houston against J.A. Happ. Both auctions run through 9/19.

September 12, 2010. This 1987 Jose Oquendo WS jersey listed on eBay is a good example of how conventional wisdom isn't always correct. Some collectors might shy away from it because there is no year flag and because there's a second size tag on the inseam that says "Adult 40." That just screams "retail" to some. But, in 1987, year flags were the exception rather than the rule; most '87 shirts will not have year flags. And that second inseam tag, while strange and inconsistent, does show up in other legit '87 Cardinals jerseys. Here's one from a coach Rich Hacker shirt purchased from Hartel several years ago. Though I haven't seen the Oquendo jersey in person, based on the photo evidence, I don't see any red flags.

September 13, 2010. The first thing to know about this 1967 flannel is that nobody wore #14 for the Cards in '67. So, is it a minor league shirt or a blank that was numbered for display? I'm leaning toward the latter. The back numbers seem to be low enough to accommodate a NOB, even though there's no visible evidence any NOB was there or has been removed. The back numbers on minor league shirts sit higher. Also, the number font, both front and back, seems too small and thin (especially on the back). For comparison, here's a Cepeda jersey from the same season. It's tough to be sure of anything without putting the jersey side by side with a legit exemplar, but this looks like a blank with non-standard numbering.

September 14, 2010. I came across this photo of Stan Musial from the Post-Dispatch website archive. It was taken in 1959, and based on the background, I'm guessing it was shot at spring training. What caught my eye were the two Louisville Slugger bats that have no names on the barrels. Obviously, there's no proof that Musial used these bats in games, but the fact a superstar of Stan's caliber is even holding bats like these is somewhat surprising and, from a collector's perspective, very interesting.

September 15, 2010. I know press pins aren't game used, but many game-used collectors (including me) also collect press pins. Tomorrow, Hunt Auctions is offering several old Cardinals pins at a live auction in Chicago. The online part of the auction, which ended at 5 p.m. today, established the opening bids for the live segment. And, wow, are these things pricey. Here are a few of the high internet bids: 1926 WS, $2,035; 1930 WS, $1,100; 1942 WS, $3,543; and 1943 WS, $4,000. Sure, they're rare, but given the choice between a '43 press pin or a Musial game-used bat, I'm taking the bat.

September 16, 2010. Birdbats reader Jason Howell pointed out that Matt Holliday's natural Sam Bat had his old #15 on the knob tonight. I checked the video and, sure enough, he was right. Since Jon Jay doesn't use Sam Bat, you have to figure that bat is from Holliday's 2009 stock... None of the press pins in Hunt's live auction today received any floor bids; all were sold to the high online bidders.

September 17, 2010. Don Bell, the man with more Cardinals bats than anyone I know, recently acquired a Mike Calise bat. Calise was a Redbirds farmhand who never made the show, but his bat certainly is noteworthy. When H&B changed center brands in 1980, the oval grew from less than 4" long to 4.5". The logo on Don's Calise bat, though, is a full 5" long. Brian Hillerich from H&B says the company experimented with different sizes before settling on the 4.5" center brand. Apparently, the 5" variation wouldn't brand into all Louisville Slugger models. Just another example of how there always seems to be exceptions to the rules.

September 18, 2010. With Memphis' AAA season completed, the Cards called up several players, including newcomers Daniel Descalso and Mark Hamilton. Descalso was announced as a pinch hitter today, but then was pinch hit for without ever seeing a pitch. What a way to make your major league debut. He is wearing #63, so we'll add that to the official uniform number database. You'll recall Mike MacDougal wore #63 earlier this season before changing digits.

September 19, 2010. Not a Cardinals-related note, but bat collectors should find it interesting that the bat that impaled Cubs outfielder Tyler Colvin was maple. Based on photos I saw of the incident and past photos of the batter, Welington Castillo, I believe the bat was made by Phoenix. MLB says the incidence of broken maple bats dropped 35 percent between 2008 and 2009 and another 15 percent between 2009 and this season. But, the outrage after today's incident surely will give new life to the maple bat debate. Between the beetle that's destroying ash trees and the opposition to maple, it makes you wonder what kind of bats players will be using in 10 years.

September 20, 2010. Daniel Descalso and Mark Hamilton each got to swing the bat today for the first time. Descalso used a Gwynn-finished Max Bat, while Hamilton used a Marucci with the same finish... Hamilton is wearing #64. Only Brady Raggio (1997) and Jaime Garcia (2008) have worn that number previously... The Pujols Family Foundation opened its new online store today. Among the available items, autographed game-used batting gloves and signed baseballs.

September 21, 2010. Joe Mather is back from Memphis and still using "off-brand" bats. Earlier this year, Joey Bombs used lumber from Diego Bats and Phoenix (as well as Marucci and LS). Tonight, he was swinging a B-45 bat with a brown handle and natural barrel... Skip Schumaker did something tonight I haven't seen since I started tracking bat use in 2005 -- he used a black Sam Bat. No idea if it was his model or one of Matt Holliday's sticks.

September 22, 2010. Apparently, I'm not the only guy who uses Cardinals uniform numbers as blog fodder... If you're considering this Pujols jersey, then you should read this GUU message board thread before making up your mind... My Joe Mather Civil Rights Game TBC jersey is no longer for sale; ended up keeping the Mather and moving the Jon Jay... Following up the Cardinals' online auction from 9/19, the Holliday bat sold for $400 while the Molina was hammered down at $760. Thought the All Star notation might bring a premium, but not that much... Bryan Anderson used a black LS M9 tonight, while Mark Hamilton swung a black B-45.

September 23, 2010. Jon Jay, perhaps looking for a slump buster to break his 0-15 skid, used an X-Bat today -- possibly a Molina or Schumaker model. It worked. He singled to center... The auction for the Pujols jersey mentioned yesterday has ended early with no bids... This 1964 Barney Schultz road jersey is still waiting for its first bid. It's not unusual to see the NOB removed from vintage jerseys, but it is odd that it looks so clean. I contacted Huggins and Scott about that; was told there's no glue residue but there are some "scattered thread remnants."

September 24, 2010. I've added a few bats to the For Sale page, including an uncracked and signed mid-'90s Ozzie Smith. It has light use, but four deep seam impressions on the left-hand hitter's side. Also listed: a late-'60s Dal Maxvill Adirondack with the red ring removed (he was under contract with H&B); a 1995 Tom Henke that likely was used by Jose Oquendo (Henke was a 300-save guy who had two career plate appearances); a pounded 2001 Ray Lankford; and two signed Pete Rose bats. I'm sure the PR4192 is a souvenir bat, but was told the rose-colored PR3631 was issued (it came from a source with solid clubhouse contacts). I can't say for sure. It has 14 on both ends, but weighs 34 ounces.

September 25, 2010. When you get to be my age, you realize ballplayers are just kids playing a game. But sometimes, they go out of their way to remind you just how immature they can be. Wonder how quickly the Wrigley field grounds crew tried to address that after the game... Another addition to the For Sale page: a 1998 road blank jersey, size 42. I bought this jersey from the team a few years ago to have as an exemplar, but no longer need it since buying a '98 Ron Gant gamer. You'll recall this is a rare one-year style featuring red-beaked Cardinals.

September 26, 2010. If you never got a press pin from the 2009 All-Star Game held in St. Louis, I have a few extras available for $16 each shipped. They're still shrink wrapped in their original packages, complete with the MLB merchandise hologram on the back. Press pins are given annually to media members and VIPs who have access to the press box at All-Star games. They are not sold to the public (though they sometimes show up on eBay after the fact). The 2009 pin not only is attractive, but unusual in that it has a ribbon attached to it. If you want one, let me know.

September 27, 2010. This Pujols bat showed up on eBay tonight, and since the seller mentioned me by name, I feel compelled to respond. In May, the seller sent me four Pujols bats for review at the request of a third party who was considering buying them. I felt none of the four exhibited proper Pujols use characteristics and issued letters of opinion stating such. He apparently sent at least two of the bats to PSA/DNA for a second opinion, because this is the second bat of the four to appear on eBay. Here's the first, which was pulled after I contacted PSA/DNA about it. The seller includes scans of the PSA/DNA letters in his listings, but ignores the letters I issued on May 6. So, in the interest of full disclosure, here is the letter I wrote regarding the bat currently on eBay. Also, note in the item description that the seller says the bat came from one of Albert's relatives. Without getting into details, sources who know Albert tell me such claims should be taken with a grain of salt. Just because Pujols items are filtering out through family members doesn't necessarily mean those items were used by Albert.

September 28, 2010. Daniel Descalso used a black LS M9 tonight... This Pujols cap on eBay has led to an interesting discussion about Albert's cap size. For years, Albert wore a 7 1/4 cap. By 2008, it's known his batting helmet was a size 7 3/8; this particular lid was auctioned by the team on its website. Now comes the cap on eBay. The autograph clearly is legit, and having seen photos of the inside of the cap, it seems consistent with Albert's characteristics. But, it's a size 7 1/2. That means either cap sizes are shrinking, Albert's head is growing, or the cap on eBay isn't all it's cracked up to be. I'll continue to research this.

September 29, 2010. It was a big day for Hillerich and Bradsby at Busch. Seven of the starting nine players used Louisville Sluggers. Only Craig (A-Bat) and Hamilton (Marucci) used other brands. A couple guys used at least two LS bats; Anderson wielded both black and natural M9 bats while Jay swung both natural and black ash. It was the first time I noticed him using a black ash LS. Even pinch hitter Randy Winn used LS.

September 30, 2010. Most young players trade higher uniform numbers for lower ones as they become established. But, Adam Ottavino -- who was activated from the 60-day DL today -- found a jersey with #56 hanging in his locker upon his return. Earlier this season, Ottavino was sporting #35, but that was assigned to Jake Westbrook after his trade to the Cards (while Ottavino was on the DL). The pre-game media notes had Ottavino listed as #32, but reporters were told later that was just a typo. I wonder, though, if the explanation was that innocent. #32 is the only available number lower than Ottavino's former digits (not counting Felipe Lopez's #3, which almost no pitcher would consider). But, #32 hasn't been worn since Josh Hancock's death in 2007. Perhaps the team decided to reissue #32, but had a change of heart. It's also interesting the team skipped #47 before settling on #56. Guess it's too soon to stir memories of Ryan Ludwick.

October 1, 2010. Matt Pagnozzi was using a Gwynn-finished Max Bat tonight... I know the chances are slim, but if you're reading this and you're the guy who caught Pagnozzi's first MLB home run, why are you not giving the ball to Matt? It has limited monetary value and Matt will never be Johnny Bench. Seriously,trade it to Matt for a bat and a couple signed balls. You're not going to get season tickets for it. No matter how much you like Matt, that ball could never mean as much to you as it does to him. Jumping off my soap box now.

October 2, 2010. Wasn't able to watch today's game in hi-def, but it looks like Aaron Miles' bat has "Chicago Cubs" below his name. It also has a blacked-out number inside the cup with 12 written above it. Seems strange he'd be using his Cubs bats this late into the season... Mark Hamilton used an all-black bat today, but I didn't see the center brand.

October 3, 2010. Pujols ended the season with exactly 700 plate appearances, the same as 2009 and 2005. The only brand he swing all season was Marucci. He hit .312/42 HR with the Gwynn-finished bat, using it 99 percent of the time. Pujols used a natual Marucci in seven plate appearances and hit .333/0 HR. Pujols' updated bat use record is available here... Also, here's the chart for the team's bat use in 2010... As always, I'll continue to update the blog during the off season, just not as frequently. Thanks for reading!