Blog: April 2012

April 4, 2012. And that's an opening day winner! No real surprises in terms of bat use. Furcal, Beltran, Freese, Molina and Descalso all used Marucci. Holliday swung a maple LS M9, Berkman and Jay used ash LS bats, and Lohse used a Rawlings. You can track bat use all season here... Freese, Molina and Descalso wore COOLFLO batting helmets. Berkman and Lohse wore last year's regular style while everyone else wore a new type of helmet. I understand it's called the Rawlings Adult Safety Batting Helmet; it apparently is not a refined verson of the S100 that was introduced a while back (and chastised for being so large)... As far as I could tell, it looked like Molina was the only player not wearing a Cool Base jersey... I spotted knob decals on the bats of Furcal, Jay and Descalso. Never got a good look at the knobs of Beltran's bat or Holliday's bat... McGwire was wearing a jersey instead of a sweatshirt. Perhaps the beginning of a new trend?

April 5, 2012. A quick note about the new style of batting helmet some of the players wore last night. If you couldn't discern it from the other helmets, here's a clue -- there's no faux squatchee on the top. Squatchee is the proper name for the button on top of a cap. Most batting helmets have a dot on top to simulate the squatchee, but the new helmets don't. At least they didn't last night... I'm still not sure if Adult Safety Helmet is the proper name for the new lid. It definitely is similar to the S100, but to the eye, there are differences... Here's a cheat sheet for the three types of Rawlings helmets the players are wearing: The traditional style is basically solid, with round ear vents and four small, round holes on top. COOLFLO helmets have distinctive venting on the sides and top and more oval ear vents. The new helmets have vents on top, running front to back, and irregularly shaped ear vents. I can't find any good photos online; hoping for better luck on Friday... I never get tired of seeing how bats are made. This video offers a new twist. It shows the process from forest to clubhouse.

April 6, 2012. Garcia swung a Marucci with a black handle and natural barrel. He wore a Cool Base jersey and a COOLFLO helmet... Furcal used a natural LS M9 with black handle tape, in addition to his Marucci... Shane Robinson pinch hit using a natural ash LS. Matt Carpenter and Erik Komatsu both swung black Marucci bats... McGwire's one-game streak is history. He wore a sweatshirt instead of a jersey... The new style of batting helmet has two ear vents on each ear flap, in addition to parallel ridge vents running front to back. This is unlike any helmet on Rawlings' site, professional or otherwise. You can see similarities with the Isotope and Electron helmets, but there also are subtle differences that seem to eliminate both.

April 7, 2012. Wainwright made his first start since 2010. He swung a natural ash LS, wore a COOLFLO helmet and a Cool Base jersey... Victor Marte made his Cardinals debut wearing #66. He's the first Cards player to don those digits since Rick Ankiel in 2001... Holliday used a natural Sam Bat for one plate appearance... Jon Jay switched to a black ash LS... This bat on eBay reminds me that when Albert Pujols started swinging Marucci bats in 2007, one of the models he used was the CB15, Carlos Beltran's model.

April 8, 2012. Greene made his first appearance in 2012 using his typical black LS M9. Cruz used two different bats in his season debut, one with a Walker finish (I couldn't make out the brand) and a natural ash LS. Lynn also swung a natural ash LS... Greene, Cruz and Lynn all wore Cool Base jerseys. Greene and Cruz wore COOLFLO helmets while Lynn had a traditional lid... Lynn made his first appearance wearing #31.

April 9, 2012. Beltran started using a black LS M9, along with his natural Marucci bat... Westbrook swung a black LS ash bat, wore a Cool Base jersey and a traditional batting helmet... With Westbrook's 2012 debut, every player on the current 25-man roster has now appeared in a game. The uniform number database has been updated accordingly.

April 10, 2012. It's been a while since I've reviewed Cardinals memorabilia at auction, so let's look at a few items... This 1987 Tom Lawless World Series jersey was hammered down at $572 ($686 with buyer's fee) on 4/1. Tom Pagnozzi's '87 WS home jersey sold for just $199 in February. Pags was 1-4 in the series, Lawless was 1-10 -- but that one hit included a bat flip that has become part of Cardinals lore. And collectors pay for lore... This great 1951 Ted Wilks jersey sold for $1,355 ($1,626 with juice). I realize it's missing the sleeve patch, but that's a good price for a 60-year-old flannel... This late '60s Roger Maris cap sold for less than $300 on 3/9... The buy of the week might be this 1986 Ozzie Smith bat for $227.50... Finally, if you can't get a bid on your 2011 David Freese bat at $750, the obvious solution is to relist it at $900. Hmm.

April 11, 2012. If you are hoping to acquire a 2012 St. Patrick's Day green jersey, your chance is coming. The next Cardinals online auction will feature seven jerseys from that game, including Berkman, Descalso, Freese, Garcia, Holliday, Matheny and Motte. The auction also will include two bases from the 2011 World Series, third base from game one and third base from game two. Bidding starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday, 4/22... If this year is like last year, I'd guess the Authentics Store at Busch will have St. Pat's jerseys for nonstars and coaches available on opening day.

April 13, 2012. The Cards wore their gold-accented jerseys and caps today. From my seat in section 160, it was very difficult to read the jerseys, front or back. There just wasn't enough contrast between the gold and white. However, in photos and on television, they looked pretty sharp... Holliday was swinging a natural ash LS, while Komatsu switched to a natural Marucci... There were no St. Pat's jerseys at the Authentics Store for opening day, but there were a handful of blank St. Louis Stars TBTC jerseys ($150) and pants ($50) from the game played in Pittsburgh last July.

April 14, 2012. The Cardinals received their 2011 World Championship rings in a ceremony before today's game. I especially like the previous WS-winning years running around the ring's shank. Also notice the foliage behind the STL logo echoes the official WS logo. And, of course, the rally squirrel is there, too. Here's a link to an article with details about the rings, as well as a "making of the rings" video... The team wore the gold-accented jerseys again today. It appears every jersey was knit, not Cool Base... Tomorrow is Jackie Robinson day, so all players and coaches will be wearing Jackie's #42.

April 15, 2012. For the sixth consecutive year, the Cardinals honored Jackie Robinson by having each player wear #42. Furcal went the extra mile by wearing his cuffs up, ala Jackie. As far as I could tell, the jerseys were all Cool Base, even Molina's, which is atypical for him... Furcal used a natural Max Bat for at least one plate appearance... Komatsu used a Gwynn-finished bat. Couldn't see the label; I assume it was a Marucci, but am listing it as unknown until I can get a better look... The uniform number database has been updated to reflect everyone who wore #42 and appeared in the box score.

April 17, 2012. I got a look at the center brand on Komatsu's Gwynn-finished bat tonight. It's a Chandler bat. I think Komatsu is the first Redbird to ever swing that brand... Descalso made the switch to a black Rawlings bat... I read several baseball books each year and, as you might imagine, pay extra attention to any passages that mention equipment and player preferences. The book currently on my Kindle, El Birdos, notes that in 1968: "The Pirates had not scored in their last 25 innings, and were utilizing all techniques possible in breaking the jinx. After the loss to Carlton, they hauled 50 of their most-used bats in a wagon out to the bullpen at Forbes Field. Dumping them on the ground in the middle of the open area, the team ceremoniously poured gasoline on the pile and set the sticks ablaze, hoping to purge whatever vestiges of sickness still lurked within them." Assuming there were multiple Clemente, Stargell and Maz bats in there, just imagine how expensive that little bonfire would be in 2012 dollars. Ouch.

April 19, 2012. Is it just me, or did the players' pants look a bit transparent today? I first noticed how thin the material seemed when Tony Cruz came to the plate and I could see his jock tag and Cool Base flag clearly showing through his pants. Then I started noticing the same thing with other players. I also could discern the cuts of the jerseys and tell which players had reinforced sliding areas (knees and rear). Is it possible we're seeing the first iteration of Cool Base pants?... Cruz used a black BWP bat today, the brand he preferred in 2011.

April 20, 2012. Freese used a black Rawlings bat tonight. The last time he swing that particular model, Joe Buck followed with the comment, "We will see you tomorrow night." Freese used a natural Marucci in game 7 and, until tonight, had used Marucci for every plate appearance this season... Komatsu swung a Gwynn-finished Marucci tonight.

April 21, 2012. It's unusual when a traditional media outlet like the Post-Dispatch reports on equipment-related matters. It's dumbfounding when they do it on the front page. But, that's what happened this morning when Todd Frankel tacked the weighty subject of Matt Carpenter's aversion to batting gloves.

April 22, 2012. Skip Schumaker pinch hit for his first plate appearance of 2012. He used a Gwynn-finished Marucci... It's been a while since I've seen an Ozzie Smith bat sell for more than $500, but this 1982 Adirondack pulled it off last night... Speaking of the Wizard, I've received a few emails about this 1994 jersey on eBay. I'm skeptical that it's a legit gamer. First, it looks rather minty -- sharp tags and no apparent puckering. Second, jerseys from sports bars often are made for display, not wear -- or at least donated unworn. And third, Ozzie preferred a straight hem during the '90s, and his jerseys were very short. This one has a standard athletic cut. It's tough to judge a jersey without seeing it in person, but these are red flags that warrant more information before bidding.

April 23, 2012. This Albert Pujols Sam Bat confuses me. It's listed and authenticated as a 2002 model, and the date on the barrel end appears to read "04-23-02." But, it also has a Wilson decal on the barrel, and to my knowledge, the Wilson Sporting Goods distribution deal with Sam Bat didn't start until 2004. In fact, this looks like the larger Wilson decal, which primarily was used in 2005. So, how could a 2002 bat have a 2005 decal? Even stranger -- I once owned a bat with the same date and batch number on the end, but instead of a 34" black SG1, it was a 34.5" natural AP-5 model. This is a real head scratcher.

April 24, 2012. Beltran used one of my favorite bats tonight, a LS M9 with the Hornsby finish... So, Tim McCarver wore this jersey in 1973? Was he on a softball team also called the Cardinals? Seriously, the tagging and number placement suggest minor league use, but I don't know that any affiliate used radial arched lettering on the front of their jerseys.

April 25, 2012. Freese tried a natural ash LS during one plate appearance today. He shelved it quickly, though, and promptly homered with his natural Marucci... I was contacted recently about a Pujols bat that had an unusual M9 center brand decal. Note the "9" is black when it should be white. Brian Hillerich told me H&B has a primary decal vendor and a second, local vendor who can whip up decals in a pinch. Unfortunately, the local vendor once made the "9" black instead of white. I've added this variation to the "Identifying Gamers" section. Can't pinpoint the date the decal was used, but the Pujols bat in question was made between 2004 and 2006.

April 27, 2012. I received a catalog from SCP auctions today that features former Redbird Dmitri Young's famed baseball card collection. Lot #1 is a Stan Musial rookie card, the only one ever graded PSA 10. There are several other Cardinals cards of note, as well as game-used memorabilia. For example, there's an Ozzie Smith glove. A few Lou Brock items are offered, including this bat, and three Pujols bats are available, including this 2011 post-season lumber. I've emailed SCP about that one, though, because while it's advertised as "uncracked," this barrel end shot suggests the bat was split longways and repaired. You can see the break line running through "CUT" and across the top of the cup.

April 28, 2012. If you're considering bidding on this Ken Reitz jersey in Hunt's current auction, know that a friend and knowledgeable collector won this jersey back in February, but was unhappy with it and returned it. The current description now recognizes a number change (it didn't before), but the original winner also told me he believes the flag tag was tampered with and the numbers are different hues of red. I haven't seen the jersey myself; just passing along comments from a seasoned collector... If you want something nice from the Hunt auction, how about this 2010 Matt Holliday Home Run Derby-worn jersey?

April 29, 2012. How tight is the memorabilia market these days? Consider this 2004 Julian Tavarez game-worn World Series jersey couldn't attract a bid of $150 tonight... If you're looking for seats from Busch II, I have a friend selling a riser-mount pair. They're #7-8, and have MLB holograms and stands. He's asking $300 OBO and requesting local (St. Louis-area) pickup only -- no shipping. If you're interested, contact me at birdbats@charter.net.