Blog: Off season 2012-13

October 31, 2012. Some quick signing news: Yadier Molina is doing a private signing session with Collector's Corner in O'Fallon, Ill. All items need to be dropped off or mailed to the store no later than 12/7. Prices are $75 for balls and flats up to 16x20; $85 for posters; and $95 for premium items, including bats and jerseys... Matt Adams is a late substitution for the St. Louis Sports Collector's show on 11/4. The original guests were canceled due to the promotor's illness, but Adams will step in. Prices are $15 for any item, $5 for inscriptions... I know this is a Cardinals blog, but if you're a Blues hockey fan, you might want to know that Mr. Goalie, Glenn Hall, allegedly is doing a signing in St. Louis on 11/11, location to be announced.

November 6, 2012. A quick update to the autograph information in the 10/31 post: Any items for Molina need to be received at Collector's Corner by 12/7, not 12/12 as originally noted; and any inscriptions by Yadi will cost $20. If you have questions or want to make arrangements, call Jim Miller at 618-206-8777.

November 15, 2012. Admission tickets for the 2013 Winter Warm Up, to be held Jan. 19-21, go on sale Nov. 23. Details here... A new auction begins tomorrow evening on cardinals.com. Items primarily include locker name plates and postseason bases... Really psyched about tomorrow. Stay tuned.

November 16, 2012. The Cardinals are having a press conference this morning at 10 a.m. to announce a new Saturday alternate jersey, as well as minor changes to their regular home and road jerseys for 2013. The new Saturday uniform will have a vintage look and feature "St. Louis" across the chest instead of "Cardinals." More details to come after the press conference.

November 17, 2012. The introduction of an alternate jersey, along with changes to the existing home and road uniforms, necessitates more than a blog entry. So, for details and random thoughts about yesterday's announcement, click here... From a collector's perspective, I think it's safe to assume the Winter Warm Up store and auctions will be packed with game-used jerseys. After all, with the logo change, any existing stock is obsolete. Remember, too, that the S100 batting helmets are required equipment in 2013, so any traditional or COOL FLO helmets in stock also are obsolete. Start saving now.

November 29, 2012. Paul Lukas of Uni Watch did a great interview with Cardinals team President Bill DeWitt III regarding the new third uniform... Several major auctions are ending soon, and as usual, there are plenty of Cardinals items that raise questions. Even items offered by Ozzie Smith himself. For example, why was the logo on this batting helmet replaced with a plain white decal (no navy border)?... Why does Ozzie's 1990 All-Star jersey not have the Rawlings word mark on the sleeve (started in 1987)? Why does it have a Rawlings jock tag that was last used in '87? And why are the patches not on the sleeves?... Why does Ozzie's 1994 road jersey not have the MLB 125th annivesary patch on the sleeve?... Moving on to Grey Flannel, does anyone remember this style of jacket?... Does anyone else think this 1982 Ozzie jersey looks a little off? The letters on the back don't look right (navy border too thick?). The digits on the front and back are not aligned with available photos of Ozzie. And it's a size 40, while other known, legit examples of Ozzie's jerseys from that season are size 38... The pine tar pattern on this '98 McGwire bat isn't even close... A 2001 Pujols Mizuno bat with odd looking fives on the ends. Hmm... I've never seen a Jim Edmonds bat with this kind of tape job... Last, but not least, is this alleged 1920s Cardinals jersey in Legendary's auction. I wrote about this shirt on 4/8/10 when it appeared in (and was pulled from) an REA auction. Since then, I've done a great deal more research on 1920s jerseys, but I still can't find this particular crest on a plain gray jersey. That version of the birds on bat was used from 1924-26, when road jerseys featured pinstripes. What's most perplexing is how a jersey can grade A6 when there's no photo evidence of any player ever wearing the style. Shouldn't a style be known to exist before it can be given a baseline grade of A5?

December 2, 2012. Anyone who doubts the health of this hobby need only look at the results of SCP's Ozzie Smith auction. I'll post more about this later, but wanted to make a quick observation this morning. Ozzie's 13 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards sold for $519,203 with the buyer's premium. With shipping, that means someone paid $40,000 for each award. I researched all the Gold Gloves I could find that have sold at auction and found 68. The most expensive was Thurman Munson's 1974 award, which sold for $45,000 (before the buyer's premium). Next was Willie Mays' 1957 award at $30,250. A couple more, including Bob Gibson's 1972 trophy, broke $20K. The average sale price of Gold Gloves won by Hall of Famers was $12,448; the average price of HOF players from Ozzie's era was $11,493. Considering 13 of Ozzie's awards hit the market at the same time (no other player has sold more than six), I have a hard time believing this lot was worth more than $150,000, or slightly more than $11,500 each. No matter how you look at it, Ozzie's awards sold for a wildly inflated price. Needless to say, I'm stunned.

December 3, 2012. More thoughts on the SCP Ozzie Smith auction... I can understand someone paying a premium for items a player thought enough of to keep through the years. What I can't grasp, though, are the insane prices that most of Ozzie's memorabilia fetched. For example, if you saw an Ozzie Smith batting helmet at auction or a show, you could reasonably assume it would sell in the $1,000 neighborhood; at the Winter Warm Up, maybe $3,000. But, in this auction, Ozzie's two batting helmets sold for more than $20K each. (The home helmet has the wrong decal and the placement of the decal on the road helmet seems to differ from the accompanying photo.)... Or, how about an Ozzie bat, which normally would sell for $350-500? The bat in this auction went for $1,500... Ozzie's cleats are maybe a $1,000 item, but the cleats in this auction sold for almost $3,600 and nearly $4,000... Ozzie's 1982 World Series trophy sold for $14,700. The only other one I can recall selling, Jeff Lahti's, sold for about $4,300... I remember when Jack Clark's Silver Slugger award couldn't get a bid of $1,800. Ozzie's sold for more than $22K... Last May, SCP auctioned an Ozzie game-used glove for less than $3,800. In this auction, Ozzie's glove sold for nearly $24,000. Sure it was his last glove, but it also has some other guy's name signed on it... Ozzie's HOF-signed seat back sold for $756. I'd happily sell mine for half that much (shipped), and mine is from seat number six (Musial)... From top to bottom, every item sold for far more than I expected. The best bargain in the entire sale might have been this 2009 Pujols bat. The price is a little higher than today's market value, but it isn't cracked and was a gift from a future HOFer to another HOFer. This is the one item that might, someday, sell for more than the auction price paid.

December 4, 2012. The 2013 Winter Warm Up auction schedule is out... Hillerich and Bradsby is making some interesting changes to Louisville Slugger bats for 2013. The front barrel labeling makes the players' names (signatures) appear to be in a box, the borders of which are words that include the model number and type of wood. On the back, different symbols will be included to indicate wood type and various production processes. This video from the MLB Network has details... When I saw this Pujols jersey on eBay, my first thought was that it was a 2002 clubhouse blank lettered up to pass for a Pujols (the 5 on front seems thick). But, when I looked at the embroidery quality closely, I became convinced it's just a retail shirt with pro tagging added... I know Pujols is long gone, but this 2012 bat on eBay piqued my interest. Did Albert change his pine tar pattern/habits last season from his time in St. Louis? After reviewing 39 pages of thumbnails on Getty Images, it doesn't appear he did. So, I'd love to hear the explanation for this.

December 12, 2012. If you're interested in a couple cool pieces of Cardinals history, this shovel and sign could be for you. The current owner is looking to sell and is entertaining legitimate offers. If you're interested, let me know... Birdbats received a nice plug today in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch... Happy trails, Skip! Hate to see you go, but L.A. seems like a good place to land.

December 18, 2012. The Cardinals Winter Warm Up autograph schedule has been released. The most expensive signatures will be those of Molina Freese, Holliday, Beltran, Herzog and Schoendiest at $75 each. Tickets go on sale online tomorrow... Nice Molina jersey, but remember that Yadi wasn't even in KC for the All-Star Game; he was with family in Puerto Rico.

January 12, 2013. The three-day schedule for the Winter Warm Up has been released. Looks like the auction item schedule also has been edited a little... No, the Cardinals never wore vests. Don't know how to explain this jersey, but if it was game worn, it certainly was altered after the fact... This jersey dates to the 1947-48 seasons, based on the style and neck tag. But, during those seasons, the big team's jerseys had zippers, not buttons. That suggests this is a minor league issue.

January 19, 2013.

Stan "The Man" Musial, 1920-2013

January 30, 2013. Fans of the Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum, rejoice! There will be a groundbreaking for the new facility on 2/8, and the museum should be open for business by opening day 2014... I think someone paid more than $200 for a retail cap. Every photo I can find of game-used caps shows a red squatchee (the button on top). The STL logo also typically encroaches on the top and bottom bands... I think this could be a legit 1962-worn Julio Gotay flannel. Unfortunately, it was restored with numbers that are the wrong font; 1962 jersey numbers had serifs. Numbers weren't sans-serif until, I believe, 1966... I made one big purchase at this year's Winter Warm Up -- a 2011 Cardenales jersey signed by 10 players (see the 6/11/11 blog entry for information on the Spanish Heritage game). I believe this is the first Cardenales jersey to hit the market because the players kept their own shirts from the game. Now that I've properly photographed and documented it, I'm willing to let it go. Details here... George Hendrick will be signing in O'Fallon, Ill., on 2/9. Details here.

February 6, 2013. Derrick Goold writes in today's Post-Dispatch that the Cardinals had decided to bring #32 out of mothballs. It's been on the shelf since pitcher Josh Hancock passed away early in the 2007 season. But, this spring, catcher Rob Johnson will wear #32. Other digit news of note: Bengie Molina has taken custody of Dave Duncan's #18, though as assistant hitting coach, he won't be in uniform much; Trevor Rosenthal will wear Kyle Lohse's #26; Randy Choate has been assigned #36; Ty Wigginton will wear #12; Ronny Cedeno will be #16; J.R. Towles has #46; bullpen coach Blaise Ilsley will don #49; Kolten Wong moves from #89 to #79; and Oscar Taveras will wear #87 -- and have a name on his back. Last year, you may recall, he was #91 with no NOB and was identified during one game as "Minor League Guy."

February 10, 2013. A couple of Musial bats have shown up on eBay recently, but both are post-career bats. This one says it's from 1961-63, but the bat's version of Powerized didn't appear until mid '64... This one was originally advertised as a coach's bat, but the length and lack of appearance on Stan's shipping records suggests it is an index bat... I'm offering a couple of really sweet TBTC jerseys and caps on consignment. The first is from the Civil Rights Game played in Cincinnati in 2010. The jersey and cap both were worn by Ryan Ludwick, who was 1-4 (double) during the game. The second jersey from the 2011 game in Tampa was issued to and signed by Matt Holliday; its accompanying cap was worn by Dave Duncan. The seller is asking $700 shipped for both jerseys and caps. If you're interested, contact me at birdbats@charter.net. I can send more photos and authentication information.

February 12, 2013. There's simply no way this 1985 Ozzie Smith jersey is legit. The number placement, especially on the back, isn't close... You might remember this 1951 Stan Musial jersey from a previous Legendary (Mastro) auction. Interesting how the item description in 2003 mentioned, "The decorative patch on the left sleeve is an authentic 1951 anniversary patch which has been professionally replaced on the jersey," but the current listing says, "All original as issued - rare to have the 75th N.L. Anniversary patch intact"... This is not an Edgar Renteria bat. It's an Eli Marrero bat. Here's what a Renteria bat looks like. So, if Edgar really gave it to the seller, he gave away another player's bat... The TBTC jerseys mentioned on 2/10 are sold, pending payment.

February 13, 2013. Brian Walton of "The Cardinal Nation Blog" has found the smoking gun that answers the mystery of when Stan Musial wore #19. I'd always assumed it was during spring training 1942, but Brian found the proof. Read about it here... The auction for the "Edgar Renteria" bat that actually is an Eli Marrero bat (2/12 blog entry) has ended. The bat has been relisted correctly as a Marrero bat.

February 21, 2013. I've noted here previously that all teams will be using the Rawlings S100 Pro Comp batting helmets in 2013. About 200 MLB players used the new lid last season, including a few Cardinals. This article from The New York Times has some great information about the new helmets... You really need to check out the panoramic photos from spring training being posted on the Post-Dispatch's website. The shots from inside the clubhouse should be especially interesting to collectors... It's disappointing to see collectors are still buying Pujols bats that look like this and this (and more disappointing they're being signed "game used"). At the same time, it's encouraging that legit, older Pujols bats are still surfacing, such as this one I acquired last week. The bat likely is from 2005, though 2004 is a possibility based on the specs. It came with a pair of cleats, a style I've matched to early 2004. I love that there's still Busch Stadium dirt caked on the bottoms.

March 17, 2013. It's St. Patrick's Day, so that means green jerseys and caps for the Redbirds... At least a couple players, including David Freese, have been asked to change gloves because the camel-colored mitts they use have been deemed too light for use. The change is intended to help umpires better distinguish between the ball and glove, primarily on trap plays. Here's a shot of Freese holding his favored glove and a black one he now will have to use... Normally, when a player passes away a half century after his last game, you don't expect to see a significant change in his memorabilia prices. After all, it's not like his bats or jerseys are any more scarce. But, I've noticed significant movement in the values of Stan Musial items recently. Stan's bats have sold in the $3-4K range for years (excluding early contract models). But, this bat just sold quickly on eBay for $8,000, while this bat has been bid up to that same neighborhood with 18 days remaining. And this 1951 jersey sold for nearly $54K; the exact same shirt sold nine years ago for less than $25K. Is this a bubble? Or did the publicity surrounding Stan's passing finally make people realize how undervalued his memorabilia has been -- bringing prices more in line with his peers? Time will tell.

March 22, 2013. By unveiling its 2013 scorecard cover this morning, did the team inadvertently show us what the Stan Musial memorial patch will look like?... On opening day, all major league teams will be wearing a memorial patch in honor of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims. So, the Cards will have two patches on their 4/1 road jerseys. It's not known if the Newtown patches will be sewn on (and the jerseys auctioned) or if they'll be attached with a removable adhesive. Each team will sign a jersey with the Newtown patch; they all will be auctioned on mlb.com.

March 25, 2013. David Sulecki of Pro Helmet Decals informs us that, this season, he has made bat knob decals for Beltran, Jay, Descalso and the injured Furcal. One slight change from last season: David has added a navy ring to the red decals, and a red ring to the navy decals. There also is a solid white version. Each player has been provided with all three designs... If you're looking at this Stan Musial bat available in the current MEARS auction, please consider the following information. Conventional wisdom, based on research and guides published by Vince Malta and Dave Bushing (and accepted by John Taube at PSA/DNA), suggests any bat with the Musial bat's combination of center brand and Powerized variations was made in 1964. I noted this in an email to Troy Kinunen at MEARS. Troy's reply: "MEARS (and we have tried) has not been able to find any logic or consistency to the practice of the Powerized stamping. For this particular example, there were so many orders pre 1963, that the percentages are in favor of being 1963 or earlier. Unless more evidence is brought forward (and we are constantly looking), we are going to stick to our original bat dating." It certainly is MEARS' prerogative to want to rely on its own research. But, by calling the Musial bat a 1960-63 model, MEARS is: 1.) suggesting the verson of Powerized that most believe originated in 1964 could have appeared as early as 1960; 2.) completely ignoring the 30 bats Musial received in 1964 that match the specs of the MEARS bat perfectly; 3.) accepting the signature on the barrel as being appropriate, even though it's more consistent with Stan's 1940s-era signature than the one that was branded on 1961 gamers (photos from the Louisville Slugger Museum); and 4.) discounting the possibility it could be a replica bat -- like this one that sold recently on ebay -- with faked use. Maybe MEARS is onto something that Malta, Bushing, Taube and others have not figured out yet. I have my doubts, obviously. One last piece of information: the Musial bat in MEARS' auction sold via eBay on February 14 for $1,358.77.

March 26, 2013. Despite multiple emails to Troy Kinunen at MEARS pointing out red flags, this questionable Stan Musial bat is still available at auction. My last email included closeup photos of black paint seeping into the wood grain (a feature brought to my attention by a Cardinals museum staffer). To my knowledge, branding on bats made in the early '60s was not enhanced with black paint. That suggests the bat may not be a pro model from '64 (or '60-'63), but rather, a replica from a later era. That also would explain the narrow, inconsistent wood grain... In a disappointing development, the team is allowing fans to vote on which cap they'd rather see paired with the road uniform. I was thrilled this winter when the team announced it was abandoning navy caps and returning to red lids away from Busch, but now it looks like that's not a given. Here's a link to the ballot; please cast your vote for "All Red STL." (At the moment, red at home/navy on the road is beating all red by a 42% to 31% margin. Vote!)

March 28, 2013. The Musial memorial patch that will be worn on uniforms in 2013 was revealed late last night. Not surprisingly, it looks like the patch on the program cover that was unveiled six days ago. I like it. Unlike the Kile, Buck or Hancock memorial patches, which featured simple white letters/numbers on black, this patch includes Cardinals red and incorporates Musial's iconic signature. But, it's not too much; they didn't go overboard with words or elements. I'd think it was tempting to add Stan's career/life dates or "The Man" inside the outer red band, but they refrained. I'm a little surprised, though, there there is no black at all, a staple of memorial bands and patches. Of course, black = mourning. This patch is more upbeat, which is appropriate considering the sunny disposition of the man it honors. It's interesting that the field color will change according to the uniform. It will be white on home jerseys, gray on the road and cream colored on the Saturday alternates... All teams, including the Cards, will wear these camo caps on Memorial Day. U-G-L-Y.

March 31, 2013. Two quick notes today. One, we have our first photo of the Cards' opening day jersey, courtesy of Post-Dispatch scribe Derrick Goold... And two, a new center brand logo has been introduced by Louisville Slugger. I suppose it will be used with the new front and back barrel branding that was unveiled back in December. We didn't see any bats with the new look during spring training, but I suspect they'll be showing up any time now.