Friday, September 11, 2009

Collecting the Sox: Bats

I was going to make a joke here about the little flying mammals, but you’re all better than that, right? When it comes to baseball collectables, the bat is right up there with the ball as the most basic. It’s one of the most integral pieces of equipment there is. As such, it makes a perfect Red Sox collectable.

As with any collectable, bats can be broken into a few categories, all with their plusses and minuses. For bats there are souvenir bats, custom bats, official bats, used bats, novelty bats, mini-bats, and on and on and on. It’s the mark of a good collection when you can tailor it to you wants and desires.

The most obvious segment of Red Sox bats is the game-used versions. These are bats actually used by a Red Sox player during a game. What a perfect way to own a piece of the game. The nice thing about bats, as opposed to balls or bases, is that they’re specific to a player on a team. If you catch a game used foul ball, is that a Kevin Youkilis ball? A Josh Beckett Ball? If a Yankee pitcher threw it, and a Red Sox player fouled it off, is that a Yankee ball, or a Sox ball? But, with a bat, you know which player actually held it in his hands. You can usually see pine tar on the handle, or a ball scuff on the barrel. It just adds to the snapshot of that bat’s time in the game. Baseball card companies are now also cutting up bats, and placing them in their baseball cards. You can debate forever if it’s insanity to cut up a perfectly good bat. But, it does offer many collectors the chance to own at least a small piece of history.

Just beneath the game used bats are the official model bats. These are the bats made to a player's specifications, but not actually used by him. They usually still have the player’s name engraved in the barrel. These are nice bats to collect. They display nicely, and make great backdrops for autographs. Some players use very specific looking bats as well. With different colors and shades, a whole collection of bats can create a dramatic look.

From there, you find the custom and souvenir bats. These are made to be collected. Sometimes they’re made to honor a player or team. Maybe a special event or milestone in a player’s career. They’re usually quite colorful, and are again wonderful for the addition of autographs. I like the ones made by the Cooperstown Bat Company, but there are any number of places making bats for collectors. They even make some right in front of you at a stand in Fenway Park itself. Bats are everywhere. A newer segment of the hobby is custom bats for almost any occasion. Call up the company, and they’ll engrave a bat with your wedding date, birthday, or Little League Team. It’s a nice special way to remember any part of your life.

As with many collectables, storage can be an issue with bats. A standard bat is two and a half feet long. That’s a daunting storage problem. You can get smaller versions, naturally, that are usually about 18” long. Those can help with the displaying of your collection. The easiest way to display a bat collection may be to get a rack hanging on the wall. This way a handful of bats can stack on top of each other only taking up wall space. It’s up to you.

And really, that’s the whole point of any collection. It’s up to you. If you want a game used bat from members of the 2004 Red Sox, go for it. Do you want every member of the 2007 team to sign your hand painted version? That’s great. Do you want a custom bat made as a going away present for a coworker? Sounds good to me. There are plenty of options out there.

Anyone have a favorite bat in their collection?

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