World Series and All Star Game bats rank among the most desirable collectables for any number of reasons. To have one produced, you either had to have been a pretty good ball player or played on a pretty good team. They display well and are exceedingly rare. They also serve as a means to spot changes and variations in labeling and players signatures because they are year specific. Did I mention they are just plain neat?
Anyway, I was curious about the rarity of these bats (in some quantifiable manner) and decided to spend some time (actually more time than I wanted) in going back through old auction catalogs in order to build a data base of them. I set up a simple Excel spreadsheet for:
Event (World Series-WS or All Star Game-AS)
Source (Auction House)
REF (Lot #)
I did it as a spreadsheet so I could sort it by any of the above fields. I came up with just over 280 players/bats from 1949-the mid to late 1970s. I did this for myself hence my having no interest in the 1980s and beyond. I have been thinking about doing this for some time. Last year I noted that while H&B production information is a valuable tool, there are holes in it. I think Vince Malta did a good job of making this point, especially with respect to World Series and All Star bats, in his most recent book. I also wanted to do this after looking into Adirondack bats as I have a feeling some of the Adirondack bats that have been offered more than once in the hobby, may have had the foil branding enhanced. All Star and World Series bats allow you to narrow the focus and track bats through the hobby. It was interesting to see the same bats offered on more than one occasion.
The catalogs I have go back to the early 1990s . While I know there are certainly catalogs I don’t have, the 200+ that I have make for nice population to draw my sample from. I started to think about this number of 280+ different bats and what it actually meant in terms of rarity.
For analysis purposes I settled on these general metrics.
1949-1979: 30 years
Roster Size: 16 position players and 9 pitchers for a total of 25. I broke it out this way as there are team order records such as the 1952 Dodgers that show World Series bats being ordered one each for pitchers.
General Bats per player minus pitchers: 2
I know that some if this will be given to error based on the fact that during the period of 1959-1962, there were two All Star Games.
Given all of this, this is what I used a general planning metric:
60 AS & WS Events x 16 position players x 2 squads x 2 manufacturers x 2 bats = 5760
60 AS & WS Events x 9 pitchers x 2 squads x 2 manufacturers x 1 bat = 2160
Total of 7920 WS & AS Event Bats.
Now figure that the number of 284 bats I found represents about 4% of this population should give you an idea of rarity. I am sure that even if the actual number of bats was lower, we would still see the % of WS and AS moving through the hobby as very small. There are any number of reasons to explain this such as:
-The bats were discarded.
-The bats have been retained by players and family or those that may have been gifted them.
-The bats are in collections or holdings (museum) and have not moved through the hobby.
No matter what the reason, their rarity is undisputed. In looking over the spreadsheet I compiled of World Series and All Star bats that have moved through the hobby, I decided list the ones I think would be incredible to have in a collection.
1949 Jackie Robinson All Star Bat (H&B S100). The game was held in Brooklyn that year and the visual appeal of that bat with Brooklyn below the Robinson signature is incredible.
1951 Mickey Mantle World Series Bat (H&B T61). The first of Mantle’s 12 World Series.
1953 Ted Kluszewski All Star Bat (H&B U1). I actually owned this at one time. Appeal is much the same as with the 1949 Robinson as the 1953 AS Game was held in Cincinnati.
1954 Willie Mays World Series Bat (H&B S2). The catch photo with this bat along side would be an awesome display.
1960 Bill Mazersoki All Star Bat (Adirondack 113A). Would go great with a 1960 Pirates road flannel I have (No, not MAZ) and a picture of him from the World Series.
1969 Tug McGraw World Series Bat (H&B W183). Just about anything from 1969 Mets would be high my list.
1970 Pete Rose All Star Bat (H&B S2) and the Rose 1970 World Series Bat (S222). This was the first year I can remember following baseball and Rose was the player that was tops on my list.
1976 Mike Schmidt All Star Bat (H&B K75). The Liberty Bell logo with Philadelphia below the signature. Schmidt also led the NL in home runs that year.
I’m sure that as you looked over the list, you would have favorites all of your own and may even own some them. As of right now, my World Series and All Star Bat holdings are limited to:
1952 Gil Hodges World Series Game Bat
1956 Clem Labine All Star Game Bat
1975 Johnny Bench All Star Game Bat
The 1956 Labine bat is interesting on a number of levels. First he was great reliever on some great Brooklyn Dodger teams. Next of interest is just how rare Labine stamped bats are. In looking at both his personal order sheet and the Dodgers Team order sheet from the period, we see that only 7 bats are recorded as being made for and sent for use by Labine:
From Brooklyn Dodgers Team Order Sheets:
9-26-52: 1952 World Series Bat. K55 1ea
9-23-53: 1953 World Series Bat. K55; 1ea
From his personal order sheet:
9-22-55: 1955 World Series Bat, K55, 1ea
7-6-56: 1956 All Star Bat, K55, 1ea
10-1-56: 1956 World Series Bat, K55, 1ea
7-5-57: 1957 All Star Bat, K55, 1ea
9-28-59: 1959 World Series Bat, K55, 1ea
There is no mention of his 1960 World Series bat in either his personal order sheet or that of the Pirates for that year, but we know it exists, so this bring the total up to 8. Labine was not an H&B endorser and a pitcher to boot. Who knows whose bat he used during the regular season? The point being, if you are collecting a team and a pitcher was not an H&B endorser, an All Star or World Series bat may be your best chance to track down a gamer to fill out your collection.
Speaking of the list, I put this together as a spread sheet and in order for me to share it in the form of an article, I would have had to re-type it and format it for publication. As you can see I did not do that. However, if you would like to get a copy of it, just drop me a line and I’ll send it out. As a common courtesy, I would ask that you identify yourself in the e-mail.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect….maybe it includes World Series and All Star Game Bats.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com