Not a full length column by any stretch, but I thought I was provided with a great visual to mention and reference. In an e-mail last night, I was pointed to a current listing on E-Bay where the seller makes the case that the Wally Joiner bat he is offering was used in the 1986 All Star Game based on the ink transfer pattern on the ball. Specifically:

“BUT THE MAIN point is that there is a INK BALL transfer(see Pictures!) on the bat that Looks JUST like what a 1986 ALL-STAR BALL’s Letter looks like!”

To get this out of the way upfront, I have no opinion to offer on if this or is not an actual Wally Joiner bat from 1986. My comments only are intended to address the issue of using ink transfers as part of the overall evaluation process.

In my opinion, the transfer mark on the offered bat was not made by a 1986 Official All Star Game Ball. The color is not appropriate nor is the lettering. The word LEAGUE, which appeared on both American and National League baseballs, and is clearly on the bat, was not part of the stamping of a 1986 All Star Game ball.

This brings up a couple things to consider when evaluating bat use and ink transfers. That being is the color correct given the league and the period in question? You probably would not expect to see blue-ish green ink on a bat used in the National League anymore than you would expect to see black transfer marks on an American League bat.

Also be sure to make note of the location and the degree of use in the form of seam marks or how the grain has been affected. Make note of if there is a discernable trend in terms how the player in questions holds the bat (label in or label away) as this also has bearing on the actual hitting surface as a function of location.

As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.


For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at