One question that always seems to come up runs along the lines of “was this a good buy?” There are any number of ways to look at this and I always encourage folks to collect what they enjoy and enjoy what they collect. That being said, it would be both naive and disingenuous of me to suggest I don’t consider monetary value, both immediate and long term in the items I look to acquire.

Last week, I took some time off to go home to Cincinnati to see my dad for Father’s Day. I also took this occasion to make my first trip to the Great American Ball Park to catch the Reds-Red Sox. It was an incredible experience as the last time I watched these two teams play in Cincinnati, I was eleven years old and it was the 1975 World Series. One thing that caught my eye was the city’s new found love for Jay Bruce….catchy t-shirts with the phrase “Bruce Almighty” were everywhere. This week, one of Bruce’s gamers sold for just over $500 on E-Bay. Was this a good buy? I don’t know but I offer these thoughts for folks looking to buy gamers as long term investments.

Bruce has a nice history or pedigree if you will…1st round pick (12th overall) in the 2005 draft. He hit .364 in the minors (49 games) and has very good speed and strong arm. He has also got off to a fast start at the major league level, albeit for a very poor playing team. Back to the issue of value. Two things will drive this…proximity and performance. Proximity refers to where a guy plays…some guys can end up being average to better than average ball players, but end up spending enough time in one city that they become fan favorites. Performance refers to the ability to put up the numbers over an extended period of time. By extended period of time I am talking about 10 years or more. Along the way you would hope it would include some noteworthy All Star or World Series action.

For the Bruce bat to have any real long term financial upside, and factoring in proximity and performance, consider that even if both of these work out in a positive manner, the modern player and the “marketing machine” will ensure that every bit of his stuff is retained and positioned for a place in the market place. What this means in the simplest of terms is that none of the Bruce bats are likely to have a nail hammered into them or tapped up and used by a bunch of kids playing a pickup game on the local diamond. There will always be an ample supply of Bruce bats. Success with respect to performance is only likely to lead to the proliferation of product.

The majority of folks I have come across in the hobby that are dealers like to buy their items at about 50% of retail. This may sound like a huge mark up, but they often end up eating or sitting on product for an extended period of time. In the case of this Bruce bat, at $517.00 retail and as an investment, what do you need to see in terms of proximity and performance to make it a $1000 bat? Also consider the amount of additional product of his that will be on the market in the time it takes for this bat to reach that point. From an investment perspective, you are either looking at selling early while the initial demand is still strong and the availability is low, or waiting and hoping that he becomes a Hall of Fame caliber player some 10-15 years down the road. Now think of all of this against the back drop of what the current sale price is for a nice Jeter or Arod bat which can be found in the $1500 range.

Holding onto a bat for a player like Bruce is tough with respect to timing when it comes to pulling the trigger on selling. Mind you, all of this doesn’t consider if the bat was bought because you just really like the player and plan to keep it as part of your personal collection. I decided to look at the MEARS Bushing and Kinunen For Sales site for examples of once very promising players whose bats can know be found for less than the price of this Bruce bat:

-1934-1943 Jim Tobin Hillerich and Bradsby: Member of the 1945 Detroit Tigers World Series Team. $450

-1950s Chris Cannizzaro Hillerich & Bradsby: Member of both the original 1962 Mets and 1969 Padres. $450

-1950-1957 Charlie Silvera Hillerich & Bradsby: Member of the 1948-56 New York Yankees World Series teams. $450

-1950s Smokey Burgess Hillerich & Bradsby: Member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. $350

-1980-1983 Ralph Garr Louisville Slugger: 1974 National League Batting Champion. $450.

-1980-1983 Davey Lopes Louisville Slugger: 4x All Star and member of 4 Dodger World Series Teams. $350

-1986 Bob Boone Rawlings: 4x All Star; 7x Gold Glove winner. $350

-1991 Dave Parker Rawlings: 7 x All Star, 1978 NL MVP, 3x Gold Glove winner, 2x NL Batting Champion. $500

You will find any number of similar priced bats of period stars and super stars on the Bushing and Kinunen For Sales Site. These bats, by a function of age and where the hobby was at the time, are likely to exist in fewer numbers than those of the modern player who tend to keep track of everything. These bats also represent offerings that will always have appeal to either a team or theme collector.

My point in all of this is not so much to say if the Bruce E-Bay bat was good buy at $517.00 or not, but rather to offer some thoughts on what goes into a bat’s value at the moment and over time. If you are not wedded to an item you have bought as a keeper for your own personal collection, always consider availability in terms of numbers and why someone other than yourself would want the bat…also think about proximity and long term performance…just some thoughts…

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


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