View Full Version : The Purposeful Prep of Pro Players - A Quiz

12-28-2015, 01:30 AM
In its simplest form, one could say that the single greatest reason for collecting game used bats is summed up in one word: V-A-R-I-E-T-Y.

A variety of players on a variety of teams. All use a variety of bats which have been made by a variety of manufacturers and appear as a variety of models in a variety of different colors, finishes, lengths, and weights. Now add to this variety the various individual modifications done by each player that no matter how odd need to be properly evaluated when considering a bat for purchase.

Listed below are just a few of the many modifications that have been employed by players since the early days of the game:

Pine Tar
Mota Stick
Handle Tape (Ken Griffey Jr)
Rubber Grip Wrap (like on a tennis racquet)
Knob modifications (think late career Craig Biggio)
Tobacco Juice Soaking (think Ty Cobb)
Handle or Barrel Scoring/Shaving
Boning of the barrel (Joe DiMaggio)
Sanding of the barrel (Pete Rose)
Removal of built up pine tar (Ted Williams)

Some of these are more extreme examples that are rarely seen anymore. Others, like the rubber grip wrap (Lizard Skin) are becoming more and more common. Pine tar application for most players is an every-at-bat ritual and is becoming less and less of an identifiable use characteristic.

Being able to identify the individual manufacturer's characteristics is only one step in figuring out if a particular bat was used by a particular player. The next (and most important) step is to evaluate and identify the individual use patterns of whatever players you are collecting. The ability to do this quickly and with many different players, is part of what makes a bat guy a bat guy.

So, for those of you reading this who consider yourselves to be bat guys, I've set up a pair of tests. (These tests are in separate posts since there is a 19 image limit which I have exceeded by quite a bit.)

There are two sections. The first sections has a series of 15 knob photos. The second section features a series of 10 photos of different tape jobs used by major league players. Each of these photos is from an example that was taken from my own photo library of bats that I have owned over the last 15 years or so. Answers are at the bottom. Score 5 points for each correct answer.


All right, now that the hard part is over. How did you do? If you scored 90 or above, CONGRATULATIONS. These weren't easy.

While the Jay Buhner is almost a gimme there are several of the bat knob photos that are not.

Frank White and Bob Allison are both very much regional type players as far as popularity and recognition of markings, but since I enjoy the way I've seen their knobs marked I had to have them included. The larger weight notation and smaller uniform number on Allison's have been seen on multiple game used bats of his. The smiley face on Frank's bats is a known characteristic. Twins and Royals guys hopefully picked these out right away.

George Brett, Eddie Murray, and Mark McGwire's markings should be fairly well known to anyone who has been collecting game used bats for any time at all. The highlighted 33 on Murray's knobs has been seen from bats in the early 1980s all the way though to the mid-90s. Brett switched back and forth between the GB5, 5, and LOU throughout his career. McGwire's bats typically would feature either the MAC marking as shown above or would have a carefully scripted "25". This was true for his Oakland bats, but once he joined the Cardinals he was not known for marking the knobs. I don't believe I have ever seen a St. Louis Cardinals gamer with his uniform number or MAC marked.

Unless individuals were familiar with the nuances of how each team labeled their bats through the years the Upton and Maddux would likely be fairly difficult to get. Those two in particular are very much "par for the course" in the way that the Diamondbacks and Cubs labeled their bats with the model number included with the uniform number. The Diamondbacks took it one step further and included digits for the length and weight, similar to what the Cardinals have done.

With examining the tape jobs, we see that there are several included that are borderline "iconic" in the hobby. Ken Griffey Jr, Paul O'Neill, and Jorge Posada are all almost synonymous with the phrase 'tape job'. Often imitated. Never duplicated.

In fact, many times the attempt at reproducing the tape job by forgers that is the biggest clue that a bat may be a forgery. There are many subtle nuances that are extremely difficult to properly duplicate (like the twist in the end tape near the knob of the Trout and O'Neill bats), especially when it comes to applying proper use to the tape jobs especially where pine tar is concerned. Generally it is fairly easy to pick out bad tape jobs. Good ones are as easy to spot as the bad ones.

While Griffey, O'Neill, and Posada are all well known for using handle tape there is one player I wanted to share with you that is not known for tape. However, that doesn't mean he has never used it.

That player is none other than the great...WILLIE MAYS.

Shown below is a close up of the tape job that was a 1963 Adirondack that I purchased several years back from the gentleman who got it directly from Mays that spring. Perfect provenance and great use. A wonderful bat.

http://www.hofbats.com/images/expert/WMaysTape.jpg http://www.hofbats.com/images/expert/WMaysFull.jpg http://www.hofbats.com/images/expert/WMaysBrl.jpg

The photo below is of Willie Mays in spring training of 1963. Notice the similar tape job. In addition to this example, there is also an H&B Willie Mays bat with knob tape pictured in the Mastronet guide from 2001. (Check it out if you have it.) There are also available Getty Images that show Mays in the cage in spring training with knob tape.

http://www.hofbats.com/images/expert/MaysST63.jpg http://www.hofbats.com/images/expert/MaysST63CL.jpg

The Mays example above clearly illustrates the reason why I typically refuse to say "NEVER" and "ALWAYS" when discussing use characteristics of players. You just never can tell what a player has experimented with.

Certainly the example of Mays using knob tape is a bit extreme as it only seems to be found during spring training. It definitely isn't typical, but it is a great example of the variety of unexpected things that a person can run into in this hobby that may seem incorrect at first, but upon further evaluation end up being all right.

If anyone has photos of any other great tape jobs or knob markings they would like to share please do so. I know there are others that I missed (Sammy Sosa, Duke Snider, Eddie Murray, and Pete Rose among others) that are absolutely iconic as well.

The more 'V-A-R-I-E-T-Y' the better.

12-28-2015, 11:16 PM
An example of a player using a tennis grip is Harold Baines. I had a Baines early 80s Rawlings Adirondack gamer with one. Looked and felt very strange to have a tennis grip on a bat.

Also Brian McRae used a rubber donut on the knob ends of his bats. I owned one of his Galen Mets gamers which came with the donut still attached!