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  1. #1

    Question About Team Index Bats

    Hello Everyone-

    I was recently asked my opinion about the Roberto Clemente team indexed bat that recently sold in Mastro's internet auction for over $6,000. To be honest, I was very surprised that the bat sold for as much as it did. I also understand the bat was graded an A-7.5 by Mears.

    The sale of the Clemente bat raises a question in my mind that I was hoping someone could help me answer. That is, does anyone know how Mears distinguishes a player ordered 7.5 graded bat supported by that player's personal H & B factory records with a team indexed bat graded a 7.5?

    The reason I ask this is because, according to the factory records (Clemente's ordering records are available in the "Bat Player Charts" section of this site), Clemente did not order 34" bats during the 1961-64 label period. In fact, Clemente ordered 34" bats only ONCE in his entire career, in 1957. While the disclosure that is was a team index bats was made by the auction house, does a 7.5 grade denote a certain quality to people who don't know that Clemente did not order 34" bats during this time period? Further, I'd be very curious to know if the winning bidder was aware of the fact that Clemente did not order 34" bats during the 1961-64 time period.

    Here's the description from the Mastro Auctions website:

    "Swashbuckling bats have long been hallmarks of Pittsburgh Pirates teams. Among the most prolific hitters in the proud franchise's history was Roberto Clemente. Presented here is an H&B "O16" signature model bat wielded by Clemente during his fence-clearing days at Forbes Field. This 34", 31-1/2-oz. white ash weapon hails from the 1961-1964 labeling period and factory records indicate that it was shipped as part of a Bucs' team index order. The item reveals evidence of heavy use, with a legible centerbrand and barrel stampings and scoring and checking upon the hitting surface, as well as ball, cleat and surface marks throughout and a black-marker notation of the Hall of Famer's number "21" on the knob. Graded A-7.5 by MEARS. LOA from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS, John Taube/PSA."

    I guess the reason I'm asking these questions is because, to me, that seems like an awfully high grade (and price) for a team indexed bat that I believe has only a slight possibility of ever having actually been in Clemente's hands during a game. In fact, given what I know of Clemente's record card, it seems to me much more likely that this bat was used by some other Pirate player or a minor leaguer. As such, how does the potential buyer distinguish between team index bats and bats ordered by the player when they may have the same grade?

    As I mentioned before, verification of game used items are about probabilities. I'm just wondering if collectors are spending the time to do their own due diligence on items or relying on a grade as the sole determinant for their purchase decision. In addition, can bat experts verify that my understanding of Clemente's ordering patterns are correct?

    I look forward to hearing any other thoughts on this topic.

    Sincerely,
    Chris

  2. #2
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    Re: Question About Team Index Bats

    I cant speak for MEARS, however I can speak for why the price seemed high...

    I think the 21 on the knob (vintage marker...i assume) was a clear indication of high-probability it was in R.C.'s hands..

  3. #3
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    Re: Question About Team Index Bats

    Quote Originally Posted by jboosted92
    I cant speak for MEARS, however I can speak for why the price seemed high...

    I think the 21 on the knob (vintage marker...i assume) was a clear indication of high-probability it was in R.C.'s hands..


    THeres also an argument about Ted Williams index bats... Mastronet months ago sold one that only went for like 1700. And I have heard people claim Ted was meticulious about the size of his bats...

    More the reason the "21" stands out on the R.C. bat

  4. #4
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    Re: Question About Team Index Bats

    Chris - a review of Clemente's personal ordering records that you referred to are correct. He only ordered 34" bats once in his career - in 1957. I am shocked at the price that this bat brought and my only comment is that you had two uneducated buyers driving the price up on this piece. I remember seeing the bat when the auction first posted and once again I breezed right over it when I saw that the bat was 34" in length. I never gave it another thought and assumed it would sell for less than $1,000 for sure. The fact that it received a 7.5 grade by MEARS and your question of comparing a 7.5 Team Index Grade to a 7.5 Personal Order Grade is an excellent question! What's the difference!? I guess a 7.5 Clemente personal ordered bat would bring twice this?? Because I can tell you - a knowledgeable bat collector who understands team index records vs. personal ordering records wouldn't touch this bat for $6,000.

    I don't care that it had #21 on the knob as I don't think the collector really understands what a Team Index bat may indicate - this particular bat may have been ordered by the team, another player or even a minor league team. Anyone could have placed the #21 on the knob. Full disclosure should have been made which I have mentioned in the past that he only ordered 34" bats once during his career. What's even more disturbing is that the description for the bat includes the following:

    Presented here is an H&B "O16" signature model bat wielded by Clemente during his fence-clearing days at Forbes Field.

    When you read this you think - ok - Clemente used this bat - it grades a 7.5 - it must be great!! Unfortunately, uneducated buyers think 7.5 means value and in this case, it doesn't.

    Here's a question for you - why would I not pay $5 for this bat and someone would pay $6,000 for it? The answer - they don't know what I know about shipping records and they are relying on a glossy catalog description and a grade of 7.5 and they really don't understand what's behind it............the best thing about this site is that we can educate buyers so they don't make mistakes and this is an excellent post!!!

    I would love to hear others take on Chris's question........

    Lastly, I feel sorry for the winning bidder, because they probably think they have a gem - and what they really have is a big ? mark. Jim

  5. #5

    Re: Question About Team Index Bats

    Quote Originally Posted by jboosted92
    I think the 21 on the knob (vintage marker...i assume) was a clear indication of high-probability it was in R.C.'s hands..
    Hello Justin-

    Thank you for your thoughts on the topic. I actually considered the "21" on the knob as well and have come to a different conclusion than you have regarding the "high-probability" that it was used by Clemente in a game. Here's my logic:

    1) Clemente did not order 34" bats during the 1961-64 label period. As discussed, he only ordered them once in his career in 1957. This bat is a team index bat which, as Jim stated, means it may have been ordered by the team, another player or even a minor league team. In any event, it was not on Clemente personal ordering records.

    2) The auction description states "The item reveals evidence of heavy use". Obviously, this bat was used frequently by whoever "wielded" it. If it was used by Clemente (and obviously he would have liked it based on the "heavy use") why did Clemente not order 34" bats ever again during his career? It would seem if he liked this 34" bat he certainly would have ordered them again (remember Clemente played for 8 more years after the 1964 season).

    3) It is unfortunate that the "21" on the knob was not shown in the auction description, especially since it has been presented here to support that it was likely used by Clemente. At the end of the day, given the points mentioned above and the fact that a number can be added to a knob at any time, I don't think it the "21" on the knob (even if it looked appropriate) would make me change my mind as to the probability of Clemente using this bat in a game.

    Once again, different collectors may have different risk thresholds they are willing to tolerate. However, as I stated before, I think it is important that potential buyers be presented with all the information so they can make informed decisions. I only wonder if the buyer (and under-bidders) understood everything mentioned above when they bid on this bat. If they did, great. If not, I think they may be surprised if they ever try to resell this bat in a more educated marketplace.

    Given the points I mentioned above, my question still remains. That is, how does Mears distinguish between a bat with a reasonably high grade (I consider a 7.5 a reasonably high grade) that is a team index bat and one that matches the player's personal H&B factory records? In my mind, there is a big difference between the two. Unfortunately, I don't know if collectors understand this issue enough to know the difference. While some collectors may believe they are getting one thing, I think over time they may come to realize that, as more information becomes available to the general collecting community, these items may not have the same appeal as some believe they will.

    Once again, this is only my opinion and I may be one of only a few voices in the wilderness. However, over time, I think these type of questions are going to be asked more and more and this type of analysis will be done more often. As such, I believe in the future collectors will approach the decision making process with more rigor and become more discriminate in their purchasing decisions. We only hope this site can help collectors as things move in that direction. Personally, I wouldn't make any purchase decisions today without getting as much information as possible.

    I'm happy to hear other thoughts on the topic.

    Sincerely,
    Chris

  6. #6
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    Re: Question About Team Index Bats

    I understand what you are saying. I even understand that I probably would rather an A3 bat that was in bad shape (minus points for condition) than an a7 for index.

    However, if I was to see the 21 on the knob and somehow determined old patina, and EXACTLY matched other Clemente documented game-used bats "21"'s it would be more believealbe.

    Side-note...I didnt know they DIDNt provide a shot of the "21"...I would have had to see it.

  7. #7
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    Re: Question About Team Index Bats

    JBoosted - you have hit the nail on the head.....a factory documented Clemente that matches personal orders merits a higher price / value ( or a higher grade ) than a team indexed bat. I believe that the 7.5 grade on this bat is very misleading - add the description from the auction house and wala - you create your own inflated market for team index bats. This is really sad.............

  8. #8
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    Re: Question About Team Index Bats

    Jim you are absolutely correct.There are two markets out there: hardcore knowledgable collectors like those of us who frequent this forum dedicated to educating one another about what we collect. Then there is the one who the auction houses and authenticators cater to: the folks who will buy something because it was authenticated by a so called expert.

    Those in the latter
    market will continue pass the index bats and questionable items among those collectors for premium prices while those of us who know better will continue to scratch our heads in disgust.

    David

  9. #9
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    Re: Question About Team Index Bats

    I'd like to give MEARS the benefit of the doubt though..because I agree with how they do everything else. However, I do think its the consumers job to do his/her research and not base anything off of just the GRADE so to speak...

    Like I've said before I've seen quality A3's with Player characteristics out the ying yang that I would prefer over a7's or a8's without alot of them.

    Still say, buyers responsibility.

    in conclusion, HIGH Grade doesnt always mean higher value...

  10. #10
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    Re: Question About Team Index Bats

    You are correct that people need to perform their own due diligence on an item before they purchase it, but unfortunately some people rely on third party authenticators to buy items in the marketplace. You just can't "give the Authenticator the benefit of the doubt" in this situation. As I mentioned above, full disclosure on this item should have included the fact that Clemente ordered 34" bats only ONCE during his career and that was in 1957. If this was disclosed along with the facts of what a Team Index bat really is - I guaranty you that this bat would have sold for a heck of a lot less money........

 

 

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