View Full Version : Question About Team Index Bats

03-28-2006, 09:30 PM
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.


03-28-2006, 10:00 PM
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..

03-28-2006, 10:01 PM
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

03-28-2006, 10:16 PM
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

03-29-2006, 01:26 PM
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.


03-29-2006, 01:43 PM
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.

03-29-2006, 03:18 PM
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.............

03-29-2006, 04:05 PM
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.


03-29-2006, 04:12 PM
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...

03-29-2006, 05:22 PM
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........

03-29-2006, 07:35 PM
I would blame the description in the auction, more than I would blame the MEARS worksheet. In fact, these auction companies should provide pictures/copys of the letters, like vintage authentics does.

03-30-2006, 06:36 PM
I would blame the description in the auction, more than I would blame the MEARS worksheet. In fact, these auction companies should provide pictures/copys of the letters, like vintage authentics does.
Hello jboost-

Thank you for your post. I actually think the point you raise deserves more consideration. Although worksheets are being added in some auctions, the problem is I'm not sure a majority of bidders actually take the time to read all the supportive material or even understand what to look for in them. In fact, I would wager that most potential bidders rely on the auction descriptions and the item's grade as the primary variables when considering whether or not to bid on an item.

With that being said, let's take a look at the Ted Williams bat that is closing tonight in, ironically, the Vintage Authentics auction. Interestingly, the Williams bat bears a remarkable resemblance to the Clemente index bat discussed in this thread. Specifically, the Williams bat closing tonight is an O1 model team index bat that is 34 inches in length and exhibits, according to the auction description, "significant heavy game use". The problem is, as noted in the Letter of Opinion, "34" O1 bats are team index bats, there are no 34" bats in Ted's personal records. Williams did order O1 models several times, not specifically 34" O1 models."

Let's assume then for a moment that a potential bidder is looking at this item and has not read this thread and does not really understand what a team index bat is (likely a fair assumption). Let's also assume that, as I speculated, they are relying primarily on the auction description and the grade to make a determination as to whether or not to bid on the item. The fact is, what they will see is this:

Grade: A6 (a high grade in my opinion given it is a team index bat and Williams never ordered 34" O1 model bats)

Title: Ted Williams 1950-60 Game Used Bat A6


Standard ash H&B Louisville Slugger O1 signature model bat used by 500 Home Run Club member Ted Williams. The bat's labeling period of 1950-60 covers the last decade of the Splendid Splinter's glorious career which included two of his six batting titles in 1957 and 1958. In a storybook finish, Ted homered at home in Fenway in his final career plate appearance in 1960. The 34" 30 oz bat matches known team index records for shipments and exhibits significant heavy game use with a swelled hitting surface, surface stitch marks, and heavy ball marks across the barrel. The handle has suffered a 10" multiple crack which ended its service in the hands of one of the game's sweetest swingers. Overall this late career Ted gamer earns a final grade of 6.

While I am not saying this was intentional on the part of the auction house, I think if you read the description and look at the grade I believe you will come to a certain conclusion about the bat that you might not conclude if you were aware of all of the factors we discussed in this thread. I think it is great that Mears noted the fact that Williams did not order 34" O1 bats in the "Comments" section of their letter. However, I don't think that is enough to make sure the potential buyer fully understands everything about this bat.

I am happy to hear if others have a different opinion. As for me, I don't think enough information is disclosed in the description (not to mention the reasonably high grade) to help bidders fully understand what they are potentially buying.


03-30-2006, 08:07 PM
It seems to me that Authenticators of Game Used Bats should NOT issue numerical grades for Team Index Bats - PERIOD - especially when there is documentary evidence that the player did not personally order either the model or length of the bat they are grading. A nice letter from the Authenticator stating that it is Team Indexed and disclosing the factual information about the bat which would include the facts compared to personal orders would suffice. The letter should also go on to explain what a Team Indexed Bat really is - and who could have ordered the bat - the team, another player from the same team or another team, a minor league team, etc. This seems practical, pragmatic and logical to me........PLACING A NUMERICAL GRADE ON A TEAM INDEXED BAT IS VERY MISLEADING.........

03-31-2006, 08:35 AM
I have to put in my 2 cents here: last summer I bought a Bob Doerr bat in one of Masto's cheapie auctions. everything about it looked good, it was graded high. In fact, since i was able to buy it at my typical "insulting bid" level, I was nervous. sure enough, it was an index bat, and it said so right in the MEARS LOA. I called Brian Marren and he took it back right away. It sure would have saved us the trouble if they listed it correctly.

If you're going to bid on $1000+ bats without even reading the paperwork, like Vintage posts, shame on you!


03-31-2006, 09:48 AM
Hi Ken - this validates my point completely.

If you had known it was an index bat, you would have not bid on it...

QUESTION - SO, every Authenticator that assigns a numerical grade to team index bats should contact every auction house and write the listing description for them and inform every future buyer to let them know what their COA really means?

To assign a numerical grade to a team index bat of say a 6, or 7 is absolutley ludicrous and without substance, ESPECIALLY IF THE PLAYER NEVER ORDERED THAT LENGTH OR MODEL BAT - OR MAYBE THE BAT WAS NOT FLAME GRAINED LIKE MY MATHEWS BAT EXAMPLE AND HIS PERSONAL ORDERS SHOW ONLY FLAME GRAINED BAT ORDERS. It is misleading and it is already been shown that the auction houses take liberties with their descriptions as provided in the examples in this thread to make you think the bat was used by that player.

More and more people are entering this hobby that are uneducated and are relying on these glossy catalogs and descriptions and unfortunately look at a team index bat that is graded a 6, or 7 and equate it to a card grading scale and think they are getting a quality item. It sounds weird - but that is what is happening. The poor Clemente winner thinks his bat is golden because of the description leading you to think it was used by Clemente and the high grade placed on the team index bat by the authenticator. PLEASE Authenticator and Auction House - tell me that Clemente only orders 34" bats once during his career!! Are you afraid that will impact the price you achieve - YES IT WILL........

NO - the answer is the Authenticators should not assign numerical grades to team index bats because savvy - educated collectors like yourself do not want these bats in your collection. As I have stated above, a letter disclosing all the information at hand as to what a team index bat is and how it may or may not be different from a personal order bat is the information that should be provided by an authenticator.

I am very passionate about this, as people are making mistakes and it makes the hobby look bad. These authenticators provide a great service to the hobby, but in my mind, they clearly need to change their approach to grading team index bats.............

Will they change their approach?? I doubt it - they have graded too many bats that are in the marketplace and feel they are doing the correct thing. The only thing we can hope is more people read this thread who are considering team index bats to really understand what they are buying. Jim

03-31-2006, 12:37 PM
What if you bought a Ferrari DL504... and you said "Hey I thought I was getting a genuine Ferriari..but then came to find out a DL504 was a model reproduced by Chrysler, but was allowed to use the Ferrari Name"

Buyer Beware ---- know your stuff

06-23-2006, 05:14 AM
GUU and Forum Members - I know we were all scratching our heads when a Team Indexed Roberto Clemente bat sold in a previous Mastro Auction this year for over $6,000. A MEARS Representative had indicated on their website after the auction that there was now Market Acceptance for Team Index bats from the collecting community and that prices were being driven up in the market because of this so called "Market Acceptance". I never believed that for a moment and as was posted here on GUU and The Forum, I felt that the grade of A7.5 for a bat like that caused two uneducated buyers to go crazy for a bat that "maybe" Clemente actually even saw in the bat rack.

The results from last night's auction prove my point. Last night, three Team Indexed major star bats sold relatively cheaply. Of the three, there was a Clemente grade A7.5 that aslo has a 21 on the knob - here is the description:

The Pittsburgh Pirates' fortunes waned immediately following the squad's 1960 World Series triumph over the New York Yankees. With second-division finishes in three of the four seasons that followed their improbable Fall Classic title, the Bucs suddenly had no answers. Right fielder Roberto Clemente, however, remained the club's pillar, pacing Pittsburgh in each of those trying campaigns with batting marks of .351, .312, .320 and .339. Presented here is a Hillerich & Bradsby "O16" signature model bat wielded by the tragic hero during the 1961-1964 labeling period. This 34", 31-1/2-oz. white ash weapon was turned to the specifications of the Hall of Famer, as factory records reveal shipments of both 34" models and "O16" bats to the Puerto Rican superstar. While no bats with the above-mentioned specifications were shipped directly to Clemente during the '61-'64 manufacturing period, Pirates team records show shipments of these models as team index bats. The offered, uncracked prize has a defined and legible centerbrand and barrel stampings, and shows heavy use, with ball, bat-rack, stitch and surface marks throughout. Additionally, there is scoring upon the hitting surface, as well as checking about the barrel and a vintage black marker notation of Clemente's number "21" on the knob. Graded A-7.5 by MEARS. LOAs from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS, John Taube/PSA DNA.

FINAL PRICE - $2,405 - a far cry from the $6,000 brought for the previous Clemente mentioned above. I guaranty you this bat would have brough MUCH less without the #21 on the knob........

The two other Team Indexed bats that sold were a Ted Williams bat and a Mickey Mantle bat. Here are the descriptions for those bats:

Ted Williams

Presented is a Hillerich & Bradsby "O1" signature model bat turned for Ted Williams during the final decade of his illustrious playing career. Though the model number is not consistent with those of the bats actually wielded by the Splendid Splinter, this 34", 33-1/2-oz. white ash war club matches Boston Red Sox team index records during the latter portion of the 1950-1960 labeling period. The uncracked item reveals minimal use, retaining its radiant, furniture-like finish, with a few faint surface marks. Graded A-6 by MEARS. LOAs from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS.
Mears LOA only. FINAL PRICE - $693 - doesn't sould like Market Acceptance to me...............

Mickey Mantle

As the 1960's unfolded, it was business as usual in the American League, as the New York Yankees secured each of the circuit's first five pennants with the usual suspect—Mickey Mantle—administering the bulk of the offensive damage. Here offered is a Bronx Bombers team index bat turned to the specifications of the switch-hitting slugger. Issued during the 1961-1964 labeling period, this 35", 32-oz. "K55" signature model weapon boasts a rich, deep-brown patina that nicely compliments the bat's deep, defined centerbrand and barrel stampings. The item shows significant use, with cleat, bat-rack and surface marks throughout, as well as a professioanlly repaired handle crack and checking about the hitting surface. Graded A-6.5 by MEARS. LOAs from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS, John Taube/PSA DNA.

FINAL PRICE - $2,186 - no doubt, the 35" length of this bat raised the price of this piece - but still, I don't really think you could call this "Market Acceptance"...........

Hopefully collectors still realize ( and new collectors are learning )what a Team Indexed Bat really is - and the fact that those bats typically have different lengths, weights and grains when compared to actual Player Ordered factory documented bats - and most importantly, they probably were not used by that specific player and it doesn't matter if the bat grades A2 or A9 - or has any grade on it from any authentication company - it's a Team Indexed bat that could have been ordered by the Team or even another player and WAS NOT ordered by the player himself........I don't think the market ever started accepting Team Index bats suddenly this year and as mentioned above, the Clemente that sold earlier this year for over $6,000 was the result of two uneducated buyers driving the price up.....

Jim - jcaravello@nc.rr.com

06-24-2006, 12:54 AM
I, for one, was glad to see that they listed the bats as "index" right in the title, instead of me having to search the fine print. It should have always been that way, but it hasn't.


08-04-2007, 03:00 PM
Several years ago, I was burned by a major auction house that did not even disclose that the bat did not even match factory records. Instead, I received COA's from two different authenticators that it was a game used bat from the player. The bat's lenght, weight and pine tar matched bats the player normally used. The model number did not match the model number the player normally used for that year.

Needless to say, I was not happy about the nondisclosure. Whould I have bought the bat had I been told the truth, yes. But not for the price I paid. From now on, I insist on reviewing all COA's before I bid on a bat.

One question that comes to mind is how do we know for sure that a team did not order a bat for the player? We all assume that the bat records are accurate and that if the records show a player did not order a bat and the team ordered the bat, then there is no way the player used the bat....Why do we make this assumption that team index bats were not used by players?

08-05-2007, 01:57 PM
Hi SSB15 - great question about Team Index Bats. I would refer you to the two blogs I have written in the Experts Corner on Team Index bats. I would also perform a search on the Forum for Team Index Bats and there are many good threads with relevant information that I think will help you.

Once you read the blogs on the Mathews bat I looked at, I think you will see in that particular case, the index bat in question was unlike other bats Eddie personally ordered during that time period. That bat purpotedly had specific language in the Team Index records that it was ordered for Eddie Mathews. My problem with the bat was that it wasn't anything like the bats he ordered himself and I felt that there was a remote possibility that he actually used the bat. That would not be a bat I would be comfortable with in my collection.

You have to make a determination on what you are comfortable with and the examination of attributes of individual players are very important in determining if a team index ordered bat was actually used by the player. An example - I feel that if a player is regularly ordering 35" - 32 ounce bats and there is a team index bat that is 34" and 30 ounces in weight - I find it hard to belive that the player used the bat - especially if he never perosnally ordered 34" bats.

At the end of the day, you have to examine everything that is factual and is available and make a determination if the bat is for you.

Let me know how else I can help and please e-mail me at jcaravello@nc.rr.com with any further questions. Jim

08-07-2007, 08:40 AM
Hello everyone,

I'm pretty new to the collecting side of baseball. Could someone give me an accurate description of the term "team index bat" please?

I'm not to familiar with the older records, that's a little beyond me and I'll leave that to people who have been deciphering them for a long time. I am however very well versed in the modern ordering records. In them I have never seen a team order bats with a players name on them unless it was specifically for that player. Unless the order doesn't have a weight and then it's just a souvie.

Now I don't know if players use to do this but a common practice now is a player will order bats for another teammate. The reason for this is even though they are Pros and get the best there is a priority list of players that get the best of the best including wood. So a guy who feels he isn't getting great wood will have another player on the list order bats for him.

08-07-2007, 09:05 AM
Well, I stand corrected. I talked to our museum and it seems that was common for the team to order bats, we call them BPAS's . Sorry to add confusion to the thread, just trying to sort out the terminology.