500 Home Run Club® Members' Tools of the Trade Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Wednesday, 04 April 2012

Sluggers chose their bats carefully, personalized them for maximum effectiveness

Some of the most enduring and popular memorabilia that exists to remind us of the amazing batting feats accomplished by members of the 500, 600 and 700 Home Run Clubs are the customized, game-used bats that have found their way into baseball lore.

While the bats on display in Cooperstown and other museums around the globe will never “come into play” in the high-priced world of elite memorabilia trading, there are still quite a few authenticated, game-used bats in the personal collections of wealthy baseball fans and   collectors of baseball antiquities.   

Like an artist’s original or a fine wine, the game-used bats of baseball’s greatest sluggers have certain characteristics that are obvious to collectors, making them extremely valuable and coveted items. For instance, the Louisville Slugger bat used by Babe Ruth to hit the first home run ever in NY Yankees’ stadium was billed as "The Holy Grail of U.S. MLB sports memorabilia when it sold in 2004 for a record US$1.26 million at Sotheby’s auction house in London.

Following is a look at the actual bats chosen by many of baseball’s greatest all-time home run hitters, members of the vaulted 500 Home Run Club® to pursue their dreams, along with details about the manufacturer/model/specs of each and “ballpark” figures of what you would have to pay to hold their preferred “tools of the trade” in your own hands.   

Editor’s Note: The bat preferences of MLB greats who hit more than 600 career home runs can be viewed by clicking here; 600 Home Run Club® Members’ Tools of the Trade and The bat preferences of MLB greats who hit more than 700 career home runs can be viewed by clicking here; 700 Home Run Club® Members’ Tools of the Trade. For details about the bat preferences of 800 Home Run Club® honorees Sadaharu Oh and Josh Gibson, 800 Home Run Club® Members' Tools of the Trade.

Frank Robinson’s (586 career HRs) preferred bat was the Blond Hillerich & Bradsby R161

Use Characteristics: Robinson bats will many times display medium tar on the mid section. He often wrote his number on his knob. Game Used Bat Value: $2500.00



Mark McGwire’s (583 career HRs) preferred bat was the Blond Rawlings MAC 25

Use Characteristics: McGwire used a medium coat of tar right over the Rawlings label for all of his Cardinals days and much of his Oakland days. Game Used Bat Value: $2,000.00

Harmon Killebrew’s (573 career HRs) preferred bat was the Blond Hillerich & Bradsby S207

Use Characteristics: Killer’s bats should usually have a medium to thick coat of tar on the mid section.  Game Used Bat Value: $2,500.00

Rafael Palmeiro’s (569 career HRs) preferred bat was the Black Smith Finish C271

* Use Characteristics: Palmeiro bats typically have a light coat of tar on the handle and mid section. Since he switch hit, both sides of the barrel tend to show use. Game Used Bat Value: $400.00

Reggie Jackson’s (563 career HRs) preferred bat was the Blond Hillerich & Bradsby J93

Use Characteristics: Reggie gamers usually will have Reggie's 44 or 9 on the knob.  Game Used Bat Value: $2,000.00

Alex Rodriguez’s (551+ career HRs) prefers bat is the Black Smith Finish Louisville Slugger C271

Use Characteristics: A-rod generally does not write his number on his knob. Heavily pine tarred blonde gamers are usually batting practice bats.  

Game Used Bat Value: $1,750.00

Mike Schmidt’s (548 career HRs) preferred bat was the Blond Hillerich & Bradsby K55

Use Characteristics: Schmidt bats typically have a light to medium coat of tar in the mid section with red rack marks from the Phillies dugout paint. Also, his knob's usually have the number 20 in black. Many times the zero in the 20 is in the shape of a tear drop. Sometimes he would put dots or X's on his knob. Game Used Bat Value: $1,500.00

Jim ThomeJim Thome’s (538 career HRs) preferred bat is the Black Smith Finish Louisville Slugger M356

Use Characteristics: Thome’s bats usually have his famous tapered grip knob. The mid section many times will have medium pine tar application.  Game Used Bat Value:  $600.00

Mickey Mantle’s (536 career HRs)  preferred bat was the Blond Hillerich & Bradsby M110

Use Characteristics: Mantle’s bats will often have a medium to thick coat of pine tar on the mid section. Game Used Bat Value:  $15,000.00

Jimmie FoxxJimmie Foxx’s (534 career HRs) preferred bat was the Hillerich & Bradsby No. 30.

Foxx preferred hickory bats. With the exception of Mel Ott bats, Foxx bats are the toughest to find amongst the 500 home run club members. Like most players, early examples, from Foxx's days with the Philadelphia Athletics, sell for premium.  

Game Used Bat Value: $39,000.00

Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez’s (524+ career HRs)  preferred bat is the Black SAM CD1

Use Characteristics: Sometimes Manny will have a short grip tape on the knob of his bats. He absolutely loves pine tar and usually applies a medium to heavy layer to all of his true gamers. Game Used Bat Value: $700.00

Bats

Willie McCovey’s (521 career HRs) preferred bat was the Blond Hillerich & Bradsby K55

Use Characteristics: McCovey bats should have a flat knob, with a circled 44 in black marker. He would apply pine tar on the mid section at times. Many examples are without tar, however.  Game Used Bat Value:  $2,500.00

Frank ThomasFrank Thomas’ (521+ career HRs) preferred bat is the Black Rawlings 576B.

Use Characteristics: Thomas’ bats are typically concentrated with heavy game use on the upper side of the barrel. His true gamers will be characterized by larger ball marks and deep seam indentations. Generally, his knobs are either blank or have 35 on them. Between 2002-03, the White Sox labeled the weight of Frank's bats on the knob in yellow grease pen. 31.5 ounce and 32 ounce examples exist.  Game Used Bat Value: $500.00

Ted Williams’ (521 career HRs) preferred bat was the Blond Hillerich & Bradsby W166

 Use Characteristics: Ted Williams sometimes scored his handle for grip. The knob on Ted Williams bats would have the number 9 with a line under it painted on by the Bat boy. Game Used Bat Value:  $12,000.00

Ernie Banks’ (512 career HRs)  preferred bat was the Blond Hillerich & Bradsby S2

Use Characteristics: Many Banks gamers will feature Yosh mark's next to the oval. These markings were done in black marker to signify the model number.  Game Used Bat Value:  $10,000.00

Eddie Mathews (512 career HRs)  preferred bat was the Blond Hillerich & Bradsby S2

Use Characteristics: The tremendous use evident in the abused grain of this signature model Hillerich & Bradsby S2 suggests that several Mathews’ long balls were delivered from its surface before a crack in the handle ended its long tenure in Eddie's Hall of Fame hands. Many ball and stitch impressions are visible upon the right, left and back barrel, and the ghost of spiral grip tape, since removed, can been seen on the handle. Number "41" appears in vintage marker on knob. Length and weight are thirty-five inches and thirty-two ounces respectively.  Game Used Bat Value:  $,3500.00

Mel Ott’s (511 career HRs) preferred bat was the white ash Louisville Slugger.

Game used Ott bats are exceedingly rare, and typically show green rack marks because the bat rack at the Polo Grounds, On the knob at the base of the handle, the inscribed number "35" indicates that the bat weighs 35 ounces, which is just over two pounds. Game Used Bat Value: $35,000.00

Eddie Murray’s (504 career HRs) preferred bat was the Blond Louisville Slugger R161

Use Characteristics: Murray gamers usually have a distinct 33 on the knob, which is sometimes outlined and in team color variations. For example, some Orioles gamers have an orange and black 33 on the knob. Game Used Bat Value:  $750.00

 





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