Black Betsy sale breaks all records
Black Betsy sale breaks all records

By now, most of you know about the incredible "Black Betsy" sale. Joe Jackson's prized bat sold for $577,610, setting a new standard for game-used baseball bats. The buyer, Rob Mitchell, has said that he feels the bat is worth "somewhere between $1.7 and $4 million" and he feels he received a great bargain.

Within the last couple of months, in addition to the Jackson sale, four more game-used bats have sold in excess of $100,000. Currently, each bat sale represents the top five prices realized for game-used bats in hobby history. Auction and retail price levels have steadily increased over the last few years as well.

Is this sudden interest in game-used bats here to stay or a fad?

Without question, game-used bats have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Why? Authentication, education, and security with the first two subjects allowing for the last factor to emerge. By the way, the answer to the above question is a resounding yes. Game-used bat collecting is no fad, it is definitely here to stay.

Here's why:

  1. Authentication
    Like any other collectible field, proper authentication is a necessity for the field to flourish. Now that a couple of true experts have stepped forward in the hobby, collectors can feel safe knowing that there is somewhere to go and someone to ask if they are not sure about their lumber.
  2. Education
    A recently as 10 years ago, there was little to no information available to the bat collector or to the collector contemplating a bat collection. Today, while information is still coming out, bat books and bat price guides (such as the first monthly bat price guide in Sports Market Report) are starting to surface as demand increases. More information allows collectors to educate themselves about the field.
  3. Security
    As mentioned above, authentication and education via bat collecting information gives the hobbyist a feeling of security that simply wasn't there in days past. In fact, I have received more faxes, letters, and phone calls from hobbyists contemplating bat collecting than ever before. They don't have to "be in the dark" anymore, they can be confident that their money is being well spent.

Bat collecting, with the aftermath of "Black Betsy," should be interesting. I expect a jump in prices once again for quality vintage bats and unique modern lumber as well. What the bat collectors seeks is a true piece of the action, a tangible piece of baseball history touched by the player and used to make their mark in the game. If you ask me, the bat collecting base and market values show a lot of room for potential. When the field starts to mature even more, look out.

Click here for an in-depth article on the sale of "Black Betsy."

The Top 5 Game-Used Bat Prices of All-Time

Bat Price
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson's "Black Besty" bat $577,610 (2001 Auction)
1929 Babe Ruth Sidewritten/Home Run Notch bat $320,000 (2001 Private Sale)
1924 Babe Ruth Autographed "1st Home Run" bat $225,000 (2001 Private Sale)
1916-1920 Babe Ruth Autographed bat (earliest known) $150,000 (2001 Private Sale)
1923 Lou Gehrig Sidewritten Rookie Bat $125,000 (2001 Private Sale)

Babe Ruth Steals the Show at Hunt Auction

During the latest Hunt Auction, Babe Ruth, once again, proved his worth to collectors in a number of areas. From autographs to photos, Ruth items seemed to perform very well across the board. The highlights include the famous 1915 "Tavern" photograph of Babe Ruth with his father, showing a striking resemblance to each other. Here's a quick list of highlights from the sale:

Item Price Realized
1888 N43 Allen and Ginter Buck Ewing (EX-MT)
John Havlicek game-used Boston Celtics early 70's road jersey
1950's Philadelphia Phillies pennant style banner
Boog Powell game-used L.A. Dodgers home jersey circa 1971-1973
1915 Philadelphia Phillies NL Champions pennant
1947 Joe DiMaggio game-used/signed Yankee road jersey
PSA/DNA Babe Ruth signed store model bat circa 1933
PSA/DNA Babe Ruth (and others) signed ink blotter circa 1930's
PSA/DNA Babe Ruth signed New York Yankee payroll check from 1930
PSA/DNA 1910 Christy Mathewson signed presentation book
1934 St. Louis Cardinals World Series Ring
(20) 1906 Philadelphia Athletics postcards
1981 Jim Palmer game-used/signed Orioles jersey
1970 Baltimore Orioles World Series Ring (Paul Blair)
PSA VG 3 1909 Ramly Walter Johnson
1911 T-205 Gold Border set (with some variations)
Ty Cobb PC760 Rose Co. postcard
1888 Old Judge Cap Anson cabinet photo (EX)
1893 Duke W.M. Nash cabinet card (EX-MT)
PSA NM-MT 8 1895 Mayo Cut Plug Kid Nichols
1939 game-used Philadelphia Phillies jersey
1950 Connie Mack game-used Philadelphia Athletics jersey
1981 Mickey Mantle spring training coaching jersey
"By-Laws of Atlantic Base Ball Club" book circa 1850-1860
Babe Ruth "Tavern" photo with father (EX/EX-MT)
Black Betsy
Black Betsy
Joe Jackson by A.K. Miller
Joe Jackson by A.K. Miller

Joe Orlando has been an advanced collector of sportscards and memorabilia for over 30 years. Orlando attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California where he studied communications and was the starting catcher for the baseball team. After a brief stint in the minor leagues, Orlando obtained a Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School in Southern California in the spring of 1999. During the last sixteen years, Orlando has authored several collecting guides and dozens of articles for Collectors Universe, Inc. Orlando has also authored two books for Collectors Universe. Orlando's first book, The Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby, was released in the summer of 2002. His second book, Collecting Sports Legends, was released in the summer of 2008. Orlando has appeared on numerous radio and television programs as a hobby expert including ESPN's award-winning program Outside the Lines, HBO's Real Sports and the Fox Business Network, as the featured guest. Currently, Orlando is the President of PSA and PSA/DNA, the largest trading card and sports memorabilia authentication services in the hobby. He is also Editor of the company's nationally distributed Sports Market Report, which under Orlando's direction has developed into a leading resource in the market. Orlando also contributed the foreword and last chapter to The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories, a 2010 release, and to The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players, a 2013 release. Recently, Orlando helped put together a new hobby book entitled The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs, which was released in the summer of 2016.