Authenticating Game-Used Baseball Bats

Authenticating Game-Used Baseball Bats

Game Used Bats ImageGame-used baseball bats are among the most highly coveted pieces of sports memorabilia. Bats, by their very nature, take a lot of abuse. As a result, each bat leaves evidence that can be used in the authentication process.

The older a bat is, the more difficult it is to authenticate. While this can be said for a lot of sports memorabilia, bats are made from wood, an organic compound. They are prone to damage that may result from improper storage. The effects of game use can diminish over time, making once tell-tale markings all but unusable in the authentication process.

How Companies Authenticate Game-Used Baseball Bats

There are three primary companies in the sports collectibles market that are relied upon for game-used authentication of baseball bats: MeiGray, MEARS and PSA/DNA. Even these experts make the occasional mistake. That's why it’s important that collectors be as self-educated as possible.

Each company uses a multi-step process for evaluating the authenticity of an alleged game-used bat. While the individual criteria might vary slightly from one company to  another, the general process answers these fundamental questions:

  • Are the manufacturer markings correct for the time period in which the bat was purported to be used?
  • Has the bat been altered in anyway?
  • What is the length and weight of the bat?
  • Do those metrics correspond to known examples used by the player?
  • Does the bat display game-used traits specific to the player?

Things to Look For

Licensed Major League Baseball vendors like Louisville Slugger keep detailed and accurate records. These records date back decades and can be viewed for research purposes. Teams and players place orders that detail the bat's weight, length, wood type and other characteristics. These can be used to validate if a specific make and model of bat was ever ordered and used by a particular player.

Mickey Mantle Makers Mark ImageGame-use indicators can include: ball marks, pine tar presence, taping pattern and player markings like uniform number and initials.

If a bat has authentic maker's marks and the presence of game-use traits, even the most seasoned authenticators can provide only an opinion as to whether the bat has been used in a game. All of this criteria is merely circumstantial evidence. The only way to factually determine actual game usage is a signed and witnessed affidavit from the player and detailed photo-matching of the player using the bat.

Photo-matching is an important tool used by authenticators. Digital imaging and photo restoration technology have been important advancements in photo-matching.

Additional Resources to Authenticate Game-Used Baseball Bats

Louisville Slugger Museum Logo 260x214 ImageGame-used authentication comes down to an educated guess. There are several resources available to collectors looking to add to or start a game-used bat collection. The following are particularly beneficial when evaluating the authenticity of bats alleged to be used by retired players.

With regards to current players or those just recently retired, in 2001, Major League Baseball instituted one of the most comprehensive authentication programs of the four major American sports. The entire process is regulated by an industry leading accounting firm. For a step-by-step guide to MLB’s authentication procedures, visit their website.

Other useful resources include the following books and articles:

While some science is involved, game-used bat authentication is still largely an art. There are people in the hobby who have dedicated years to becoming self-made experts.  Their opinions are well-respected by some of the country's leading auction houses. Due diligence by the collector is an important part of the authentication process as well. By not merely relying on an expert's opinion, and being educated about the process yourself, the added layer of scrutiny provides an even firmer basis for a piece's authenticity.

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2002-2008 NY Yankees Derek Jeter Non Game Used Bat Steiner COA
$650.00
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WITHERSPOON Game Used Bat LOUISVILLE SLUGGER P72
$29.00
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2010 JOSH HAMILTON MVP GAME USED TEXAS RANGERS RX SPORT BAT - MLB AUTHENTICATED
$1,499.95
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John Vanderwal game Used bat cracked Pittsburgh Pirates
$49.95
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2002 Roberto Alomar game used Easton Pro bat & Rawlings batting gloves - NY Mets
$275.00
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DWIGHT SMITH Game Used Bat 1989 NLCS CHICAGO CUBS NATIONAL LEAGUE BRAVES
$299.00
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1950s Augie Galan Game Used H&B Baseball Bat - Chicago Cubs
$850.00
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Dustin Pedroia Signed 2007 Game Used Bat World Series Boston Red Sox
$2,000.00
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2011 Brad Emaus Game Used MAX Baseball Bat New York Mets MLB
$49.00
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White Sox GEORGE BELL 1993-94 game used Louisville Slugger Baseball Bat
$61.00
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Texas Rangers Prince Fielder Game Used and Autographed 2014 season bat. MLB HOLO
$1,500.00
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TONY PEREZ Game Used Bat 77-79 Montreal Expos Reds Phillies Red Sox FREE SHIP
$587.70
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JB SHUCK GAME USED CHANDLER BASEBALL BAT! LOS ANGELES ANGELS ROOKIE! 2013
$325.99
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John Mayberry Jr. Game Used Bat Phillies PSA DNA LOA
$249.99
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2012 Cole Figueroa Game Used Marucci Baseball Bat Tampa Bay Rays MLB
$59.00
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Nick Markakis Signed Bat And Signed Photo. Game Used Batting Gloves! ( Lot of 3)
$121.99
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Rob Bertrand

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Rob Bertrand is an avid collector with over 20 years of active experience in the hobby. He is one of the site's most accomplished writers, as well as the co-host of Cardboard Connection Radio. You can follow him on Twitter @VOTC.

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