For those of you who collect baseball memorabilia, or the more specific pursuit of game used memorabilia, you have probably, like me, dreamed of holding a hall of fame piece. You read about some of the well known collections out there and marvel at Mantles, Ruths and Gehrigs that light up auctions with bids in the hundreds of thousands. Pretty easy to fall into a bit of game used envy and feel that your collection is a bit inadequate. But . . . not . . . so . . . fast!
I write here to promote the virtues of bat collecting beyond HOFers and All Stars. Stop here if you collection is an investment purely for monetary return or if you are looking for the "Shock and Awe" reaction from your friends. No need to read further. The bats I am talking about almost never hold full value and, except in very limited circumstances, will never appreciate like those from the kings of the diamond. What I am pitching is affordability and thrill of the hunt. The majority of the Boston Game Used collection has been gathered for less that what one well heeled collector payed for a single hall of fame bat. Find a niche that appeals to you and go to work building your collection.
For example, focusing on one team from one year (like a World Series year) gives you structure and will necessarily include very affordable bats that you can try to find. Obviously you can't pick the 27 Yankees and do this, but the 1990 Reds or the 2014 Tigers is certainly doable. Collecting bats used by players from your home town, country or alma mater are other areas of potential focus. I have even seen collections of bats that have a certain type of knob and collections of players with the same last name. Finding the really obscure bat can be a thrill in its own right and in many ways even more difficult than locating the bat of a HOFer. These bats are affordable and not nearly as highly sought after as other. Further, when you find a signature model, you can be pretty sure that the bat was ordered by the player as there is not much of a market for falsified obscure gamers.
Once you start to build you can continue to refine. When we started the Boston Game used collection, our sights we set high. We looked for bats only from the correct years bearing the correct uniform numbers (if any) on the knob. And as a result we missed many bats we needed due to such exactness. With age came (some) wisdom and the understanding that obscure player bats are sometimes so rare that you may never see another again. As we snatched up the first best exemplar we could find and this grew into another are of collecting, the upgrade. Even after you have an example you can still look for a better version and collect all over again.
While hall of fame bat collecting certainly is thrilling and often awe inspiring, you can get the same thrill from building any collection you set you sights on that is within your budget.