There are a LOT of different baseball collectibles to be had! Many people just think of baseball cards, but the possibilities are far greater than those colorful slabs of cardboard. And, for many a baseball fan in these days of increased access and availability, there is nothing like a piece of game-used baseball equipment from the major (and even minor) leagues! More than a baseball card or some other forms of printed memorabilia, a game-used item offers collectors a direct connection to a favorite player, favorite team or that famous, one-for-the-ages game. Unlike a baseball card (even a Topps NOW card produced within hours of the event), the game-used item was there.
When it comes to the subject of collecting game-used items, some objects fall into collectible categories in their own right, such as game-used gloves, bats, baseballs, and jerseys. In fact, recent years have seen increasing interest in obtaining used batting gloves. Indeed, it seems that the more residues of dirt, pine tar, and sweat on the glove, the better! These items have seen serious action—it’s as close to being in the game as a fan can get. After all, you not only see the glove, touch the glove, and even wear the glove yourself…you can even smell it!
There are almost as many different approaches to collecting game-used baseball equipment as there are collectors. Some want to focus on a team, while others get even more direct as they try to acquire items for each player in a starting lineup. Baseballia has been privileged to serve a couple of collectors who obtain items by type—their home-based display case full of game-used baseball caps makes a pretty incredible impression. Of course, many collectors want items used by their favorite slugger, pitcher, or fielder, whether that player is a Hall of Famer, a current star or someone they remember fondly from games gone by.
Because game-used items are, well, used, they are not expected to be in pristine shape. Actually, it is the very signs of wear that are often used as indications of authenticity. These game-used markings also add greatly to the appeal for the collector. A game-used bat, for example, will often have rack marks on it, indicating the mild wear that comes with a bat’s storage. Cleat marks in a bat—caused when a player knocks a bat against his shoes to dislodge mud or dirt from between his cleats—are another potential sign that a bat’s claimed pedigree is credible. And there is just something special about getting a game-used base that still has some of the playing field residue all over its top.
Of course, these very unique items are not as common as baseball cards. They are more available than ever before, but still pretty limited. Even so, it is a special treat to help a collector obtain such an item for their collection and bring the game home in a direct, personal way.