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Game Used Bat Guide (Cont.)

KNOB MARKINGS

1986 to 1989
The Louisville Slugger gamers I have seen have nothing engraved on their knobs.Rawlings however engraved different markings on the knobs of their bats which give you a lot more information about the bat. A typical 1986 Mac bat knob would look like this (figure 10) In this scan you can see the numbers "256B" which is Macs model number of bat. I have also seen maybe a couple different model numbers that were Macs also, but this is the one he still uses today. Also you see a "351" and then a "6". The 351 is the order number under which a bat is ordered by the player. there may be 6 or more bats with this same number. They all came in the same batch. the 6 you see is the year "1986" this would continue exactly like this until 1989. 1987 would be a "7" on the knob and so on.(figure 11)



1990 to 1996
Basically still the same markings except instead of a single digit, the year was represented by a double digit. 1990 would have a "90" on the knob and so on.



1997 thru Present
In 1997 Mac's bat knobs were changed as his popularity rose. Now instead of the "256B" model designation., they are known as "MAC25". This appears on all his gamers until now. (figure 13)




PERSONALIZATIONS

Any marking put on the bat AFTER it comes from the manufacturer is what I call a personalization marking. This includes player ID markings as well as weight markings. On most Mac bats there will be something written on the knob end or barrel end or both. This is for quick identification in the bat rack. Most times this will be his uniform number (always #25) But has been know to include other nicknames and such. Usually written in big black marker so as to be easily seen. I have seen all of the following used on his bats: 25, MAC, Big Mac, Irish 25 and I'm sure there are more.(figures 14 & 15) Most recent bats I have seen have no marking ID, as I'm sure his bats get extra special treatment these days.

Mac also has weight markings on a lot of his bats. this is usually written in ballpoint pen and can be followed by his name "McGwire" (figure 16) but this is not always on a knob.




GAME USE MARKINGS

Now just because a bat meets all of the above criteria still does not always mean its game used. Sometimes it could be game prepared but not used. Meaning Mac ordered the bats but gave them away without using them. In '98 I have seen quite a few that were giveaways. These even had pine tar rubbed up past the label as he usually does, but just didn't have the signs of real game use. This would include ball marks, rack marks and cleat marks. Also the handle would have significant pine tar on a heavily used gamer.(figure 17) Usually Mac will use a bat until it cracks, so use should be pretty evident. Remember also that American League balls had blue printing on them so an AL bat should have blue smudges from hitting them. (figure 18, below). A Cardinals bat will have black marks. Sometimes you may even be able to read a backward official ball logo on the bat after it has transferred itself during hard contact. Bats will also show signs of being put in and out of bat racks. These marks are usually long dark streaks down the length of the bat. the more you see, the more it was used. (figure 19, below)




PRICES

Hopefully all these hints will help you go out and find a nice real Mac gamer for your collection. Since breaking Maris' record most gamers have gone up significantly. Expect to pay at least $1000 for a real gamer and up to $5000 for a '98 model. Autographed models are rare and can run anywhere from $2000 to $15,000 for a '98 model. (figure 20)




I'd like to thank Vince Malta for his book "Bats" which I got a lot of info from. The book is available from "Off the Fence Publishing" in San Fransisco.

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