Filed under: MLB, sports movies | Tags: baseball, Baseball movies, Frank Thomas, Hunt Auctions, Louisville Slugger Museum auction, Magnum P.I., MLB, Movie Memorabilia, Mr. Baseball, new york yankees, sports movies, Tom Selleck, Vada Pinson, Yankees
By Chris Olds | Editor
Sometimes the hidden gems are right in front of your face.
As a long-time obsessive (ok, just obsessive) collector of baseball movie memorabilia — you know, the actual items used in the production of films, aka props — there’s not always a lot that can grab my attention. Sometimes, items pop up in bursts, sometimes it’s months before something interesting arrives and must be considered for buying.
In fact, it’s been awhile.
While perusing the latest Hunt Auctions catalog, though, a somewhat obscured image of a baseball bat caught my eye — not because it was too different from any of the other rarities and gems found on the block but because I actually — accidentally — read the blurb attached to the photo. (Catalogs of this type often get a Hugh Hefner-inspired kind of treatment with the treasures find inside … they simply just don’t get “read” by many.)
It’s a Jack Elliot model Louisville Slugger signed by someone else — and it’s part of the collection of personal memorabilia from former big-leaguer Vada Pinson, who died in 1995.
You probably won’t know Elliot from Elliott Maddox (Remember him? No? Exactly.) but to some baseball fans the name just might ring a bell.
It’s not the award plaques or personal belongings of Pinson’s I’d want — though even an old driver’s license and wallet are even up for grabs. It’s the bat that is part of a two-item lot, both signed and inscribed by Tom Selleck of Magnum, P.I. fame … but better known to me, the wacko baseball movie memorabilia guy, as Elliot aka Mr. Baseball. (Sorry, Bob Uecker, err, Harry Doyle …)
The bat and ball is expected to fetch as much as $500 at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Auction in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday, though pre-bidding online was at just $100 when I discovered the gem on Wednesday evening and had jumped to $138 by the time I finished writing this.
Is the bat one of a few used in the making of the 1992 comedy where Selleck is a New York Yankee who finds himself out of MLB and playing for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan? It’s unclear — but it might be the closest thing to it. Had there been additional images of the bat — which has Elliot’s Japanese uniform number, No. 54, reportedly written on the knob and the top — I’d already be trying to photo-match the bat to scenes in the film starting with that black scuff below the center brand.
Perhaps I’ve just watched too many DVDs, but these kind of items draw me in much quicker than most of today’s semi-manufactured game-used memorabilia — you know, stuff used once with a certification sticker quickly attached (or even attached before it’s used in play).
I can almost guarantee you it’d be a lot easier to find a Frank Thomas game-used bat — he played the rookie who replaced Selleck at first base for the “Yankees” and they appear together on a 1992 Upper Deck baseball card — than it is to find one that Selleck used, even if he used plenty in the production of the film.
Forget the vault bats and the war clubs swung by the likes of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente — all items up for grabs and expected to fetch upwards of $7,500 apiece — I’ll take a Jack Elliot any day.
The only problem is that payday is a couple weeks away …
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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