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Autographs of baseball stars have been popular to collect since, well, the start of professional baseball. Those lucky enough to have one understand how the item autographed makes a big difference. A scribble on a strip of paper is not as desirable as a fancy signature on a ball, for instance. Get a John Hancock on a baseball bat, and now you’re talking!
With this in mind, let’s examine the best baseball bats for autographs, based on our knowledge of the game, mixed with some criteria such as bat color or surface style. We’ll also examine which markers you want to take to a ball game when seeking signatures.
- The Rawlings Adirondack Natural Ash Wood Bat tops our list for a number of reasons.
- For some 2-tone pop, look at the Genuine Series 3 Ash Mix by Louisville Slugger.
- The Marucci AP5 Maple is a fine choice if you prefer, well, maple wood.
- Go space-age look with the DeMarini DI13 Composite.
- Personalize the whole package with a Custom Personalized Mini Baseball bat from My Personal Memories.
This seems to fall into 2 categories: serious investors interested in top value down the road; or true fans who want the best possible item from a favorite player, era, or team. Pretty much any baseball fan would love to have one of these bats with some scribbling on it from a favorite player.
Sure, anyone could go buy any old bat for MLB players to sign. But everyone wants to make sure the signatures can be seen (and hopefully read), and for them to last. We’re going to skip mentioning metal bats, since they are not allowed in the MLB, or at minor league baseball stadiums where some autograph-seekers prowl. Here are tips on what to look for:
There seems to be 2 trains of thought here, and both involve how to make a signature “pop” — that is, jump off the surface visually. Many prefer the palest wood possible (e.g. ash), then a dark black or blue pen color, possibly thick-tipped, to make it stand out. Or, with modern paint pens, a black or very dark brown bat, with white or silver paint-penned signature, maybe even in metallic style for a somewhat glittery look.
Perhaps the most important consideration is ensuring the autograph lasts; having to track down a certain player later for a touch-up just won’t happen. Commonly used bats like Rawlings or Louisville Sluggers seem to have enough gloss to look nice, while still allowing ink or paint to stick. Certain markers are better on very shiny surfaces than others (see tips for markers, below).
Some collectors are not particular about the type of bat used and might go with a three-quarter-sized or even youth-sized bat, with primary focus on the signature for value. Others like to get as realistic as possible and go with sizes the pros actually use, like at least 33 inches in length and at least 29 oz. Most pro players’ bats will be bigger, but hardly any will be smaller than that. Which leads to …
Beyond using a real life-used pro bat, if you really want to get detailed, look for the exact brand and/or model used by the player to sign. This might prove quite the challenge, plus probably will be more costly than going with a simple Rawlings ash model. But getting a David Ortiz signature on his classic black bat would look more authentic than having it on a pale ash bat like none he ever used in a game. This detail is for true baseball and authenticity aficionados.
1. Best Baseball Bat for Autographs Overall: Rawlings Adirondack Natural Ash Wood Bat
The Rawlings Adirondack in its natural ash wood is a classic bat, both for hitting a baseball, and for capturing an autograph. The Rawlings logo is well known, especially as the official manufacturer of major league baseballs, so that alone lends to its credibility.
We chose this pale ash color because it represents the traditional type of wood bat most baseball enthusiasts go with when seeking pro John Hancocks. This model also is available in black, should the autograph-seekers plan ahead with white- or silver-colored paint pens.
The finish is glossy enough to look good and last plenty of years, yet not too shiny as to create problems for some markers. It’s also neat that you can still see the wood grain, and light enough not to mess with the signature(s), as opposed to some white ash bats that are so clean they almost look plastic.
- Realistic enough.
- Moderately priced.
- Well-known Rawlings logo.
- Nice-looking finish and grain.
- This is a pretty safe baseball bat to get to grab a pro baseball player signature or two (or more). Just try to get one in a realistic size, meaning at least 33 inches in length, and at least 29 ounces in weight.
2. Best Baseball Bat for Autographs for 2-Tone Pop: Louisville Slugger Genuine Series 3 Ash Mix
Savvy collectors don’t just want the player’s autograph, they want a fine-looking end product. That’s where the classic 2-tone look of the Louisville Slugger Genuine 3 Series bats come in handy.
The deep dark-colored handles contrast nicely with the pale barrels, where the wood provides enough clear space for player signature, and then some. As with the Rawlings model noted above, the finish is not too glossy to interfere with ink or paint — and this LS model actually comes a little cheaper in cost.
The split black and natural finish look jumps out from distance and screams “Come closer for a better look!” At which point viewers will notice the scribbling on the surface. These make for superb wall pieces and conversation starters.
- Low price, yet quality enough to last.
- Known Louisville Slugger brand and logo.
- Neat 2-tone look, with black handle yet pale barrel with plenty of space for signing.
- This also is a safe bet for a baseball bat for signatures, and actually costs a bit less than the Rawlings model noted above.
3. Best Maple Baseball Bat for Autographs: Marucci AP5 Maple
Moving just a tad up the cost scale, some collectors might appreciate a bat made from woods other than ash or pine. Barry Bonds and other sluggers brought maple wood into popularity around the turn of the century, and in subsequent years bombers like David Ortiz and Francisco Lindor continued impressing this type of wood bats to kids.
The AP5 Maple is one of many fine wood bats made by Marucci, an up-and-coming pro bat manufacturer that gets publicity from the likes of Bryce Harper and other modern MLB stars. For signatures, it comes in solid or split color schemes, but if you go with a dark-colored barrel, be sure to have light-colored paint pens.
The maple is perceived as a harder wood, so perhaps these models would last longer on walls or shelves especially if prone to direct sunlight.
- Enough MLB endorsements to boost authenticity.
- Blossoming Marucci brand and logo.
- Cool appearance.
- May be a waste to invest in the quality of a bat for play when it will just end up as an art piece.
4. Best Tech-Look Baseball Bat for Autographs: DeMarini DI13 Pro Maple Wood Composite
Do you like the thought above, about making a bat’s appearance jump off a wall or desk? Then why stop at a 2-tone look, when you could go with a beautiful, space-age look like that on the DeMarini DI13?
The black handle and especially the barrel with a smooth grey-green wood appearance give this model a super-sleek modernized look. Add to that the bright white DI 13 Pro Maple logo, and really smooth wood grain visible on the barrel, and this is sure to draw people for closer peeks.
DeMarini is more known for its metal bats, so MLB players you approach with this wood model may give you a funny look. Plus, this model is the highest-priced on this list. Nonetheless we wanted you to see what a space-age wood bat might look like.
- Grey-green, modern-looking barrel.
- Just enough finish to protect, but not too shiny to impact ink or paint.
- Plenty of barrel space for signing.
- At the high end of the price spectrum.
5. Best Baseball Bat for Autographs for Kids: Custom Personalized Mini Baseball Bat
If you really want to wow the player to be approached, or the young player to receive the signed bat, maybe try an affordable customized mini bat like the Custom Personalized Mini Baseball bat (see Amazon) made by My Personal Memories.
In reality, the manufacturer offers these to give to the best man at weddings, or groomsmen, the ring bearer, etc. But … why not think outside the box to approach your favorite player?
And the very affordable price could make it easy to take that gamble. If you can get the autograph to match the name engraved into the wood, how cool would that be?
- Affordable price.
- Personalization options.
- Won’t take up too much space on walls or desks (at 18” long).
- It might suck if you paid to get one player’s name engraved on it, but then can’t secure the signature.
There are all kinds of markers available for live signings, and of course the paramount requirement is permanent ink, or perhaps even better, paint in a pen. Colors can be nice touches especially on light-colored bats, and silver on top of black is preferred by many enthusiasts.
Veteran baseball bat autograph seekers don’t often settle for the widely available Sharpie permanent pens. Here are some of their alternatives, with the preferred choice per type of collectible:
- For bats and jerseys: DecoColor Paint Pens received high marks. The Deco fine-tip paint pen is especially popular for bats.
- For batting helmets or anything with a super-glossy finish, try Prisma Paint Pen, namely its broad-tip versions.
- For photos, some prefer the Staedtler Marker (see Amazon).