Bat barrel nameplates: The sweetest spot of game-used lumber and rarest of bat cards


By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

There’s just one spot on a game-used baseball bat that says it all — and it makes for some of the most-impressive game-used cards possible.

It’s the nameplate on a bat barrel, that sweet spot of real estate on a slugger’s most-vital weapon when it comes to success in the national pastime. Aside from perhaps the bat knob, which can sometimes make for prime cards with personal touches that stand out, the barrel is, without question, the best piece of a bat to make cardboard.

And they are some of the rarest cards around, too.



As a long-time collector, I own a few dozen full game-used bats of players I follow — favorites or players with school ties — but after all these years I don’t own a single game-used bat barrel card.


Well, I can’t say I have pursued too many — or even seen many in-person — and there’s a reason for both of those points. Not that many exist and the cards also can be quite pricey. In some instances for more modern players, the cards can even demand more on the market than the full uncut bats themselves.

According to the database, there are just 2,138 unique “barrel” cards in existence — think about that — and a good portion of that total includes cards that are the outer surface of a bat barrel but not the nameplate. Many of these cards are one-of-a-kind creations, making finding a barrel a bit harder find at the typical card shop visit or smaller show. They become immediate auction-block items.

After all, there’s only one nameplate per bat — and some older players don’t even have that as an option. So some of those six-figure bats swung by the likes of Babe Ruth that make their way into cards may not even carry enough clout to create one of these cards.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

The selection of 21 knobs — each 1/1 cards — seen here? Well, collectors wanting a crack at one of these rarities will have their chance as they have been consigned to Beckett Auctions for its August auction, which will begin on Aug. 10. You can find more information here at that time. 

Game-used bat barrel cards ... how many you got?

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  1. Mark
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    It’s a crime to slab those cards with that awful blue “Authentic” label, which is most often associated with altered or damaged cards.

  2. chrisolds
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Altered says “altered” on the slab.

  3. Soylent Green
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    If I can get one cheaper because it says authentic – let me know – lol – Mark the Moron

  4. Richard
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious.
    Do these cards have the usual weasel words regarding authenticity on them?
    In other words, a COA that would mean nothing in a court of law if it can be shown
    that the material is not actually associated with the player in an actual professional game?

    I only deal with old school material cards that actually spell it out and they put their reputation
    and dollars at stake.

  5. phillies_joe
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    I refuse to purchase and hope I never hit a relic of an “old timer”. I think it’s a crime to destroy a rare memorabilia item. Great looking cards though. Feel different about modern players as they have or will go through many bats in a season. JMO, don’t mean to offend.

  6. Theone
    Posted July 31, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Phillies_joe….100% agree with you. I’ve got a fairly large collection of game used bats, balls, gloves, shoes, etc and one of them I would never allow someone to break it apart to just make cards of it. You couldn’t pay me enough to let someone destroy history!

    What’s even more sad is that these companies are using relics/jsy/bats etc and saying this was used in an event worn whatever…it’s like so it’s not game-used? The player maybe put it on his head, swung a bat for a picture….this hobby has become a scam..just like the guy who bought the fake Mo 92 bowman.

    Unfortunately this is what our society and capitalism has led us too! Just like changing our phone to the no call list. For 30 years whenever had many people calling to sell this or that…now that were on the no call list it’s endless everyday. Sometimes people call 3-4-5 times a day. Even at 8:30-9 pm at night.

    Anyways got off point but in today’s world anyone can say anything they want to and it’s sad that its used to make a profit. Just like a brand adding a certain ’13 card into a ’14 product and allowing everyone to spend thousands on a redemption card and now the cards are loosing value even graded.

    Capitalism is the problem!

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