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Baseball Collectibles – A Link to the Past

by Matt Liamini (04/25/08).
Tigers '68 ball signed and the entire bat collection
Ernie Banks and Babe Ruth

No sport represents the tradition and values of the United States quite like baseball. It has been played around the country since the 1860s, and although it has undergone many changes, the foundation the 19th century produced can still be seen in ballparks across the country. With such an extensive legacy, the world of baseball collectibles is vast and varied. Collectors everywhere have their niche, whether it be cards, bats, jerseys, tickets or programs, there is something to collect for every baseball fan. I grew up in suburban Detroit a fan of the Detroit Tigers. This was instilled in me from the very beginning, as my family had intimate contact and knowledge with classic Tiger legends. I recently uncovered a one of a kind collectible that was a personal gift to my family. My grandfather owned and operated an Italian restaurant in downtown Detroit, amongst some of his clientele were the 1968 Tigers who would go on to win the World Series that year, helping to heal the pain of the 1967 riots. The team expressed their gratitude to our family by giving us two baseballs signed by the entire team, featuring such greats as Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Eddie Matthews, and Denny McClain. The signatures are fading and harder to read now, but those baseballs remain my father’s pride and joy. The baseball collection my family possesses goes beyond just the personal and local, but to a national appreciation of the sport. Their collection contains over 80 official Louisville Sluggers with imprinted player names. These bats are a who’s who of the greatest hitters in baseball history featuring the likes of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, and others. Having never seen an actual baseball field, these historic bats remain in excellent condition. The family took great strides to honor the best players they saw step onto the diamond. My mother and grandfather worked together to build the bat collection to where it is today. My grandfather never personally showed me the bats, but my mom has told me that he intended the bats to be a physical history of the game for me to appreciate. As I grew up and learned more about the heroes’ names hung in my basement, it led me to an even greater love of the game today. That love inspired my own baseball card collection as a continuing part of baseball’s impressive history for all future baseball enthusiasts.

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