Archive for the Game-Used Items Category

Collecting Kershaw: The first pitch from a historic start – The Winningest Left-Handed Pitcher in MLB History

Posted in Collecting Kershaw, Game-Used Items with tags , , , , , , on September 5, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

The mailman this week brought me two amazing baseballs, one of which will be the subject of this post; the other will come soon.

While Hit By Pitch balls are my niche in game-used baseballs, I also dabble in Clayton Kershaw items. I was able to acquire a ball from the Giants this week that has some historical significance.

Kershaw is at the stage of his career where he is passing folks on various statistical charts, and on 8/27/2020 he won his 173rd career game by defeating the Giants. The win made him the winningest left-handed pitcher in MLB history. It’s sort of a convoluted stat as it’s percentage driven and the number changes, but it is history.

Anyway, the ball that arrived today is the first ball Kershaw used that day against the Giants. The ball was used for warm up pitches and then for eight pitches spanning three batters.

Giants lead off hitter Mike Yastrzemski saw three pitches, the third of which he rapped into center field for a single – his 136th career hit. The ball was fielded by Cody Bellinger and thrown back to the infield where it was tossed to Kershaw for the next hitter.

Wilmer Flores saw two pitches from Kershaw, the second of which he blasted to right-center causing Bellinger to chase it down near the warning track, a play that was replayed on television with high praise.

Evan Longoria, a fellow 2006 draft pick, saw three pitches from this ball including a classic Kershaw knee-buckling bender that was on the inside corner but called a ball. On the third pitch, Longoria fouled the ball off the chalk of the batters box and the ball was removed from play, ending it’s lifespan.

I’m always a tad skeptical when I see balls that are authenticated as used for various batters, especially when they are out into play. So when I opened the package today and saw that this ball is hammered, it made me smile as again the Giants Authentics department left me with zero doubt as to the authentication.

I also ordered the associated Topps Now card pictured below.

What I did with my Q2 eBay Bucks

Posted in Game-Used Items, Mail Day with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

It’s always fun to get something for free. This quarter, my eBay Bucks amounted to a tad over $50, and honestly, it could have been much higher had I been smart about when I made some purchases during the second quarter of 2019.

So, what did I get with my reward?

A game-used baseball thrown by Perennial National League CY Young Award contender Max Scherzer that struck former mega prospect and All Star Yoenis Cespedes.

In the bottom of the first inning, Scherzer faced off against Cespedes and on the sixth pitch, he nailed Cespedes on the leg with a 84.5 mph changeup. The Nationals TV announcer had a great comment during the replay:

“With quads like that, you figure that’s a likely place to get hit.”

The encounter was the 28th time Cespedes has been struck by a pitch, and it was the 60th time Scherzer hit a batter during his MLB career. In this game, Scherzer earned his 133rd career victory with his 8-inning, 10-strikeout performance.

The game-used ball represents the 36th in my collection of Hit By Pitch balls I’ve collectively dubbed “The Wall of Pain.” More are on the way; all will eventually be shown here.

Kershaw 2018 NLCS Game 5 First Pitch game-used ball added to collection

Posted in Collecting Kershaw, Game-Used Items, Misc. with tags , , , , , on April 19, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When it comes to sports collectibles, baseball cards will always be my first love.

But in today’s collectibles climate, MLB authenticated game-used baseballs just might be the new hot girlfriend who may be a better partner than the first wife.

And this week, that new girlfriend arrived looking finer than any of the girls that came before.

This week the mailman came through with a massive mailday that contained a purchase I made last week. The contents? THE baseball that Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw used to start Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

Kershaw is my dude. My guy. My favorite active player. And last year I was lucky enough to witness in person an almost improbable collision of worlds when Kershaw faced off against my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, in Game 5 of the World Series.

True, the outcome was not what Kershaw would have wanted. But that did mean that the Sox did clinch a world title in Dodger Stadium while I was present.

But the road for the Dodgers to get there that night was something that I, as a Kershaw fan and collector, would not forget. And his start in Game 5 of the NLCS, during which the southpaw would strike out 9 Milwaukee Brewers over 7 innings en route to his 9th career post season victory (and the last to date), was something that Dodger fans absolutely needed to see from their ace.

The performance in the NLCS helped set LA up for a second straight World Series appearance, and was one that eventually would lead to the aforementioned dream scenario of me seeing my favorite player gave off against my favorite team with all the marbles in the line

I’m not going to kid myself. This newly acquired baseball isn’t the dream ball I’m still chasing. I absolutely NEED to acquire a Kershaw-thrown ball from Game 5 of the World Series. But this NLCS Ball is something I could not pass up when I noticed it up for sale recently.

There had been two other Kershaw-related NLCS balls posted on eBay for sale. One was actually the second ball used during Game 5 against the Brewers and the other was used during the at-bat in which Kershaw walked during a plate appearance against Brandon Wooddruff.

But the ball I bought trumped all of that as it is THE ball that Kershaw used to warm up, then thrown for the first pitch (a 90 mph fastball) and then a bouncing slider to Milwaukee lead-off hitter Lorenzo Cain.

Bryce Harper on the mind … now I want THIS ball even more

Posted in Game-Used Items with tags , , , , , on February 6, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I have two collecting passions, it’s baseball cards and game-used baseballs. When it comes to the balls, there is a certain niche I began collecting a few years ago and that’s balls used in Hit By Pitch at-bats.

I’ll showcase all those balls in another way later. Rather this topic comes to mind today as we got word of the San Francisco Giants meeting with Bryce Harper this week. Now, ai’m a Red Sox fan but would love to see Harper in San Francisco. After all, the Giants are one of two teams in my area.

I was lucky enough to see Harper play once, and that was on Memorial Day 2017 when I surprised my kids with an impromptu train ride and the game. As it turned out, that was the game when former Giants reliever Hunter Strickland beaned Harper on the hip, and a short fight ensued.

As it happened, my kids and I were walking around the stadium just as Harper was coming up for that at-bat. And when I saw him approach the plate, I pulled out my camera and told my kids I wanted to take a few pictures.

That’s when this happened.

I have several other frames in between and after these images, but these photos tell the story.

It was an amazing sight, something I had to explain to my kids, who were ages 8 and 6 at the time.

I digress, today’s news about Harper’s meeting of course gets talked about locally and this play gets brought up a lot. Also getting discussed is the fact that Strickland — the pitcher — is no longer part of the team so that wouldn’t be an issue.

I feel lucky to have witnessed the play and have document it with my camera, but what I REALLY want is that damn baseball … and you can see it just lying there on the ground in the third photo.

I did acquire a ball from that game — a Matt Weiters single. But I want the ball that struck Harper; it’d go great with the other HBP balls I already own, including ones that struck Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, and the ball that struck Alex Bregman in his very first HBP.

I’ve asked Giants if they have it, and they apparently they do not. I’m hoping it was authenticated by MLB and the Giants that day.

Do you know where the ball is? Have a lead on it? Let me know.

David Ortiz’s last trip through Oakland a must see; ends with purchase of historic item

Posted in Baseball Games, Game-Used Items with tags , , , , , , on September 6, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

bag1I am a Red Sox fan. I have been one for nearly three decades. My fandom started with admiring Roger Clemens (as a player), continued with the dominance of Pedro Martinez and youthful impact of Nomar Garciaparra, and was taken to another level when Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz combined to become an offensive powerhouse that would eventually lead to the franchise’s first championship in 86 years.

I watched Ramirez and Ortiz dominate in person for years when the Red Sox would travel to the west coast and play against the Oakland A’s. Some of my fondest baseball memories are watching those two characters do their thing against the Athletics. I was there when Manny hit a towering shot to left field and stood at the plate with his hands in the air as the ball approached the seats, only it never got there and Manny was met with a rousing round of heckling boos. I also recall sitting behind the third base dugout and watching Ortiz from a profile drill a pair of homers over the wall in right-center, two of several I’d seen Ortiz hit in Oakland, and then slowly trot around the bases in only the way Big Papi does.


David Ortiz warms up before an at-bat on Sept. 9, 2016.                         Photo: Ben Aguirre Jr./Cardboard Icons

And when it comes to specifically Ortiz, who says he is retiring at the end of the season, I have been able to see him play in five different stadiums. Not only in Oakland, but I saw  him in San Francisco at AT&T Park a few years ago; in Seattle on back to back nights at Safeco Field  in 2003, in New York at the new Yankee Stadium in May 2010 and two days later in Boston at Fenway Park. Ortiz’s presence on the field has brought a smile to my face on numerous occasions so I felt obligated to see him one last time during the Red Sox most recent trip through Oakland.


Because of my work schedule I was only able to make it to one game, Sept. 3, and I decided to go to the game alone. I usually get decent tickets for the games I attend but on this occasion since I was going alone and I decided to look for the best seat possible. And as luck would have it, the best seat available for me was behind the plate. Hey, it was a special occasion for me and my premium ticket was still less than I had paid for tickets to a few Giants games. (side note: By comparison, tickets to games in Oakland are sometimes almost half the price as one in San Francisco – the trade-off of having a losing team and a dilapidated venue.)

And so I worked all day and then took the train to the stadium. My intention was to enjoy the game, take some pictures and ultimately buy a game-used ball at the stadium, one of the newer traditions I’ve started to do.


I arrived just before the game started, so I was able to soak in the National Anthem, watch the ceremonial first pitch thrown by Oakland A’s legend Jose Canseco, who was one of the guys I really enjoyed watching as a kid. Remember, I grew up in the Bay Area – true, I was a Red Sox fan, but the A’s were still the best game in town for my taste. I still remember rushing home on Wednesdays after school and turning on 560 AM KSFO and listening to announcer Bill King read off the lineups and call homeruns from Canseco and Mark McGwire during those getaway days early afternoon games. I digress.


David Ortiz rips a double to left center during the first inning.                Photo:Ben Aguirre Jr. / Cardboard Icons

Everything about this night felt special to a baseball fan. And the way the game started just continued that notion. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia led off with a single, and two batters later Ortiz came to the plate with much fanfare and then ripped a double into left-center. And then a batter later MVP candidate outfielder Mookie Betts stepped to the plate and doubled to left-center which drove home Pedroia and Ortiz, giving the Red Sox a 2-0 lead before their starting pitcher Rick Porcello even took the mound.


Red Sox rookie third baseman Yoan Moncada at the plate just before his first Major League hit.                                                                                           Photo: Ben Aguirre Jr. / Cardboard Icons


The score remained 2-0 into the third inning where A’s pitcher Daniel Mengden — he of the atrocious ERA but legendary handlebar mustache and knee-high striped socks — faced Ortiz and Betts again and got them both to ground out, making way for what seemingly was going to be a smooth inning for he and the A’s.  But as you know by now, things didn’t go so well for Oakland. First baseman Hanley Ramirez drilled a solo homerun to left-center, and then catcher Sandy Leon doubled and outfielder Chris Yound walked.  Super-rookie Yoan Moncada, the Cuban third baseman who had made his MLB debut the night before, then came up and notched his first major league hit, a double down the left field line. As is tradition, the ball hit during the play was taken out of play and put away as a souvenir for Moncada. I would not be surprised if MLB immediately stuck one of their authentication stickers on the ball, something the league has been doing for more than half a decade now, to ensure the authenticity of game-used items.


The Red Sox wound up batting around in the third inning, which included another Pedroia single and a second Ortiz double, this time just inches away from being a homerun to center field. In all, the Red Sox added another seven runs in the inning to make it 9-0 before the final three hitters of Oakland’s lineup even had a chance to step the plate for the first time. In fact, Boston’s Porcello held a perfect game through the first 16 hitters (5 1/3 innings) until Oakland outfielder Jake Smolinski doubled to left field to end the run at history.

By the time the fifth inning had rolled around, I had gotten my fill of taking pictures of Ortiz so I decided to video record his fourth at-bat of the night, which resulted in a broken-bat single up the middle. It wound up being his final at-bat of the game as he was relieved for a pinch hitter when his turn came up in the eighth inning.

I have a basic philosophy when I go to games by myself: Once I sit down for the beginning of the game, I will not leave my seat or row until the game is over unless certain circumstances merit my leaving. So by the time the bottom of the ninth inning rolled around the Red Sox had a 11-2 lead and I decided that if I was going to purchase a game-used baseball from this game then I should go and get it before others decide to do the same.


soxas base

Based used on 9/2/16; photo by friend J.R.

Behind section 120 at the Oakland Coliseum (or whatever corporate name they have on the place at the time you actually read this) there is a stand where they sell game-used items – jerseys, bats, balls, etc. On this night I inquired about balls and they didn’t have any. The lady told me they didn’t receive the usual stash because Porcello had a perfect game going and when significant events like that are unfolding all items from that game are held back. If Porcello had completed the perfect game odds are all game-used items from the game which typically would have been offered for sale by the A’s likely would have wound up in the hands of Major League Baseball, which then would have sold the items at a premium via their auctions. I digress.

With no balls from this game available – by the way I was quoted $40 for a random ball, which isn’t bad but I prefer the ones in San Francisco that are priced based on what play the ball was involved in – I asked if there was anything from the current game that was for sale. The clerk then directs me t the show case where there are two bases sitting there, one from the present game (9/3/16) and one from the previous night’s game (9/2/16.)

I looked at the two bases and they were priced significantly different. Both were much more than I intended to spend but base was priced more than three times as much as the other.

For those unaware, bases are used for three innings at a time and then switched out. So a base is used for innings 1 through 3 and then removed from play and then replaced with one used for innings 4 through 6, and then finally with another for innings 7 through 9. And there are three bases that are switched out. So in all there are nine used bases per game, three for each location on the diamond. And in case you’re wondering, home plate does not get removed.

The base from the 9/2/16 game was listed as being the base used at first base for innings 4 through 6. And along with the base was a card that read six plays in which the base was used, including two Ortiz at-bats. Regardless of the plays shown, I didn’t want that base – it wasn’t from the game I had just watch. So I focused on the other, cheaper one.


This sticker indicates that this base was used as first base for innings 1 through 3 during the Sept. 3, 2016 game against the Boston Red Sox.                                      Photo: Ben Aguirre Jr. / Cardboard Icons

This base, which was from the game I watched, didn’t have a list of plays.  It only had a price tag and small details that read (1B, 1-3, 9/3/16). This means it is first base used for innings 1 through 3 on 9/3/16.


I looked at the base and thought about the game I’d just seen. I knew that I had seen David Ortiz double twice, Dustin Pedroia single twice, Hanley Ramirez smash a home run AND that rookie Yoan Moncada notched his first major league hit – all before the end of the end of the third inning.  And if this were the base actually used as described then this is the one that all of these players – and others – stepped on during the moist active part of the game.

I looked at the price tag and asked the clerk to physically hand the base to me to I could inspect it.  When she handed it to me I inspected the price tag for a hidden zero as surely this base was not just more important to me, but more historically significant than the other that was priced much higher. I looked and looked and looked.  There was no hidden zero. I knew at that moment that the item I was holding was going home with me.

So I reached for my wallet and refused to hand the base back to the clerk before the transaction was completed. I feared that at any moment some manager would come over and realize that they hadn’t appropriately priced this item. Heck, it was probably an item that shouldn’t have even been made available to the public in my mind. Moncada is the top prospect in baseball — which is a big deal — and to have an item that was used when he collected his first hit is something that shouldn’t have happened. As noted earlier, this item probably should have ended up with Major League Baseball, or at the very least be priced much higher than any other items used in recent games.

All my anguish was for not.  The transaction went smoothly until I asked for something to wrap the base in and they had nothing for me. At that point I knew my trek home would be an interesting one.


As mentioned earlier I took public transportation to the game and carrying the dirty cumbersome base – which is still mounted to its metal post and weighs close to 10 pounds – was going to present a challenge. I weaved my way through the concourse traffic and headed for the ramp to the BART train and avoided any and all contact with anyone. During the 10-minute speed walk from stand to the train platform I had heard several people mumbling stuff about my new treasure but I managed to duck all inquiries. That is until I got to the platform.  I found a decent place to stand so as to keep the base mostly covered but two guys saw me before I found my spot. One of the men asked me how I got the base, and then asked how much it cost me.  I responded with a lie out of fear that I was going to get robbed – remember, I was in Oakland and I was carrying not only this base, but also my DSLR camera. People have been robbed of lesser valued things.

Moments later a gentleman in his 80s and his adult daughter inquired about the base. This time they wanted to touch it – they had never seen or touched a real base before. I allowed them to do so, but tried to keep the actions fairly concealed because I didn’t want to start this trend.

Luckily for me my train arrived just minutes later and I found a seat by myself and was able keep the base out of view from more onlookers. And aside from a 10-minute delay in the middle of the tracks for some relatively minor repair, the trip back to the station where I parked my car was pretty uneventful.

A short while later I had arrived at home and the reaction when I walked through the door was priceless “What the (expletive)? Is that a base from tonight’s game?”

Yes. Yes it is.


Bases have come a long way since the game started. In the early 19o0s the bases resembled square sacks filled with what looked like flour or other soft material. Now they are rubber molded over a meal frame. And for almost a decade now they have been putting special badges on the side of the bases to signify what series or game the base was being used – likely just a marketing plot to help in the sale of such equipment.

Sometimes when bases are offered for sale they have already been cleaned off completely, or sometimes only partially cleaned off, and for the most part the bases are removed from the post which helps affix the base to a peg that is buried on the field of play to keep the base in place.

But the base I purchased was literally fresh off to field – mud still smeared in places on the bottom and on the peg, and lots of dirt and cleat marks still on top.



As noted earlier, this base isn’t just like all the others used on the field during this game on Sept. 3, 2016. There is probably only one 0ther base from this game that has more significance – second base used during the first three innings. That base would be more significant because both of Ortiz’s hits were doubles and Yoan Moncada’s first MLB hit was in fact a double. However, that base was not available for sale when I visited the stand and I do not know if it was even made available to the public.

What I do know is that the base used at first base for those first three innings was available and now it is in my collection. And by my account, this base was involved in the following plays:

*Yoan Moncada’s first Major League hit.

*David Ortiz career hits 2,445 and 2,446 (which were also his 627th and 628th career doubles)

*Dustin Pedroia’s career hits 1,651 and 1,652; also his 566th career walk

*Hanley Ramirez’s 230th career homerun

*Mookie Betts 410th career hit

Xander Bogaerts’ 503rd career hit

*Jackie Bradley Jr’s 278th and 279th career hit

*Sandy Leon’s 104th career hit

*Also of note, no Athletics safely reached first base at the time this base was on the field; a perfect game was in effect into the sixth inning.


The value of such items are volatile as they are rare and are really only worth what a person is willing to pay for them. And demand for bases is not what it would be for used balls, bats or other pieces of equipment. That said, the value to me is priceless because of the fact that it is from a game I attended and involved a Red Sox legend. However, the long-term value could be significantly higher if Moncada turns out to be a legitimate star. At this point he is still considered a highly touted rookie/prospect who has yet to prove his worth at the major league level. And in most cases top prospects rarely turn into the stars to which they are compared. But for collectors the market for items used in events deemed significant to a star player’s career can fetch lots of money.


So what does one do with a full base. Well, display it of course. But therein lays an issue that collectors always face: how does one display their items, specifically a base? I’ve seen people mount them on walls, but that’s with bases that are no longer attached to a metal post. At this point I’ll have to put it on a book shelf, but long term I am thinking of getting a vertical display case to not only show off this item, but also other stuff such including a pair of authenticated game-used baseballs thrown by Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner during his one-hitter on July 10, 2016, against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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