By JOE KAY, AP Baseball Writer
CINCINNATI (AP)—The black Mizuno bat that Pete Rose used for his final hit— record No. 4,256—is being auctioned by a New York firm that expects it to become one of the most expensive bats ever sold. And no, it hasn’t been checked for cork. The 34-inch, 32-ounce bat is the featured item in a collection being sold online through Lelands.com. Rose has authenticated the bat, saying he used it for his single off San Francisco’s Greg Minton on Aug. 14, 1986. Rose never got another hit, leaving the game as baseball’s all-time hits leader. Lelands.com president Mike Heffner said the highest auction price for a bat was $1.3 million, paid for the one that Babe Ruth used to hit his first homer at Yankee Stadium. Heffner thinks Rose’s bat could go for something close to that amount.
“Could this approach that? Absolutely,” Heffner said Wednesday, in a phone interview. “But with the economy the way it is, it’s strange. People are actually investing more in sports and other memorabilia, so I could see someone coming along and investing in this because it is a piece of history.” Rose broke Ty Cobb’s record with his 4,192nd hit on Sept. 11, 1985, when he was the Reds player-manager. A large photograph of the bat and ball used in that historic moment is featured on the back of the scoreboard in left field. A local collector owns that bat.
Rose played for one more season, batting .219 in 52 games. He had 72 hits in 1986, including that final one off Minton. Rose never announced his retirement, quietly giving up the player half of his title after the season to concentrate on managing. He was banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on games involving the Reds. Rose displayed the bat used for his final hit at his restaurant in Boca Raton, Fla., after his banishment. It was eventually bought by Richard C. Angrist, a prominent collector of sports memorabilia. Angrist has put some of his items up for auction through Lelands.com, which is taking initial bids online through July 9. The collection includes a 1938 Dizzy Dean jersey, a 1965 autographed Don Drysdale bat, a 1959 Roberto Clemente jersey, a Rogers Hornsby bat from 1924-26 and a George Sisler bat used in 1920. Lelands.com hasn’t tested the Rose bat to see if it has been doctored. A story on deadspin.com this week said an X-ray on one of Rose’s other bats from 1985—obtained separately by a different collector a few years ago—indicated it had cork in the barrel. “No, we have not checked it,” Heffner said. “We have not X-rayed it or anything. We’d rather leave that up to the person who purchases it.” The 4,256 bat up for auction has three letters of authenticity and a letter from Rose vouching for it. Rose printed in a silver marker on the barrel that he used it for No. 4,256. Rose also signed the bat.