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Matched to broadcast footage of Games Three through Six!1996 Derek Jeter World Series Game Used Rookie Bat, PSA/DNA GU 10. For most lovers of baseball history, the affection is rooted in the belief that there was a purity to the early game that has been since been corrupted. We view the sport's childhood much like our own--uncomplicated, magical in its innocence, free of the guile and the compromise that tends to accompany progress. There were problems in the old days--serious ones solved only by brave men like Judge Landis and Jackie Robinson in their very different times--but we didn't yearn so desperately to kill our idols, and those old idols never seemed quite so ready to break our hearts either.
For one thing, they were always there, from kindergarten through college graduation sometimes, through births and deaths, unbroken chains of years until they were as familiar as family. The weight of American principle that Curt Flood took to the fight for free agency left little doubt but that his cause was just, but then we fans had only ever seen the good in our team "belonging" to us. Just because Flood was right didn't stop it from hurting. The game was forever changed. And so our baseball families would gradually be replaced by strangers, who would soon vanish themselves if they got much better, or much worse. The days of Teddy Ballgame were over. No more Stan the Mans. No more Micks.
So it's important to pay close attention during the approaching baseball season, even if your own team affiliation makes your skin crawl at the touch of pinstripes. Realize that we may be witnessing the dying breath of that noble baseball tradition that helped us learn to love the game in the first place. Many fans view Derek Jeter's $12M single-year contract as a parting gift from a grateful franchise to its Captain, who will likely retire at the end of the 2014 season as the last top ten finisher in any pedigree Major League statistic to wear a single uniform to record each digit in the tally. With the celebrated 2013 departure of teammate Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter stands alone as the last great franchise superstar.
This is no small thing, particularly when viewed through the lens of the sports collectibles marketplace. Add the five World Championships, the Gold Gloves, the Silver Sluggers, the Flip, the Dive. Even add, if you'd like, a bedpost notched both heavily and unapologetically, because he's Manhattan's most eligible playboy. The result is the sort of athlete nearly driven to extinction by modernity, the kind that will stand the test of time like the earliest residents of Cooperstown he'll join on his first ballot.
The assignment of one of two single-digit jerseys still in circulation upon Jeter's pinstriped debut was a sturdy clue to the hopes pinned upon the young shortstop by Yankee brass, and an American League Rookie of the Year performance in 1996 was the payday on that gamble. The offered lot serves as the most noteworthy relic to enter the collecting hobby from that auspicious first step on the path to immortality, and arguably a piece that finds no equal within the stockpile of the last great Yankee dynasty.
Leading game used bat expert John Taube is effusive in his praise of this seminal Jeter gamer, supporting his perfect GU 10 rating with a host of screen grabs from the 1996 World Series broadcast that place the bat in the rookie shortstop's hands during each of the four Yankee wins through distinctive ball marks on its surface. He is quick to note that this is likely the only bat used by Jeter in his first Fall Classic, writing, "Though direct photo matches could not be established in Games 1 and 2, we believe there is a strong likelihood that the bat was also used during those games. Today, the bat displays outstanding use, and in Games 1 and 2, much of the use was not yet visible on the barrel."
He characterizes the game use as "heavy," referencing ball marks and deep stitch impressions, with transfers of the red ink used to print the Official baseballs of the '96 Series. Thick pine tar coats the handle, occasionally trapping a blade of grass from the infield of Yankee Stadium or Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, yet it remains solid and uncracked. Length is thirty-three and a half inches, weight of thirty-one ounces, each perfectly matching ordering records. A boldly applied silver sharpie autograph, underscored by a "96 WS" notation, completes the package. In every last metric, this is an artifact of peerless excellence.
Our nostalgia for the old game can often trick us into believing that nothing today could be quite as worthy, so it's essential that we open our minds to the rare exception. It's a bold statement, but the great Yankee numbers are Two, Three, Four, Five and Seven. Jeter belongs in that club, in the same way this most significant article of his game used memorabilia belongs on the shelf with the greatest treasures of the sport. LOA from PSA/DNA, GU 10. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.
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2017 June 29 Premium Sportscard Catalog Auction - Dallas