Bat of the Month!
The "Bat of the Month" section is meant to highlight, special, rare and unique bats which belong to private collections across the country. Kicking off the Bat of the Month forum are actually four special bats used for rathar historic hits by one of the game's all-time great hitters.
Beginning during the 1998 season, Tony Gwynn began marking his bats used to record a base hit during his descent on the historic 3,000 hit mark. Tony would mark these bats with the specific hit number under the labeling on the barrel and sometimes on the knob of the bat. These bats were later sold through Tony and his wife, Alicia's charity. These desirable collector's items have been fairly easy to obtain over the years simply due to the amount which hit the market. Tony started numbering the bats roughly around hit #2800 up until his 3,000th hit game on 8/6/99 in Montreal. Though all bats look similar (all 33 inch 30 1/2 oz LVS B267's), not all "hit" bats were created equal. With a little bit of research or simply dumb luck, one could hopefully land a home run bat or other significant milestone bat. Some bats were more aesthetically appealing than others due to either the Swinging Friar logo on the barrel or even a /3000 notation on the barrel.
One lucky collector has done a fantastic job assembling the most impressive lineup of hit bats I have seen. Beginning with hit #2997, the fourth and final grand slam ever hit by Tony on 8/4/99 against Kent Mercker at Busch Stadium. Later that same game, Tony lined a single off of Mike Mohler for hit #2998. I believe the bat used for hit #2999 was given as a gift from Tony to his mother. The following day, Tony and the Padres traveled to Montreal as the future Hall of Famer was only one hit shy of immortality. Low and behold, during his first at bat of the day, Tony looped a single into shallow right center off of Dan Smith for hit #3,000. This bat was promptly set aside and sent to Cooperstown following the game. The sparse Montreal crowd was in for a treat that day as Tony went on to collect three more hits. Hit #3,001 was a single of off J.D. Smart and #3,002 was another single off of Bobby Ayala.
These bats were later sold through Tony's charity foundation.
One note on these bats are the different signatures burnt onto the barrel. Tony used 5 different variations of his signature during the course of his career with LVS. There were two main signatures, an '80's version and a '90's version. Towards the end of his career however, it appeared that Louisville sent him three different variations quite consistently. The signatures which appear on bats #2997 & #2998 are the '80's version of his signature which changed mid-year during the '90 season. The signatures on bats #3001 & #3002 were the '90's variation.
You will not find a more impressive group of hit bats around, as there are not many game used/worn pieces of memorabilia floating around the hobby which were used in a 3,000 hit or 500 hr game. These are truly museum-worthy pieces belong to one special collection and a true Gwynn fan.