After launching its Web site just prior to the start of this year’s National Convention in Chicago, GameUsedUniverse.com continues to remain focused on its quest to revolutionize the game-used sports collectible world.
In the past, those collecting game-used lumber from the stars of today and yesteryear had to rely almost exclusively on authentication companies to legitimize their purchases. Now, with the information provided GameUsedUniverse.com members, bat collectors will be better equipped to do more of their own research to determine if a bat is worth pursuing.
“This is the kind of information that really has only resided with a few people in the past – the authenticating community. Now, through Vince’s (Malta) work, the kind of information collectors have been waiting literally years to get is now available to them,” said GameUsedUniverse.com CEO Christopher Cavalier. The reason for the creation of the site is simple.
“Vince’s goal is the same goal as ours: to provide as much information as possible to the collecting community,” Cavalier said. “This type of information has never been available to the general collecting community before. I can’t tell you how many people at the National came up to our booth and, after learning what we were all about, said, ‘You mean we’re going to have access to this kind of information?’”
Malta’s 1995 book was the first ever devoted solely to bat collecting and his latest offering, A Complete Reference Guide to Louisville Slugger Professional Player Bats, is designed to provide collectors with the most comprehensive guide to professional model bats ever written.
GameUsedUniverse.com has an online exclusive to market the book and is currently offering it free with a Gold membership package on its site. GUU’s Gold membership includes access to online player charts from Malta’s book, an online “Bat Price Guide,” the ability to post on GUU’s “Hobby Network” and “Forums,” access to highly respected industry experts in an “Experts’ Corner,” “Industry News” as well as a “Dealer Directory” and auction house schedules.
“Basically, in the past collectors only had general information,” Cavalier said. “For example, for Luis Aparicio, you would know the years he played, the model numbers he ordered during his career and a range around the length and weights. You would know, for example, he ordered H174 bats, you’d know his playing years and you’d know that he ordered bats that ranged from 33 to 35 inches and that he ordered bats that weighed from 31 to 35 ounces.
“But as a collector you would have never known if he ordered a H174 bat that was 35 inches and 33 ounces during the 1965-68 label period. Now if a collector sees a 1965-68 label bat, they can go to our charts to see if he ordered a bat in that length and that weight during those years. The general collecting community could never do that before. This is really a breakthrough for the collector. They’ve been waiting years to have access to this type of information and now they’re finally getting it.” “The player charts are the single greatest resource to bat collectors,” according to Andy Benish of vintagebats.com. “The site is a tremendous resource.”
Cavalier, who bought and sold game-used items for many years, was also well-aware of the dire need for a comprehensive price guide for bats based on an analysis of realized prices in the marketplace.
“I realized a price guide could be a really helpful tool,” Cavalier said. “It’s meant to be used as one data point. That’s not to say the price in the guide is exactly what the bat is worth. The guide shows what prices have been realized in the past. I used to do a lot of work buying and selling with the auction houses and this is something I wish I had. We’ve put together a really comprehensive database of realized prices.
“Going forward, with the advent of grading, we will be able to provide even more specific information in the price guide,” Cavalier said. “My vision is something analogous to what you have in the baseball card price guide. Basically, you’ll have a general price which is for an average bat, maybe for those graded 7, which might be equal to a “near mint” grade. But you’ll also have other bats that will be higher and lower grades to compare it to. In the future we’ll be able to further differentiate those.”
For those active in the bat collecting world, the site is long overdue. “The bat records for each player have always been kind of the Holy Grail for bat collectors. To have access to that information is something new and very exciting for the growing number of bat collectors out there,” Steve Bloedow, SCD pricing analyst and vintage bat collector said. “The price guide is also very helpful since it cites recent auctions and realized prices. Being online, it has the ability to be up-to-date with what auctions closed recently and current market fluctuations.”
GameUsedUniverse.com is comprised of three basic facets: information, memorabilia and community. The price guide, player charts and industry news sections are designed to give the public as much information as possible in a way that has never been available to them before. The site will also feature archives of LOAs (Global and SCD Authentic) which will be online so collectors can learn about how items are authenticated.
The community area of the site includes a variety of “Forums” where users can post messages and participate in various “threads” of discussion as well as a “Hobby Network” where members can post a profile – including collecting interests, images of their collection, and wish lists – and correspond with others in the hobby.
“People can buy, sell and trade with others and be able to search out others with similar interests. This kind of cross referencing has never been done before. It’s going to be a huge section,” according to Eric Stangel, owner of gameusedforum.com. “It’s the whole ‘Friendster.com’ mentality which people have really taken to.”
Malta, who works as a consultant for PSA/DNA Authentication Services with an expertise in the game-used bats niche, is one of the many featured experts who will work in conjunction with the site. The site’s “Experts’ Corner” link enables collectors to interact with some of the industry’s most reputable experts in a wide variety of niche areas. Along with Malta, Barry Meisel, Doug Allen, Mike Gutierrez, Rob Steinmetz, Stu Oxenhorn, Bernie J. Gernay, Jim Caravello, Jim Yackel, Mike Baker, Darrell O’Mary and Justin Priddy will share their knowledge to help cover virtually every area of the sports collectibles industry.
“The Experts’ Corner is built using the popular Internet blog format in which the public can interact directly with the bloggers, our experts,” Cavalier said. “Through their blogs, people will be able to “talk” with the experts. If you’re a collector and you read some of these blogs, you’d be like, ‘Man, this is exactly what I want to know.’
“Our goal with the Experts’ Corner is to provide general experts, like Vince, as well as experts in specific areas like (Jim) Caravello, who specializes in New York Yankees bats. We want to bring in competent and knowledgeable people, but we also want only highly credible sources. We want the information on our site to be as pure as possible. Not information that is going to be used or manipulated in any way.”
For those who have been impressed with the content of the site as it is now will likely be wowed yet again in the coming months when information regarding jersey collecting is added.
“In the future we’ll be bringing a lot of content that’s going to be really beneficial to the jersey collecting community.” Cavalier said. “The site has been launched, but is nowhere near completion in terms of what it will be providing.”
This segment of the hobby is going through some significant growth,” Cavalier said. “With that growth, our belief is, and I think you will agree, there is a real need for more information. There is a need to educate the public and facilitate interaction between people who share common interests. That’s what the Game Used Universe site is designed to do.”