A Southern California sports memorabilia company is auctioning off the bat Alex Rodriguez used to notch his first major-league hit and — considering all the steroid accusations, a season-long drug-suspension and that whole Minotaur painting embarrassment — the timing couldn't be better.
“Now that he has passed Willie Mays on the home run list and he has joined the exclusive 3,000-hit club, A-Rod is in collectors’ good graces again,” SCP Auctions spokesman Terry Melia told the Daily News. “He’s not looked at in the same light as when he was suspended. He paid his dues and he is trying to earn back their admiration.”And the overachieving A-Rod has been lethal at the plate this season. After agreeing to shift to a full-time DH role, Rodriguez has regained his status as one of the American League's most feared hitters. On Wednesday, he became one of only 10 players in MLB history with 16 seasons of at least 20 home runs.
Rodriguez was an 18-year-old rookie with the Seattle Mariners, playing in his just his second big league game, when he hit a single off Red Sox pitcher Sergio Valdez at Fenway Park on July 9, 1994. Rodriguez played in 17 games that season, which was infamously cut short by MLB’s season-ending strike.
Rodriguez signed and inscribed “1st ML Base Hit” on the black Louisville Slugger, which he later gave to Mill Creek Sports, a Seattle-area sports memorabilia company that sold A-Rod memorabilia early in his career. The company sold the bat to a collector who held on to it for 20 years.
Melia said the collector, whom he declined to identify, is selling the bat now because the market for A-Rod collectibles may never be higher. Rodriguez not only seems intent on cleaning up his scandal-stained image, but he also has 20 home runs and 54 RBI.
The bat comes with a Mill Creek letter of authenticity signed by Rodriguez, who misidentifies the date of his first hit as “7/8/94.”