See also : Sport rewards and medals Lou Gehrig Babe Ruth
1905 Ty Cobb
2022 SOLD for $ 1.07M by Grey Flannel
Louisville Slugger is a trademark registered by J. F. Hillerich and Son in 1894 with the US Patent Office, after a few years of experience by the younger Hillerich in his new specialty. Before this industrial initiative which would considerably facilitate the standardization, the manufacture of the bats was left to the initiative of the players. A 1897 Hillerich bat of Cap Anson was sold for $ 430K by Christie's on October 19, 2016 and for $ 350K by Goldin on August 2, 2018, lot 3.
1905 was a key year for the Hillerich company when their deal with Honus Wagner was the earliest example of a US athlete endorsing an item of sports equipment.
Hillerich used to designate his bespoke models by the first letter of the name of the player followed by a sequential numeral figure. The R2 attributed in 1918 to Babe Ruth is the most famous example. A J13 made in 1911 for the rookie Joe Jackson was sold for $ 960K by Heritage on February 22, 2014, lot 80003.
On November 13, 2022, Grey Flannel sold for $ 1.07M a C28, lot 1. It is dated 1900-1905 by its labeling and is identified as a 1905 bat of Ty Cobb in his first professional year by PSA/DNA. It is graded by them a perfect GU 10 with evidence of outstanding use including ball marks on the right and back barrel. The side writing is no longer visible.
Also from 1905, a Hillerich bat of Christy Mathewson was sold for $ 220K by Goldin on July 31, 2015, lot 40.
The manufacturer of the Louisville Slugger changed its company name to Hillerich and Bradsby in 1916.
1910 Ty Cobb
2022 SOLD for $ 1.62M by Heritage
From 1910 to 1914 one of his frequently used instruments was a 34.5 inches 39.2 ounces ash bat by J.F. Hillerich and son. PSA/DNA matched it in Cobb's hands with two photos, one of them ca 1912-1913, the other one in September 1913 in the company of Joe Jackson, each man carrying three bats.
In September 1914 Cobb signed and inscribed it in bold black for presentation to the pioneering collector Eddie Maier, also the owner of the then Venice Tigers of the Pacific Coast League.
Graded a perfect GU 10 by PSA/DNA with hundreds of impacts, it was sold for $ 1.62M by Heritage on November 18, 2022, lot 57664.
Ty Goes to the Winning Bidder. This PSA/DNA GU 10, 1910-14 Cobb bat sold for $1.62 million tonight @Heritage_Sport. It is photo-matched to his prime, signed & inscribed to collecting pioneer Eddie Maier, and exhibits outstanding player characteristics. Simply a remarkable relic. pic.twitter.com/HlozoKsefP— Joe Orlando (@CollectingByJoe) November 19, 2022
It’s one of the most incredible game used bats that exists, a 1910-1914 Ty Cobb gamer with multiple photomatches including this image of Cobb with “Shoeless” Joe. The Georgia Peach signed it to Eddie Maier, the earliest pioneer of game used bat collectinghttps://t.co/TWfm42uBhh pic.twitter.com/eCejJ1zzjj— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) November 7, 2022
1911 Joe Jackson Model Bat
2014 SOLD for $ 960K by Heritage
He was nicknamed Shoeless Joe before his debut in the Leagues when someone noticed that he was playing in his socks. He had taken off his shoes just on that day because of a painful blister. Added to the fact that he was illiterate, this idea of a barefoot champion certainly contributed to his immense popularity. He was one of the best two hitters of his time, equal to Ty Cobb.
During the 1908-1909 season, Joe played ten games in Major League with the Philadelphia Athletics and spent the rest of his time in the Minor League. 1911 is his first full MLB season, with the Cleveland Naps. His rookie record of a .408 batting average has never been equaled.
For that unprecedented rookie feat, Joe was using Louisville Slugger bats by J.F. Hillerich and Son. The best players were invited to send their preferred bat back to the factory for serving as a master model for future orders. Such practice comes in the follow of their 1905 agreement with Honus Wagner to endorse a model of the Louisville Slugger, a commercial act unprecedented in sport history.
The model Hillerich bat of the rookie season of Joe Jackson has a sidewriting by the factory with the name of the player, the reference J13 of this specific model and the return date of June 1911. The Louisville Slugger trade mark is consistent with the 1905-1910 period. It is graded GU 9 by PSA/DNA, with many ball marks witnessing for a long time of service. Both facts make obvious that it was his preferred bat long before his MLB career.
This bat was sold for $ 960K by Heritage on February 22, 2014, lot 80003.
All Jackson bats known from PSA/DNA match the J13 template.
1916-1918 Babe Ruth
2021 SOLD for $ 1.02M by Heritage
In 1917 the clubs could no longer maintain their teams in full because of the conscription. Ruth takes this opportunity to become a hitter. He is gifted : as early as 1919 he breaks the MLB record for the number of home runs scored in a single season with 29 home runs. The transition in 1920 from Dead Ball to Live Ball further increases his dominance.
In 1915 the pitcher had scored only four home runs. A Spalding bat used by him during that season is the earliest known bat linked to Ruth. It is 35.25 inches long and weighs 37.5 ounces. Graded GU 9 by PSA/DNA, it passed at Heritage on December 10, 2017. Heavier bats will be more effective. Ruth acquires in 1916 a Louisville Slugger weighing 44 ounces.
On December 16, 2020, Christie's associated with Hunt sold for $ 600K a Louisville Slugger from the period 1916-1918, lot 15. It was sold $ 1.02M by Heritage on February 27, 2021, lot 80089.
This piece is 35.75 inches long and weighs 43.6 ounces. It is inscribed RUTH on the barrel and its provenance is impeccable : the former champion himself cracked it during a demonstration in 1944. It has been professionally repaired and is graded GU 9.5 by PSA/DNA.
This 1916-18 #BabeRuth game used bat is one of only two known “block letter” Ruth gamers, the earliest format of Bambino lumber, which dates to his days with the Red Sox. It’s one of the most significant bats in The Hobby and will find a new home on 2/27https://t.co/pgQh4S0Kuv pic.twitter.com/W7kqtsKAx7— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) January 31, 2021
1918-1922 Babe Ruth R2
2022 SOLD for $ 1.68M by Heritage
The first agreement between Babe Ruth and H and B happened in 1918 when the 23 year old champion was playing for the Red Sox. His model bat identified by an R2 mark was sold for $ 540K by Heritage on October 2, 2009, lot 82067. It is graded A 10 by PSA/DNA,
Its characteristics are 36 inches and 39 ounces. It is authenticated by PSA/DNA and by Mears and graded A10*. The asterisk is rewarding the historical character of that piece of equipment.
R2 bats were made for Ruth until 1926. A game used bat of Babe Ruth has some features brought by the player to facilitate its handling such as added scratches or rings. His phenomenal hitting precision results in a grouping of ball impacts on the lumber.
A Babe Ruth bat was sold for $ 1.68M by Heritage on August 27, 2022, lot 53059. It is graded a perfect GU10 by PSA/DNA.
This Louisville Slugger is clearly of R2 type although that reference is not marked. it is nearly 36 inch in length and 43.8 oz in weight, providing a terminus post quem in the 1918 R2 contract. The Ruth signature is stamped on the barrel.
It comes from the collection of a friend of Frank Baker, a leading fellow in the Murderers' Row of the New York Yankees. This player nicknamed "Home Run" Baker admired Ruth who had "everybody else, including (him)self, hopelessly outclassed."
It is believed that Ruth had presented this bat to Baker, who retired from MLB in 1922. The Hillerich and Bradsby brand mark provides a terminus ante quem at 1922.
1922-1923 Lou Gehrig
2020 SOLD for $ 1.03M by Heritage
This bat was made by Hillerich and Bradsby for Gehrig around 1922, preceding their first contract in October 1923 with the 20 year old player. It was extensively used by Gehrig in that transition period when he was a pitcher for Columbia University and then went professional in MLB from June 1923 with the New York Yankees and occasionally with the Hartford Senators. It is graded a perfect GU 10 by PSA/DNA.
This bat was used in 1925 as the master for the 40 oz Gehrig bat which will from then have a burnt facsimile signature on the barrel in place of the block letter name inscribed on the pre-contract specimen. A side written date from the factory on the barrel records this operation. This use as a master reveals that it was in period Gehrig's preferred bat.
1923 Babe Ruth
2004 SOLD for $ 1.26M by Sotheby's
In the same year Christy Walsh invents two lucrative jobs. He manages a syndicate of ghost writers who prepare texts to be endorsed by baseball personalities and approach the top players including Babe Ruth for becoming their business agent.
We must encourage young people to be reconciled with baseball. Following an initiative of the Los Angeles Evening Herald, Walsh and Ruth decide in 1923 that for three consecutive seasons the bat of the first home run of the champion will be inscribed and signed by him and given to the winner of a baseball contest organized for Californian students.
In 1923 Ruth scores his first homer on April 18 during the inauguration of the Yankee Stadium. It was impossible to imagine a more prestigious event. The bat used for this feat is awarded on June 7 by the newspaper to a young player named Victor Orsatti. It was sold on December 13, 2004 by Sotheby's for $ 1.26M, a great price for a sports memorabilia at that time.
In 1924 Ruth records his first homer on April 20 in Washington DC. His bat is awarded as promised to the winner of the Californian contest, Phil Grossman. It passed at Heritage on February 23, 2019.
1928-1929 Babe Ruth's Notched Bat
2021 SOLD for $ 1.05M by Christie's and Hunt
This quirk did not last long. Only five known bats have been notched by the childish Babe, marking a total of 79 home runs.
One of them was sold for $ 1.05M from a lower estimate of $ 500K by Christie's and Hunt on October 7, 2021, lot 93. This game used bat from the period 1928-1929 has eight notches.
This Louisville Slugger 125 model R43 is graded GU 9 by PSA/DNA.
1929 Babe Ruth
2019 SOLD for $ 1M by SCP
At the time of this transition, Babe Ruth already has six years of experience in MLB where he is one of the best hitters. With his imposing physique that does not prevent a speedy running, he already holds the record of 29 home runs in a single season. He greatly increases this performance with the new regulation. This is how this run far away from the ball has become for the public the most spectacular action of the game.
In a single season, Babe Ruth achieves 59 home runs in 1921 and 60 in 1927. He is the first to reach 300, 400, 500, 600, 700 cumulated home runs in MLB.
Babe Ruth starts 1929 with a cumulated 470 home runs. At that date, no other player has exceeded 250. The public is passionate about the approach of 500. Ruth is pretentious and likes to announce his success in advance. On August 11, 1929 in Cleveland, he announces and executes the 500th home run of his career. He hit the ball with such a strength that it came out of the Park.
The Louisville Slugger of the Cleveland feat was first kept by Ruth, then presented in the 1940s to one of his golfing, bowling and dining fellows. Hidden by this family to avoid attracting burglars, this glorious bat remained unknown in the hobby. It has just surfaced and it was sold for $ 1M by SCP Auctions on December 14, 2019, lot 2. It is graded GU10 by PSA/DNA.
"I swing big, with everything I've got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can." The auction of the bat attributed to Babe Ruth's 500th home run, through @SCPAuctions, is set to close December 14. Read more on the bat and auction here: https://t.co/k2su1Lj0qf pic.twitter.com/mcxgfe0Ufb— PSAcard (@PSAcard) December 6, 2019
1949 Jackie Robinson All Star Game
2022 SOLD for $ 1.08M by Goldin
This season included the mid season All Star Game, won by the American League against his NL. For that event, Hillerich and Bradsby had supplied to him two custom bats from the S100 model. One of them was sold for $ 1.08M by Goldin on April 30, 2022, lot 2.
This equipment made for a special event has light game use and no crack. It is graded GU 9 by PSA/DNA. It was important for Jackie who kept it up to his death and a small mounting hole in the knob reminds that it was displayed at home by his widow Rachel. It is stamped with the player's name and with "ALL STAR GAME" and "BROOKLYN 1949".