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Lot # 1103 (of 1411)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1943-1949 Joe DiMaggio Pro Model Bat used in the 1947 World Series

Starting Bid - $5,000.00, Sold For - $23,200.00

Offered is an exceptional Joe DiMaggio H&B pro model bat that, based upon both the H&B shipping records and the written testimony accompanying it, with great certainty can be specifically determined to have been used by DiMaggio in the 1947 World Series. Appropriately, this bat has been graded a perfect A10 by MEARS, with the company also providing a special extremely detailed report regarding the bat's World Series provenance. The bat, an H&B signature model D29L, dates from the 1943-49 manufacturing period and is an unimprovable Joe DiMaggio pro model bat from that era. Measuring 36 inches and weighing 33.9 ounces, the bat is not cracked and features deep and distinct manufacturer's stampings throughout. Nearly all of its original surface finish is retained and the grain remains tight and compact. Moderate use is displayed throughout, including ball marks and rack marks. Its physical appearance notwithstanding, it is the bat's unique provenance that further distinguishes it from all other Joe DiMaggio pro model bats from the era. H&B did not begin the practice of producing specially marked World Series bats for players until the 1950s; therefore all bats used in World Series play prior to that time are indistinguishable from those used during the regular season. Despite that inherent handicap, it is still possible, particularly in the case of the offered example, to validate a bat's use in the "fall classic." The history of this bat, combined with the empirical data found within the H&B shipping records, provides compelling evidence of its World Series use. The bat originates from the personal collection of Joseph Delle Fave, a New Jersey native, who in 1936, at the age of fourteen, lost both his arms in a bakery accident. Public sympathy at the time led to two benefit functions for Delle Fave, both of which were attended by a number of New York Yankee players. In a letter, dated January 7, 1992, Mr. Delle Fave's nephew, Joseph Cortese, details the circumstances of how his uncle obtained the bat and also provides the provenance for its World Series use. He writes in full: "To Whom It May Concern: Summarized below is the story of how the Joe DiMaggio game used bat, from the 1947 World Series came into the possession of my uncle Joseph Delle Fave. In 1936 while working in a bakery shop at the age of fourteen my uncle was involved in a tragic accident, which resulted in the loss of both arms. In October of the same year a benefit was held in West New York, New Jersey on behalf of my uncle Joey. In attendance was Lou Gehrig who presented him with an autographed ball (To Joe, With best regards Lou Gehrig) and a picture (Lou Gehrig and my uncle, Joseph Delle Fave) also autographed. Both of these are still in his personal possession. Up until the time of Lou Gehrig's illness my uncle received box seats to Yankee Stadium. Several years later, on Columbus Day, 1947, the town of Union City, New Jersey, sponsored a testimonial dinner on behalf of my uncle. Joe DiMaggio was scheduled to attend but at the last minute he had a change of plans. Joe DiMaggio gave the bat to Jackie Farrell, who was employed by the New York Yankees in a public relations capacity, to present the bat to my uncle at the dinner. Mr. Farrell indicated that the bat had been used during the 1947 World Series game in which Joe DiMaggio had hit a home run. In addition to the bat my uncle received a ball autographed by the 1947 Yankees." Research indicates that Jackie Farrell, a noted sportswriter for the Hudson Times Dispatch, was also employed by the Yankees for many years as Director of the Speakers Bureau. In his dual role of sportswriter and official team public liaison, Farrell certainly had access to the bat, and it seems highly unlikely that he would have fabricated such a story at the time, especially given the public nature of the testimonial dinner. For the record, DiMaggio hit home runs in Games 3 and 5 of the 1947 World Series, both of which were played in Brooklyn. While the written testimony presented here is persuasive, it is also corroborated by factory shipping records, none of which were available until recent years. All of the bat's barrel stampings are consistent with those produced by the company between the years 1943 and 1949; however, this particular bat can be much more narrowly dated to the three-year period 1947-1949 based upon the model number. 1947 was the first year in which DiMaggio ever ordered D29 bats and he continued to order them for the next two years. More specifically, D29L bats, with the "L" (referring to larger "Babe Ruth" style knobs), were first ordered by DiMaggio in late September of 1947. The first order was for four 36 inch, 35 ounce bats on 9/17 and the second order (also for 36 inch, 35 ounce bats) was shipped on 9/25. (The loss of one ounce by the offered bat is acceptable and a common occurrence due to the natural aging of the wood.) It is important to note that in the H&B shipping records for DiMaggio, there are only three instances where bats were specifically noted for World Series use. Those instances were on 9/23/36, 9/27/39 and 9/19/42. Not coincidentally, all of those dates were in late September, as are the dates for the D29L bats sent to DiMaggio in 1947. Thus, these are the facts we believe to be reasonably certain: 1) This particular bat was given to Della Fave on Columbus Day 1947 (October 12), six days after the completion of the 1947 World Series. 2) Based upon the model number and specifications of this bat, it is one of only six such bats sent to DiMaggio in 1947. 3) This bat was sent to DiMaggio in late September of that year, a time period that corresponds with other known, verifiable shipments of World Series bats. 4) When Farrell, a Yankees team representative, presented this bat to Delle Fave, he stated that it was used by DiMaggio in the 1947 World Series (specifically in a game in which DiMaggio hit a home run, which was either Game 3 or 5). While each of these significant facts alone is compelling evidence with regard to its World Series use, the combination of all four leads to only one reasonable conclusion: this bat was used by Joe DiMaggio in the 1947 World Series. The only real question it seems at this point is in what game (or games), as DiMaggio hit home runs in two of the six games. Very few DiMaggio bats from the 1943 to 1949 labeling period are known. That fact, combined with its unique World Series provenance, makes this one of the finest Joe DiMaggio pro model bats in existence and one that would serve as the cornerstone to any substantial Hall of Fame bat collection. This bat has been graded a perfect A10 by MEARS and is accompanied by a special four-page letter of authenticity from the company further expounding upon the evidence presented here regarding its use in the 1947 World Series. LOA from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000/$20,000. SOLD FOR $23,200.00

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