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1917-1920 Joe Jackson Pro Model bat - One of Only Two Pre-Banishment Signature Models Known!
Starting Bid - $10,000.00, Sold For - $35,250.00
The significance and rarity of this Joe Jackson H&B signature model bat (predating model numbers) is extraordinary: This is one of only two known full-signature H&B pro-model Joe Jackson bats dating from his active playing career (prior to his banishment). The center brand stamping dates this bat to the 1917 to 1921 manufacturing period; however, its date of production can be more narrowly defined to the years 1917 to 1920 due to Jackson's full facsimile signature stamping on the barrel and dating era of the center brand. Joe Jackson was officially banned from baseball on March 12, 1921, thus ending his Major League career. However, he did continue playing, often under assumed names, for various minor league and semipro teams, and therefore still needed bats. Jackson's banishment from baseball conflicted with his H&B endorsement contract (he was now hardly a desirable spokesperson for the company). To address the issue, H&B decided upon a compromise of sorts. Starting in 1921, and forever after, all bats made for Jackson featured only the last name of his facsimile signature, "Jackson," stamped on the barrel. In fact, the "Joe" portion of his facsimile signature was completely removed from the company die, the only time such a measure was ever taken, so that "Joe Jackson" full-signature model bats could never again be produced. Virtually all pro-model Joe Jackson signature bats date from his post-banishment career, and feature only the "Jackson" portion of his signature. The offered bat, which bears Jackson's full-name facsimile signature stamped on the barrel, could only have been produced during the last four years of his Major League career: 1917 to 1920. Jackson was at the height of his career during that span; posting averages of .301, .354, .351, and .382, respectively. Evidence of his prolific hitting abilities abound along the entire length of this bat. Heavy use is displayed in the form of grain swelling, deadwood on the reverse of the barrel, cleat marks scoring on the handle, and a three-inch crack in the handle. A surface mark on the bat has partially obscured a portion of Jackson's facsimile signature on the barrel, particularly on "Jackson," but it remains legible. We can only speculate as to whether this was intentional, perhaps done by Jackson himself. After Jackson was banned from baseball, for a time he quietly played under assumed names in semipro leagues, trying to make a living the only way he knew, and trying his best to not attract any attention from anyone who might recognize him. Our theory is that this bat may have been used by Jackson at this time, when he was intentionally trying to hide his true identity, and the scoring over "Jackson" was purposefully intended to hide his disgraced name. We will never know for sure, but this is definitely a bat with an untold story. We think the marks across the name look intentional, as opposed to simply being the result of normal wear and use. We've seen a lot of vintage bats, but never one marked in exactly this manner across the stamped signature. The experts at MEARS have naturally seen a lot more bats than we have, and they've also never seen one marked in this manner, and also think it is highly likely this was intentional. If this is wear from normal use only, it is a tremendous coincidence that it affects and obscures "Jackson" in the manner that it does, making the last name on a bat made only for use by Joe Jackson so difficult to read. That Joe Jackson personally did this may be dismissed as pure speculation, but it is plausible. Any and all pro model bats produced prior to 1920 are exceedingly rare, especially those belonging to Hall of Fame players or someone of Jackson's stature. (Ty Cobb was once quoted as stating that Joe Jackson was the greatest hitter he ever saw and Babe Ruth later admitted that he modeled his stance after Jackson's.) This is the only Joe Jackson pro model bat dating from his playing days that we have ever offered. A Joe Jackson block-letter vault-marked example which had side-writing and ironclad provenance traceable directly to the H&B vaults and to Joe Jackson was offered at auction in 2002 and sold for $206,000. The offered bat does not have the extraordinary provenance or specifications of that ideal example, but that bat read "Joe Jackson" in simple block letters whereas this example, of course, is a full signature Joe Jackson model and thus esthetically has a quality that many collectors might prefer. This bat also has an untold story. Whatever the details of that story are, the fact remains that this is one of only two signature model Joe Jackson bats dating from his playing days known to exist. This bat may literally represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to obtain one of the most desirable of all prewar pro-model player bats that could possibly exist. Length: 32.75 inches. Weight: 37.5 ounces. Graded A6.5 by MEARS (5 point base grade, plus 3 points for use, 1 point deducted for the partially obscured barrel stamping and a half-point deducted for the crack). LOA from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $10,000. Estimate $20,000+. SOLD FOR $35,250.00
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