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1911-1916 Sam Crawford Pro-Model Bat
Starting Bid - $2,000.00 , Sold For - $22,325.00
Offered here is an incredibly rare and unique Sam Crawford pro-model bat dating from the 1911-1916 manufacturing period. According to our consignor, who has provided a letter detailing the bat's history, this bat originates from his great-grandfather (1892-1995), who lived in Ohio and played semipro ball in Columbus. Although his great-grandfather never mentioned how he acquired the bat, it has remained in the family's sole possession for nearly 100 years. The bat itself, which predates the use of model numbers, is a unique specimen from the era. Produced by J. F. Hillerich & Son Co., it features both a rare "Oil Tempered" barrel stamp (in stylized script lettering) and a transitional-style center brand ("125" and a "dash-dot-dash" pattern stamped, respectively, above and below the company name). The name "Crawford" is stamped in block letters directly between the barrel stamp and center brand. Composed of top-quality ash, the bat displays significant use along its entire length in the form of ball marks, cleat marks, deadwood (slight grain separation), and a nine-inch wrap of vintage black tape along the handle. The bat also displays a handle crack that is largely concealed by the tape (two inches visible), a chip in the knob, and a chip in the "Tempered" portion of the "Oil Tempered" barrel stamping. Whenever a bat features only a last name stamped on the barrel positive attribution to a specific player is sometimes impossible. This bat is no exception; however, given all of the information we have, it is highly probable, almost to the point of certainty, that it was produced for Hall of Fame outfielder Sam Crawford. A check of the records indicates that there were no minor league players by the name of Crawford during the 1911-1916 period and only two players by that name in the Major Leagues: Sam Crawford and Ken Crawford. Sam Crawford began his Major League career in Cincinnati in 1899 before joining Detroit in 1903, where he played for another fifteen years prior to his retirement after the 1917 season. Ken Crawford's professional baseball career was limited to just twenty-three games in 1915 for Baltimore in the short-lived Federal League. Given that information alone, the odds are highly in favor of this being a Sam Crawford bat as opposed to a Ken Crawford bat. MEARS, in its evaluation of this bat, has gone one step further by comparing it to a vintage Spalding Sam Crawford signature-model retail bat, which, as the Spalding catalog states, is the exact model used by Crawford. The results of the comparison are as follows: 1) this bat is 34 inches in length; the Spalding bat is 34.75 inches long. 2) This bat weighs 40 ounces; the Spalding bat weighs 40.9 ounces. 3) Both knobs are approximately two inches across and a half-inch deep, and of the same basic style. 4) Both bats are approximately 7.5 inches at the barrel end. 5) Both bats are approximately the same dimensions at both the handle and center of the barrel. The two differences of note between the two bats are the length and barrel style (the barrel of this bat is slightly flatter than that of the Spalding model). Further supporting this bat's attribution to Sam Crawford is the fact that the H&B factory records, while incomplete from this era, do note that Crawford ordered bats weighing from 40 to 43 ounces between the years 1911-1914. In its accompanying LOA MEARS concludes by stating that this bat "is more likely a Sam Crawford bat than a Ken Crawford and while it is always possible that Ken Crawford ordered a bat similar in style to Sam, it is most likely a Sam Crawford bat given all of the favorable comparisons." "Wahoo" Sam Crawford was one of the best all-around outfielders of his era and, together with Ty Cobb, helped lead the Tigers to three consecutive pennants between the years 1907-1909. An outstanding hitter, Crawford finished his career with a .309 average and his record of 309 lifetime triples will probably never be broken. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1957. Graded A6.5 by MEARS (5 point base grade, plus 3 points for use, but minus a half point each for the knob chip, the crack/tape, and the deadwood). Sam Crawford pro-model bats are exceedingly rare. In fact, to put its rarity into proper perspective, currently a total of forty-three Ty Cobb bats (various qualities) are listed in the MEARS census: this is the only Sam Crawford pro-model bat example listed in the MEARS census. LOA from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $2,000. Estimate $4,000+ SOLD FOR $22,325.00
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