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1877 Cincinnati "Porkopolis Days" Trophy Bat
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $3,231
This decorative nineteenth-century gold-painted trophy bat not only commemorates a July 4, 1877, game between the Shamrocks and Hillrhines, but also pays homage to Cincinnati's porcine heritage by its use of the term "Porkopolis Days." Cincinnati was the nation's leading processor of pork products during the mid 1830s, a time when hogs were routinely herded through the streets of town en route to the slaughterhouse. That practice quickly earned the city the nickname of "Porkopolis," a term which, as this bat firmly attests, was still in use decades later, long after Chicago had supplanted Cincinnati as "hog butcher for the world." As noted by the gold-painted lettering on the barrel, this bat was the first prize won by the Shamrock Base Ball Club by virtue of its 39-21 victory over the Hillrhines Base Ball Club held during the city's celebratory "Porkopolis Days" festivities on July 4, 1877. (It is interesting to note that one of the the 1877 Buffalo cabinet cards represented by a lot elsewhere in this auction dates from the same year as this bat and refers to Cincinnati as "Porkopolis.") While little is known about either ball club, it seems evident by each team's name that a particular ethnicity was a prerequisite for team membership (Irish and German respectively for the Shamrocks and Hillrhines), illustrating a cultural significance to the game of baseball in this era not unknown but rarely documented in such a concrete manner. Nineteenth-century trophy bats are extremely rare and this is the first example we can recall seeing commemorating a July 4th game. The patriotic association between baseball and July 4th can be traced back to the earliest days of our national pastime, as evidenced by the date of this bat. Ever since the sport first took hold (in fact, going all the way back to the Philadelphia Olympics of the 1830s), baseball games have always been a central part of the festivities commemorating our nation's independence, a tradition that continues to this day. The bat, which features a thick handle, is typical for the period, measuring thirty-seven inches and weighing a whopping 53.4 ounces. The bat displays moderate wear, including a number of light abrasions, small nicks, and a small fissure on the back of the barrel, but all of the gold-painted lettering is completely intact, and it is extremely impressive for display, as intended. This is both a rare and uniquely designed trophy bat originating from Cincinnati, the birthplace of professional baseball. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000++.
SOLD FOR $3,231
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