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Rare 1905-1910 Miller Huggins Vault-Marked and Side-Written Pro-Model Bat - Finest Example Known!
Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $11,750
This exceedingly rare Miller Huggins H&B vault-marked and side-written pro-model bat is one of only two known examples and has been graded a perfect 10 by both MEARS and PSA/DNA. Its provenance is equally impressive. The bat originates from the famous Louisville Slugger bat find in the 1980s, which remains the source of nearly all of the significant H&B side-written bats in the hobby today. The bat, which dates from the 1905-1910 manufacturing period, displays no center brand label, but features the block-letter name "Huggins" deeply stamped on the barrel. The vault mark on the knob is identically stamped with the name "Huggins" in block letters. There is evidence of former side writing on a planed side of the barrel, but all of the written information has long since faded away. Heavy use is displayed along its entire length, including ball marks on the left and back barrel, cleat marks, and residue of an unidentified substance on the handle to improve the batter's grip. The fact that this bat displays no center brand meant that it was sent to Huggins as a test model. In its accompanying two-page LOA (which, along with the MEARS LOA, can be viewed in its entirety on our website), PSA/DNA fully elaborates on the unique aspects of this remarkable bat, and why it is dated to the period 1905-1910.
During the era, as J.F. Hillerich & Son was expanding their bat making business, they would supply players with blank barrel bats to try. If a model was selected by the player, as this one was, it was returned to the factory to be used as a template for additional bats of the same model. Future orders were then branded with a center brand and player name. Upon receipt, an area on the barrel was planed and inscribed with the length and weight, player’s name, date received, and team affiliation. The appearance of factory side writing matching the name of the player who is branded into the bat is considered to be impeccable provenance. This bat was also vault marked on the knob with the player’s name, indicating this bat was to be referred to as Huggins' personal model. In this case, the original factory side writing has vanished with time. However, it is our opinion, if visible it would read Miller Huggins. We say this for two reasons, first and most important, the bat is clearly vault marked with ‘Huggins" stamped into the knob. This vault mark indicates the model as Huggins' personal model. Second, like “Wee Willie Keeler,” Huggins used an exceptionally short bat by Major League standards. At 31 ? inches in length, it is the shortest bat we have seen with the exception of Keeler’s 30 inch bat. This is not a bat that would be used by the average ballplayer. The vault mark on this blank barrel bat provides a guide to the labeling period. This bat pre-dates the use of the J.F. Hillerich & Son center brand that was used by Louisville Slugger, Inc. from 1910 to 1915. Keeping in mind the vault marked bat is the exemplar for future orders by Huggins, we can refer to PSA/DNA certificate number E36449 to establish the age of the bat. The referenced bat (E36449) is branded with the J.F. Hillerich & Son center brand and is the exact model as the bat presented for authentication. Therefore we can conclude that the presented bat, as the exemplar, pre-dates the 1910-1915 bat.
This bat, based upon that analysis, most likely dates to Huggins' years with the Cincinnati Reds (1904-1909). Nicknamed "The Mighty Mite" due to his diminutive stature (he was five feet six inches tall and weighed 140 pounds), Huggins was noted both for his fine defensive play and his baseball acumen. Possessing good speed and a knack for getting on base he was also considered the ideal leadoff man; however, it was his managerial skill that eventually got him elected to the Hall of Fame. As the main architect of the Yankees fabled 1920s baseball dynasty Huggins won six pennants and three World Championships in his twelve seasons in pinstripes (1918-1929). Unfortunately, Huggins passed away prematurely in 1929 at the age of fifty. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964. Graded A10 by MEARS (5 point base grade, plus 3 points for use, and 2 points for the vault-marked handle) and GU10 by PSA/DNA. This is one of only two Miller Huggins bats listed in the MEARS census and it ranks as the highest-graded example. Exceptional in all respects and one of the key rarities in the field of game-used bats. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000+. SOLD FOR $11,750
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