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1925-1928 Tris Speaker Pro-Model Side-Written Bat - Highest-Graded Example! A10
Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $19,975
Extraordinary Tris Speaker H&B signature-model bat (predating model numbers) dating to the 1925-1928 manufacturing period. Graded A10 by MEARS; highest graded example, with no others graded at this level. The manufacturer's stampings on this bat conform to the general 1921-1931 labeling period; however, nuances within the design of the center brand allow for a much more narrow dating of 1925-1928. This bat features the single most desirable trait that can be found on a pro-model bat: side writing. When players returned bats to the H&B factory (to be used as templates for future orders), identifying notations including the player's name would be written in grease pencil on the side of the bat by factory employees and stored in the vaults for future reference. In that regard, the side writing on bats is recognized by the most sophisticated collectors as being the equivalent of having a letter of authenticity from the player himself. While most of the side writing on this bat has faded beyond legibility, one can still make out a portion of the day ("3") and year ("27") it was received by the factory. Correspondingly, remnants of the original shipping label are clearly evident on the "sweet spot" of the barrel. (Players would often affix the address label directly onto the bat when shipping to H&B). This bat was obviously a favorite of Speaker (which is why he would want to send it in to be used as a model for future orders): heavy use is displayed along its entire length, including ball marks, cleat marks, and dead wood on the front and back of the barrel. (Dead wood is a positive trait caused by repetitive contact between bat and ball.) Additionally, a narrow 1 x 14-inch area on the top hitting surface above the center brand and barrel stamping has become flattened from repeated use. As is commonly seen in bats from this era, the dead wood on both the front and reverse has been repaired by means of tiny "bat boy" nails: twenty-one on the reverse and sixteen on the front (which could prolong the playing life of a favorite bat). This bat measures 36 inches in length and weighs 37.8 ounces. H&B factory records verify that bats matching those specifications were shipped to Speaker throughout the referenced four-year labeling period 1925-1928. Speaker batted a career-high .389 with 12 home runs, 87 RBI, and a league-leading .479 on-base percentage in 1925. The following three seasons, which represent the final three years of his career, were only slightly less prolific. Speaker batted .304, .327, and .267, respectively, over that span to close out one of the greatest careers in baseball history. Speaker was with the Washington Senators in 1927, the year in which this bat was returned to the factory; however, the fact that it was returned in 1927 does not preclude its use in 1925 or 1926 as well. Speaker retired after the 1928 season with a .345 lifetime average, a mark that ranks sixth all time. Graded A10 by MEARS (5 point base grade, plus 3 points for use and 2 points for its side-written provenance). This is one of eighteen Tris Speaker pro-model bats listed in the MEARS census and one of only twelve manufactured by H&B. At a perfect grade of A10, it easily ranks as the highest-graded example. MEARS has graded no others at this level and the next highest grade assigned to a Speaker bat is A8 (two examples). To fully emphasize how extraordinary this Speaker bat is, one should note that more than half (10) of the other examples in the MEARS database grade below A7. High-quality Speaker bats are rare. This is the first ever offered by REA. This Tris Speaker game-used bat is a museum-quality example and one that would be a significant addition to any advanced baseball memorabilia or Hall of Fame bat collection. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000+. SOLD FOR $19,975
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