1921-1931 Dave Bancroft Side Written Pro Model Bat MEARS A10
Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $4,443.75
Extremely rare Dave Bancroft Hillerich & Bradsby pro-model (pre model #) bat, dating from the 1921-1931 manufacturing period. Graded A10 by MEARS. Although there is no name stamped on the barrel, this bat can be conclusively placed in Bancroft's hands based upon the vintage side writing found on the barrel. There, written in grease paint in the familiar hand of longtime H&B factory employee Henry Morrow, is the notation: "37 oz, Dave Bancroft, 8/27/26" (the date denotes the day it was archived at the factory). Side writing is of great significance to collectors as it places a bat directly into the hands of the player so named. When players returned bats to the factory (to be used as templates for future orders), identifying notations, including the player's name and date received, would be written in grease pencil on the side of the bat by an H&B employee before it was stored in the vaults for future reference. In that regard, side writing on bats is recognized by the most sophisticated collectors as being the equivalent of having a letter of authenticity directly from the player himself. This bat was sent back to the H&B factory personally by Bancroft in 1926 for the express purpose of being archived and used as a template for his future bat orders. The remains of the original mailing label are still evident on the front of the barrel.
As noted in the accompanying MEARS letter, the offered bat is especially significant: "This example is both unique and special, as it was game used and returned to the factory as a blank barrel. Examination of Bancroft's personal bat records reveal that during 1926, Bancroft requested a Buddy Ryan bat to be used. It is most likely this was the model they sent and Bancroft used it for an extended period of time and determined he liked the model enough to return it back to the factory to have a signature model made for him." The bat, which is not cracked, displays heavy use in the form of ball marks, deep stitch marks, cleat marks, and deadwood on the reverse of the barrel (deadwood is a positive indication of heavy use). Ten vintage "batboy nails" can be found on the reverse of the barrel in repair of the deadwood. Evidence of resin (an early form of pine tar), can be found on the handle. Dave "Beauty" Bancroft batted .311 with 1 home run and 44 RBI in 1916 as player/manager of the Boston Braves. Earlier, Bancroft was one of the mainstays of John McGraw's World Champion New York Giants in 1921 and 1922. Regarded as the finest-fielding shortstop of his era, he was also a steady contributor at the plate. Bancroft batted .298 or better in eight of his sixteen seasons, and finished his career with a .279 lifetime average. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971. This extraordinary bat is one of only a few known Bancroft pro-model bats, and, to the best of our knowledge, the only side-written example extant. Length: 35 inches. Weight: 37 ounces. Graded A10 by MEARS (base grade of 5, plus 3 points for use and an additional 2 points for the side writing). LOAs from Troy Kinunen/MEARS and John Taube and Vince Malta of PSA/DNA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$4,000. SOLD FOR $4,443.75