LOT WITHDRAWN: 1917-1921 Ty Cobb Pro-Model "YMCA" Bat

Sold For: $0

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1354

Item Year: 1917

Category: Game-Used Bats

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This lot has been withdrawn from the auction due to anomalies that have been brought to our attention that require further research. This bat may appear in a future auction. This H&B Ty Cobb full signature-model bat (predating model numbers) is unusual in that it also bears a special "YMCA" stamping on the handle. Aside from the "YMCA" stamp, it is identical in all respects to Ty Cobb H&B pro-model bats made between the years 1917 and 1920. The exact meaning of the "YMCA" stamp has never been determined definitively, but is almost certainly related to World War I support activities. The "YMCA" stamp, which is as-made and was added at the H&B factory, appears just to the left of the center brand. While the stamping is somewhat of an enigma, the bat itself is not nearly so mysterious as it is otherwise an exemplary Ty Cobb pro-model bat that is entirely consistent with the specifications of all other circa 1917-1920 Ty Cobb pro-model bats. Measuring 33.5 inches and weighing 37.4 ounces, the bat displays heavy use along its entire length, including grain separation (two long fissures run through the center brand) and a chip in the knob. The "YMCA" stamping featured here is not unique to this bat and has been seen on other pro-model bats from the era, as have “War Department" and "Bat and Ball Fund" stamps (both of which are also related to World War I programs). The fact that no known H&B catalogs from the period list "YMCA," "War Department," or "Bat and Ball Fund" stamped bats for sale to the general public has led some to theorize that bats bearing those stamps were specially produced for use only by servicemen. Others have conjectured that the stamps were placed on select pro-model bats as a patriotic sign of support for the troops. While both theories appear plausible, the first gives rise to another question: if these bats were produced exclusively for the troops, why donate top-of-the-line pro-model bats made to the exact specifications of the respective player? H&B was producing retail bats at this time, and it certainly would have made more economic sense to send store-model bats to the troops rather than pro-model examples. Also, this bat is a half-inch length (i.e., 34.5 inches, 35.5 inches, etc.), which is significant. To date, no half-inch length store-model bats are known, nor have any half-length store-model bats been found listed for sale in any of the old H&B catalogs. It is important to note that all known examples of these specially stamped war-era bats are constructed of professional-grade wood, and all match the exact specifications of the player whose name is stamped on the barrel. This example is no exception and if not for the special stamping it would be indistinguishable from any other Ty Cobb H&B pro-model bat made between the years 1917 and 1920. Because of its unique nature, and the fact that we have handled other "YMCA" and "War Department" bats in the past, we felt this was a rare case in which it was unnecessary to incur the costs to send the bat in for grading to MEARS. No other pertinent information would have been forthcoming. Collectors should bear in mind, however, that the highest grade a "YMCA" bat can receive from MEARS is A5. (Because the exact history and nature of these specially stamped World War I era H&B bats has never been conclusively determined, MEARS subtracts three points for the presence of any one of the three stamps: "War Department," "YMCA," or "War Bond Fund".) Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000.

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