1954 Hank Aaron Signed Pro-Model Rookie Bat with LOA from Aaron

Sold For: $6,463

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1360

Item Year: 1954

Category: Game-Used Bats

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This Hank Aaron Adirondack block-letter (last name only) model "113A" bat dates to the 1951-1957 manufacturing period; however, it can be attributed to Aaron's 1954 rookie season based upon a signed letter of authenticity from "Hammerin' Hank" himself. In his one-page typed letter, dated January 30, 1998, Aaron writes:

Dear Sir or Madam, Subject: My rookie game used bat - This letter is to confirm that this is my game used rookie bat first used during the 1954 season. I came up with the Milwaukee Braves in '54 and chose to use an Adirondack bat. I preferred to use a 35", 34 oz. bat. My model was a 113A. This bat was a favorite of mine and quite possibly could have been used to hit one of my very first career homeruns.

The letter is signed "Hank Aaron" in blue Sharpie (grading "10"). It should be noted that both Aaron and his agent, Bob Allen, have always been very diligent in making sure that Aaron has had ample time to inspect and thoroughly research any item he writes a letter about and that such letters of authenticity always accurately convey Aaron's most sincere views regarding the respective item. We believe that Hank Aaron's integrity in making specific and defined declarations about this bat (or any other item) is above reproach. That said, a skeptic or any reasonable person could say that his letter has less meaning or value because he was financially compensated for providing the letter at the time. It is acknowledged that without Aaron's personal declaration based on his examination of the bat, we would have no way to date this bat more narrowly than as a rookie-era Hank Aaron bat (dating anywhere from 1954 to 1957). In addition to his letter, Aaron has signed the bat in blue Sharpie (grading "9/10") approximately 1.5 inches below the barrel stamping. The bat displays significant use along its entire length, including numerous ball marks, stitch marks, cleat marks, and light grain separation along the back of the barrel. An approximate 3.5-inch piece of wood is missing from the base of the handle and the knob has two separate large chips. A number of small paint specks (orange, red, yellow, and white) are visible along both the handle and barrel. Length: 34.875 inches. Weight: 33.9 ounces.

Hank Aaron pro-model bats dating from the 1950s are rare, let alone one used during his earliest years or rookie campaign. Aaron joined the Braves organization in 1952 after the club purchased his contract from the Indianapolis Clowns, one of the leading Negro League clubs of the era. Following a short, but spectacular, minor league career, Aaron was promoted to the Braves in the spring of 1954, starting in left field in place of the injured Bobby Thomson (Thomson broke his leg during spring training). Aaron, who was the first black player in Braves history, debuted with the club on April 13th and although he went hitless in five at bats, he quickly emerged as one of the game's brightest young stars. His first hit occurred on April 15th off of St. Louis pitcher Vic Raschi and ten days later Raschi was again on the mound when Aaron launched his first Major League home run. It is possible that he used this very bat for either or both of these historic plate appearances. Aaron finished the year with 13 home runs, 69 RBI, and a .280 average, numbers which helped him finish a respectable fourth in the voting for the Rookie of the Year Award behind Wally Moon, Ernie Banks, and teammate Gene Conley. Based on its style and specifications alone, this is one of the earliest of all Hank Aaron bats known; based upon Aaron's declaration of its rookie status, it is one of the most significant as well. Graded A8 by MEARS (base grade of 5, plus 3 points for use and 2 points for the Aaron letter of authenticity, but minus 1 point each for the missing piece of wood on the handle and the chips in the knob). This bat is also accompanied by a letter of authentication from PSA/DNA. This is one of just seven 1950s-era Hank Aaron bats listed in the MEARS database, with two others graded at this level, and just two graded higher (A9.5 and A8.5). LOAs from Troy Kinunen/MEARS and James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,500+. SOLD FOR $6,463

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