1938 National League All-Star Game Black Bat - Possibly the Earliest Example

Sold For: $4,800

Auction Year: 2016 fall

Lot: 1686

Item Year: 1938

Category: Post-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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Rare presentational black bat issued by Hillerich & Bradsby to commemorate the 1938 All-Star Games. This may be the earliest All-Star Game black bat extant. We know that the practice of issuing World Series black bats began in 1934, but we do not know for certain when the first All-Star Game black bats were produced. What we do know is that we have only seen two other 1938 black bats (one National League and one American League) and have never seen an earlier example. These special presentation bats were produced in limited numbers and were only distributed to team members and select league and team officials, making them among the rarest of all souvenirs associated with the game. The offered bat features a special gold barrel stamping that reads "National League All Stars 1938." The names of seventeen National League team members, either in the form of facsimile signatures (if they were under contract with H&B) or plain block letters, also appear on the barrel, including those of Bill Terry, Mel Ott, Ernie Lombardi, Arky Vaughan, Billy Herman, Leo Durocher, Billy Herman, Gabby Hartnett, Lloyd Waner, and Joe Medwick. The offered bat (36 inches in length), which is in fact brown and not black (they were normally issued in brown prior to 1939 and in black thereafter; hence their name today), displays moderate surface wear, including a number of small nicks. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. Reserve $300. Estimate (open).

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