Centerbrand Dating: 1917-21 circa factory center brand stamping. Actual dating 1917-19 per the remnants of side writing.

Length 34 ½: According to H&B factory records, 34 ½ was the index (preferred) length of Ty Cobb bats.

Weight (currently) 35.75 ounces: Although available factory records do not lists the weights of Cobb’s bats for the years of 1917-22, his 1920s H&B factory records verify his bats weighing 36-42 ounces, therefore this bat was manufactured within an acceptable weight range for Ty Cobb professional model game used bats.

Model C28: This was the preferred model bat ordered by Ty Cobb and factory recorded. Bat is described in Cobb’s personal bat records as “His model a.k.a. His original model – small barrel, large handle, half round end” (Model C28).

Side Writing: This bat was returned to the H&B factory during the 1917-19 era, as evidenced by the visible Ty Cobb 191_ grease pencil dating remains. Examination of the side writing reveals its formation is consistent with the hand writing of Louisville Slugger lathe hand, Henry Morrow.

Barrel Stampings: Bat was manufactured by H&B sans facsimile barrel stampings. It is my expert opinion this bat was manufactured between 1916-17. Reason being it was the standard practice of the day for professional model game used bats to be supplied to the major leaguers’ without name on barrel. The practice of stamping the player’s name on the barrel did not begin to appear until 1918 with any regularity.

Handle: The handle is untapped with an eight inch handle crack with no separation of the grain. When examining photographic evidence of Ty Cobb bats from the year 1917-1919, it was documented for him to be seen using bats without handle tape.

Provenance: As supported by the visible side writing, this bat originated directly from the vaults of Louisville Slugger. The bat exhibits heavy game use. Use can be seen starting at the knob and is applied consistently to the barrel end. There is deadwood, caused from heavy and repeated contact with the ball, on both the front and back barrel. Remnants of the shipping label are found on the front left side of the barrel. This would have been the label applied to the bat as it was sent from the ballpark back to the H&B factory for additional models to be produced.

Importance of the bat: Due to the fact this bat was returned to Ty Cobb (evidenced by the mailing label), side written (documented by H&B records) and the amount of game use, this bat was favored by Cobb. Judging by the amount of heavy use, the bat was used by Ty Cobb over the course of two or three seasons. It is documented that Cobb would keep his favorite bats for several seasons when possible.

Grade: Bat was awarded 5 points for meeting factory criteria of correct Cobb model, length, and weight. 3 points are awarded as the bat exhibits optimal game use. 2 points were awarded for provenance in the form of factory side writing. ½ point was subtracted for the deadwood on reverse of barrel that has a very small piece missing (almost unnoticeable) and the light handle crack (combined deduction).

Auction Sale notes: (March 2008 Sale, Hunts) – Original catalog description: Significant Ty Cobb professional model bat with Hillerich & Bradsby factory side writing, c. 1917-21.

Louisville Slugger 125 dash dot dash model bat measures 34 ½” long and weighs 36 ounces. The bat shows strong use including ball marks, grain swelling, and a repaired handle crack. The side of the barrel has factory side writing in grease pencil that reads, “Ty Cobb, 191?. Although faded, the date appears to be either 1917, 18, or 19. The first three numerals visible in the side writing are clearly “191_”. In addition, the barrel retains remnants of a paper factory shipping label, which has left a shadowed area from the lack of exposure to light as seen on the remainder of the bat. To date, there are less than one half dozen documented Ty Cobb professional model game bats with Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Factory side writing, one which still resides in the permanent collection of Louisville Slugger.

LOA Troy R. Kinunen / MEARS Auctions

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