This evaluation was offered in support of an item that was sold on the Bushing & Kinunen MEARS For Sale site.

When buying game used Babe Ruth bats, especially of this high caliber, collectors are looking for all available information and explanation as to what makes this bat attributed to Babe Ruth.

Below MEARS takes you through the process where we examine Version 1 vs. Version 2 Babe Ruth barrel signatures, Centerbrand Dating, R2 Model, Length, Weight, and Wood. With access to the MEARS database, we were able to conduct trend analysis with respects to other high graded Babe Ruth bats examined and use characteristics of other Babe Ruth bats.

On July 9th, 1918, George Herman Ruth signed his first endorsement contract with Hillerich & Bradsby. With the signing of the contract, Babe Ruth was directed to submit several samples of his signature. On an accompanying page to the contract, Babe Ruth signed his signature, George “Babe” Ruth many times in succession. The signature sheet was submitted to the H&B factory where the best example of his signature was clipped from the signature sheet. This clipped sample was used by the factory to create the manufacturer’s dye, which would be used to brand the facsimile signature into Babe Ruth’s professional model bats. This version of his signature is referred to as “Version 1.” During the 1922 era, for unknown reasons, Babe Ruth provided H&B with a newer version of his signature, referred to as “Second Version”. With the introduction of the “Second Version” the original “First Version” was retired to never be used again.

1921-25 Centerbrand: Examination of the centerbrand reveals this bat was manufactured during the 1921-25 era. This was the second generation of centerbrands used by Babe Ruth, as the previous label period was the 1918-21/22 era. The major detail for this second-generation identification is the presence of the phrase; “MADE IN THE USA” which was introduced during the 1921 era.

1921 Dating: MEARS dates this bat to 1921 based on the presence of the “First Version (1918-21)” Babe Ruth barrel stamping along with the 1921-25 centerbrand. The intersection of the dating period both the centerbrand and signature version allows for the 1921 dating. Based on a complete review of all Babe Ruth bats examined by MEARS, this is the only example of this combination to enter the hobby, thus supporting 1921 as a manufacturing transition period and the circa of this bat.

R2 Model: Per the designations assigned to all professional model bats by H&B, this bat is referenced in Babe Ruth’s Louisville Slugger personal bat records as the R2 model. The R stood for the second player to request a new model bat who’s last name ended with that initial. This bat is referenced in the factory records as “His Model #1, a.k.a. small or Old Ruth round end (Model R2). The H&B records verify this as the main model being ordered until the 1924 season.

Length 36”: According to the H&B shipping records, 36” is the recorded length of the R2 model Babe Ruth bat. Therefore this bat perfectly matches the documented length of Babe Ruth bats during this timeframe.

Weight 40.1 ounces: During the 1920-25 era, H&B factory records show Babe Ruth ordered bats weighing 40 to 47 ounces. This bat falls within the documented weight ranges of bats ordered by Babe Ruth.

Wood: This bat is manufactured from high-grade evenly proportioned medium grain wood.

1921 Babe Ruth H&B Louisville Slugger Professional Model Game Bat (MEARS #307720) compared to other examined Ruth bats:

For the purpose of grading, the manufactures & player characteristics of MEARS #307720 was compared to 9 other A10 graded bats. The list for comparison included:

1918-21 MEARS #258409 A10: 36”, 42.5 ounces, 1st version, R2, (Mayor Thompson LOA)

1918-20 MEARS #303953 A10: 36”, 42.4 ounces, 1st version, R2, (Flattened Hitting Surface)

1918-21 MEARS #251924 A10: 36”, 45.5 ounces, 2nd version, R2, (1st HR Yankee Stadium, Flattened HS)

1921 MEARS #301537 A10: 36”, 47 ounces , 2nd version, R2, (Ruth LOA)

1921-31 MEARS #304678 A10: 35”, 43 ounces , 2nd version (Flattened Hitting Surface)

1921-31 MEARS #303061 A10: 35”, 36.4 ounces, 2nd version (Flattened Hitting Surface)

1921-31 MEARS #258409 A10: 35”, 39.7 ounces, 2nd version (LOA Tony Cunninello)

1921-31 MEARS #258317 A10: 36”, 43.2 ounces, 2nd version

1921-31 MEARS #258237 A10: 35”, 40.7 ounces, 2nd version (Flattened Hitting Surface)

With respect to H&B manufacturer characteristics, this bat compares quite favorably to both of the examined “First Version” bats examined by MEARS. The (36”) length of MEARS #307720 matches both examined “First version” Ruth bats examined by MEARS, #251924 & 3301537. The (40.1) weight of MEARS #307720 falls within the range of both “First Version” Ruth bats examined by MEARS. Therefore this bat compares quite favorably to the manufacturer specifications of length, weight, and model (R2) of bats ordered and used by Babe Ruth during the “First Version” era of issuance. Again, these ordering patterns are verified via H&B ledger entries.

The “Second Version” MEARS A10 graded signature model bats were examined to compare length, weight, and use characteristics. Three of the seven “Second Version” MEARS examined bats measured 36”. Examination of the nine “Second Version” MEARS A10 bats reveal the bats weighed 36.4 ounces to 45.5 ounces. Although the 36.4-ounce bat was at the lower end of the weight range, the additional eight bats weighed 39.7 ounces to 47 ounces, all very consistent with the MEARS #307720 weight of 40.1 ounces.

All nine of the examined MEARS A10 bats were recorded with heavy game use. Four of the MEARS A10 bats had specific references to a flattened hitting surface. Above the barrel stampings of MEARS #307720 is a 1” x 14” flattened hitting surface. Careful examination of this area shows the wood has been compressed, or boned. The process of boning a bat is a literal reference as Ruth was often seen applying a steer bone to this surface of the bat. The effect is to compress the grains of the wood and flatten that surface area of the bat. The practice has been photographically documented by Babe Ruth. In addition, the process and technique of the flattening of the hitting surface compares quite favorably to MEARS #306137, Babe Ruth’s 1923 World Series bat. This bat has a similarly applied flattened hitting surface, which is consistent with the following MEARS examined bats:

1918-20 MEARS #303953 A10: 36”, 42.4 ounces, 1st version , R2, (Flattened Hitting Surface)
1921-31 MEARS #304678 A10: 35”, 43 ounces , 2nd version (Flattened Hitting Surface)
1921-31 MEARS #303061 A10: 35”, 36.4 ounces, 2nd version (Flattened Hitting Surface)
1921-31 MEARS #258237 A10: 35”, 40.7 ounces, 2nd version (Flattened Hitting Surface)

In summary, these bat manufacturer characteristics are consistent with respects to length, weight, and model of 9 additional bats awarded the A10 grade by MEARS. The use, especially with respects to Babe Ruth practice of boning a bat to create a flattened hitting surface, compares to quite favorable to 4 other examined bats. The combination of documented player use traits and manufacturer records were found when examining this bat.

1921 Babe Ruth H&B Louisville Slugger Professional Model Game Bat (MEARS #307720) trends:

* This is the only 1921 “First Version” signature model bat examined by MEARS, 1:1.
* This is only one of three A10 “First Version signature model bats examined by MEARS
* This bat is consistent with respect to weight of 9 other MEARS A10 bats
* This bat is consistent with respect to the 36” length to 5 other MEARS A10 bats
* This bat exhibits the Babe Ruth trait of a flattened hitting surface when compared to 4 additional bats

Use: Bat exhibits heavy, consistent use distributed throughout the length of the bat. Heavy use can be verified via the presence of light seam-like impressions, which are found scattered on the front, top and bottom of barrel. The heaviest concentration of use if found in the area directly above the front barrel stampings. This use is manifested by a 1” x 14” flattened hitting surface which was created by compressing the upper grain with a steer bone. Once this area was flattened, Ruth held the bat “label down”. As a left handed hitter, the effect of the label down batting grip would cause the majority of the use to be found in the area directly above the barrel facsimile stampings. This area of use is consistent with our evaluation of most high grade and documented Babe Ruth bats examined by MEARS. Dozens of light cleat marks are also scattered on all plains of the bat’s barrel. This is also consistent with the practice associated with game used Babe Ruth bats. Most examined examples show cleat marks scattered and in no particular order.

Grading: Examination of the manufacturers record concluded that this model, length, weight, centerbrand, and barrel stamping combination were verified via H&B shipping records. Therefore, a base grade of 5 points was awarded. Player use characteristics were determined to exhibit heavy game use that was exhibited with heavy game use, stitch marks, cleat marks, and a flattened hitting surface. 3 points were awarded. Although there was not provenance in the form a signed document, the combination of known an documented Babe Ruth manufacturers and use traits allowed the final 2 points to be awarded. These known player specific traits consist of both documented manufacturers ordering patterns and examined player traits. Our evaluators felt that the 36” length, 40.1 ounces, R2 model, heavy use and flattened hitting surface all contributed to the final two points of the grade since it is not likely any other player would have ordered bats of those dimensions and mirror known Ruth use traits and characteristics. Final Grade: MEARS A10

Conclusion: Examination reveals this 1921, R2 Model, 36” length, 40.1 ounce, bat is consistent with H&B shipping records. Use characteristics are consistent with other documented Babe Ruth model bats. The combination of the centerbrand and “First Version” signature barrel stamping makes this a 1:1 specimen. When buying game used Babe Ruth bats, always ask to see the evaluators worksheet and notes, find out what the grade is and how it was determined, and ask plenty of questions.

Troy R. Kinunen

Since they are always in high demand, Dave Bushing is constantly looking to buy a high grade game used Babe Ruth bat, and he can be reached at or