Recently there appears to be a bit of confusion and a flurry of e-mails on a topic back I covered back in 2008. The issue centers on the Hillerich and Bradsby law suit against the Hanna Manufacturing Company and Hanna’s use of player’s names on their products. I have provided once again, the court documents from this case. What has been offered is that because of this litigation, all baseball players under contract with H&B that were using other bat brands and having their names branded on them, had to have the words “style” or “shape” placed on the bat. This is simply not true as an absolute. If you refer to page 4 of the court documents, it clearly provides an exemption when this is for “the manufacture on special order of such player for bats for his own personal use.” The decision goes on to stipulate that manufacturer can not use this naming as the basis for advertising the said player and the product in question. If they do, the must include the words “style” or “shape”. This is the seminal point of the law suit as the case was about deceptive and illegal business practices affecting H&B wholesale and retail sales.
When I published these court documents in my article titled The Hanna Manufacturing Company in December of 2008, I only provided the first 4 pages. These just happen to be the only four pages that show up in subsequent advertisements for a Bill Dickey bat offered via E-Bay. If you look at pages 5-10, page 5 in particular, you will find that “fraudulent purpose was found in six different areas. The third and forth cases highlight this:
Third: The fraudulent practices in selling bats to the trade and to the public.
Forth: The fraudulent practices and misrepresentations made to the trade in order to stimulate sales.
The issue then and know, is using player’s names in sales to the trade (dealers) or to the public. Not individual player orders for “his own personal use.”
On page 7 of the findings, the court substantiated its opinion:
“First to protect the honest trader in the business which fairly belongs to him; second to punish the dishonest trader who is taking his competitor’s business away from him by unfair means, and third, to protect the public from deception.” Folks, once again, this is about product produced and marketed to the “trade and to the public”, not bats “manufactured on special order of such player for bats for his own personal use.”
On page 8, you will find the court referencing the deceptive practice of “passing off” and that Hanna had to “purge its business methods of a capacity to deceive.” Branding a players name on a bat he ordered is not deceptive since he is the one who ordered it. In other words, he is not misled because he knows he uses the bat since he ordered and used it.
All of this has become an issue based on information I provided about a Bill Dickey Hanna Batrite bat and the ordering records I published in an article titled Hanna Player Production Records in January 2009. Those records indicate that the bats should be branded with Bill Dickey’s name. To be exact, the instructions read “BRAND BILL DICKEY.” This branding, without the words “style” or “shape” would have been in keeping with the court judgment as this was an order of bats for him as long as there was no commercial marketing or “representation to the trade or to the public.”
Please take a minute and think about it… if you accept the premise that all bats had to have the words “style” or “shape” after the player’s name, then how could Hillerich and Bradsby even remain in compliance with this decision and still produce block letter bats of players who were under contract with other manufacturers or not under contract at all? If the question is “O.K., name one?” How about these spanning the 1930s through the 1970s:
Frank Crosetti (Block Letter) 1930s. Never signed an endorsement contract with H&B.
Jake Powell (Block Letter) 1930s-1940s. Never signed an endorsement contract with H&B.
Larry Doby (Block Letter) 1940s-1950s. Under Contract with Adirondack.
Roy Campanella (Block Letter) 1940s-1950s. Never signed an endorsement contract with H&B.
Willie Mays (Block letter) 1950s-1970s. Under Contract with Adirondack.
Even with Adirondack, you will find H&B endorsers with block letter name only Adirondack bats. The first Adirondack products marked in accordance with the requirements for trade/retail-player not specific orders featured the word “style”. By 1949, both the Adirondack center brand had changed along with the naming convention having switched to the word “type.” These “type” bats are those not ordered directly by the player. These fall into two categories; those for retail sale and those ordered by the club for general purpose (also known as Team Index Bats).
Like H&B, Adirondack could do this because they were branding the bats in accordance with the above cited exemption/proviso and within the context of the case and intent of the court. The only variation I have seen to this with H&B was the branding of Stan Musial model bats with the block words MUSIAL MODEL. This may have something to do with the fact that Musial had his own “Stan the Man” product line that included bats.
Please know this article is not so much about the Dickey bat so please bid on it if you are comfortable with the information presented by the seller and those who researched it and offered an opinion on it. You may also ask for them to provide pages 5-10 of the court records for your consideration. Rather, my message to you today is a familiar one…Do some independent research and study/digest as much information as you can and be comfortable with what you decide to buy and why. If you do, you will likely continue to collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com.