MEARS is pleased to present a sampling of the highlights of game used jerseys and bats, which MEARS has authenticated and which are being offered in the current MastroNet auction. Following are just a few of the many MEARS evaluated game-used collectibles currently being offered:
TY COBB 1911-1916 H&B GAME USED SIDE WRITTEN BAT
“Along with the counsel of my father, I fell back on Polonius, when in Hamlet he advises Laertes: ‘Beware of entrance to a quarrel; but being in, bear’t, that the opposed may beware of thee.’ No better guide for a ballplayer ever was written.” The preceding quote provides insight regarding Ty Cobb’s splenetic disposition. The words, spoken by Cobb, himself, reveal an educated and well-spoken man—contradictory to the popular assumption that the fiery outfielder was anything but learned, what, with his rustic Georgia upbringing. Still, Cobb’s knowledge of literature surely paled in comparison to his familiarity with the white ash weapons with which he all but wrote baseball’s record books. Nothing other than a superlative relating to “familiarity” could aptly describe Cobb’s relationship with the offered bat. Turned for Cobb during the 1911-1916 labeling period, this 34-1/2″, 35-1/2-oz. Hillerich & Bradsby signature model lumber was kept in his possession for the remainder of his storied playing career. That remarkable detail is readily learned by the side-written notation of “Phila. Am. Lea. B.B.C.,” (Philadelphia American League Base Ball Club, with whom Cobb played the final two campaigns of his career in 1927 and 1928) which is neatly executed in grease pencil just to the right of the deep, incredibly defined centerbrand and below the like-featured barrel stamping. Additionally, there is a side-written inscription (same medium) of “36oz 1928 Cobb” (of which the “bb” is illegible). Judging by the telltale signs of its use, this bat was indeed among Cobb’s favorites. His desire to rekindle the success of his earlier days is evidenced in his side-written request for like models. The historical significance of this lumber is greater than that of any other Cobb bat we have encountered. Paramount is the fact that this is one of only two Cobb bats with provenance directly from Louisville Slugger. This very weapon resided in the Kentucky-based plant’s museum for longer than Cobb’s unfathomable record of 4,191 hits was the baseball standard. While another Cobb bat remains in the manufacturer’s archives, this one sat alongside it from 1928 until its sale at a recent auction and has since been placed in our possession. Obtained directly from the Louisville Slugger archives, the bat has not gone through the hands of anyone in the hobby—only Cobb and its manufacturer. Further significance comes in the fact that it is one of only four bats to have ever received a grade of “10*” by MEARS (the “*” signifying its phenomenal historical significance). Beholding its physical beauty, one finds lathe marks on both the Hornsby knob and barrel ending and burn-induced spots at both ends, suggesting the white ash bat was flame-treated. The item reveals evidence of heavy use, with cleat and surface marks throughout, as well as a 14″ H-shaped crack that extends from the handle’s upper portion to the centerbrand area, and another tiny, nearly indiscernible crack on the opposite side. The bat also has some very slight checking, grain swelling and an appearance of having been cleaned. “Once an athlete feels the peculiar thrill that goes with victory and public praise, he’s bewitched. He can never get away from it.” That telling quote Cobb’s admission of his own sensations, such is the nature of the sentiments experienced in the presence of this Cobb-wielded weapon. In the words of MEARS authenticator Dave Bushing, “…to have a bat that had been sent back to H&B for side writing and had been (there) for 90 years, that makes it the best Ty Cobb bat you can ever own.” Graded A-10* by MEARS. LOAs from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS, John Taube/PSA.
PHENOMENAL LOU GEHRIG 1927-1928 H&B SIDE WRITTEN GAME USED BAT
In baseball, to be feared is to be respected. The components of any team fitting this mold are to be individually handled with utmost caution. The fabled elements of the 1927 New York Yankees were no exception—and it was Lou Gehrig who so ably stoked that team’s fire. When recounting the exploits of that team—deemed the most dominant ever by diamond purists far and wide—images of Babe Ruth and his vigorous swing are likely the first that are conjured. Time will only dim the achievements of surrounding components, but in the collective opinion of baseball scribes at that time, Gehrig was the heart and soul of this juggernaut assembly. That is, of course, evidenced by the fact that Gehrig was lauded as the Junior Circuit’s MVP in ’27. It can be argued that prior to 1931, baseball did not allow for a player to win the award more than once, thus, being so honored for his 1923 season, Ruth was ineligible. But looking over their respective numbers, Gehrig may have won the honor under any circumstances. It was Gehrig, after all, who was the cleanup hitter. Hence, his selection of pitchers’ offerings was likely less appealing than the deliveries Ruth saw. As for the numbers, Ruth’s 60 home runs were absolute magic—if only in terms of their sizable total. But Gehrig, who managed an impressive total of 47 circuit clouts, out-hit Ruth (.373 to .356) and surpassed him in just about every other offensive category, as well. The numbers speak: RBI (175 to 164), hits (218 to 192) and extra-base hits (117 to 97). So as his sizable wooden weapons were lethal to pitchers willing to brave their mighty cuts, these war clubs were absolutely cherished by the home-grown Gehrig. The presentation at hand is one such hitting relic: a side-written H&B bat wielded by Columbia Lou during the absolute peak of the franchise’s fabled prime. Fathom, if you can, the prospect of pitching to either Gehrig or Ruth during this era of unprecedented offensive and overall success. For the theatre of the mind in this matter, thoughts of the Bambino are justified in recalling this squad, as Ruth, after all, did eclipse baseball’s (and his own) single-season round-tripper standard that season. But these Bronx Bombers were in the midst of a three-year run of American league gonfalons (the latter two accented by World Series titles) and, for argument’s sake, there was much more than Ruth. Of course, Ruth was Ruth, his flamboyance calling even more attention to his sizable frame and gaudy statistics. Above and beyond individual numbers were those of the team—which performed like a well-oiled machine. Gehrig, incidentally, was by all accounts complacent in the shadow of Ruth—as was likely the entirety of the team. From 1926 through ’28, the Yanks became the first American League squad to log 300-plus triumphs over a three-year period. So secure was their stranglehold over league foes that, in 1927, the club went wire-to-wire in earning a second straight pennant and, in ’28, were never more than 1-1/2 games off the pace and took over the top spot for keeps on April 30. Gehrig, meanwhile, was his steady and dependable self in defense of his team’s Fall Classic title. While his home run and RBI totals respectively “slumped” to 27 and 142 in 1928, Gehrig actually eclipsed his 1927 batting average, hitting .374. As the team began to distance itself from A.L. also-rans in late June, Gehrig went on an absolute tear. Over a 13-game stretch from June 27 through July 7, New York authored a 10-3 mark against the likes of Philadelphia, Boston, Washington and St. Louis—upping its lead to double digits over all A.L. foes in the process. Gehrig was an integral part of the surge, logging a .438 mark over that run, with two homers, three triples, two doubles and a stolen base. His lumber invoking terror in mound opponents, Gehrig was as one with his Louisville-turned weapons, which, for good reason, were dear to his heart. The offered Hillerich & Bradsby 35″, 38-oz. white ash bat hails from the 1921-1931 labeling period, and factory records reveal this bat being shipped to Gehrig’s personal arsenal in 1927. Imagine his dismay upon its demise! That aspect is evidenced by a 9″ H-shaped handle crack and the weapon’s subsequent return to its Kentucky birthplace for the production of more just like it. Gehrig’s paramount wish to have identical models turned, pronto—so as to continue his feast on mound foes—is readily learned by the factory’s execution of the side-writing process, which was employed league-wide when big leaguers were in need of duplicate models. In vintage grease pencil (on the barrel), H&B factory notations of “H.L. Gehrig 7-7-28” and “7-7-28 35″ 38 oz. New York Amer.” reveal the first baseman’s likely urgent desire to obtain similar models. Incidentally, with Gehrig awaiting the return of his ash, the Yankees were swept by the St. Louis Browns in a twin bill the very next day. Undoubtedly one of the finest Gehrig bats in existence, this is one of only two Gehrig side-written bats known to have surfaced. The centerbrand and barrel stampings remain deep and well-defined on this item that reveals evidence of phenomenal use, with a hint of checking on the hitting surface, three ringlets of vintage black tape upon the handle, and cleat and surface marks throughout. Fewer than ten authentic Gehrig bats are confirmed to have survived—a sparse amount that mirrors America’s occasional underestimation of what an absolute key Gehrig was to those legendary, champion Yankee teams. Please refer to this bat’s description on our website for the MEARS grade. LOAs from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS, and John Taube/PSA.
JIMMIE FOX 1934-1944 H&B GAME USED BAT
A fan and teammate favorite wherever he went, Jimmie Foxx was baseball’s right-handed answer to Babe Ruth. Born and raised on a Sudlersville, Maryland farm, Foxx quickly grew tired of his rustic setting. So great was Foxx’s wanderlust that he attempted (and was, of course, rejected) to join the U.S. Army at the age of 10! Taking the normal route, Foxx continued with his education and learned to love baseball. Discovered by Frank “Home Run” Baker, who was managing in the Eastern Shore League at the time, 17-year-old Foxx was recommended to Philadelphia Athletics skipper Connie Mack. Signed by the A’s in 1925, Foxx and his hitting prowess were contained for much of his first three seasons (he appeared in all of 97 games during that period). Signed as a catcher, Foxx wasn’t to log much playing time behind starter Mickey Cochrane. But after being converted to a first baseman in 1928, “The Beast” proceeded to annually challenge Babe Ruth’s single-season home run standard, launching 30-plus circuit clouts for 12 successive seasons—a feat that not even Ruth himself had accomplished. A World Series champion in both 1929 and 1930, Philadelphia became a financially despondent club shortly thereafter. Unable to afford the likes of Foxx, the Athletics unloaded him on the willing Boston Red Sox before the 1936 campaign. Two years later, he won his third MVP honor of the decade. Known for his heavy drinking—as well as for picking up the check for whoever accompanied—Foxx was (naturally) befriended by many throughout his 20-year career. It’s very likely, however, that opposing pitchers were not among those on Foxx’s growing list of pals. It wasn’t so much the numbers as it was the manner in which Foxx hit his home runs that made him downright fearsome throughout the American League. At Chicago’s old Comiskey Park, Foxx is reported to have hit a ball onto the roof atop the left field’s upper deck—as well as another mammoth blast that completely cleared the roof and landed on 34th Street. The muscular slugger hit another blast said to have traveled upwards of 500 feet, well into the left field upper deck bleachers at Tiger Stadium. Offered here is a H&B signature model bat employed by “Double-X” during the latter portion of his fence-clearing career. This 35″, 36 oz. white ash lumber hails from the 1934-1944 labeling period and factory records indicate that Foxx first ordered this model in 1936. The hitting relic boasts a well-defined, legible centerbrand and barrel stampings. The uncracked Foxx gamer reveals evidence of heavy use, with cleat, bat-rack and surface marks throughout, as well as grain swelling and scoring on the hitting surface and signs of tape removal about the handle. One can only marvel in imagining the damage that was very likely administered with this very weapon. Graded A-8 by MEARS. LOAs from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS, John Taube/PSA.
BABE RUTH 1921-1931 H&B SIGNED GAME USED BAT
A mere glimpse from a Manhattan sidewalk, an on-field sighting from the Polo Grounds, and later, the Yankee Stadium bleachers—these were precious rewards—almost concrete—to millions of baseball enthusiasts who sought a piece of Babe Ruth. His legend constructed by his passion for life and resultant, countless escapades (more off the diamond than on it), Ruth drew the gamut of emotions from friends, teammates, opponents and acquaintances, with most of those feelings bordering on adoration. From the streets of Baltimore to his inaugural New England big league setting to New York City, Ruth had landed in a location definitively made for him (rather than he for it), its sea of people continually clamoring for an encounter with their idol. Having brought his wife, Helen, from Boston, Ruth lived in a suite at the luxurious Ansonia Hotel on Broadway. Though when he made his rounds after hours (almost always without his young bride), Ruth was in the company of celebrities—none of which were more famous than the sizable hitting icon. One account, described in Robert W. Creamer’s Babe: The Legend Come’s To Life, has it that, after one such evening, Ruth explained, “I was at a party with those movie people.” When asked who, Ruth responded, “Oh you know – what the hell are their names?” Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were the names that eluded Ruth (as he was notoriously forgetful of names—even those of his own teammates). It’s a safe assumption that stage and screen stars, however large, were more impressed with Ruth than he was with them. The same goes for law enforcement officials. Upon being arrested for speeding in one of his many sports cars before a 1921 game, Ruth willingly paid his $100 fine and remained in a jail cell until 4:00 p.m. (the arresting officer allegedly didn’t believe it was Ruth). The Babe left his place of detainment to find a waiting crowd—and a police motorcade that escorted him to the Polo Grounds for a game that had already begun. Commercial propositions were presented by the score, as well. Ruth eagerly sifted through the offers until the volume became unmanageable. At the request of UPI, Ruth composed and wired accounts of each of his 54 home runs during his first season in New York. He did this for $5 per shot. Learning this, famed scribe Christy Walsh sought to make Ruth (and himself) a more profitable deal. Decidedly tougher to contact by now, Ruth was finally “cornered” by Walsh—who filled in for a delivery boy in bringing the Babe his order of bootleg beer from an area delicatessen. A friendship ensued, with Walsh giving sound financial advice that was to save the lavish, impetuous Ruth a great deal of money. With a stake for themselves a potential or not, most who approached Ruth did so with a genuine want to befriend the Yankee superstar. Even once-angered opponents admired Ruth in the end. On the next-to-last day of the 1927 campaign, Ruth launched historic home run number 60 off of Washington Senators pitcher Tom Zachary, who yelled, “Foul ball! Foul ball!” as the sphere cleared the Yankee Stadium right field fence. Some 20 years later at the same venue, Zachary greeted and shook hands with Ruth, who, in his cancer-ravaged state, jokingly said, “You crooked-arm son of a bitch, are you still claiming that ball was foul?” Generous to a fault, Ruth spent, tipped—and lived—beyond the normal limits. He seldom refused a request for an autograph—such as the magnificent signature he placed on the offered game used bat. This H&B signature model war club was wielded by the Bambino during the 1921-1931 labeling period. Of Ruthian proportions at 35″, 37-1/2 ounces, this white ash weapon bears a legible centerbrand and barrel stampings. Just as he put his signature on so many ball games with tape-measure home runs, Ruth has put his name—literally—on this Kentucky-turned treasure. The slugger’s flowing, black-ink autograph (“8-9”) stands prominently on what appears to be a cleaned portion of the hitting surface. The item reveals evidence of phenomenal use, with cleat and surface marks throughout, grain swelling, small knob chips, minor dents on the barrel and an expertly repaired handle crack. The Ruth gamer is a sacred find all by itself—but adorned with Babe’s resplendent signature, she’s altogether beyond words and one of the most desirable pieces of baseball memorabilia! Graded A-8 by MEARS. LOAs from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS, John Taube/PSA, Steve Grad/PSA DNA and James Spence Authentication.
TED WILLIAMS 1943-1949 H&B GAME USED BAT
From almost the very beginning of his unparalleled baseball career, it was no secret that Ted Williams and the Boston press loathed one another. Following the outbreak of World War II, Williams was the subject of nationwide criticism when he reported to spring training in 1941. The sole supporter of his mother, May Williams, the San Diego-born hitting icon was reclassified from a III-A status to that of I-A, nonetheless. Several other stars—including Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial—reported to spring training, as well, in ’42, but Williams was the recipient of the bulk of the criticism. And so began Williams’ career-long contempt for baseball scribes—which was a mutual disdain. Amid the negative press and accusations of being unpatriotic, Williams succumbed to the pressure and signed up for naval aviation in May of ’42. One Triple-Crown campaign later (for which he was curiously not lauded the League’s MVP), Williams was summoned for military service in November of that same year. Though he did not see any overseas duty, the training Williams received was to serve him well when he did see battle—in the Korean War. Back to the diamond after sacrificing three prime years of his baseball career, Williams showed no ill effects, clubbing 138 home runs over four seasons (he had hit 127 in his first four years before fulfilling his military duty). Still, the press snubbed him. Named the MVP in 1946, his first season back, Williams won his second Triple Crown the following year—but was runner-up to DiMaggio (as he was for his .406 1941 campaign) in the MVP balloting. In ’48, Williams met with a similar fate, placing third despite outhitting runner-up DiMaggio (.369 to .320) and MVP Lou Boudreau, whom Williams also out-homered. While the press box typewriters could ignore Williams, pitchers could not—and to that end, Williams made hurlers pay dearly. Arguably (and rightfully) the game’s most confident hitter of all time, The Splendid Splinter hit with abandon right to the very end of his Hall of Fame career. Offered here is a H&B “O1″ signature model bat wielded by Williams upon his return from World War II. This 35”, 33-oz. white ash weapon hails from the 1943-1949 labeling period and can be narrowed to the latter four years of that span, which marked Teddy Ballgame’s return to the game he so dominated. Factory records indicate that Williams received shipments of these models in both February, 1946 and April, 1947. With a legible centerbrand and barrel stampings, this uncracked keepsake reveals evidence of significant use, with cleat, stitch and surface marks throughout, as well as grain swelling on the hitting surface and two one-inch layers of vintage tape upon the handle. A game used war club from Williams’ own deadly arsenal! Graded A-8 by MEARS. LOAs from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS, John Taube/PSA.
JIM BOTTOMLEY 1924-1929 ST. LOUIS CARDINALS GAME WORN ROAD JERSEY
Long before the likes of Pokey Reese and Dontrelle Willis set head wear fashion trends, an affable first baseman in the Gateway City plied his craft on a daily basis—with his cap tilted over his left eye. Affectionately dubbed “Sunny” because of his cheerful demeanor, St. Louis Cardinals star Jim Bottomley was all business between the foul lines. Setting a valued precedent, Cards Vice President and skipper Branch Rickey had established some 32 different “farm” teams that were comprised of better than 600 players under team ownership. Bottomley was one such product who, having honed his skills in this “revolutionary” minor league system, immediately earned a starting spot after arriving to the parent club in 1922. Once a National League doormat, St. Louis was transformed almost overnight into a Senior Circuit power. The keys in this about-face were both the molding of players in the minor leagues and the appointment of hard-headed Rogers Hornsby as pilot 38 games into the 1925 season. Armed with a trained and seasoned unit, Hornsby led the Red Birds to a Fall Classic triumph over the New York Yankees in ’26. Over a six-year span beginning that year, St. Louis captured four National League flags and two World Series titles. Bottomley was an integral element of this new-found success. A prolific run producer, Bottomley plated 100-plus for six successive seasons (1924-1929). In 1928, on the strength(s) of a .325 batting average and 31 home runs, Bottomley was lauded the NL MVP—marking the first time that a player from his team’s own minor league system was so-honored. The Cards, however, didn’t fare well in that year’s World Series. Sparked by Bottomley’s .345 mark two Octobers prior, St. Louis was swept in four straight by these Bronx Bombers, with Bottomley only able to mix a triple into a paltry .214 series mark. Perennial standouts thanks in large part to the exploits of Bottomley, the Cards of that era were overshadowed only by the Yankees, who wowed fans with individual numbers previously unseen. Unfathomable, as well, was Bottomley’s knack for producing at the dish. His knack for driving in runners was evidenced most prominently in a September, 1924 contest in which he hit two homers, a double and three singles en route to driving in a record 12 runs. It was the first of two six-hit games enjoyed by the lifetime .310 hitter who was posthumously enshrined in Cooperstown by the Veteran’s Committee in 1974. But for mild-mannered Bottomley, only his stats were showy. His low-key disposition remained a trait throughout his career and retirement days. His career behind him, Bottomley gathered the savings from his salaries (none of which topped $15,000) and World Series shares ($22,000) and purchased a cattle farm in Missouri. Offered here is a vintage St. Louis Cardinals road jersey donned by the Hall of Fame first baseman during his glorious campaigns in the National League. This cream-colored, gray pin-striped wool, pullover garment features “Cardinals” embroidered across the chest in red characters and, just above, the franchise’s famed logo flaunting cardinal birds perched at the ends of a baseball bat is applied in like fashion. Red piping surrounds the collar and upper portion of the (four) button path. This style was employed by the Cardinals from 1924 through 1929 (with the exception of 1927, when they wore jerseys boasting their status as “WORLD CHAMPIONS”). Within the collar, a “Leacock” local sporting goods tag is accompanied by a “RAWLINGS” manufacturer’s tag. There are six holes under each arm (as made) to facilitate ventilation. The item reveals evidence of significant wear, with a team-repaired tear on the right sleeve, scattered tiny holes on the upper front and lower back, fraying and some separation about the piping and scattered migration of red dye from the team name and bird logos. This is the only known Bottomley worn jersey in the hobby! Graded A-8 by MEARS. LOA from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS.
HANK AARON 1968 ATLANTA BRAVES SIGNED GAME WORN HOME JERSEY – USED TO HIT 500TH HOME RUN
Long before expansion teams (10 of them, to be precise), resultant watered-down pitching and allegations of performance-enhancing substances, there was Henry Aaron. An unassuming, unexcitable sort, the Alabama-born slugger let his bat speak his piece throughout 23 relatively unspectacular—but remarkably consistent—seasons of double-digit fence-clearing totals. Said Aaron himself, “I never smile when I have a bat in my hands. When I get out on the field, nothing is a joke to me. I don’t feel like I should walk around with a smile on my face.” His workmanlike demeanor a constant, Aaron was decidedly tolerant and unwavering as his career reached its latter stages. And as his amazing big league tenure wore on (and he wore on opposing pitchers), Aaron had less and less reason to smile. Approaching Babe Ruth’s home run standard of 714—a total deemed absolutely sacred by fans throughout America—Aaron was the recipient of repeated death threats and ill wishes from the same malevolent types who had tortured Roger Maris better than a decade earlier. Compounding the disturbing trend in Aaron’s case were the racial implications. But he pressed on. Whether they broke his spirit or not, those who opposed Aaron—pitchers included—simply could not tame his lethal bat. For 19 straight seasons (1955-1973) Aaron averaged 33 round-trippers per season, clubbing between 24 and 47 home runs in each of those campaigns. Having never launched more than 47 homers, Aaron had only milestone achievements to draw attention to himself. Altogether absent from his career were day-by-day, frenzied accounts of any chase on the single-season marks of Ruth, and after 1961, Maris. But people had to—and did—take notice as coveted, sizable numbers were eclipsed. On July 14, 1968, Aaron became just the eighth player in Major League history to hit his 500th home run. With the Braves hosting the San Francisco Giants, 34,263 packed Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium to witness their second-place Braves—and more specifically, Aaron—take their hacks at Giants starter Mike McCormick. Two sets of siblings—Hank and Tommie Aaron for the Braves and Felipe and Jesus Alou for the Braves and Giants, respectively—took the field that day. But the attraction was definitely the elder Aaron, who entered the contest with 499 career clouts. In the third inning, Aaron deposited a McCormick offering over the fence in helping power the Braves to a 4-2 triumph. The win kept the Braves within 9-1/2 games of the front-running St. Louis Cardinals (Atlanta was to get no closer), but most notably, Aaron had upped the total of 500-home run club members to an elite eight. Proudly offered here is a signed Atlanta Braves home jersey worn by Aaron as he delivered that historic circuit blast that day. This cream-colored, blue-pinstriped flannel, button-down garment boasts “Braves” in script style lettering angled across the chest in navy-blue cotton twill and Aaron’s famed and since-retired number “44” applied to the back in like fashion. An original “screaming Brave” logo patch adorns the left sleeve and, situated on the left front tail, a “Wilson” manufacturer’s label denotes size “40.” Within the collar, a cream-colored flannel strip tag bears embroidered notations of “H Aaron – 1968 – Set 3” in black cursive characters. Aaron’s blue-marker signature (“6”) is angled just below the left front of the collar. The item reveals evidence of moderate wear, with “44” having been restored on the back—an apparent result of the number having been stripped before the jersey’s use in the team’s minor league system. Only very light traces of this number change are evident upon close examination. The fine overall condition of the jersey indicates that its use by a Braves minor league affiliate was limited, perhaps only for a subsequent spring training session before being pulled from circulation. Included in this lot are two photos of Aaron (taken after the July 14, 1968 game) that reveal this very jersey, with “Braves” lined up with the pinstripes in the exact same fashion. Graded A-6 by MEARS. Accompanying is an LOA signed by Braves Museum and Hall of Fame Director Carolyn Serra, as well as LOAs from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS, Steve Grad/PSA DNA and James Spence Authentication.