Continuously adding research material to the MEARS library is an on going process. These materials come in the forms of books, both current and out of print, magazines, internet images, video, yearly guides and periodicals and company issued catalogs. Original catalogs, due to their scarcity which exists as a result of several factors, along with their collectible value, make them one of the tougher to find sources of information and often the most expensive. Rarity factors such as dated material no longer useful the following season, that they were not meant to be saved like books, and a somewhat fragile construction all contribute to the availability. Then, the collectible value added for certain companies along with those with famous players on the cover, often put these rare pieces beyond the realm of reason for those solely interested in the material and not their secondary market value.
Recently, two Kren catalogs appeared on EBAY, one a 1916 and the other a 1933. I have a friend who has made me copies of the 1916 but despite being the high bidder of over $400 on each of these catalogs in the three times they have been offered and not meeting the reserve and repeated appeals to the seller to at least name a price or a price he would charge for good copies, I have not been able to gain the information contained in the 1933. How scarce are Kren original catalogs, I only know of three and only the two years stated above but neither has a killer cover, no famous player, they are far from mint and yet, we cannot buy them at present. You may wonder what would be the sense in paying close to $1000 for two store model catalogs simply to derive their information.
What insight does a store model catalog offer to the game used bat collecting fraternity? The answer is simple, it allows us the opportunity to record player models offered, the pricing structure and the quality of the different models offered. Using this information, we can compile a data base such as we did with the Hanna Bat Rite bats using the here to fore only known Hanna catalog from 1930. From this basic data, we have continued to update the models as they surface to give collectors the first ever compilation of this data. I did this back in the early 1990’s for Spalding bats having acquired every single catalog from every year that spanned the Pre War signature model player endorsed Spalding bats but this was much easier as Spalding was a huge company and produced far more catalogs than either Hanna or Kren Bats.
I mentioned the 1930 Hanna catalog and the player index that can be currently found on this site. Well, last week, the second Hanna Batrite catalog to publicly surface (to my knowledge) was also made available last week on EBAY and this time, for less than $100, it became the property of MEARS. This catalog is dated 1942 and the cover advertises the OK’d Cup-Bat, “ The Bat that Dared to be Different is Now a Proven Success” This in itself is interesting as it was the Hanna company that developed the now common cupped bat and at one time, when I collected game used St. Louis Browns bats, I had a Hanna cupped bat that had been returned to the Louisville Slugger company by a pitcher on the 1944 Browns team ( I can’t remember the player but the collection was sold to the Cardinals and now resides in their museum) and it had a return date of 1941. What is interesting about this new model is that it was not endorsed by any contemporary players but rather six college coaches. They are listed as follows; “The Cup Bat is available in six styles, each of which is endorsed by and bears the name of one of these college baseball coaches;
John H. Kobs-Michigan State College
Henry Iba- Oklahoma A&M College
J.V.Sikes- University of Georgia
W.J.Disch- University of Texas
Paul Hinkle-Butler University
Walter H. Halas- Drexel Institute
To date, I have never seen nor heard of a single surviving example but it would sure explain why a signature of a college coach was branded on the end of a barrel. They are listed as being offered in a brown finish with gold lettering in assorted lengths 33-36” with a shipping weight of 28 pounds per dozen assorted. (No individual weights listed) and they were priced at $2.65 each, tied with three other models as the second most expensive bats offered but there was one model offered in 1942 that was priced at $3.50, almost a dollar more than the other examples. This was the CM model that states “each bat is registered at the factory by serial number, so that by supplying the number to your dealer, an exact duplicate in weight, shape, balance, wood and finish can be secured.” Made of the finest grade woods, golden finish, Ash or Beaverwood. The catalog offers no explanation anywhere as to what exactly is Beaverwood.
Tied for the second tier of quality and price at $2.65 were the following three models:
WTA- New special white finish Ash or Beaverwood, Non-Chipping treatment
TA-New brown finish, Ash or Beaverwood, Non -Chipping treatment
MTA- New attractive maroon finish, Non-Chipping treatment
The last tier of product that bore block letter player models were listed at $2.40 and included the following:
A-New brown finish in Ash or Beaverwood, Non-Chipping treatment
WA- New white finish in Ash or Beaverwood, Non-Chipping treatment
All of the above listed models came with a current ball player “style” endorsement or player model as it is listed and each player model was also offered in the “Special Series” at the same listed prices. The Special Series was described as “To meet the demand for bats of the high quality of BATRITES, with the same quality of wood, finishes, and treatment process, yet of slightly smaller size and of lighter weights in lengths of 33-35”.
The treatment which they introduced prior to the “Powerized” treatment used by Louisville Slugger was the Hanna Non-Chip Process of which they were the “Pioneers in sound improvement in bat construction”. This process or finish was applied under high pressure in closed steel tanks which forced the special Hanna material deep into the pores of the wood where as the fibers of the wood were literally sealed together. This special finish reduced checking, chipping and made the bats last longer, a process that has been held in high esteem by professional players to this day and replaced the old hand boning many players performed on their bats before such a commercial process was available.
Another feature explained in this catalog was the five different “Hanna Grips” that were made available on player models which included the following:
Flox Hold- Fast Grip- sprayed on the bat handle, the only way to remove is by scraping, providing a finer grip for the hottest, stickiest days.
Cork Grip- the cork is sealed so closely to the bat handle that it won’t come off, a favorite of many players.
Diamond Taping- double layers of tape with alternate diamond shaped spacing. Tape is locked top and bottom leaving no loose ends.
Perforated Cork Grip- same as regular cork but perforated for a firmer, slide free grip.
Rubber Grip- sheet rubber, applied without seams, almost impossible to remove. This new grip has won great popularity with many players.
While no specific players are mentioned, probably per the agreement of 1935 with the Louisville Slugger company, it does reinforce what we have found in photographs and records that players did like some of these specially applied grips.
The catalog also lists all of the lesser non player models such as the Playground bat, soft ball bat, major league, scholastic, and other models, they are of no interest as it pertains to player model bats of the era. While it is now a well known and documented fact that many players favored the Hanna Batrite bat for use in the major leagues and this catalog does not specifically deal with those models, it gives us insight as to the various players, styles, treatments and finishes that before today were not recorded due to the lack of existing catalogs. If you have any other bat catalogs in your collection, please email me at dbushing1@ aol.com. If we can use a copy for our library, we will send you free copy of my long out of print Spalding player model guide of which I have very few left. Also, following is a complete list of 1942 player models that can be added/blended with the current list found in the MEARS archive section.
5- Ruth Style
16- Waner (Paul or Lloyd?)
85- Martin (Pepper)
86- Terry (Bill)
94- Radcliff (Rip)
95- DiMaggio (?)
96- York (Rudy)
97- Moore (Randy)
99- Lombardi (Ernie)
101- Goodman (Billy)
102- Williams (Ted?)
Until next time, David Bushing