I truly enjoy getting e-mails from collectors commenting on an article or something I have written as it is nice to know someone is reading what I write. Sometimes the e-mail comes in with no name and in a very unfriendly tone, but certainly not the case this time.
The e-mail was from collector Clinton Hromek and it read:
“Hello Dave. I know how you like finding different models of bats besides LS. Here’s a picture of a t4 ca. 1911 of Buck Weaver. I’ve been trying to get a close up of the bat on the baseball card forum with no luck. I know the bat he has in his hands is a Spalding Gold Medal Autograph model but I can’t make out the endorser. Maybe with your connections you could examine one in person. I have all the Gold Medal models so I know I could tell the signature if I got a close up. Either way it shows Weaver holding a Spalding bat.”
Clinton was also good enough the send me a picture of Reds 1919 catcher Nick Allen after reading my piece on his bat and side writing. I thought about Clinton’s comment about his Spalding Gold Medal Bat collection and asked him if would be willing to do a bit of Q&A for the benefit of MEARS readers. Clinton has graciously accepted so here we go:
DG Q: I suspect, like most collectors, you’ve collected various things over the years. How did you get into collecting and what did it begin with?
CH A: I got into collecting basically because of my parents. They both collected antiques and it was only natural I would collect too. I was really drawn to the past and all of the great stories especially sports. I started collecting just about any card I could get my hands on. It didn’t matter what kind card whether it was baseball, basketball, football or even non-sport cards at first. A friend of the family owned a card store and I would help out there on the weekends. My collection soon evolved to include all different types of memorabilia.
DG Q: When did you begin to collect Spalding Gold Medal bats and why did you decide to make this a collecting focus?
CH A: I began collecting Gold Medal bats in 1996. I collect Kansas baseball history and found a Spalding bat of Fred Clarke who was from Winfield, Kansas. I had never seen a bat as heavy or as beautiful as this one. It didn’t look like any Louisville Slugger I ever had. I tried to do some research on the bat but couldn’t find any information on it. Luckily Dave Bushing wrote an article about six months later in the Sports Collectors Digest on Spalding bats. In his article he wrote about how these bats were exact duplicates of what the players used themselves. He also listed the players offered that included Frank Chance, Willie Keeler and John Evers to name a few. I was immediately hooked on these almost 100 year old bats
DG Q: So who are the players in the Spalding Gold Medal Series?
CH A: Great questions as there is some controversy there in who was offered. Here is the list of who I and some of the other Spalding collectors believe were offered in the Gold Medal series:
Some people believe that Ty Cobb was available in the Gold Medal Series, but I don’t. 1908 was the only year Cobb was offered. In the catalog pictures of the bats, all of them have Gold Medal plus the name of the player. In the 1908 catalog the bats have no Gold Medal stamping plus no where is it mentioned Gold Medal. To back up my theory further I have a bat of the only player not marketed after the Gold Medal series ended, without the Gold Medal stamping. He was however available in the 1908 catalog. I hope this isn’t too confusing
DG Q: How many of these bats have you had over the years and are their any you wish you still had?
CH A: I’ve had 13 Gold Medal bats and traded one for a bat I needed.
DG Q: Have you ever found one of these bats in a place you really didn’t expect to find one?
CH A: I’ve found a couple at flea markets but most have been bought through dealers and auctions.
DG Q: Do you have Spalding catalogs for this product line and how did you locate them? Are there any catalogs you are looking for?
CH A: I’ve been able to locate all of the catalogs and purchased most of them through ebay.
DG Q: Do you have a favorite and if so, why?
CH A: My favorite bat would have to be the Willie Keeler. It’s so small measuring around 31 inches but weighs and astounding 39 ounces. That’s pretty heavy compared to what guys are using today. Plus how many Willie Keeler items are out there?
DG Q: You mentioned in a follow up e-mail, that you are still missing Ennis Oakes. If someone reading this article happens to have one, would you like them to contact you, and if so, how?
CH A: Absolutely, they can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
END OF Q&A PORTION…
First of all, I would like to thank Clint for taking the time to share this information. Prior to this, I had never looked into these bats in any real detail. Cinton was gracious enough to send along images of the catalog offerings. I found all of this fascinating, especially the line from the 1909 catalog that states:
“As these bats are made to order only, at least two weeks time may be required.”
To me this indicates that these are not run of the mill “store offerings” but a quality controlled product. Another interesting line from another catalog mentions that the bats they are providing are the “same models as used by the leading players”. Many of the models listed include both length and weights and it may be inferred that these offerings in the advertised length and weight represent a template if you will, of what they player may have ordered from Spalding. General taper and handle thickness is also addressed.
As always, 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.