March 5, 2005
On 1/17/06, we examined the following item for the April 2006, Robert Edwards Auction and reported the following via the MEARS Bat Grading & Authentication Official Worksheet ã2005/2006. Hologram #301536 was assigned. Our findings:
“Joe DiMaggio professional model Louisville Slugger bat attributed to the 1947 World Series with letter of provenance”
Center Brand & model number D29L
The bat was manufactured by Hillerich & Bradsby and exhibited the 1943-49 centerbrand. Inspection of the bat detailed the factory stamped D29L on knob, designating model and large knob style. Production methods of the period were completed with the addition of a model number found on the knob. Model numbers were introduced during the 1943 season and should be found on the knob for all professional model bats from this time period (1943-1949). Joe first began to order the D29 model bats during the 1947 season. His first orders were ordered with the traditional D29 knob. In September he modified the D29 he had been ordering and added a larger, Babe Ruth knob. When examining the validity and accuracy of the provenance, we determined this model was correctly stamped for issuance to Joe DiMaggio during the 1947 season, thus supporting facts of the provenance. The actual shipping records of bats from this time frame are listed as:
9-17-47 D29 with Ruth knob, 36” 35 ounce (A4)
9-25-47 D29 with Ruth knob, 36” 35 ounce (A2)
The records confirm that the 9-17-47 was the first reference to the Ruth knob being added to the D29 model bats. Although the bat was not listed as the D29L, this is the first and only two times the phrase “with Ruth Knob” was added to the bat records during 1947. Therefore, it is MEARS interpretation of the records that D29 with Ruth knob = D29L. Starting in 1948, this model appears in the record as D29L with the reference “with Ruth Knob” removed with the exception of two orders. From then on the model was strictly referred to as the D29L model in Joe DiMaggio’s personal bat records. For complete disclosure, the D29L model was found in the Joe DiMaggio personal records from 1947 to 1949, matching this label period, and the provenance supplied the dating to 1947.
The interpretation of the records is very important in the dating of this bat and the incorporation and verification of the accompanying provenance. With the provenance stating this bat (D29L model) was used in the 1947 World Series, MEARS had to verify that this is a model that was manufactured during the time period for Joe DiMaggio for use during the 1947 World Series. Therefore with the discovery of the two entries
9-17-47 D29 with Ruth knob, 36” 35 ounce (Ash 4 bats)
9-25-47 D29 with Ruth knob, 36” 35 ounce (Ash 2 bats)
it was established this model bat was 1 of 6 manufactured for Joe DiMaggio, which would have been made available for him to use during the 1947 World Series, with the 9-25-47 order most likely being the order his World Series bats would have been ordered from.
Another point, there was no special entry in the records for Joe DiMaggio’s bats being sent to him for World Series use. For the following World Series:
World Series entries for Joe DiMaggio found in Louisville Slugger Records
A special entry in his records specifically stated the model that was to be sent for World Series use. No specific mention of an order for 1947 appears in the records, therefore supporting the order matching this bat, 9-25-47 D29 with Ruth knob, 36” 35 ounce (A2),as the bat that would have been sent to Joe DiMaggio for use during the World Series.
The actual date of the order, 9-25-47 also serves as another supporting fact of this bat being the one sent to Joe DiMaggio for the 1947 World Series as most bats that were specifically listed “for World Series” were dated in those final weeks of September, preceding the October playing of the World Series.
Player’s Name Barrel Stampings
In July 4th, 1933, for the sum of one dollar and a set of golf clubs for his minor league manager, Joe DiMaggio signed an exclusive contract with Hillerich & Bradsby that allowed the bat manufacture to place the script Joe DiMaggio signature on the barrel of its bats. Therefore, a factory applied “Joe DiMaggio” facsimile signature appears on the barrel end. The factory application of the “Joe DiMaggio” facsimile stamp was also examined and it matches other documented “Joe DiMaggio” factory stampings from bats manufactured during the 1940s, thus establishing consistency of the factory application of the name barrel stamp. (photographic samples from our database enclosed.) This style of barrel stamping was also what should be found on bats that would have been sent to Joe DiMaggio to use during 1947.
The provenance of the bat states the bat was used during the 1947 World Series and all of the manufacturers characteristics support that claim.
A recent weighing of the bat determined its present weight to be 33.9 ounces. The records show that during the years 1947 to 1949, Joe DiMaggio preferred his D29L model bats to weigh 35 or 36 ounces. When determining the likelihood of this being from the 9-25-47 D29 with Ruth knob, 36” 35 ounce (Ash 2 bats) order, the difference of minus 1.1 ounce is well within the acceptable weight loss of bat when compared to a factory record and the measured weights supports the weight from this order. The weight of this bat and the examination of the weight of bats ordered by Joe DiMaggio during this label period supports this bat as being one model and weight favored by DiMaggio and serves as a form of trend analysis to support this model bat.
The bat measures 36” in length. With the exception of one order of (12) D29L 35” bats being sent to Joe DiMaggio during 1948 and one order of 6 in 1949, all of his D29L bats from the label period of 1943-49 were to be shipped to Joe DiMaggio in this 36 length. The length of this bat and the examination of the lengths of bats ordered by Joe DiMaggio during this label period supports this bat as being one model and length favored by DiMaggio and serves as a form of trend analysis to support this model bat.
The knob of the bat has been determined to be of the large version and referred to as “Ruth Knob.”
The barrel was round which was the most common style of the day.
The wood was found to be of the highest professional grade with the grain pattern found on other examined game used Joe DiMaggio bats. With a thorough visual examination of the wood, MEARS determined this to be a wood of the absolute highest quality and meeting all of the qualities found on other examined professional model bats.
Provenance and chain of ownership:
1936- Joseph Delle Fave was injured in an Italian bakery accident. Lou Gehrig was in attendance and provided the owner of the bat with an autographed baseball, thus establishing the connection to the New York Yankees and its famous players.
1947- The Town of Union City, New Jersey sponsored a Columbus Day testimonial dinner to raise money for injured Joseph Delle Fave. Joe DiMaggio was scheduled to attend.
Unable to attend, Joe DiMaggio gives a game used bat, purported to be the examined bat, MEARS #301536, to Yankees public relations employee, Jackie Farrel.
Jackie Farrel presents bat to Joseph Delle Fave, stating the bat was used by Joe DiMaggio to hit a run home during the 1947 World Series. (October 4th, 1947, at Ebbets Field.) A 1947 team ball was also provided.
December 23, 1991, Al Curcio, president of Centerfield Collectibles, Inc., prepares a signed letter stating the facts as he was told by Joseph Delle Fave. Curcio states that Fave told him the bat had remained in his possession since 1947 after receiving the bat from Mr. Farrell on behalf of Joe DiMaggio on Columbus Day. Al Curcio states that Mr. Farrell stated to Fave at this time that it was the bat DiMaggio hit a homerun with during the 1947 World Series.
January 7, 1992, Joseph J. Cortese, nephew of Joseph Delle Fave prepares a signed letter chronicling the family’s story of the bat.
February 1, 1992, noted bat collector/authenticator/author Michael P. Montbriand prepares a letter after evaluating the manufacturer characteristics of the bat and checking the bat against factory records.
The timeline provided via the accompanying provenance creates a reasonable & plausible chain of ownership of the bat back to the owner and the purported gifting by Joe DiMaggio.
Final Grade Evaluation:
5 points: The base grade was determined and 5 points were awarded with the verification of the factor records of a bat being shipped to Joe DiMaggio matching the examined bat’s manufacturers characteristics.
3 points: Medium use was present under examination, which was appropriate for World Series play, and 3 full points are awarded per the MEARS criteria.
2 points: Provenance was both reasonable and verifiable. The story as retold by Joseph J. Cortese referred to this bat as being used by Joe DiMaggio during the 1947 World Series. Examination of the bat’s manufacturers characteristics in terms of model, length and weight were all consistent with a bat that would have been shipped to be used by Joe DiMaggio for the 1947 World Series, thus supporting the provenance.
Final Grade: MEARS A10
The D29L large Babe Ruth knob was first introduced and popularized by Joe DiMaggio during the 1947 season. The use was consistent with what should be found on a World Series bat. The provenance provided was factually accurate and was supported by the manufacturing characteristics. Thorough examination of the factory records and the physical examination of the bat in terms of manufactures characteristics and use evaluation support the provided provenance as this being a bat sent to Joe DiMaggio for use during the 1947 World Series. All claims to the event provenance (hitting of a homerun at Ebbets Field during the 1947 World Series) was provided via the accompanying provenance with exact timeline and signers listed above.
Troy R. Kinunen
MEARS Evaluations and Grading