Dave Miedema informed me late Friday night that his computer was in the shop and he would not be able to provide his weekly Sunday News Extra. I hope you don’t mind me pinch hitting for Dave this week. When trying to decide what to get out, I thought I would use this as something to force me to look some issues or questions I have had for some time. They focus on model numbers for Hillerich & Bradsby Bats.
Bats are dated by any number of characteristics such as various styles and formats of information branded on them. They are also dated to a more narrow range based on combination length, weight and model number. It is this latest aspect that I would like to devote some time to with respect to Hillerich and Bradsby offerings.
Before going any further, think about the purpose and function of a model number from a manufacturer’s perspective:
1. It allows the manufacturer to track the various products into a manageable number of items that may be common to or requested by multiple players. If It’s found that a number of players are using the same model bat, then only one or few of these need to remain on hand in order to support duplication.
2. It facilitates and simplifies production as relates to pulling a bat as an exemplar for turning.
3. It facilities inventory control and the processing of an order, especially in the case when a player may order more than one model at the same time.
From the perspective of the end user:
1. It facilities the ability to cross check what was received vs what was ordered.
2. It facilitates product identification when selecting a bat for use.
3. It facilitates either product reordering, or requests for new bats in the form of requesting a new model made from say an S2 knob, K55 handle and an R43 barrel.
The question I have and am looking at is when did model numbers begin to appear on the knobs of Hilerich and Bradsby bats? Since we don’t have year specific offerings in the way of All Star or World Series bats to reference from the early to mid 1940s, it might be insightful to look at when this information begins to appear as a reference in player production information. This should be seen within the context of the purpose a model number as previously detailed. The currently accepted date for this has only been identified as the mid 1940s, but what is this based on and are there early references?
Since model numbers are a focal point of study and discussion as they relate to player order sheets and production information, I decided to see when the earliest references to model numbers could be found.
Model Number Recorded for the First Time In a Players Order Sheet:
Luke Appling: Model #A31 on 6/3/41
Ben Chapman: Model #C10 on 6/17/39
Joe Cronin: Model # C118 on 6/2/41 and “his model sent in” C118- 6/14/41
Ki Ki Cuyler: Model # C115 on 6/5/41
Bobby Doerr: Model # D2 on 2/24/40
Chuck Dresser: Model # D51 on 2/29/39
Lew Fonseca: Model #F16 on 4/30/41
Lonny Frey: Model #F36-2/26/41 and “his 1/10/40” small model F78-4/11/42
Lou Gehrig: Model G69 “5/13/31 with Ruth Knob” on 4/25/39
Hank Greenberg: “Same as last year, his 5/15/39” Model # G62 on 3/28/1941
Lefty Grove: “Joe Cronin on end. C-1 model sent in”. Model # C1 on 7/24/40
Chick Hafey: “His 4/25/28 H4”. Model H4 on 4/4/42
Chuck Klein: “New Model made K55”. Model K55 on 4/30/35.
Hal Trosky: “New Model Made T14” Model T14 on 4/30/40.
While some of these entries may have had the model numbers written in a later date, this does not appear to the case in all instances. I think a valid observation would be that at some level, Hillerch and Bradsby began an alpha-numeric identification of their products in the late 1930s to early 1940s. While the records I looked at don’t seem to indicate this in a consistent manner until the mid 1940s, it does offer for question could model numbers have appeared on bats as early as say 1941 since this convention was established and being utilized on some level. Think about answering this question for yourself against the backdrop of what I articulated about the purpose and functions of a model number. Also if you have always just accepted the position that model numbers did not begin to appear on Hillerich & Bradsby bats until the mid 1940s, ask yourself what have you based this on? I would welcome thoughts and discussion on this topic.
The other thing I have often wondered about the Hillerich & Bradsby alpha-numeric identification of their products and the source of those, is how many duplicate models it may have resulted in as having been produced over the years. Consider this example involving these four fictional players.
Veteran Joe bat uses the model B1.
Rookie Ed Glove uses the model G1, but likes the handle on the B1. He requests that a new bat be made for him using the G1 only with a B1 handle. This bat now becomes the G2.
For the sake of discussion, 5 years transpire since the G2 was made.
Sam Cap is a teammate of Ed Glove and he really likes G2. Mike Mitt is also a team mate and he uses the B1. Sam swings both bats and likes something about both of them. He wishes the G2 had a handle like B1. He then sends in a request for a G2 with a B1 handle. A new bat is made for him and becomes the C1.
But what is the C1? It is the same bat as the B1.
This has no general hobby impact, but as I was thinking about model numbers in general, this crossed my mind.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com.