How many of you would be interested in bat that was considered a players “Pro Stock Model” but could not be found listed by model number in their personal ledger sheet? I suspect not too many and that is what I want to talk about with this piece. For those that are not familiar with the phrase “Pro Stock Model”, it refers to a model bat for a player that was made available for general use by various players, teams, leagues and levels. These types of bats are also often referred to as “Index Bats”.
In his latest book, “A Complete Reference Guide to Louisville Slugger Professional Player Bats,” author Vince Malta lists player Pro Stock bats on the various player pages. I asked Vince about the source of these listings, and as always Vince was gracious enough to share this information. In his research for this book, Vince informed me that “H&B often had “sales lists” of bats sold to Teams, Colleges and the public indicating a model number and a player’s name.”
The bat I was interested in was a 1950s Pee Wee Reese model S100 bat. I have started a small collection of Brooklyn Dodger bats and wanted to add a Reese to the mix. If you have a copy of Vince’s latest book, which is highly recommended, you will find much of this information I am about to cover on page 169. You will also notice that the only reference to the model S100 for Reese in Vince’s book is an annotation as his Pro Stock model.
What might not jump out at you right away is that Reese’s early orders were off of bats made for Heine Schuble and Vince Sherlock; two players whose names ended in the letter “S”. I suspected that for Reese to have his Pro Stock model as an S100, it was likely manufactured and named for either Schuble or Sherlock and I was right. According to Dan Cohen, Curator of the Louisville Slugger Museum, “The S100 was created on 7/24/1939 and was a model made for Vince Sherlock. Sherlock was playing for the Louisville Colonels in 1939. Pee Wee Reese did, in fact, order this model exclusively from 1940-1946. Reese was a teammate of Sherlock on the Colonels.”
This means that Reese did swing a 34” S100 almost exclusively from 1939-1946 (with the possible exception of his war years for which no information appears to have been recorded). The bat I was interested in was a 34” S100 signature model with the general labeling period of 1950-1960 and you may be thinking by now, “why interest in a Pro Stock model bat that does not appear in his personal ledger?”
The Brooklyn Dodger team order ledger from 2/26/54 shows an order of:
6- K55, 6-H117 for Pitchers
While some might suggest that this order is nothing more than named order for bats for general club use, I tend to see it a bit differently. When orders were made for general team use, they would most likely involve various models as seen here. What I noticed was this same single request contained two orders for both the S100 and the K55. If they were for general use, why differentiate player names? If the counter is that some players, given the nature of race at the time, might not want to have wanted to swing a Jackie Robinson bat, and hence the need for Pee Wee Reese S100’s, then why the same duplication for the K55’s as well? In these same Brooklyn Dodger team order sheets you will find at least two other player specific orders for bats, that being for pitchers for the 1952 & 1953 World Series. This order some 5 months after the 1953 World Series, appears to coincide with spring training for the 1954 season.
There is a lot we don’t know and will likely never know about what was exactly ordered by teams in simply looking at these team ledger entries of “See Index” or “See Order”. But I think that the assumption that they never included bats designed for and intended for specific player use is not entirely defendable.
Is the bat I bought from this same order of 2/26/54? I have no way of knowing. But I do believe there is evidence to suggest that it is a possibility given the previous use by Reese of the S100 (Vince Sherlock model) at 34” and the nature of the mix of this order. Does any of this impact the value of the bat I bought? Probably not and this doesn’t bother me in the least. I was looking for an affordable Reese bat and a chance to do some research in writing and I got all of that and more. My hope is you got something out of this as well. For those fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock has helped to solve yet another mystery…
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