It amazes me how the bat collecting community appears to have by large, written off Spalding products once Hillerich and Bradsby came on the scene in the early part of the 20th Century. Back in March of 2007, I wrote and article titled “Pre-1920 Spalding Bats.” I won’t rehash that piece since you can read it in the MEARS News Archive, but the focus was to highlight reasons why Spalding was still a dominate force in providing all manner of product to the major leagues during that period in time.
Since writing that article, a few Spalding bats have come to market through MEARS Auctions/Sales. A couple of them have been from the “autograph line,” a product line long thought to have been linked to retail offerings. Today I will continue to plead the case for Albert Goodwill Spalding’s empire, and this time we will look to extend it into at least the late 1940s with respect to Spalding bats being used in major leagues.
MEARS contributing writer Justin Brooks prompted me to take a look at a vintage photograph offered by Hunts Auctions as Lot # 596 in their February 2010 Auction.
The player in question is Larry Doyle. Based on the three lines of text in the center brand, it appears that this bat is a Spalding “autograph line” bat. I base this observation off the fact that manner of marking is NOT one that can be found on period products of other manufacturers.
Moving into the 1920s, there is no doubt about what Cy Williams is holding. This bat is clearly a Spalding “autograph line” product.
Into the 1930s, we will see a transition in the labeling style, but once again we find Spalding product. This time the bat is in the hands of Hall of Famer Al Simmons. Does this mean that Simmons was a Spalding user? Maybe or maybe not. The point being that Spalding products were still being used by major league players in the 1930s.
How about jumping all the way to the late 1940s? In this case we can find an image of Philadelphia A’s slugging first baseman Ferris Fain. The photo is identified as being from 1948, but it can’t be from any earlier than 1947 as 47 was Fain’s first year with the A’s. The logo or center brand is not an H&B oval nor is it an Adirondack product. It is also not a Hanna, Reach, Kren or Zinn Beck product. Would I be surprised to see a Spalding product show up in the 1950s? I would not. The moral of today’s article…Keep looking and keep questioning what you’ve always been told. The surest way not to see something is to never look for it yourself in the first place.
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