It seems that with my recent bat articles, I have developed some sort of reputation as someone who is against H&B/Louisville Slugger Production data as a source of information. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I do have a problem with is that these records have become some definitive or divine and infallible source to many. I am an intelligence officer by career and training, and as such have learned the hard way what happens when only one source of information is considered.
Intelligence Professionals rely on concepts such as multi-discipline collection and cueing. The idea is to use any number of sources and types of data and information to develop the most complete picture possible. The drawback in using a multi-disciplined approach is that at times, your sources may conflict in some manner. The easiest thing to do is throw out the one you don’t like, but this is not the best way to approach the issue. Rather, what you should do is go back over the information, re-evaluate the merits and see what you might have missed.
I have actually heard it said by some in the hobby/industry that it is irresponsible to form opinions that can not be supported by production information. I find it personally and professionally irresponsible to dismiss out-of- hand contrary views that may not conform to “the sacred shipping records”. What is even more irresponsible is when people pick and choose when a form of information is considered acceptable. I have written a rather lengthy article (which some of you have copies of) on Ty Cobb Bat Lengths and Imagery Analysis. The premise is that I feel photographs show that Cobb used bats much longer than those listed in his personal bat records. I even made the point in my paper that Cobb’s own writings indicated that his bats were a uniform 34 ½” and 40 ounces, only dropping down to 35 or 36 ounces late in his career.
Disciples of the H&B/Louisville Slugger production information will say that you can’t dismiss what a player said about his own bats, especially when it confirms what is contained in these records. I will agree with that statement to a certain extent only as far as when it can not be countered by other information. This brings me to the point of this article. Consider Joe DiMaggio and what is contained in his personal shipping records for the years 1936 and 1937.
Joe DiMaggio signed as an H&B endorser on August 10th, 1933 while a star in the Pacific Coast League and had at least been receiving bats since that time. Between his first order in 1936 (3-10-36) and his last order in 1937 (10-2-37) there are some eleven (11) dated entries for bat orders. The longest bat he is shown to have ordered is listed at 36” and the heaviest bat from this time frame is shown at 38oz. But about an assertion that DiMaggio used bats of 38” in length and weighed as much as 40 oz?
There is a delightful two volume collection known as “The DiMaggio Albums.” Volume I covers the years 1932-1941 and Volume II covers the period of 1942-1951 (V II actually continues well into the 1970s). These books are a wonderful collection of vintage period interviews, photographs, and artifacts and are a must for any collector and fan of the game. They can still be found on E-Bay and at very affordable prices considering all they contain. The thing that has bearing on this specific topic is some of the interviews and news columns contained in both volumes.
Text of a newspaper report by Staff Reporter Daniel; St. Petersburg, FL, March 11th 1936. “Di Maggio swings a bat which weighs forty ounces and is thirty-eight inches long. It may develop that Joe will have to cut down both on the size and weight of his bludgeon. He may not be able to bring the bat around fast enough against the type of fast- ball pitching he will see from Lefty Grove, Schoolboy Rowe, Mel Harder, Tommy Bridges and a few other lads in the American League.”
Text of newspaper report by Daniel M Daniel in 1936: “Joe reminds one of Joe Jackson at the plate-standing with one foot back, with his feet 12 inches apart. He swings a 40-ounce bat, 36 inches in length-one of the biggest bats used by any major league player.”
Text of and article by Staff Reporter Daniel; St. Petersburg, FL, March 20th, 1937. “In the first place, I cannot go through the season swinging a forty-ounce bat,” DiMaggio said, “ I intended to start the new campaign with a forty, but after August I intended to switch to a thirty-seven or thirty-six ouncer. Last summer I found myself getting tired lugging that heavy stick through August and September. In the last two weeks I got so fagged out I fell off 18 points in my hitting.”
Text of an article by Staff Reporter Daniel; Detroit MI, July 15 1937. “The weight of his (DiMaggio) bat is unchanged-38or 39 ounces, and the heaviest on the club.”
Text from AP Article, Chicago IL, June 11th 1947.
HEADLINE: Lighter Bat Key To DiMaggio’s Hitting Surge.
“The Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio is back in his prewar hitting grove mainly because he is using a 26-ounce bat instead of a 42-ounce club. “When I was swinging a 42-ounce bat”, says DiMaggio, “you hardly ever saw anything but fast balls and curves. You got so you could gauge those pitchers and time your swing with the heavy bat to meet ‘em just right. But today you’re looking at knucklers, sinkers, sliders and what-not. Every pitcher has four or five different deliveries. You have to wait longer to see what the ball is going to do-and that means a lighter bat is better ‘cause you can wave it around at the last second.
No entry for this could be found in the NY Yankee team orders nor in DiMaggio’s personal order sheet for either a 29 or 42 ounce bat or really even anything close (a portion of DiMaggio’s personal order sheet can be found on page 123 of Bob Hill’s Crack of the Bat).
Here we have five examples, two with quotes from DiMaggio, stating he used bats at dimensions not recorded in either his personal order sheets or those within the Team Index Orders of the NY Yankees.
There is also a wonderful picture of Joe DiMaggio and Bob Feller as rookies in 1936. DiMaggio is holding a rather long bat diagonally across his chest and he is wearing a home uniform. All of these details are important and you will see why:
1. The pinstripe width with respect to separation for Yankees uniforms from this period is approximately 1 inch.
2. The angle of the bat permits both the full length to be seen and it is not visibly distorted in any appreciable manner.
3. Its very close proximity to his (DiMaggio’s) body places both the bat and his uniform within the same relative plain.
What this means is that everything within the same plane of the uniform shares the same spatial relationship. In other words everything as wide as the width between pinstripes is same length.
The image can be found in:
Page 121 of The New York Yankees: An Illustrated History (Revised Edition) by Donald Honig.
Page 165 of The American League: An Illustrated History (Revised Edition) by Donald Honig.
Mensuration shows this bat to be approximately 38” in length.
Pinstripes are 4mm= 1 inch
Bat at 152 mm = 38 inches
This is consistent with the above entry from Volume I, page 51, March of 1936.
Of course it would have been great to see DiMaggio’s name on the barrel, but it is a 38 inch bat and DiMaggio is reported to have been using a 38 inch bat at this time frame.
Please note that nothing I have offered is designed to say that the personal bat records for DiMaggio are wrong. But rather that they may not be as complete as we have been led to believe. One on hand, many respected collectors and researchers will acknowledge this, but are very reluctant to accept findings or opinions that highlight this.
Back to the issue of how this relates to intelligence collection. You can’t acknowledge flaws or imperfections with one discipline and then rule out the others when they indicate that what you have already acknowledged may in fact be “more true” than you thought.
H&B/Louisville Slugger production information is a tremendous source of information and I am deeply and ever so thankful for the work of bat collectors and researchers such as Vince Malta, Mike Specht, Ronald Foxx, Bill Riddell, Dave Bushing, Marshall Fogel and Troy Kinunen just to name a few. My point is that the information I have addressed today and used with my other previous bat articles:
What We Really Know About Bats
H&B Player Endorsement Contracts
Team Index Bats
has been available for years. My purpose is not to denigrate previous efforts, but rather show how they may be enhanced by looking at the same issues in a multi-discipline approach. If I have learned anything throughout my career as an intelligence officer, it is that this is how the best results are achieved. If this is all somehow irresponsible, then I was clearly sleeping though that part of the class on intelligence collection management.
MEARS Auth, LLC