The names Babe, Mick, Duke, Mr. Cub, and Big Train are all easily recognizable and associated with players that became legends. When we hear those nicknames, we immediately know who they belong to. Although all were famous men, can you tell me what or if Mickey Mantle had a nickname for his bat? In the history of baseball, only one bat was universally known to all, and it was the Black Betsy.
My evaluation of the Black Betsy bat was recorded as follows:
MEARS hologram #: 305170
1916-17 Louisville Slugger Black Betsy Professional Model bat: style/model of bat used by Joe Jackson (returned by Jack Warhop)
The following item is a 1916-17 Louisville Slugger Black Betsy model bat which is identical with respect to model, style, finish, and consistent in regards to length and weight of other MEARS examined bats manufactured (H&B and Spalding) to be used by Shoeless Joe Jackson during his playing days with the Chicago White Sox. The style, model, and finish have been photographically documented as being used by Joe Jackson. Although absent of a name on barrel, we could confirm the manufacturing characteristics with respect to bats used by Joe Jackson by comparing this example to the circa 1911 Joe Jackson vault mark bat (J13) and store model bats which were made available to the hobby during the same relative time frame. Vault marked examples can serve as factory records as it is known that future bats were manufactured from the archived vault marked examples.
This examined bat matched the manufacturer dimensions of the vault marked example. It is also known that store model bats were designed from the players preferred specifications. If a store model bat exists, it was designed from a bat used by the player endorsee. Typically the players most favorite model. The manufactures dimensions of this bat compare very favorably to the examined store model examples made available during the same time frame especially in terms of knob, handle, barrel, barrel end, and finish. The dimensions of a store model bat were taken directly from the players personal model bat. Store model Joe Jackson bats prove this as a model ordered and preferred by Joe Jackson.
A photograph is provided which shows the similarities of the three. 1. Vault Marked example, 2. Examined Black Betsy, 3. Black Betsy Store Model bat. The unique design and finish coupled with examination of available images and examination of documented examples allows us to attribute the use of the Black Betsy model bat to Joe Jackson. With the strong similarities of the three, it is can be concluded that Black Betsy finished bats matching these similar dimensions can be deemed as a model ordered by Joe Jackson.
This examined bat measures 35 ½” length and weighs 42 ounces, both within an acceptable ordering variance of the examples this bat was compared to. Examples of professional model bats examined by MEARS and supported when reviewing the Louisville Slugger shipping records routinely establish players using bats varying in length of 1” to 3” and weights of 1 ounce to 4 ounces. These variances are associated with the most commonly ordered model of bats ordered by players. There are extremes to both ends of the spectrum which have been documented and examples of less variances found when reviewing the factory records. We concluded that this bat falls within the documented and accepted ordering variances of professional model bats.
Due to its unique features, mainly consisting of black betsy finish and blank barrel, this bat is being evaluated as a Black Betsy style/model bat that was one type used by Joe Jackson. Without a player’s name appearing on the centerbrand, absolute attribution cannot be made to a player, but I believe it to be the model used by Joe Jackson as it compares quite favorably to three other documented examples. Therefore, we are evaluating the bat as type of model it was manufactured as. There are no known catalogs, records, or ledgers showing other players being offered the Black Betsy model bat in these dimensions with a blank barrel, but it is possible. We do know that other players did use bats with the black betsy finish, but those examples were found with the players name stamped on the barrel. Three documented examples of Black Betsy bats have entered the hobby. All three examined by MEARS were found to be originally manufactured as a blank barrel. Therefore, I feel it is proper to attribute this bat as being the correct model in regards to style, length, weight, finish, and barrel end as a bat preferred and used by Joe Jackson. There is no proof currently known which explains the introduction of blank barreled black betsy bats for player use, but then again, no other bat was as unique to the sport and so closely associated to one player. Its uniqueness caused this bat to be referred to by its own name, Black Betsy. This may account for the reason no player’s name was added to the barrel, as it wasn’t needed for the purpose of identification, as its color and model were unique enough.
A signature version was also available for Joe Jackson’s use during the 1916 era. Two signature model examples from the similar timeframe have been examined by MEARS and are referenced in this article for the purpose of comparison. Photographs clearly support the use of both the Black Betsy and non- Black Betsy finished bats by Joe Jackson. The examined signature model bats are consistent with the photographs and support the style, model, and color of a non-Black Betsy Style bat being used by Joe Jackson. The signature model examples were not consistent in terms of length and weight to the 3 documented Joe Jackson examples. This illustrated that the Black Betsy blank barreled models were more consistent with respect to length and weight than the signature versions. Examples examined were:
1. J13- 1911 J.F. Hillerich & Son vault marked bat
2. Spalding Black Betsy MEARS #301331
3. M EARS #303705 1911-16 Black Betsy (Hunt Auctions)
Joe Jackson did indeed use a Black Betsy model bat exhibiting the dark blackened finish with what appeared via photographs as a blank barrel. Four detailed images are referenced and provided. The image allows for a visual examination of the bat’s model, barrel end shape, centerbrand presence, lack of visible writing/stamping on barrel end upon visual inspection of the images, and two-toned black Betsy finish. This bat compares favorably to the images while conducting a visual comparison of bat to photos. The Black Betsy bats are thought to be blank barreled, as other examined Black Betsy model bats examined by MEARS were also blank barreled. The examination of the available photographs does not show any name stamped on the barrel. The centerbrands are clearly visible but no name can be seen on the barrel. This may be due to quality of the image used which does not allow a detailed view of the barrel that would show the presence of a player’s name, or the bat was photographed as a blank barreled bat. It is our opinion of the latter explanation. No examples of Black Betsy finished bats from 1912-19 label period made to similar dimension containing Joe Jackson’s facsimile signature have ever been examined within the hobby. No examples were included in the original Louisville Slugger find.
Also, we have examined three documented Joe Jackson bats, and all were lacking any player’s name at time of manufacturing. Examination of the three documented examples allowed us to compare this examined example with regards to manufacturing characteristics, barrel label, length, and weight. They were:
* J13- 1911 J.F. Hillerich & Son vault marked bat. This bat was manufactured as a blank barrel, meaning the Joe Jackson signature or block lettered stamping did not appear on the barrel at the time it first left the factory. In must be noted that it was common during this timeframe for players to use blank barreled bats. Another high profile example of a bat from this era lacking barrel stampings is the Honus Wagner game used bat, which is part of the Dr. Richard Angrist collection. The stamping of player’s name on a regular basis is not documented in the hobby until the post 1917 label periods for Louisville Slugger bats. The J13 is the model number that was assigned to this model of bat at the factory for Joe Jackson. The manufacturer characteristics are medium handle, thick handle, and bullet tip barrel end. This barrel end is unique as it has more rounding and tapers to the end much more drastically than the usual barrel end. This preference was requested by Joe Jackson and the factory assigned the new model designation, J13, to him for exclusive reference of this model. This examined bat perfectly mirrors these design specifications. Therefore, this bat is the same model as the documented J13 vault marked example in regards to design specifications and barrel end shape. See attached images.
* Spalding Black Betsy MEARS #301331, was also manufactured as a blank barrel model. Thought to have been originally manufactured before his signing with Louisville Slugger in 1912, the model is quite different than the J13 model. It was manufactured as a blank barrel model, which was consistent in terms of the manufacturer methods of the era in regards to producing bats without a player’s name on barrel. This example does not support the model as it is clearly different, but is used to reference that bats from this era were produced sans barrel stampings.
* MEARS #303705 1911-16 Black Betsy (Hunt Auctions). This bat measured 35.5” in length and weighed 40.6 ounces. It also contained the bullet tip barrel end, which is consistent in terms of production methods of the J13 model designation. The length and weight of this additional sample is near identical to the examined bat. This bat comes with provenance in the form of a letter from Marguerite M. (Hauer) Joyce. Her father was Thomas Hauer. He was employed by the Boston Braves and Boston Red Sox. During his term as a clubhouse attendant, it was passed down as family legend that he obtained this bat from Joe Jackson. This is an example of a blank barreled Joe Jackson with both manufacturing characteristics quite consistent with the examined bat and accompanied by provenance. Photograph of Thomas Hauer and original sale description of this bat is included.
With respect to other bats exhibiting the Black Betsy finish having a players name stamped into the barrel, there are two examples referenced by Dave Bushing of MEARS. The examples were:
1911-19 Hank Gowdy Louisville Slugger Black Betsy signature model
1911-15 Chick Gandil (34”) Louisville Slugger Black Betsy model bat with block lettered name (www.blackbetsy.com)
These references are the only known examples of Black Betsy finished bats having a players name that have been examined by the staff of MEARS to date. Dave Bushing also determined that both bats contained player identification on the barrel, which was applied at the factory at the time of original manufacture. The names were not added at a later time like the instance of the Spalding Black Betsy and the J13 vault marked example. We have found no additional references of other players requesting a black Betsy style bat. It should also be noted that the Gandil bat measured 34”. This was a 1” difference than any of the MEARS examined black Betsy bats. By comparison, this illustrates that the one of the other documented Black Betsy model bats containing a players name on barrel was different that the Joe Jackson bats in two distinct ways:
1. The length was 1” shorter than any examined Joe Jackson Black Betsy bats
2. The Black Betsy style bat which was ordered by another player (Gandil) and was bearing that player’s name was found to not be consistent with the lengths of the documented and recorded Black Betsy style bats examined by MEARS.
The Hank Gowdy bat measurements were not recorded therefore disallowing it for comparison sake. This illustrates that the players whose name was factory stamped Gandil and Gowdy used bats containing barrel stampings which was in direct contrast to the blank barrel bats thought to be used by Shoeless Joe Jackson. For the sake of full disclosure, the 1” shorter variance alone does not exclude the bat from being Joe Jackson’s, as ordering patterns support players with that degree of length variance or greater. But, the 1” shorter length in conjunction with the player’s name on barrel disqualifies that examined example from being manufactured for Joe Jackson.
It should be noted that both the J13 and the Spalding Black Betsy model bats entered the hobby with JACKSON stamped into the barrel. This was done by both manufactures at a later time when the bat was returned for duplication for his barnstorming career. No name appeared on the bat at the time the bats were issued for use by Joe Jackson. Both examples having blank barrels are consistent with this examined model.
Typically, MEARS examines bats containing a factory stamped players name, (most often signature models), which were manufactured in accordance with the player’s specifications. These player specifications are recorded via side written and vault marked examples, lathe and tool room bats, and available factory records. Players first signed a contract, and then their names were added to the model of their choice. Typically, during this early timeframe, the contract allowed for the players autograph to appear on the decal which was placed on store model bats which served as product branding for Louisville Slugger and promotion of the players model to the general public. For the years 1912-1917, it is our experience that most game used professional model bats were issued as blank barreled. Store model decal bats were also issued during the 1912-1917 timeframe, which were consistent with the model of bat used by Joe Jackson.
Joe Jackson did indeed sign a contract with Hillerich & Bradsby and was issued signature model Louisville Slugger professional model bats for his use in the majors. Examples examined dated from the 1916-19 timeframe. Both examples of the signature model Joe Jackson bats examined by MEARS measured 33” in length and were found with thinner handles and barrels. The signature models were in direct contrast to the Black Betsy model bats and were different with respect to model, dimensions, and finish.
Although this bat does not contain his facsimile factory stamped signature, the bat is consistent in regards to length, weight, model and finish of his J13 Louisville Slugger and his 1911-16 MEARS #303705 Black Betsy. The examined J13 model is the only bat referenced in the available Louisville Slugger personal player records for Joe Jackson. Therefore, this bat is consistent in respect to model (special emphasis on handle and barrel end) with the only recorded Joe Jackson bat model. Image included of the original J13 Joe Jackson Louisville Slugger bat, which allows for comparison.
Another supporting fact that this examined model and the additional Black Betsy model bats were issued for use for Joe Jackson is the fact that the examined Black Betsy model mirrors the retail model 40JJ decal bats that were offered via retail dealers. Store model bats were manufactured using the dimensions of their game used professional model counterparts. With their introduction to the general public, Louisville Slugger retail or “store model” bats were issued with a different centerbrand markings. The decal store model bats which are commonly found within the hobby were marked in the center as “40JJ”, with the initials standing for Joe Jackson. Enclosed is an advertisement dated 1913 promoting the fact that Joe Jackson was endorsing Louisville Slugger bats for the following season. To support the fact that the store model examples were issued with the 40JJ centerbrand which was different than the “double dash dot dash” found on professional model centerbrands, we examined the Schverling, Daly & Gales 1917 Spring & Summer Catalog. On page 21 is found both a price list and a photographic image of the store model Joe Jackson bat, where the 40JJ centerbrand on the decal bat is clearly illustrated. This serve as verifiable proof that Louisville offered store model Joe Jackson bats during this approximate timeframe. It is also a fact that store model bats were manufactured from the same model as the professional version preferred and used by the player. Therefore, if a store model bat exists, its model was taken from a professional model bat. So, by examining the store model Joe Jackson bats which has entered the hobby, we can determine what model the bats originated from. Enclosed is a full-length color image of a 1911-15 Joe Jackson 40JJ-decal store model retail bat. It mirrors this examined bat in regards to knob, handle, barrel, barrel end, and Black Betsy finish. When comparing store model versus professional model, please keep in mind that the model (shape) is more important than the length and weight, as both were offered to retail customers in a variety of options.
This Black Betsy bat, with specifications consistent with bats used by Joe Jackson, was returned to the factory by fellow major leaguer Jack Warhop. While pitching for the New York Yankees, Warhop was a contemporary to Shoeless Joe and his major league career spanned from 1908 to 1916. Both were major leaguers and both were in the American League. This would have allowed Warhop access to both Joe Jackson and his bats during the 1916 season. Logic would dictate that teammates would most likely borrow bats and return them to the factory to have their own model replicated. Our own MEARS database supports that trend as seen in the McNair/Ferrell, Trosky/Greenberg, Horsnby/Adair, and Ott/Moore examples. All were teammates. But for MEARS #302984, major leaguers Al Cuccinello was never a teammate with Paul Waner, yet he used his model to have an Al Cuccinello signature model produced.
Additional examples of players using other’s bats and recorded via side writing have been examined by MEARS. This lends support to the fact that players used bats which contained the factory signature of one player and was returned to the Louisville Slugger factory by another. Examples examined by MEARS include:
MEARS #303778 Eric McNair Signature Model returned by Rick Ferrell
MEARS #258251 Hal Trosky Signature Model returned by Hank Greenberg
MEARS #302984 Paul Waner Player Model returned by Al Cuccinello
MEARS #251534 Rogers Hornsby Signature Model returned by Jimmy Adaira
Examined by Bushing Mel Ott Signature Model returned by Joe Moore
Historical Back Ground of Jack Warhop and the details of the history of the Black Betsy model bat
Next, I will address both Jack Warhop and Joe Jackson in their baseball related historical context.
Jack Warhop was famous for pitching Babe Ruth’s first major league homerun. It should also be noted that this side written example originated directly from the vaults of Louisville Slugger. The sides written examples are considered the best of the best as in this instance the side writing allowed for a direct link to a major league ball player. Although not side written as “Joe Jackson”, this side written Jack Warhop bat does provide a direct link to the American League during the 1916 era when Joe Jackson was playing for the Chicago White Sox.
As a player, Jackson was a left-handed hitter with a beautiful swing, which Babe Ruth claimed to have imitated. Jackson had power and speed, was considered the finest left fielder in the game, and possessed a strong arm. He never won a batting title, but finished second to Ty Cobb in his first three full seasons, and ranked third on two other occasions. With his career curtailed because of the “Black Sox” scandal, Jackson’s career average remained frozen at .356 – the third highest in history. Joe Jackson was famous for many things, but his bat is the only one in baseball history known by its own name.
According to legend, Jackson spun, or had someone else spin, his bats out of hickory. He named his bats: there was Blonde Betsy, Big Jim, and Old General. But his most famous piece of lumber was Black Betsy, a charcoal-darkened bat with a wide barrel, a brass staple, and a Spalding logo on the sweet spot. Jackson received the bat in 1908, and used it into the 1930s, when he was playing in outlaw leagues in the south. The Black Betsy, which originated from his estate, was used as a model for comparison to this Louisville Slugger example.
MEARS had the privilege of examining the Spalding model Joe Jackson Black Betsy (#301331) and was able to compare this example with it.
Spalding Black Betsy MEARS #301331: 34 ¾” length, 39.6 ounces
Black Betsy MEARS #305170: 35 ½” length, 42 ounces
This Black Betsy model measured within ¾” and weighed with 2.2 ounces of famous Black Betsy bat. One of the only surviving records made available to MEARS is the tool room chart referencing the Joe Jackson model bat. Illustrated on the diagram is the noted length of 35”. The 35” serves as the only known factory reference to a Joe Jackson requested length. By comparison, both bats are within the accepted ordering variances commonly found when examining existing records. Meaning, it is not uncommon and documented via Louisville shipping records of players ordering bat which vary ½” or more when examining the ordering patterns throughout a player’s career.
This was an important point of comparison as the Black Betsy was photographically documented as being used by Joe Jackson and included in his final will and testament. This Black Betsy H&B bat compared very favorably in regards to manufacturing traits with that documented example.
The charcoal process, which produced the “Black Betsy” effect was duplicated by Louisville Slugger and the company, began to produce bats for Joe Jackson with the desired finish. MEARS has only evaluated 2 Louisville Slugger signature model Joe Jackson bats which were manufactured during his playing days, and both were without the “Black Betsy’ finish. Upon examination of the signature model, the flame darkened black Betsy finish was absent on these signature models. Also, photographs from the period support Joe Jackson using non-black Betsy finished bats. Examples included. It is our theory these were the models sent to him and was supported by the signing of his H&B contact on June 1st, 1912. It is MEARS belief that Joe Jackson used the signature models in accordance with the signing of his contract with H&B, but he simultaneously used the Black Betsy Model. Photos of Joe Jackson from the 1911 to 1920 era support the fact that Joe Jackson used both bats with the Black Betsy finish matching that model and bats without the finish manufactured as a different model. Images included.
Although we are confident that these 125 signature models are professional models, there has not been photographic evidence to support his use of signature model. It should also be noted that there are very few images, which allow for examination of the barrel to verify the presence of a barrel signature. The lack of images which allow us to clearly see the barrel do not deter us from evaluating professional model Joe Jackson signature model bats. It just does not allow for photographic support. But through the study of the records, vault marked and side written examples, and other examples from collections examined, we are able to issue opinions based on the additional information what we gather. Also, the images provided do show Jackson using a different model than the Black Betsy. This model compares favorably with the 2 examined signature model examples.
Available photos support the use of Black Betsy Model bats by Joe Jackson. What we have examined though the study of photos were many instances of Joe Jackson using a blank barreled bat with the Black Betsy finish. Photographic comparison also verifies the shape of handle, barrel end, and two color as being consistent when comparing this bat to the referenced images.
In the MEARS library, were able to examine 4 photos showing Joe Jackson using Black Betsy model bats.
* Image 1.) Shows Joe Jackson with 4 Black Betsy model bats while playing with the Chicago
* Image 2.) Shows Ty Cobb and Joe Jackson while with the Cleveland Indians. Jackson’s last year with the Indians was 1915, but the image illustrates that Jackson preferred the Black Betsy model as early as 1915.
* Image 3.) Shows Jackson with the White Sox using a Black Betsy in a batting shot.
* Image 4.) Finally, the last image shows Joe Jackson with the White Sox closely inspecting his Black Betsy model.
Regarding factory records, there are no known records available to support this bat. There are very few records, mostly ledger entries listing weights or a group of 5-tool room charts which list lengths only. We have addressed the lack of factory records when evaluating pre 1920 bats by using comparable examples; the available information addressed previously, photographic support, vault marked/side written examples, available bat catalogs, and comparing the specifications of other bats examined by MEARS.
We based our opinion on this Black Betsy model bat on the study and comparison of factory production information (model, length & weight) and photographic images of recorded examples examined by MEARS. All examined bats were consistent within a length and weight range with the ordering pattern of known Black Betsy bats that have entered the market. For the sake of full disclosure, there are no specific mentions of Joe Jackson ordering any Black Betsy model bats but we know he preferred and did indeed use them based on the existence of the photos. The reason being is the complete set of H&B records from this period of 1916-17 are not known to exist. Therefore we will never know with respect to factory records with 100% certainty that this bat was ordered by Joe Jackson, but the length, weight, model, and photographic evidence supports is manufacturing and issuance to Shoeless Joe. As a point of comparison, both the side written H&B Joe Jackson bat and the Spalding Black Betsy bat were not supported by factory records. In the case of the side Louisville Slugger example, the side writing served as the main record of source. The final Will & Testament of Joe Jackson himself supported the provenance of the Spalding example. By accepting the provenance, you are accepting the manufacturing characteristics with respects to length and weight as being accurate. This can then be used for a point of comparison. We also know of no other records or photos (to date) of other players using a blank barreled Black Betsy model/finish bat. The only other known Black Betsy bat not attributed to Joe Jackson was a Hank Gowdy signature model from the 1914-1919 era. Although this bat did have the Black Betsy finish, it also had the signature contract barrel stamping of Gowdy.
The following is a list of bat examined by MEARS. Era of issuance, length, and weight are listed to allow trend analysts. This examined bat compares favorably to the other known documented Black Betsy bats that have entered the market.
MEARS #215217 1917-20 35.75” 41 oz. Black Betsy Model
MEARS #258318 1917-20 36 3/8” 38 oz. Black Betsy Model
MEARS #301331 1910’s 34 ¾” 39.6 oz Spalding Black Betsy
MEARS Lathe Chart 35” 35” length, weight not listed
MEARS #303705 1911-16 35.5” 40.6 oz Black Betsy
MEARS #305170 1916-17 35 ½” 42 oz. Black Betsy
This bat is the only example examined with the 1916-17 label period, therefore, making is manufacturing dating exclusive to his time with the Chicago White Sox.
As is customary, another player returned this bat to Louisville Slugger. In grease pencil side writing, Jack Warhop can be seen upon close examination. Rumored to be only 5’6” or so and nicknamed the “flea”, his height is not listed in any baseball almanac, only his weight of 168 pounds is listed. With the bat’s length and weight being very consistent with known Joe Jackson professional model bats, it is quite possible that this bat was returned to the factory by Warhop to be used a style of bat for his personal use. Although he may have swung a bat mirroring Joe Jackson’s specifications, it was common for players to request adjustments in both length and weight when returning a bat to the Louisville Slugger factory. Requests for sanded barrels, different knobs, and thinner handles are supported by Louisville Slugger factory records. It is most likely Warhop sent this bat in for a duplicate to be made since he records showed he continued to play organized baseball at least through the 1922 season. Therefore, he would have need additional bats to continue his career.
Jack Warhop’s Minor League career.
1916 Dallas of the Texas League
1916 Salt Lake City and Baltimore
1922 Columbia of the South Atlantic League
Again, there are no known or available factory records referencing the ordering or returning of this bat by Jack Warhop to the factory for duplication. What we do know by the existence of this side written example that Jack Warhop did return a Black Betsy model bat mirroring Joe Jackson player specifications for his own model to be replicated from. The process of players returning bats to the factory has been documented via the 1,000’s of side written examples, which are housed at Louisville Slugger, and examples, which have entered the hobby. Many have been examined by MEARS and serve as our verification of the process. Although we do not have the 1916 records, we can examine post 1930 Louisville Slugger Personal Player bat records to show this practice was recorded once the records were kept. For example when looking at the following records,
“1933 Harry Danning, order Spencer Harris Model, Shave Handle”
“9-11-34 Mickey Cochrane order Jimmy Foxx model, ½ shorter”
The previous examples serve to illustrate that there are recorded instances of player’s ordering a bat and then asking for it to be modified to their own unique specifications. In the case of Jack Warhop, as a player slight in stature (after all, he was nicknamed the flea) it is quite plausible he may have liked the Black Betsy model and finish and after returning it to Louisville, asked for a model to be sent in a different length and weight. For clarification, this is only conjecture, as factory records do not support what type of bat Jack Warhop preferred. He may have used a bat mirroring these specifications. It is the author’s opinion that the bat was sent in and modifications may have been requested.
Use & Condition
Bat exhibits heavy use when examined from knob to barrel end. Upon inspection of the grain, you can see lifting of the grain which is caused from repeated contact with the ball. This is exhibited on all surfaces of the bat, especially above the centerbrand. This is a direct result of game use. Deadwood is quite visible on the reverse portion of the bat, and again a result of much game used caused by contact of bat to ball. The black betsy finish has been sanded in an approximate 10” area. This was done at the factory to allow for the addition of the factory applied side writing. On the handle area near the knob, there is a 4-inch crack. Also, one very small layer of the knob has been chipped away. Overall, the use is optimal and allowed for the awarding of the full 3 points. A small chip in the knob warranted a ½ deduction.
Grading & Conclusion
Although there are additional examples of players using bats with the black Betsy finish, the only two known examples which have been examined by the staff of MEARS were found with the players name branded into the centerbrand.
The factory records from this era are known to be incomplete. Therefore, we do not have records to show that Joe Jackson ordered this model bat. The lack of a player’s name does not allow us to 100% positively attribute this bat to any one player like its signature model brothers. Then again, no other bat was as famous of a model as the Black Betsy was, and no player’s name was needed to identify such an unique style bat.
In conclusion, although not supported by detailed and complete factory records, which no bats from this era are, the use of both imagery and trend analysis, the understanding of manufacturing specifications, the fact that this bat matches the known store model Joe Jackson bats in regards to model and finish, favorable photographic comparisons, and manufacturing and player specifications consistent with three documented examples, we are able to evaluate this bat as a 1916-17 Black Betsy bat attributed to the model used by Shoeless Joe Jackson. The lack of player’s name is the source for our attribution to Joe Jackson as opposed to clearly identifying as such.
Final Grade: MEARS A9.5
Troy R. Kinunen