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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/30/2016
As the modern game’s first superstar, in 1905 Honus Wagner had the honor of being the first player to endorse bats made by J.L Hillerich and Son of Louisville. That Wagner was chosen as the first endorsee wasn’t a surprise – the Pirates star had single-handedly re-defined the way the shortstop position was played and his skill with the bat was unparalleled at the time. The fact that Wagner had played for Louisville before the club moved to Pittsburgh didn’t hurt either. The company had been making bats ever since J.L Hillerich’s son Bud, a baseball fan, made a special bat for Louisville Eclipse player Pete Browning in 1884. J.L Hillerich later became J.L Hillerich and Son which merged into Hillerich & Bradsby and then Louisville Slugger. This was before the familiar “signature models” that had a stamped facsimile autograph on the barrel. What J.L. Hillerich did for their professional models was to create an ornate and colorful decal of the featured player that was applied to the bat’s barrel. These gorgeous and extremely rare examples are known as “decal models”. Because the decal was applied to the barrel, they were quickly worn off through contact with the ball and other bats. Besides being issued to Wagner for game use, Hillerich and Son also produced decal bats for retail. Bat experts at MEARS have established that retail bats featuring Wagner’s endorsement were in the 33-34” range. This stunning and very rare example measures 36”. The bat’s center brand dates this artifact to the 1905-1910 period and although not marked as such, the bat corresponds to style W107 that Wagner ordered during this period of his career. Louisville Slugger records from this early period are not complete, but the bat’s weight of 43 ounces falls within the accepted range of weights ordered by Wagner during the ’05-’10 seasons. The length of 36” is not listed in factory records but according to bat experts at MEARS photographic evidence supports Wagner using a longer bat in the 36” range during this period. As you want to see in a Honus Wagner bat, it shows heavy game use. The grain is narrow and tight, matching other professional bats from this period in the MEARS archive. There is slight dead wood located on the reverse of the bat and cleat marks are visible. The original decal with Wagner’s likeness has been worn from use and age, but his portrait is still recognizable, gazing back at us across more than 100 years. We must mention that this is the very first time Goldin Auctions has offered a Honus Wagner gamer in auction and it may be the last, because only 6 game used Wagner bats are known to be graded and we are proud to present this rarity, because it's the earliest known labeled example!
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $10,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $20,315.00
Estimate: $20,000+
Number Bids: 8
Auction closed on Sunday, May 8, 2016.
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