Summer Live and Premium 2018
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/2/2018

It’s one of baseball’s most enduring legends: the origins of the Louisville Slugger baseball bat. The story goes that in 1884, Louisville native and baseball fanatic Bud Hillerich played hooky from toiling in his father’s woodworking shop to watch the Louisville Eclipse play. The team’s star, Pete “The Louisville Slugger” Browning, was in the midst of a batting slump, and to compound his problems, broke one of his prized bats during the game. Bud took Browning back to his father’s shop where the elder Hillerich handcrafted a new bat for the slumping slugger. Using his new stick, Browning broke out of his slump and soon ballplayers were flocking to the Hillerich workshop to have bats made.

Because most everyone from small children to Major Leaguers used their bats until they broke, surviving examples of pre-1900 bats are very scarce. Even the Louisville Slugger Museum does not have a large selection of their 19th century models. Then, a fortuitous find in the attic of an old home in Virginia in 1989 uncovered what might be the earliest J.F. Hillerich and Sons Louisville Slugger bat in existence. The discoverer of the bat brought it to the attention of the Louisville Slugger Museum who replied that their vast collection holds just two examples that have the same typeface used in the “J.F. Hillerich and Son” stamping, and none that have the words “COPY RIGHTED” below the center brand. By clues present in and around the center brand, this bat can be dated to the 1890-1893 period – just six years after the company turned its first bat for Pete Browning.

The bat offered here is stamped with “J.F. Hillerich and Son,” and unlike later Louisville Slugger bats, the center brand on these early models are “reversed,” meaning its placement is facing the opposite way than is found on later bats. The phrase “COPY RIGHTED” is found under the center brand that was later replaced with “TRADE MARK” in 1894. When submitted to PSA/DNA, their experts declared it the first “COPY RIGHTED” version they have examined. These distinctions identified on the center brand make this the earliest known bat marked with “J.F. Hillerich and Son Louisville Slugger.” The bat itself reveals outstanding use with a handle crack that has been secured with adhesive tape. The bat measures 35 inches in length and weighs in at 38.9 ounces. Many ball marks are found on its barrel and slight checking from repeated ball contact is present on the front and back barrel. There are some small white paint marks located near the barrel end and the finish has worn through in some areas. The wood has aged to a warm, deep brown, making this bat a very attractive as well as historically important piece of early baseball equipment. The bat comes with a LOA from PSA/DNA (1B13022) for the authenticity.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,500.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $9,820.00
Number Bids: 25
Auction closed on Sunday, August 12, 2018.
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