2019 Summer Premium Live and Catalog Auction Lots 1-82 Close Aug 1- 83-end close 8/10
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/1/2019

Even a casual baseball fan recognizes the name Honus Wagner. If one does not know that he was, and still is, the greatest shortstop to ever play the game, his likeness is easily recognizable to all due to his T206 baseball card being the most sought-after piece of sports memorabilia of all-time. For the first decade and a half of the 20th century, Honus Wagner was the most famous athlete in the nation. In 1900 he won his first batting title with a .381 average, and for the next nine seasons his average would not dip below .330. In 1903 he led the Pirates to the very first World Series and six years later got to face his American League nemesis, Ty Cobb, in the 1909 World Series. Though he was 13 years older than the 22-year-old Cobb, Wagner outhit him .333 to .231 and stole six bases to Cobb’s two. Wagner won eight batting titles, including a stretch of four straight from 1906 to 1909, and led the league in steals and RBIs 5-times each. Besides his batting prowess, Wagner single-handedly defined how the position of shortstop is to be played.

Honus Wagner entered the 1915 season as only the second player in the history of the game to have 3,000 career hits. In July the 41-year-old hit a grand slam home run, the oldest player to do so until a 43-year-old Tony Perez did it seven decades later. Wagner wrapped up his 20th big league season by hitting .287 in 123 games – a far cry from his career average of .328 but still good enough in 1916 for 8th best in the National League. Now 42 years old, Wagner began contemplating his life after baseball. The veteran shortstop celebrated New Year’s Eve by marrying his longtime sweetheart, Bessie Baine Smith and readied himself for his final season as a ballplayer. In the few months since getting married, Wagner had bulked up on Bessie’s home cooking and contemplated retirement. The Pirates convinced him to come back in June, but he suffered a severe spike wound a month later. Wagner finished the season by batting a decent .265 in 74 games. Despite his age, the Old Pro still showed flashes of his former greatness, even hitting an inside-the-park home run, to this day the oldest player to do so. The Flying Dutchman capped off his final season by taking over the reins of his old team when manager Jimmy Callahan was fired. After winning one and losing four, Wagner told Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss that managing wasn’t for him. He played his last game on September 17, playing three innings at second base without a plate appearance. When Honus Wagner retired in 1917, he was considered by many to be the greatest player of all-time. Even 100 years since he last swung a bat, Wagner is rated by famed historian Bill James as the second-best player of all-time after Babe Ruth. He was in the first class of players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, and today he still holds the record for most batting titles in the National League – 8 (matched but not surpassed by Tony Gwynn).

This stunning bat, which has never before been offered at auction, is one of only two Honus Wagner career non-40K Louisville Slugger bats that have ever been graded. What’s more, this bat is the only career Wagner 125 model that features his signature on the barrel and is the only known 125 signature model to be graded by PSA/DNA. To put this in perspective, there are over 50 Honus Wagner T206 cards that have been graded and this is the only Wagner signature model 125 to date. Used by Wagner during the 1916 and 1917 seasons, this is one of the last bats the great man held in his hands as a major league player. The Hillerich & Bradsby pre-model bat has been thoroughly inspected by PSA/DNA and through several clues determined to have been ordered by Honus Wagner during the 1916-1917 period. The center brand style present on this bat was used from 1916 to 1922, but the date of this bat’s production can be further narrowed down to a window of 1916 to 1917 by the special modifications present. The oval bias to the handle and barrel and the application of Wagner’s branded signature on the barrel indicates that this model was designed especially for Wagner, as any modification to a Wagner endorsed bat could not be requested by anyone other than the ballplayer himself. As Wagner retired from the game in September 1917, he would have no need for a specially modified bat, and later models ordered by Wagner when he was a coach did not contain any special modifications such as those found on this bat.

PSA/DNA has discussed this point with the Louisville Slugger Museum who concur with their opinion that this is a bat ordered by Honus Wagner some time during his final two seasons in the majors. The bat exhibits excellent use with a handle crack and small chip on the edge of the knob. Slight checking from repeated ball contact is found on the back barrel and several ball marks are visible on the left and back barrel. The bat has taken on a beautiful patina with age, with the grain of the ash and stamping of the center brand and barrel contrasting nicely against the warn-brown surface. The left barrel has been planed to receive factory side-writing. This side-writing was done when a bat was returned to the Louisville factory by the player who wished to have exact duplicates made. Typically, the side writing recorded the date the bat was received and similar specifications, but unfortunately the text on this example is no longer visible. A truly remarkable artifact that was once wielded by history’s greatest shortstop, a hitter without equal and a member of the first class elected to the Hall of Fame. This bat comes with a LOA from PSA/DNA (1B13446) for the game use and has been graded a GU 8.5, the highest ever graded Honus Wanger PSA/DNA authenticated collectible.

Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $100,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $432,000.00
Number Bids: 12
Auction closed on Sunday, August 11, 2019.
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