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Lot # 989 (of 1525)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1914 Federal League Batting Champion Benny Kauff Pro Model Bat

Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $1,856.00

The beautiful dark brown J.F. Hillerich & Son Co. (dash dot dash model) bat features "Benny Kauff" in plain block letters stamped on the barrel. The cracked bat (approx. 4 inches on handle) exhibits heavy game use including a number of cleat marks and deadwood along the back of the barrel. The career of Benny Kauff has many very interesting distinctions. Kauff was a great player and one of the game's earliest Jewish stars. He was "the Ty Cobb of the Federal League," leading the league in batting and stolen bases in both of its seasons (.370 in 1914 and .342 in 1915). His lifetime batting average over eight seasons was .311. Kauff was banned from baseball by Judge Landis in 1921, not for throwing games, but for being involved in a stolen-car ring. Though Kauff was cleared of the criminal charges in a court of law, Judge Landis barred him from baseball for life on the basis of "undesirable character and reputation." Kauff's request for reinstatement to baseball was denied. In 1922 Kauff's suit against baseball to reverse Landis' decision was rejected, despite the fact that Kauff was acquitted of all criminal charges related to auto theft. Landis was quoted as saying, "That acquittal was one of the worst miscarriages of justice that ever came under my observation." It is possible that Landis was using Kauff's arrest as an excuse to ban him from baseball, since Kauff had previously been under suspicion for throwing games. In 1920, just one year earlier, Hal Chase and Heinie Zimmerman were banned for life from baseball by Judge Landis for conspiring to throw games. It was alleged that they also tried to entice other players into throwing games, including teammate Benny Kauff. This bat dates from precisely 1914 and was used by Kauff during the 1914 Federal League season in which he won the batting championship. It is side written and vault marked with notations and additional stamps on both the knob and barrel end. The very faint side writing on the barrel bears the name "Bill Rariden," who was a teammate of Kauff's in 1914 with the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the Federal League. In addition, the player name "Rariden" is factory-stamped on both the knob and barrel end, and also on the back of the barrel in block letters. This style bat was made for Kauff between 1911 and 1916, but since Kauff and Rariden were teammates only during the 1914 season and Rariden returned the bat to the factory, it is possible to date this bat with certainty to the one season they played together. This is a very significant bat from Federal League Batting Champion Benny Kauff dating specifically from the inaugural 1914 season of the Federal League. Length: 34.5 inches. Weight: 35 ounces. SCD Authentic Grade: A9. LOA from Dave Bushing/SCD Authentic and John Taube & Vince Malta/PSA DNA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000. SOLD FOR $1,856.00

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