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1897-1911 Tommy Leach Side-Written Pro-Model Bat - Only Known Example!
Starting Bid - $1,000.00 , Sold For - $1,997.50
Presented is the only known pro-model bat of Tommy Leach, the power-hitting Pittsburgh star who will forever be immortalized as the first player to get a hit in the 1903 World Series. This extremely early J. F. Hillerich & Son pro-model bat dates from the 1897-1911 manufacturing period and bears no other stampings other than the center brand (typical for pro-model bats of this era). Despite the absence of a name on the barrel, it can be positively attributed to Tommy Leach based upon the side writing on the barrel. Although light, the side writing remains legible and reads "Tommy Leach." Side writing is of great significance to collectors as it places a bat directly into the hands of the player so named. When players returned bats to the factory (to be used as templates for future orders), identifying notations including the player's name would be written in grease pencil on the side of the bat by an H&B employee and stored in the vaults for future reference. In that regard, the side writing on bats is recognized by the most sophisticated collectors as being the equivalent of having a letter of authenticity from the player himself. The bat displays significant use along its entire length including a nine-inch crack in the handle (a few chips are present along the length of the crack) and a small chip in the knob. Though not a Hall of Famer, Tommy Leach enjoyed a fine nineteen-year Major League career (1898-1918), most of which was spent as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Today, Leach is best remembered for making the first hit in World Series history and also for being a key member of the 1909 World Champion Pirates. He was without question one of the great hitters of his day, and was particularly noted for his great speed, which helped him hit 172 triples (not including an additional four in the 1903 World Series) and forty-nine inside-the-park home runs during his career. Long after his retirement from the game Leach became known to a new generation of fans after being featured in Lawrence Ritter's now classic baseball book, The Glory of Their Times , which was first published in 1966. This is the only Tommy Leach pro-model bat known to exist and we would be surprised if another ever surfaced. Graded A9 by MEARS (5 point base grade, plus 3 points for use and 2 points for the side writing, but minus a half point each for the crack in the handle and the chip in the knob). LOA from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,997.50
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