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Lot # 1434 (of 1673)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1917-1921 Ty Cobb Pro-Model War-Department Bat

Starting Bid - $1,000.00 , Sold For - $3,525.00

This H&B Ty Cobb signature-model bat (predating model numbers) is unusual in that it also bears a special "War Department" stamping on the handle, the exact meaning of which has never been determined with certainty, but clearly relates to World War I baseball programs. The circular stamp, which was added at the H&B factory, pictures a "winged foot" in the center and is lettered "War Department - Commission on Training Camp Activities." While the stamping is somewhat of an enigma, the bat itself is not nearly so mysterious. Offered here is a perfect Ty Cobb pro-model bat that matches the precise specifications of all other Cobb bats from the era. Measuring 34 inches in length and weighing 37 ounces, the bat displays heavy use along its entire length including grain swelling, surface marks, and cleat marks. The War Department stamping featured here is not unique to this bat and has been seen on other pro model bats from the era, as have "YMCA" and "Bat and Ball Fund" stamps (both of which are also related to World War I programs). The "Commission on Training Camp Activities" was formed during World War I in response to the general malaise that affected our soldiers, both at the front and at home. The Commission sought to remedy the situation by sponsoring numerous athletic and recreational activities to "conserve the vitality of the men." The fact that no known H&B catalogs from the period list War Department, YMCA, or Bat and Ball Fund stamped bats for sale to the general public has led some to theorize that bats bearing those stamps were specially produced for use only by servicemen. Others have conjectured that the stamps were placed on select pro-model bats as a patriotic sign of support for the troops. While both theories appear plausible, the first gives rise to another question: if these bats were produced exclusively for the troops, why donate top-of-the-line pro-model bats made to the exact specifications of the respective player? H&B was producing retail bats at this time, and it certainly would have made more economic sense to send store-model bats to the troops rather than pro-model examples. To date, all known examples of these specially stamped war-era bats are constructed of professional grade wood, and all match the exact specifications of the player whose name is stamped on the barrel. This example is no exception and if not for the special stamping it would be indistinguishable from any other Ty Cobb H&B pro-model bat made between the years 1917 and 1921. Ty Cobb, along with many other players, served in WWI. At present we have no documentation that Cobb played baseball during during the war, and if he did, what bats he used. We speculate that if he did play ball during his term of service, he would have used this very type of bat. Graded A5 by MEARS (base grade of five, plus 3 points for use, with 3 points subtracted for the War Department stamp). Because the exact history and nature of these specially stamped World War I era H&B bats has never been conclusively determined, MEARS conservatively subtracts three points for the presence of any one of the three stamps (War Department, YMCA, or War Bond Fund). LOA from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000+. SOLD FOR $3,525.00


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