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1917-1920 Joe Jackson Pro-Model "YMCA" Bat
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $3,231
This H&B Joe Jackson full signature-model bat (predating model numbers) is unusual in that it also bears a special "YMCA" stamping on the handle. Aside from the "YMCA" stamp, it is identical in all respects to Joe Jackson H&B pro-model bats made between the years 1917 and 1920. The exact meaning of the "YMCA" stamp has never been determined with certainty, but is almost certainly related to World War I support activities. The "YMCA" stamp, which is as-made and was added at the H&B factory, appears just to the left of the center brand. While the stamping is somewhat of an enigma, the bat itself is not nearly so mysterious as it is otherwise an exemplary Joe Jackson pro-model bat that is entirely consistent with the specifications of all other circa 1917-1920 Joe Jackson pro-model bats examined by MEARS. Measuring 35 inches in length and weighing 36.75 ounces, the bat displays heavy use along its entire length including grain swelling, ball and cleat marks, surface marks, and an eight-inch crack in the handle. Additionally, a moderate gouge runs through the center brand. The YMCA stamping featured here is not unique to this bat and has been seen on other pro-model bats from the era, as have “War Department" and "Bat and Ball Fund" stamps (both of which are also related to World War I programs). The fact that no known H&B catalogs from the period list YMCA, War Department, 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 Joe Jackson H&B pro-model bat made between the years 1917 and 1920. Graded A4 by MEARS (base grade of five, plus 3 points for use, with 3 points subtracted for the YMCA stamp, and an additional point deducted for the handle crack). 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 Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $300. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $3,231
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