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1955-1960 Ted Williams Pro-Model Bat - Possibly Used in Williams' Last Game
Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $21,150
Ted Williams H&B signature-model "W183" bat dating from the 1955-1960 manufacturing period. Graded A8.5 by MEARS; one of three graded at this level, with just eight graded higher. Although this bat conforms to the general 1950-1960 labeling period, it can be more narrowly defined to the six-year period 1955-1960 based upon the H&B shipping records. Company documents indicate that Williams first ordered model "W183" bats in 1955 and he continued to order them through the 1960 season. That fact is important, as it supports an accompanying one-page letter of provenance (dated March 4, 1998) from a former owner who claims that this bat was one of the last ever used by Williams in the final game of his career, on September 28, 1960. According to the letter, he received this bat as a child from Gene Conley, who enjoyed both a professional baseball and basketball career. In full:
Dear Ron [our consignor], I am writing to give you a little history on the Ted Williams bat that you recently purchased. First, let me tell you that you have a wonderful piece of baseball history that has only passed from Mr. Williams to Gene Conley and then on to me. I have carried the bat since 1963 until selling it in 1998. Gene and Ted became fishing buddies in the mid 50's while Gene was making his way through the major leagues and NBA. At the same time I was growing up in the Boston suburbs. My parents met Gene through baseball friends, as my Dad had played all over the country for the U.S. Navy team and had spent a short while in the minors with the Yankees. My mom worked in manufacturing with a company who did business with Foxboro Paper Company, a business that Gene had an interest in and later became the sole owner. Mr. Williams decided to use 3-4 bats in his last few games and pass them along to friends as a remembrance. This bat was used in his last game with the Red Sox. He did hit a Home Run in his last at bat, but they never kept the bats separated in the dugout, so no one knows which bat was the last used. Mr. Williams gave the bat to Gene and he held it until 1963. That year I was 11 years old and played for the Fair-North Little League All Stars, who won the Rhode Island State championship and went on to win the New England championship. Gene came to work out with me a little at that time and gave me the bat as a gift and told me the story of how he became the owner. The rest is history. In 1997 I sent the bat to the Williams people in Florida to have them certify to me that the bat was what I thought it was. They confirmed it, however, wanted $5,000 to have Mr. Williams sign the bat. I passed and had them send it back. They offered to purchase the bat at that time, but I was not ready to sell until recently. I have spent many nights growing up sitting and holding that bat and fantasizing about what it could have been like if I had made it to that level. I hope that bat brings you the same pleasure I have shared for 35 years.
While we have no way to confirm the statements made in the accompanying letter, even the remote possibility that this bat was one of, even possibly the, last bat ever used by Williams in his career, makes it among the most desirable of all Williams bats. Williams went 1-3 with a walk in his final game, with that one hit a home run in his last at bat in the bottom of the eighth inning. Naturally, the fans gave Williams a rousing standing ovation after the home run and, naturally, he refused to come out of the dugout to acknowledge the cheers. (Williams had a largely antagonistic relationship with both the fans and press in Boston throughout his career and he never once tipped his capped to the fans.) When later asked about his emotions after he hit his final home run he replied "I felt nothing. Nothing." Thus, with that final blow, one of the greatest careers in baseball history came to an end.
The bat displays moderate use, including ball and stitch marks (predominantly in the area directly below the barrel stamping), rack marks, light pine tar on the handle, and dead wood on the reverse of the barrel (dead wood is is positive trait and results from repetitive contact with pitched balls). A small area of discoloration is evident at the top end of the barrel. Length: 35 inches. Weight: 32.1 ounces. Graded A8.5 by MEARS (5 point base grade, plus 2 points for use, and an additional 2 points combined for its positive player traits/provenance, but minus a half point for the minor discoloration at the top of the barrel). Its possible use in Williams' last game aside, this is an extraordinary high-grade Ted Williams game-used bat. Of the forty-one Ted Williams pro-model bats listed in the MEARS census, only eight examples grade A9 or better. This is an ideal Ted Williams bat in all respects and one that is all the more significant given the accompanying provenance. LOA from Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000/$15,000+. SOLD FOR $21,150
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