Factory sidewritten & vault-marked to incredible .408 rookie campaign!1911 "Shoeless Joe" Jackson Game Used Rookie Bat, PSA/DNA GU 9.
"When I was younger, the Red Sox used to stop sometimes in Greenville, South Carolina-that's Joe Jackson's home. And he was still alive. Oh, how I wish I had known that and could have stopped in to talk hitting with that man." --Ted Williams
"Whenever I got the idea I was a good hitter, I'd stop and take a look at [Joe Jackson]. Then I knew I could stand some improvement." --Ty Cobb
"I copied Jackson's style because I thought he was the greatest hitter I had ever seen, the greatest natural hitter I ever saw. He's the guy who made me a hitter." --Babe Ruth.
It took the greatest scandal in the history of our National Pastime to redefine Joe Jackson. He had been, for the last full decade of the Dead Ball Era, simply the greatest hitter on the planet, a distinction assigned to him by those best able to do so, the men who aspired to the title themselves. But where legends like Cobb and Williams turned a scientific eye to the process, deconstructing that fragment of a second that separates success from failure into parts far too small for the mere mortal to see, Jackson's approach was far less cerebral. An illiterate child laborer from the rural South, he was the prototypical "natural," the beneficiary of a gift from God that would be invoiced with a debt of ignominy yet to be forgiven.
The approaching centennial of the Black Sox scandal has done little to quiet the debate over culpability, and compelling evidence of Jackson's innocence survives in his World Series stat line. Clearly the passage of ninety-five years has eliminated any hope for a definitive answer, a fact which then begs what is arguably the more pertinent question--is the game improved by this unyielding fidelity to Judge Landis' grudge?
Of course there are those who would argue that Jackson's athletic immortality is bolstered by his banishment, and clearly his position atop the the baseball collectibles market owes a debt, in practical terms at a minimum. A player of his stature would have been assured both Hall of Fame induction and the kind of ambassadorial role that would result in Old Timer Game appearances, coaching appointments and product endorsements of the sort that populates the hobby with autographs and relics from Ruth, Cobb and Wagner. For Shoeless Joe, the pickings are painfully thin.
And none could match the spectacular artifact we proudly present here, a signature model Hillerich & Bradsby that leading expert John Taube confirms to be "the only Joe Jackson bat in existence that is factory documented as being game used by Jackson during his Major League career." While this distinction alone would be more than enough to justify the claim, the factory sidewriting assigns use to the greatest rookie season in the Major League record books, the only one in history to conclude north of the fabled .400 mark.
The PSA/DNA letter of examination (and the MEARS letter that assigns an A9.5 rating) tout game use characterized as both "tremendous" and "significant," bearing witness to a remarkable productivity inclusive of an American League-leading 226 hits and twenty-six triples in 571 at-bats. Ball marks and cleat impressions coat the barrel, where minor grain separation likewise bears witness to the lumber's long and fruitful term of service. The knob is chipped at each side to a squared-off appearance. Two repaired cracks at the handle are surely what sent this bat into retirement, and off to the Hillerich & Bradsby factory for cloning as Jackson's favorite.
The right barrel was lightly planed in Louisville for the application of sidewriting, "Joe.Jackson" and the date of return. While the text has faded considerably over the passage of a century, all but the "o" in "Jackson" remains legible, as do the "6" for the month of June and "11" for the year. The day is faded beyond visibility, but the narrow space assures a single digit, thus a return date of June 1st through 9th, 1911. The "J.F. Hillerich & Son" center brand is correct for the 1905-1910 era, exactly what one would expect to see for a bat returned for reproduction in the middle of the 1911 season. Taube theorizes in his lengthy letter of examination that this bat was likely with Jackson from the very start of his Major League career, used with both the Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Naps during those thirty games of service prior to his official 1911 rookie season when it saw the bulk of its action. A block lettered "Joe.Jackson" imprinted on the barrel, and the "J13" vault marks at knob and barrel end, perfectly match the manner in which long-time Louisville Slugger employee and pro player representative Henry Morrow stamped returned bats for filing. All known Jackson bats in the PSA/DNA database derive from this J13 template. Length is thirty-five and a half inches, weight a hefty forty-two ounces.
But, of course, the importance and collecting appeal of a singular and seminal artifact from the career of "Shoeless Joe" Jackson is immeasurable, a fact which will remain unbelied even by the assignment of a sale price at the conclusion of bidding. It is, quite simply, one of the most significant articles of sports memorabilia available to the private collector, a status it will retain regardless of Jackson's future positioning in relation to baseball's good graces. LOA from PSA/DNA, GU 9. LOA from MEARS, A9.5* (asterisk "due to the bat's historic nature and direct link to the H&B factory.")
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