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An exceedingly rare representation from The Sultan of Swat's first season in pinstripes!1920 Babe Ruth Game Used Bat, PSA/DNA GU 9. It was an unlikely home for one of the most significant Babe Ruth bats in the hobby, a country more commonly associated with "babes" of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed variety. But for more than nine decades, the nation of Sweden played host to the presented lumber, steamed back to Scandinavia in the luggage of Kurt Vinman, a noted Stockholm businessman in the 1920's and 1930's. Vinman owned and operated the Nya Asfalt AB (New Asphalt Inc.) company, rising to prominence through a contract to pave the streets of the capital city. Vinman's success afforded him the luxury of extensive foreign travel, and twice did the successful Swede's journeys bring him to our shores, in 1920-21 and in 1934, according to family records and Vinman's own handwritten journal.
It was during his first visit in either 1920 or 1921 that Vinman took in the sights of the Big Apple, his tourism including several baseball games at the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field. As a man of affluence, his business contacts allowed him to meet numerous players and baseball dignitaries, including Dodgers owner Charles Ebbets, from whom he received a signed baseball later lost through the course of play back in his homeland. His other souvenir of our National Pastime appears here, a monumentally significant Babe Ruth signature model Hillerich & Bradsby consigned to auction by the Vinman family in 2013.
A review of Ruth's Professional Bat Ordering Records (PBOR) on file at the Louisville Slugger Museum details the Babe's orders of forty to fifty-one ounce bats during the labeling period (1919-22) of the bat's center trademark. Ordering records are not available prior to 1920. The lightest bats, at forty ounces, appear on Ruth's PBOR for his March 9, 1920 order alone, with weight increasing to forty-three to forty-seven ounces for the remainder of the season. In 1921 and 1922, the other seasons matching the "C-3B" Hillerich & Bradsby "dash-dot-dash" center brand labeling format, Ruth's bats were delivered in weights ranging from forty-two to fifty-one ounces. At thirty-eight ounces today, and thirty-six inches in length, the bat is assigned a 1919 date of creation, according to the research of PSA/DNA's leading bat expert John Taube, with Vinman's travel schedule attributing its game use to the following year.
The predominant Ruth characteristic found on the subject bat is the defined contact area on the left barrel above the branded facsimile signature. Ruth's swing, well documented in period photography, shows him with a consistent label-down grip, resulting in ball contact with the left barrel. This label-down grip was a constant throughout Ruth's career. The left barrel of the subject bat displays excessive grain swelling caused by multiple impacts. The right barrel, though showing general wear, has no grain swelling whatsoever.
Green and blue rack streaks, likewise assuring multiple series of action, remain visible on the bat's surface, and a small chip on the knob has been expertly repaired. The handle remains uncracked.
The Yankees' acquisition of Babe Ruth in 1920 remains the most consequential personnel change in the history of American sport, one that precipitated over eight decades of drought for the five-time World Champion Boston Red Sox while it ushered in an era of unprecedented dominance for the New York Yankees. Any artifact that can be pinpointed to that first Yankees season for the great Bambino commands the attention of the educated collector, and this key instrument of the sport's tectonic shift is recognized as one of the most important game used bats ever offered. LOA from PSA/DNA, GU 9.
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