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    "...this bat represents the finest example of a Honus Wagner professional model game used bat in any collection, public or private."

    --John Taube, PSA/DNA

    1900-05 Honus Wagner Game Used Bat, PSA/DNA GU 10. Dead Ball Era weaponry doesn't get any more significant than this, an absolute telephone pole of heavy, thick-handled, battle-scarred beauty. The Old Dutchman famously signed on as the first celebrity endorser of bats produced by the Hillerich family, but the unique center brand format here predates that September 1905 covenant, so the barrel here remains properly blank.

    So how does one put this lumber into the hands of the legendary shortstop? It begins with a sixty-one year old letter from Al Riddle to Joel Platt. The latter will be familiar to many in the Heritage clientele as the most famous old-time collector still active in the hobby. Platt's peerless "Sports Immortals" collection is perhaps the finest and most valuable private sports collectibles collection that exists. That letter should give you some insight into how he managed to build it.

    Dated "July 6, 1958," the letter reads:

    "Dear Joel, I am enclosing the Honus Wagner Bat I received from Honus in 1948 for your collection. Since I was Mr. Wagner's insurance agent we became good friends. One day while visiting the Wagner residence in Carnegie, Pa the subject came up about comparing the old time bats with the present day models. Honus went to his storage area and brought out an old model he thought he used sometime between 1904 and 1912, possibly in the 1909 World Series. I told Honus I couldn't believe he really could hit with such a heavy bat. Two weeks later I received a package from Honus with the bat enclosed and a little note that said, "Hope you enjoy the bat."

    Long before the sports collectibles hobby was mainstreamed and monetized, Platt was working every lead he could find in his hunt for treasures of American sports, digging through attics of Hall of Famers, writing letters to widows, collecting just for the love. Platt's own notarized letter is also included in this lot, identifying Riddle's father as a bat boy for the Wagner-era Pirates, which we suspect is how he first tracked down Al Junior. Remarkably, this was one of two Wagner bats owned by Junior, as his father had given him another he had gotten from Wagner during his bat boy days. That other bat, a Spalding model, is now on display at Cooperstown. A 2003 letter from the Hall of Fame confirms that donation from Riddle.

    This bat should be considered appreciably more significant for its Hillerich status, and Wagner's role as that company's first endorser. Expert John Taube raves about the "outstanding" game use, noting a multitude of ball marks and deep divots from Wagner's metal spikes. Length is thirty-three inches (33"), weight dried out to a still-hefty forty ounces and change (40.4 oz.).

    While the suggestion from Wagner that the bat may have been used in the 1909 World Series is impossible to validate over a century later, it's well within the realm of possibility that a bat produced in the top half of the decade could have been used in the bottom half, as this era of slap-hitting and thick handles provided lumber with far longer lifespans than modern representations enjoy. At the very least, it's a Wagner bat with provenance directly to Wagner himself, easily enough to garner the interest of the most sophisticated and well-funded bat collector. LOA from PSA/DNA, GU 10. Letter of provenance from friend of Wagner. Notarized letter of provenance from Joel Platt.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2019
    17th-18th Saturday-Sunday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,596

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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