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    The Earliest Known Babe Ruth Game Used Bat, Sidewritten, PSA GU 10. The man whose superior home run-hitting abilities singlehandedly redefined the sport of baseball had yet to reach the double-digit mark when this historic lumber was retired from service and returned to the Hillerich & Bradsby factory for duplication. Despite the lack of participation in the long ball antics which would bring the Babe international fame, the presented bat ranks among the most desirable of the small available supply of Ruth gamers for its airtight provenance and attribution to that 1916 Boston Red Sox World Championship season in which the twenty-one year old left-hander from Baltimore led the American League with a microscopic 1.75 earned run average.

    For the uninitiated, we should begin with a brief primer on the "sidewritten" terminology that makes this bat so special. A "sidewritten" bat is essentially a template, shipped back to the Hillerich & Bradsby bat factory after use so that other bats could be crafted to identical specifications. At the factory, the player's name, team and the date of receipt would be handwritten on the bat's barrel for identification. This is the "sidewriting." Collectors consider sidewritten bats to be the most desirable in the hobby, and for good reason. Such a modification to the bat serves as an ironclad guarantee that the bat was utilized by the player in question. In fact, it identifies the bat as one of the player's favorites. Such is the case with this remarkably early Ruth model.

    Though the sidewriting has faded considerably since its original application almost a century ago, it remains visible upon close inspection and is clearly discernible with the aid of black light illumination. The viewer will quickly note that the barrel lacks the imprinted name typical of most H&B gamers, though it must be remembered that the Babe had yet to sign a contract with the bat supplier. And "blank barrel" bats were quite common for the day-in fact, Ruth's April 18, 1916 ordering record specifically indicates "Do Not Brand." His first signature contract would be executed in July of 1918.

    Our ability to date this bat specifically to the early months of the 1916 season is determined by a pair of factors. The "Hillerich & Bradsby Co." language on the bat's trademark began with the 1916 campaign (previously it had read "JF Hillerich & Son.") The sidewriting gives us the closing point for our date range, as the faint laundry marker text reads "George Ruth, Boston, 7-11-16." As this is the earliest verified Ruth sidewritten bat, it is likewise the earliest known Ruth bat, period, given that sidewriting would be the only way to identify a player's bat lacking barrel branding.

    The bat exhibits marvelous use, suggesting that this may well have been the twenty-one year old pitcher's only bat for the opening months of this Championship campaign. Several ball marks are visible on the sidewritten left barrel, proper for Ruth's label-down batting posture, with slight grain swelling from the punishment inflicted. Cleat marks decorate the back and right barrel and the handle features a repaired crack, likely the wound which transitioned the bat from active duty to factory template. Stamps of "BB" and "BAA" on the knob end were applied after Ruth's use and are clearly some form of factory code for identification purposes. Length and weight of thirty-six inches and forty-four ounces respectively are properly "Ruthian" in dimension.

    One of the earliest and most important game used artifacts from the storied career of the great Bambino, this ancient Louisville Slugger is superior to the vast majority of treasures on display in Cooperstown. Almost never does the hobby encounter such a glorious convergence of historical import and unimpeachable provenance, factors key to the perfect GU 10 rating delivered by the top experts at PSA/DNA. Note that this bat is actually the precursor for the famous R2 model which realized almost $540,000 in our October 2009 Signature Auction. A rare opportunity for the most advanced and discerning of private collectors. LOA from PSA/DNA.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2010
    4th-5th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 6,164

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