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    The Earliest Known Ty Cobb Game Used Bat, Circa 1907-08.

    Tyrus Cobb's father had been in the ground for just two or three years when the young Georgia Peach stood at the plate in Detroit, this bat gripped tightly in his calloused hands. Mortally wounded by a shotgun blast delivered by Cobb's own mother, reportedly accidentally, Cobb's father had accepted young Ty's chosen path with great reluctance, hoping that his boy would aspire to a more upstanding profession--medicine, law or the military. Professional baseball was populated by gamblers, alcoholics and other shady characters, certainly no place for the son of a state senator. And though his father did not approve, and never lived to see him in a Detroit Tigers uniform, it was William Cobb's words, among the last he said to his son, that resonated in Ty's mind: "Don't come home a failure."

    The era during which this rare and outstanding bat saw action established the twenty-year old Cobb as anything but a failure, and ensured he would always be able to come home. After a period of adjustment in which the teenaged Tyrus struggled with Big League pitching, northern living and rookie hazing ("These old-timers turned me into a snarling wildcat," he was quoted as saying), Cobb emerged in 1907 as the game's greatest hitter, the first of eleven seasons that he would lead the American League in batting average. His even four hundred hits over the 1907-08 campaigns were punctuated by sixty-four doubles and thirty-four triples. Each of the two years found him atop the runs batted in leader board. It was an era of greatness for the Detroit Tigers as well, who captured the flag three consecutive seasons from 1907-09, allowing speculation as to the genuine possibility that this bat was utilized in one of the earliest Fall Classics.

    As scarce as Cobb bats are in the hobby, this particular specimen is truly one of a kind, the only known Spalding representation, the model used by the young Peach before signing an exclusivity contract with Hillerich & Bradsby in 1908. Dave Bushing's definitive guide on bat authentication and pricing fails to even address pre-1911 models--at the time of writing none were known to exist. The SCD authenticators do not equivocate in their praise of this specimen however, granting it the enviable status of an A8. They note,

    "This bat exhibits all matching traits of factory recorded Ty Cobb bats and the exact criteria preferred by Ty Cobb for his game used bats. The length is a perfectly accurate 34.5", as is the 40.5 ounce weight. This bat is absent of the Spalding Factory Stamp found on store model bats, further indicating professional use. The hand turned ends show special care was taken for the preparation of this bat. Also, bats measuring half inch (34.5") were not typically offered to retail customers . This unique size was reserved for special order bats sent to Major League players. This bat pre-dates his H&B contract, and it is well known Ty Cobb used Spalding bats early in his career. Cobb signed his contract with H&B in 1908.

    The letter of authenticity rates the use as "significant," and notes the existence of "medium" ball marks, and an assortment of shallow gouges inflicted by Cobb's notorious spikes. The vintage tape on the handle is proper for Cobb gamers. Note that the tape does not extend all the way to the knob, as the Hall of Fame hitter favored a wide, "choked up" grip on the handle, as endless photographic documentation will attest. The bat remains in solid, uncracked condition, eminently displayable and essentially unchanged from the days that Cobb was beginning to establish his legend almost a full century ago. LOA from SCD Authentic.

    More information about Ty Cobb.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2006
    6th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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