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    1883 Cincinnati Red Stockings Trophy Bat Presented to "Long John" Reilly. There are parts of baseball history that are best left behind--rampant gambling, tobacco promotions and, of course, racial segregation--but the "trophy bat" tradition isn't one of them. True, the Silver Slugger is, by definition, a trophy bat, but we'd all have to agree that the aesthetics of that machine-crafted award pale in comparison to those of the specimen presented here. Like the Silver Slugger, this gorgeous rarity was issued as a recognition of a leading batting average, in this case the top figure for those players wearing the uniform of the 1883 Cincinnati Red Stockings.

    The lanky first baseman was no mere "slap hitter," however, twice leading the American Association in long balls and placing third with a total of nine during the campaign for which this bat was awarded. On consecutive Wednesdays in September of this year, Reilly hit for the cycle, becoming the first man in the history of the Majors to accomplish the feat twice in a single season. Only three men (Tip O'Neill in 1887, Babe Herman in 1931 and Aaron Hill in 2012) have done it since.

    The bat is crafted from black wood with silver detailing engraved with the pertinent details of the the presentation. The cap at the end of the barrel announces in scripted flourishes, "For best official batting average in Championship games with Cinti B.B.C. for season 1883, Average .313." A smaller silver plaque at mid-handle states, "The Rosenberg Prize Bat, Presented to John G. Reilly." Two rings around the barrel, and a third at the knob, are simply decorative. The bat measures thirty-five inches in length, with minor handling/storage wear but no significant distractions.

    One of our skilled researchers here at Heritage was able to track down a brief mention of the presentation in the November 4, 1883 edition of the "Trenton (NJ) Sunday Advertiser," which reads as follows (with incorrect average):

    "'Long' John Reilly, formerly of the Metropolitan Club, won a silver-mounted bat for having the best batting average in the Cincinnati Club. His average was .333."

    It must be stressed that this Cincinnati Red Stockings team, founded in 1881 and a charter member of the American Association in 1882, is part of the direct lineage to the current Cincinnati Reds. As such, this could be considered one of the earliest relics of that Major League franchise to exist in the collectibles marketplace. It's an absolutely monumental piece, one of the most thrilling to emerge from the dawn of the professional game.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2016
    17th-19th Thursday-Saturday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 11
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 822

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