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    A picture-perfect example from the Georgia Peach

    1923-25 Ty Cobb Game Used Bat Gifted to Fellow Hall of Famer Joe Sewell, PSA/DNA GU 10. Perhaps the most fascinating psychological study in the long history of professional baseball, Tyrus Raymond Cobb came into this world with the chip of a fallen Confederacy already firmly installed upon his shoulder, his southern resentments still burning decades after the flames of General Sherman's march through his home state of Georgia had been extinguished. "He was still fighting the Civil War," reported Tigers teammate "Wahoo Sam" Crawford, "and as far as he was concerned, we were all damn Yankees."

    Cobb's youthfulness and southern sensibilities made him a prime target for rookie hazing during his first year in Detroit, driving his resentments even deeper into the grain of his being. Manager Hughie Jennings looked the other way at first, "because I wanted to satisfy myself that Cobb has as much guts as I thought in the very beginning," he explained. When pitcher Ed Siever confronted Cobb over a dropped ball in a Tigers loss, Cobb pinned Siever to the ground and rained blows down upon him, then sat awake all night in his Pullman berth with his gun on his lap during that night's train ride to Chicago. Years later, Cobb would recall, "Those old-timers turned me into a snarling wildcat."

    And so while the popular stories of intentional spikings and fatal pistol whippings may be more folklore than fact, the bottled rage and gritted teeth determination of The Georgia Peach were entirely real, establishing Cobb as the definitive superstar of baseball's down and dirty Dead Ball Era.

    The emergence of Babe Ruth and the lively ball signaled a tectonic shift in the sport's landscape, but the developments only hardened Cobb's resolve, and he had begun to view himself as one of the last defenders of the original game by the time he put this battle-scarred signature model Hillerich & Bradsby through its paces somewhere between the 3,000 and 4,000 hit plateaus.

    By every metric of evaluation, this specimen distinguishes itself, a fact borne out by its flawless rating from the experts at PSA/DNA. At thirty-four and a half inches (34.5") in length and still nearly forty-two ounces (41.6 oz.) in weight after nearly a century of drying, this bat is an undeniable piece of evidence that Cobb's fidelity to Dead Ball Era standards endured as the 1920's roared against them.

    Nearly every surviving Cobb exemplar from any era has since shed the grip tape that the former Hit King favored, but this specimen remarkably retains that personalized alteration. Arguably even more compelling is the presence of dark staining on the barrel consistent with Cobb's practice of hardening the grain through the application of tobacco spit, adding the double-helix of Cobb DNA to the laundry list of plaudits. Divots from his famously treacherous spikes speckle that mottled surface. A sizeable collection of ball marks and stitch impressions on the barrel likewise serve as validation of John Taube's assessment of game use as "outstanding."

    Marvelous provenance, as referenced in our lot title, is the final point to celebrate, as the bat derives from the personal collection of fellow Hall of Famer Joe Sewell, who dedicated all of his fourteen Major League seasons to the American League, and thus shared a field with Cobb many times between his own 1920 rookie season and Cobb's 1928 retirement. When the bat first entered the hobby, it bore a bold silver sharpie inscription from Sewell reading, "Given to me in 1925 by Ty Cobb, Joe Sewell," but a subsequent owner had that inscription expertly removed, believing it detracted from the vintage aesthetic. The PSA/DNA letter of authenticity pictures the bat both before and after that inscription removal.

    Surely it goes without saying that any bat used in competition by the very first resident of the Baseball Hall of Fame carries enormous historical relevance and collecting appeal, but even within that small surviving population of Cobb's offensive arsenal, this particular example sets itself apart. It's a specimen for the most sophisticated of bat collectors who appreciate the grip tape and tobacco juice and Sewell provenance the way an antique Corvette collector appreciates every number matching, and the original window tag in the glove compartment. For those who are satisfied with nothing short of the very best, this is your target. LOA from PSA/DNA, GU 10.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2020
    29th-30th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 24
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,025

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