When picking a name that speaks to the term “baseball legend,” Lou Gehrig is a common choice. Similarly, when choosing a preferred store-behind-the-door self-defense weapon, a baseball bat frequently serves as a homeowner’s choice. But when a Gehrig game-used bat surfaces in the sports memorabilia hobby – particularly one that for decades did, indeed, sit just inside its owner’s front door for peace of mind – there is nothing ordinary about it.
Great Meadows-based Love of the Game Auctions (LOTG) is featuring a game-used Gehrig bat in its Summer 2015 auction. It is one of fewer than 20 known examples, according to PSA ProBatFacts. As such, this PSA/DNA-certified 1929-31 Hanna Batrite R2 measuring 35.5 inches and 37.5 ounces, graded GU 9, represents a rare, historically significant piece that already is garnering significant attention. Bidding is at nearly $47,000 in the3 sale that ends Aug. 8.
“This bat was given to the consignor decades ago by a family member of a former Yankee Stadium groundskeeper,” said LOTG’s Al Crisafulli. “Though the consignor is a Yankee fan, the family is not a baseball family, and without knowledge of the bat’s value it was kept behind the front door for protection – for 30 years.”
Crisafulli added that the bat was nearly left behind during a move in the early 2000s, and a few years later was almost given to a neighborhood child who liked to play ball. “Really, it is amazing that this outstanding piece of memorabilia made it this far, and its history certainly adds color to the story. All that aside, it is gorgeous. It is important. And it is among the most exciting consignments with which an auction house can be entrusted.”
In the process of searching for a photo depicting Gehrig holding this brand of bat (something that took months), Crisafulli located a photo from the 1930 Chicago Daily News. After securing the rights to use the photo from the Chicago History Museum (who manage the photo archive), he was stunned to see that on the high-resolution scan of the image, the grain on the bat held by Gehrig appeared to be a match with the grain on the bat in my possession.
After conducting a thorough review of the bat and the photo, John Taube of PSA/DNA agreed, and established a photo match. This increased the grade of the bat from 8.5 to 9, and makes it the only known Gehrig bat to be photo matched.
“Beyond its significant value, this is the kind of item that makes baseball fans of all ages feel like kids again,” Crisfulli said. “Everyone wants to hold this bat – which once belonged to a true American sports legend.”
LOTG’s summer auction ends Aug. 8. The Gehrig bat will share the spotlight with a beautiful 1909-11 T206 near set, a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle graded PSA EX 5, a beautiful selection of higher-grade N173 Old Judge Hall of Famer cabinet cards, and much more. For more information, visit www.loveofthegameauctions.com.