As one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, Ty Cobb was very particular about the bats he used.
He preferred Hillerich & Bradsby models and demanded the very best wood.
Cobb’s relationship with Hillerich & Bradsby dated back to 1908, his third year in the major leagues, and continued through the end of his career. Most players received a small royalty in exchange for endorsing a certain brand of bat. Not Cobb. He had bigger demands.
According to Goldin Co., Cobb allowed Hillerich & Bradsby to use his name for free in exchange for “the best wood that comes into your plant.”
Goldin has one of those bats up for bid in its Spring Goldin Elite Auction, which closes April 9. The bat, which is dated to 1922-23 and photo-matched to images from 1927-28, has a current bid of $1.1 million.
According to Resolution Photomatching, Cobb used the bat during the final years of his career when he played for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1927 and ’28.
Cobb, who was inducted into the inaugural class of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, was the star of the Deadball Era from the early 1900s through 1919. But he continued to lead the league during the home run era of Babe Ruth. From 1922 to 1929, Cobb never batted lower than .323 and topped the .400 mark in 1922 at age 35.
According to Goldin, Cobb’s Hillerich & Bradsby C28 model bat shows heavy game use with a slight crack in the handle under the handle tape. It features numerous ball marks, stitch impressions, cleat imprints and green bat rack streaks present on the barrel. The handle has been taped approximately 10 inches in a wide spiral pattern. According to the game-used experts at PSA/DNA, who authenticated the bat to the 1922-23 seasons, the bat has the transitional C3-B center brand, which appeared on Louisville Slugger professional bats from 1922-1923.
Goldin’s provenance on the bat also cites Cobb’s Professional Bat Ordering Records (PBOR), which show he placed orders for “His Model” bats, which weighed 38 to 42 ounces, on Feb. 22, 1922, March 9, 1922, June 22, 1922, and Sept. 23, 1923. The bat up for auction weighs 39 ounces, which places it in the range of those 1922 to 1923 orders.
Resolution’s photo-matching traces the bat to 1927-28 through a photo of Cobb standing next to A’s manager John McGraw at the start of New York Giants training camp in 1928.
The bat comes with a Letter of Authenticity from PSADNA, which gave the bat its highest grade of GU 10, and Resolution Photomatching.
There is also an LOA from Sports Collectors Digest, which dated the bat to the mid-1920s and graded it A10.
The Spring Auction also includes two high-end Mickey Mantle cards: a 1952 Mantle (PSA 7) with a current bid of $260,000; and a 1952 Bowman (PSA 9) with a bid of $190,000.