Summer, 2015 Premier Auction - Closes August 8, 2015
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/9/2015

Please note the very important changes to the description of this bat, which has now been photo matched! Also note that during the photo match process, a very small piece of tape was pulled loose from the bat handle, and has since become detached.  We consider this immaterial, and does not at all impact the condition of the bat.

The 1930 season was, perhaps, Lou Gehrig's finest.  A stellar .379 batting average was complimented by 41 home runs and 173 runs batted in.  He pounded out a career-high 220 hits with a .721 slugging percentage.  Reeling from the beginning of the Great Depression, the country looked to the classy Gehrig as a hero, and he rewarded them with dependable performance and a steady presence in the Yankee lineup.  Toiling behind the dramatic, flashy Babe Ruth, Gehrig became the "Iron Horse," known as much for his durability and leadership by example as he was for his incredible hitting prowess.

In the 13 seasons between 1926 and 1938, Gehrig never drove in fewer than 109 runs, eclipsing 150 RBI seven times.  He pounded 40 home runs in five different seasons, and hit over .350 six times.  Winning the MVP award twice, Gehrig played in 2,130 straight games, a record that would stand until 1995.  No other player has come within 800 games of the record.  One of the greatest offensive players of all-time, Gehrig still ranks in the top 20 in WAR, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored, total bases, and runs batted in.  In fact, just two players - Babe Ruth and Ted Williams - have posted a lifetime OPS greater than Gehrig.  He was, simply stated, one of the great ballplayers of all time.

Of course his career was cut short in early 1939 by a mysterious illness that was later diagnosed as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which became known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease."  Gehrig's impact on the game was so great that in 1939 his number 4 became the first uniform number to be retired by any major league team, and later that year he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in a special vote, the youngest player honored at the time.  After his passing in 1941, the Yankees dedicated a monument to Gehrig at Yankee Stadium.  Gehrig's legacy is so great that in 1999, he received the most votes of any player on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.  Each year the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award is given to the major league player who best exemplifies Gehrig's character.

Lou Gehrig's game used bats are among the most rare and desirable in the hobby.  They are, in fact, so rare that experts estimate fewer than 20 are known to exist.  In fact, for every ten Babe Ruth gamers in the hobby, there exists just one Gehrig.  Incredibly valuable, the highest price paid for a game used Gehrig bat occurred with a $403,000 sale in 2011 of a bat used to hit Gehrig's last home run in 1939.  Other, less notable Gehrig gamers have eclipsed the $100,000 mark over the years.

The story behind this bat is remarkable.  Given to a Northeast family decades ago by the family of a former Yankees employee, the family kept the bat in their possession for nearly 40 years.  During that time, aware of Gehrig's legacy but unaware of the bat's value, the family kept the bat in a variety of different places in their home - notably behind the front door, where it served as a home defense device to help fight off would-be burglars.  The bat moved from place to place over the years, and was nearly disposed of several times.

During our initial meeting with the consignor, we were told the story of how the bat's owner relocated from one home to another.  On Moving Day, a family member performed one final walk-through of the house to make sure nothing was left behind, and discovered the Lou Gehrig bat, innocently resting in the empty living room, nearly left behind.  On another occasion, the owner considered gifting the bat to a neighborhood child seen playing baseball in the street.  In 2009 when Derek Jeter broke Gehrig's record for most hits as a Yankee, the family considered shipping Jeter the bat as a congratulatory gift.

Suffice to say it is a miracle that this bat has survived.

Eventually, the owners became convinced that the bat had collector value, which prompted a phone call to the Baseball Hall of Fame, who advised the family to get the bat professionally authenticated.  This led the family to noted expert John Taube of PSA/DNA, who thoroughly examined the bat, assigning a grade of PSA/DNA GU 8.5, indicating that the bat matches available factory records, possesses identifiable player characteristics and exhibits at least medium use.

The bat itself, a Hanna Batrite Model R2, is in remarkable condition, particularly considering its method of storage for the past 40 years.  Exhibiting a rich, dark patina, the bat is sturdy and solid, and exhibits ball marks and stitch impressions on the right barrel, consistent with Gehrig's status as a lefthanded batter.  The right barrel is also marked by slight swelling of the grain, with green bat rack marks visible in various places on the bat.  The edge of the knob is marred by a small chip.  The bat is marked "AA," which likely stands for "Adirondack Ash," alluding to the company's manufacturing plants in Pennsylvania and New York.  According to PSA/DNA's Letter of Authenticity, the bat possesses a handle crack that has been secured with tape; subsequent discussions with John Taube reveal his belief that the tape was not applied by Gehrig but likely was applied some time later.

Most importantly, the weight of the bat - 36 3/4 ounces - has been stamped into the knob of the bat.  This is the first Hanna Batrite model examined by PSA/DNA that has the weight stamped into the knob.  Bat weights were only stamped into Hanna's pro model bats.

In 1933, the Hillerich & Bradsby company filed a lawsuit against the Hanna Manufacturing Company because Hanna was selling store model bats using the names of players under contract to Hillerich & Bradsby.  As a result of the lawsuit, Lou Gehrig was asked to testify, and letters from Gehrig to Hanna was admitted into evidence.  As a result, Gehrig's use of Hanna Batrite bats is well-documented, more so than with any other major leaguer.  In fact, in addition to Gehrig's testimony, records available online from the National Archives clearly detail correspondence between Gehrig and Robert Hanna of Hanna Manufacturing.  Very particular about the weights of his bats, Gehrig specifically ordered three bats weighing 36 3/4 ounces in a telegram dated March 17, 1930 - and specifically asked for the weight to be marked on each bat.

Further, Gehrig's testimony on the matter is clear: "I spoke of having used Louisville Slugger bats practically all the time throughout my professional career with the exception of approximately two years.  During those two years approximately I used a Batrite and Spalding.  The Batrite bats were purchased from Hanna Manufacturing Company, Athens, Georgia.  Two or three Batrite and Spalding bats were sent to me on trial, and I finally placed my orders with the Hanna Manufacturing Company.  I used the Batrite bats I obtained from Hanna Manufacturing Company a good majority of both years I used those bats."

During our research, we sought out a photograph of Gehrig holding a Hanna Batrite bat.  For months, we could not find a decent example, until just before our print catalog went to press, when we came across a photo from the Chicago Daily News that depicted Gehrig, sitting on a backstop at Comiskey Park in 1930, alongside Babe Ruth and Bob Shawkey.  In that photo, Gehrig was holding a Batrite, positioned so perfectly that it almost could have been a Batrite advertisement.  We reached out to the Chicago History Museum, photo's rightsholder, and asked to acquire a license for our printed catalog.

What they sent us was absolutely astonishing - a 1200 DPI scan from the glass plate negative that showed what appeared to be a clear photo match.  In our estimation, the bat Gehrig is holding in the photo was the exact same bat in our possession.

We brought the bat back to PSA/DNA bat authenticator John Taube, who had assigned the bat a grade of PSA/DNA GU 8.5, for his evaluation.  After a thorough examination, John agreed, and pointed out nine different points of reference on the face of the subject bat with the pictured bat, where the grain alignment of the barrel and centerbrand matched perfectly.  Grain patterns, like fingerprints, are unique.  The use characteristics, along with the photo match, resulted in an upgrade of the bat's grade to PSA/DNA GU 9.

This is the first and currently only Lou Gehrig professional model bat that has ever been photo matched.  While model matches have been established, a photo match with such detail has never before been discovered.  Among the rarest pro model bats in the hobby, this Hanna Batrite is the only Gehrig gamer that has been photo matched, enabling us to put this very bat in Gehrig's hands in Comiskey Park in 1930.  No Lou Gehrig bat exists with such impeccable provenance.

This is an extraordinarily rare artifact - a game-used bat from one of the most beloved players in the game, and a significant hobby rarity.  Thoroughly examined and vetted twice by John Taube of PSA/DNA, the bat has received a grade of GU 9, a clear indicator of excellent use.  The incredibly beautiful piece of lumber is a brand-new hobby discovery which carries an extraordinary backstory that has received significant media coverage.  It is with immense pride that we present to you an impossibly rare "miracle bat," this gorgeous Hanna Batrite R2 model swung by the American icon and Yankee captain, the "Iron Horse" Lou Gehrig.

Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)
Rare and Remarkable 1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat (PSA/DNA GU 9)
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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $20,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $436,970
Number Bids: 46
Auction closed on Sunday, August 9, 2015.
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