2023 February Finest Auction

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Exactly what motivated Tyus Raymond Cobb remains a mystery. His remarkable talents were fueled by equal parts anger, intensity, cunning, intimidation, and a win-at-all-costs attitude that never wavered over 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers (1905-26) plus two more with the Philadelphia Athletics. The Georgia Peach was the Dead Ball Era’s most dominant player, his near-legendary feats withstanding the test of time. Cobb was to bat control what Babe Ruth later was to the home run. A left-handed hitter who choked up with a unique split grip, he could drive the ball to all fields and play pickle to any open holes on the diamond. He was a master bunter, yet if power was required, the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder could supply it. His tremendous speed made him a vacuum in centerfield and a menace on the base paths where he stole 897 career bags (including home an unfathomable 54 times!), sometimes using his spikes to deliver a bloody message. Love him or hate him, he was the ultimate gamer. When Cobb retired in 1928 at age 42, he owned an incredible 90 all-time records! His twelve American League batting titles (nine straight from 1907-1915) and .366 career average will never be matched.

This presented bat was one of Cobb's weapons of choice from the prime of his reign. He batted .389 and .369, respectively, during the 1913-14 timeframe of its documented usage, earning batting titles number seven and eight. The J.F. Hillerich & Son professional model 40K ash bat measures 34" and weighs 35.3 oz. with a dash-dot-dash centerbrand and Cobb facsimile signature in the barrel. What makes this piece of lumber special is its cork-coated handle, giving Cobb a more comfortable grip and softening the sting to his hands when making contact. "Kork Grip Pat. Pending" is burned in above the handle and most of the factory-applied cork remains. In addition, a light coat of gripping substance just above the cork is present on the upper handle. As noted by bat expert John Taube in the PSA/DNA letter, the dating period of 1913-14 was determined by a comparison of centerbrand characteristics and the "Pat Pending" notation, which changed to the patent number awarded after approval in September of 1914. Cobb was known to apply tape to aid in grip and was personally involved in developing the cork grip with Hillerich & Bradsby. A 12/20/1913 article from the Sporting Life in the PSA paperwork noted Cobb’s invention of bat coated with a thin layer of cork to “prevent slipping” and “do away with the sting and present method of winding tape.”

The bat shows solid evidence of game use with several ball and cleat marks visible on the barrel. There is a slight handle crack and significant grain swelling on the hitting surface from repeated contact. While the length is a half-inch shorter than a typical Cobb bat, Taube has addressed this minor variance within the included documentation. Apparently, 1908-1919 bats ordered by Cobb were not dutifully recorded by H&B for their lengths. Furthermore, Richard Bak’s biography of Cobb mentions his use of shorter 34” bats both early and later in his career. The 34.5" length with which Cobb is commonly associated is based solely on previous sales of Cobb bats, and the reality is that very few of these unique cork-coated Cobb bats have surfaced. Overall, this bat compares favorably to Cobb's preferred model and weighs within acceptable tolerances for lighter bats ordered and used by Cobb. An exceptional gamer from Cobb’s prime with physical attributes that measure up to the finest exemplars in the hobby. Includes a highly detailed LOA (6 pages total) from John Taube with a PSA/DNA GU 7.5 grade assessment.

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