2023 February Finest Auction

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A sandlot star hurler in the Baltimore area in the 1910's, Robert Moses “Lefty” Grove caught the attention of local minor league owner/manager Jack Dunn – the man who discovered Babe Ruth – and joined the Orioles organization in 1920, compiling an impressive 109-36 record before ever stepping on a big-league mound. In 1925, after Dunn reluctantly sold Grove’s rights to the Philadelphia Athletics for $100,500 – then the highest ever paid for a player, including Ruth – the 6’ 3” southpaw began his MLB career at the age of 25 and had immediate success. Lefty topped the American League in strikeouts each of his first seven seasons, leading Connie Mack’s boys to three consecutive pennants (1929-31) and back-to-back World Championships in 1929 and ’30. Grove would pace the Junior Circuit a record nine times in ERA and four times in wins en route to exactly 300 career victories.

In the history of baseball, perhaps no campaign by a starting pitcher was more impressive than 1931 when Grove went 31-4 with a 2.06 ERA, 175 K’s, 27 complete games and four shutouts – all league bests. In fact, from July 25, 1930, until Sept. 24, 1931, Lefty went 46-4 which remains the best 50-decision stretch of all time. He was named AL MVP for this epic run which again took the A’s to the 1931 Fall Classic. This time, they fell to the Cardinals’ Gashouse Gang in a close seven-game series.

As a hitter, Grove left much to be desired with a .148 career average and a record (for pitchers) 593 strikeouts. Yet, in 1931, Lefty was outstanding by his standards with a career-high 23 hits in 115 at-bats for an even .200 mark. His Hillerich & Bradsby bat offered here hails from the tail end of his MVP season. In fact, the order date of Sept. 22, 1931, with “W.S.” notation in H&B records indicates that it was one of just two bats specifically ordered for and used by Grove in the World Series. He started three games, going 2-1 with road victories in Games One and Six. At the plate, he went hitless in ten at-bats and fanned seven times.

The “Al Simmons 6-11-30” Lefty Grove professional model ash bat measures 35" and weighs 38.3 oz. with a slight handle crack that has been repaired. It shows heavy game use with ball and cleat marks throughout the barrel as well as slight checking from repeated contact. A moderate coat of gripping substance is present on the lower handle along with a combination of bat rack and storage streaks on the barrel. As bat expert John Taube notes in the PSA/DNA letter, the Louisville Slugger 125 centerbrand features a PP-2 variation of "Powerized - Pat. Pend” stamped adjacent, a labeling style only found on H&B models from 1931. The large knob and bat length is a direct match to the other World Series bat ordered by Grove, although this one is an ounce heavier.

Hall of Fame pitcher bats from any era are exceptionally rare and this is one of just two Lefty Grove gamers known to exist. The high-grade exemplar has retained its beautiful patina finish, giving it exceptional aesthetic appeal for the most esteemed bat collector. Includes LOA from John Taube with a nearly perfect PSA/DNA GU 9 grade assessment.

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