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Lot 267

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Lot Number: 267

Description: Superlative Ty Cobb Professional Model Baseball Bat c.1919-1922. Tyrus Cobb was universally revered by his peers and scribes of the day as the greatest batsman of the era in addition to being scorned for what some called his reckless and "dirty" playing tactics. Neither was of consequence to Cobb. His pursuit of excellence within the lines of a baseball diamond was unending, limitless, and at all costs. Cobb was quoted as stating, "Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It's no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It's a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest." However regarded it was clear that his win at all cost approach carried him to incredible heights. Cobb's batting statistics are truly astounding including lifetime totals of 3,034 games, 11,429 at bats, 4,191 hits, 724 doubles, 297 triples, and 2,245 runs scored. When he retired from the game in 1928, he held 90 major league records, most of these achieved with his bat. Most telling of his superiority is his .367 lifetime average, a daunting mark accomplished over a 24-year career that will likely never be approached. By the 1912 season Ty Cobb had solidified himself as one of the greatest stars of the national pastime. That very same season a young infielder played for the Tigers by the name of Eddie Onslow. It was the beginning of a baseball friendship that would last throughout the lives of the two men. As recounted by the Onslow's daughter, "In 1912, at the age of 19, my dad, Eddie Onslow broke into Major League Baseball as a first baseman for the Detroit Tigers. The prior year, Ty Cobb, the centerfielder for the Tigers had been named the MVP of the American League. Dad was in awe of the great Cobb, however dad was a young, homesick, rookie, wondering if he would make it! Ty became impressed with my dad"s enthusiasm for the game and took a "liken" to him. Dad always said that Ty helped him in every way during his rookie year. They remained friends throughout Ty's lifetime. For a number of years, after Ty retired, dad would leave early for Spring Training in order to stop in Georgia for a visit with his friend. They exchanged letters on a regular basis, discussing their families and of course, baseball. Often I would hear dad talk about a letter or an experience that they shared over the years. In spite of Ty's reputation for being nasty and hard to get along with, dad knew him as a fine man and good friend." With the aforementioned background in mind we are proud to present this superb Ty Cobb professional model baseball bat from the collection of Eddie Onslow. Measuring 34 1/2" in length and weighing 40.1 oz the bat is perfect in all respects for a Cobb game used bat in comparison with the Hillerich & Bradsby Factory records. Evident use is present throughout inclusive of cleat marks near the barrel end and an incredible area of pronounced yet precise ball marks on the right barrel. This area is notable as the tobacco juice patination on the surface is visibly worn through where Cobb would pound the baseball in a repetitive machine like fashion. Additionally, the handle area of the bat retains his trademark wide spiral handle tape as documented in numerous period images of Cobb batting. The patina of the bat is simply breathtaking with original surface having areas of tobacco juice staining presenting as if Cobb had taken it right out of his hands. The knob end retains a small period cast iron hook for display purposes which was left intact for the sake of preserving its originality as found within the collection. It must be stated that upon view or handling this particular Ty Cobb professional model bat it become instantly recognizable as one wielded by the Hall of Famer. However, although certainly not needed this bat happens to be accompanied by not one but two separate letters of provenance written by Ty Cobb himself as sent to Eddie Onslow. The first measures 5"x6" as written on Cobb"s personal stationery from Menlo Park, CA. Penned in black fountain pen Cobb writes, "To whom it may concern, The bat that I presented to my good friend Eddie Onslow is one that I used the last year of my career in baseball. Ty Cobb". The content and signature itself rate a resounding 8/9 out of 10 with some minor edge chipping to the paper. The note remains in its original small period wooden frame as displayed in the Onslow home. Secondly, the bat includes a two page handwritten letter dated Sept. 6, 1933 again written on Cobb"s Menlo Park, CA stationery. The content largely references general greetings and Cobb's penchant for golf and fishing. Included within the text of the second page Cobb writes, "I am happy to know you still have the bat and that you like it." The letter is signed, "Your friend, Ty" with content and signature rating 9 out of 10. A pair of vintage envelopes as hand addressed by Cobb to Onslow are included as well. To date, the offered Ty Cobb bat is the only surviving example with direct handwritten provenance from Cobb himself. We have had the privilege over the past twenty years to handle several of the finest Cobb game bats to have entered the marketplace inclusive of an example directly consigned by the Hillerich & Bradsby Co. itself as part of our annual Louisville Slugger Museum auction event. It is with a high degree of respect for the other fine examples that we have handled that we present the Onslow Collection specimen as the finest Ty Cobb baseball bat to have been offered for public sale. The usage characteristics of the bat, visual presentation, primary source provenance, and unprecedented handwritten corroboration from Cobb himself place this bat in a class of its own. As quoted by John Taube of PSA/DNA within the letter of authenticity, "One glance and you immediately know this was a favorite bat of Cobb." Furthermore, it is for these very same attributes that we feel confident in ranking this bat within the roster of the finest game used baseball bats extant for any Hall of Fame player. Includes LOAs from Hunt Auctions (bat), John Taube PSA/DNA (bat, Graded GU 10), JSA (autographs), and letter of provenance from the Onslow family: EX

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