1938-39 Hillerich & Bradsby Billy Herman
Known as one of the feistiest players in baseball history, Edd Roush channeled that energy into a Hall of Fame career. An old-timer was quoted in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1919 saying that Roush was more like the fiery old Baltimore Orioles of the 1890’s than any other player in the National League. The observer stressed Roush’s versatility and his knack at doing the unexpected when it would help the most. John McGraw, in a similar vein, once said, “that Hoosier moves with the indifference of an alley cat.” Pat Moran claimed that “all that fellow has to do is wash his hands, adjust his cap and he’s in shape to hit. He’s the great individualist in the game.” Roush led his team, the Cincinnati Reds, to the World’s Championship in 1919.
A left-handed hitter with a lifetime average of .323 in 18 seasons, Edd Roush was the best place hitter in the National League toward the end of the Deadball Era, winning batting championships in 1917 and 1919 and finishing second in 1918. “Some batters, and good ones too, scoff at the whole theory of place hitting, calling it a myth,” he said. “They are wrong, however.”
Roush wielded a short, thick-handled bat that weighed 48 ounces, one of the heaviest ever in baseball. He snapped the bat at the ball with his arms and placed line drives to all parts of the field by shifting his feet after the ball left the pitchers hand and altering the timing of his swing. “Place hitting is in a sense glorified bunting,” he said. “I only take a half swing at the ball, and the weight of the bat rather than my swing is what drives it.”
On defense center fielder Roush combined excellent speed with an ability to turn his back on the baseball and run to the spot where it would drop to earth. Edd was considered by many to be the premier defensive outfielder of the National League during the Deadball era. He was often compared defensively with Hall of Famer Tris Speaker. (Excerpt from SABR Article by Jim Sandoval)
I originally purchased this bat in March of 2008 from a seller who acquired the bat at a thrift store auction in St. Louis in 2007.
This 35 7/8", 41.3 oz club has some key characteristics of a well used bit of Cobb lumber. Key among them, are the numerous cleat marks found scattered about the barrel. Additionally, the bat's near 42 oz weight is represented in Cobb's ordering record for 1927.
Ty Cobb's Hillerich & Bradsby C28 model is indexed at 34 1/2" and I believe the majority of his bats in the hobby are found to be that length. Certainly, at nearly 36", this particular bat is a definite deviation from the norm. In the "Complete Reference Guide to Louisville Slugger Professional Player Bats" by Vince Malta, the details of Cobb's bat orders are shared. In that chart, his entry for 1927 references "Model(s) Not Clearly Designated in Shipping Record, as they were chosen by Morrow (H&B employee Henry Morrow)." There is no length listed (listed as n/s", non specified length). Weights listed are 36, 38, 40, and 42 oz. My bat, at 35 7/8" and 41.3 oz would fit an order of unspecified length and 42 oz.
Additionally, the image below provides photographic proof that Cobb had access to longer bats. It just so happens that those longer bats also share this unique "Burnished Finish". The apparent difference in length as well as the unusual finish displayed by two particular bats in the photo is what makes the image a very exciting and important bit of evidence when considering the use of this bat by Tyrus Raymond Cobb.
The photo shown at left remains the single greatest piece of evidence of Cobb having used (or at least having had direct access to) a bat with this burnished finish and length longer than 34 1/2" (at least in theory). The image, taken at Yankee Stadium on April 12, 1927, shows Cobb as he carefully selects his weapon of choice before facing Yankee hurler Waite Hoyt.
The photo below highlights two bats on the ground in front of Cobb. Both of those bats have a virtually identical finish (darkened barrel, tan lower handle, no tape). For modern day bats this would be considered a very strong "style match". Unfortunately there aren't any distinguishable markings on the bats in the photo that are visible on my bat which would make it an exact "photo match".
Also noted in the photo is that the top highlighted bat has a distinct offset in placement. The knob of the 2nd bat appears to be around 2" or so to the left of the knob of the 3rd bat. However, the end of the barrel of the 2nd bat looks to be at least 4" to the left of the end of the barrel of the 3rd bat.
If the 3rd bat was shifted to the left so that the knobs of bat 2 and bat 3 lined up I would expect that the 3rd bat would still be at least 2"-3" longer. If the 2nd bat is a Cobb model presumed to be 34 1/2" in length (as indexed) then the length of the 3rd bat could easily be 35 1/2" to 36 1/2".
This photo shows very clearly that Cobb had direct access to bats with this unique burnished finish, un-taped handles, and lengths believed to be longer than his 34 1/2" index length. The bat was acquired in St. Louis, MO. The Philadelphia Athletics played against the St. Louis Browns in St. Louis in May, July, and August in 1927. It's very possible after a such a long career and many trips to St. Louis that Cobb became friendly with some of the residents there. That he may have gifted the bat to one of the locals toward the end of the 1927 season knowing his career was soon to be coming to an end would not be out of character for Cobb.