Game-Used and Signed 1926-27 Lou Gehrig Bat Headed to Heritage Auctions’ Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction

Bats have long been among the most popular items among collectors of game-used sports memorabilia. In the hands of ordinary people, they are ordinary slabs of lumber. But place those same bats in the hands of one of the titans of baseball, an icon who spent his entire career playing for the game’s most storied franchise, and it is no wonder a signed 1926-27 Lou Gehrig Game-Used & Signed Bat, PSA/DNA GU 10 is expected to be among the top attractions in Heritage Auctions’ Winter Platinum Night Catalog Auction Feb. 25-26.

“Game-used bats represent the tools of the trade for baseball players and we are proud to be offering lumber from many of the all-time greats in this Platinum Night Auction,” says Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage Auctions. “At the top of that list is an incredible Lou Gehrig gamer that dates from the Yankees’ historic 1927 season, which Gehrig personally signed for one lucky fan. Holding this bat in your hands is the closest thing that one lucky bidder will get to being inducted into Monument Park.”

Any item from the player known as the “Iron Horse” is prized by collectors; one of the two earliest known bats from the Yankees legend sold for $1.025 million at Heritage’s Winter Platinum Night Sports Collectibles Catalog Auction in February 2020. That bat included factory sidewriting that assured it had been used by Gehrig. The bat offered here is not sidewritten, but it does include an equivalent degree of certainty that definitively placed it in Gehrig’s hands, thanks to an autograph that did not appear on the model sold in 2020. Bats used by the legendary first baseman are rare and in high demand, and the presence of his autograph with a black fountain pen only increases the allure.

This magnificent bat was fashioned from top-grade Northern White Ash by the Joseph G. Kren Bat Company of Syracuse, New York. It has been speculated that Gehrig was turned on to the brand by teammate Babe Ruth, and the offered club has massive measurements — it measures 36 inches in length and weighs a seismic 43.1 ounces — reminiscent of the tree trunk-like lumber Ruth swung on his way to the Hall of Fame. It likely is no coincidence that in the years Gehrig had this bat, his slugging percentage jumped by more than 200 points and he nearly tripled his home runs, including a career-high 52 long balls in 1927.

Gehrig’s bat is one of nearly 100 in the auction, a list that also includes but is not limited to:

A 1960 Ted Williams Game Used-Bat, PSA/DNA GU 10 was used by the Splended Splinter in his final season with the Boston Red Sox. The Hall of Famer famously ended his career with a home run in front of an adoring crowd at Fenway Park. But with that and just one other long ball still ahead of him, he headed to the plate at Chicago’s Comiskey Park Sept. 11, 1960, with the lumber offered here in his hands. As he hit the ball, he felt a faint shiver, indicating compromised structural integrity — not enough to splinter the bat, but enough that it was retired permanently. It ended up in the hands of the consignor, who had won an essay contest to serve as a bat boy at Comiskey. The bat is accompanied by a letter from the consignor in which he attests to the Sept. 11, 1960 date, a claim strengthened by a PSA/DNA letter that declares the bat matches a single order of bats — Williams’ very last — Sept. 1, 1960.

Few players have been identified as future stars as quickly as then-Seattle Mariners star Ken Griffey, Jr., who arrived in the big leagues known for two things: being the son of the Cincinnati Reds’ star outfielder with the same name, and for one of the smoothest swings to come along in years. A 1989 Ken Griffey, Jr. Game-Used & Signed Bat, PSA/DNA GU 9.5 from the player who some have called the greatest five-tool player in the game since Willie Mays was one of the first the player referred to as “The Kid” used in a career that spanned 24 seasons and ended up with Griffey as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. This bat was used when Griffey was a precocious 19-year-old phenom who made the 16 home runs he hit as a rookie look as effortless as the rest of the 630 he would launch during his career.

So prolific was the player known to many simply as “Hammerin’ Hank” that he still is viewed by many as the “legitimate” all-time home runs leader, and retains the career records for runs batted in (2,297) and total bases (6,856). His dominance on the baseball diamond landed Hank Aaron in many All-Star Games, making a 1961 Hank Aaron All-Star Game-Used Bat with Unique Provenance, PSA/DNA GU 9.5 a baseball relic with a back story as unusual as the accomplishments of the man who swung it. The offered Adirondack 63A was given by the baseball icon to an young fan who was so awe-struck that he accepted the bat and posed for a photo with Aaron while wearing a t-shirt bearing the Hall of Famer’s name across his chest; the meeting between Aaron and the young white fan was a significant exchange during the Civil Rights Era and captured in a photo. The recipient of the bat sold it to a Wisconsin card shop owner decades ago, reporting at the time that he had won some sort of contest with a local dairy to meet Aaron and accept his All-Star bat — the evidence of which is a photo that is included with the bat.

Other top bats in the auction include:

  • A 1950 Joe DiMaggio Game-Used Bat, PSA/DNA GU 8.5
  • A 1970-72 Willie Mays Game-Used Bat, PSA/DNA GU 10
  • A 1922-25 Ty Cobb Signed Decal Bat, PSA/DNA Authentic
  • A 1976 Frank Robinson Game-Used Bicentennial Bat, PSA/DNA GU 10 (photo-matched)

Images and information about all lots in the auction can be found at HA.com/50061.

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