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Baseball in the Armed Forces


67Rally
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67Rally
11 hours ago, Greekgeek said:

Very interesting.  I really appreciate your reply.  Any ideas on the 10th stamp?  10th Cavalry perhaps?  


The 10th stamp is likely a unit marking but it is anyone's guess as to which specific unit.

 

To Bluehawk's wife's credit, the knob and the barrel diameters are different and could indicate, as she said, an early century-made piece. However, Two of my wartime models also have similar knob shapes. In the absence of makers' marks it is difficult to determine the age. My initial thoughts were that this is a 1940s softball bat. The die used for the U.S. stamp appears to be consistent with other WWII maker's service bat markings.

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Greekgeek
4 hours ago, 67Rally said:


The 10th stamp is likely a unit marking but it is anyone's guess as to which specific unit.

 

To Bluehawk's wife's credit, the knob and the barrel diameters are different and could indicate, as she said, an early century-made piece. However, Two of my wartime models also have similar knob shapes. In the absence of makers' marks it is difficult to determine the age. My initial thoughts were that this is a 1940s softball bat. The die used for the U.S. stamp appears to be consistent with other WWII maker's service bat markings.

Hmmm, yeah I was really hoping there might be some way to trace it to a particular time or place.  Looks like there was a 10th infantry of the Army at one point as well.

 

A softball bat, I hadn't really considered that, just assumed they were playing baseball.  Maybe at a stateside camp, in the european theater, or if WWII an island in the pacific!

 

Sure would be nice to definitively determine what it is, let alone a little more about its place in our military history.

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Bluehawk

"The die used for the U.S. stamp appears to be consistent with other WWII maker's service bat markings."

 

That, is very interesting, and makes me wonder if it might have been added fairly long after the 1920s? As for the bat itself, it is for sure as she identified it, by every possible sign - unless it be a repro? It might have been repurposed as a GI softball bat, but chances are it never could have withstood any regular use with a modern hardball. Apparently, after the dead ball era, the ball went through a few structural changes between then and about the early 1940s or so, essentially changing the game forever - the ball came to the plate a lot faster and popped off the bigger thicker bats, instead of sorta mooshing its way into relatively short flight. 

 

The righteous wear on both tip ends also suggests an authentic age of that length in time, about a century, as an example. That light colored band there about half way up could have been from a tape or band wrapped around the handle? 

 

I showed the photos to her - in less than 5 seconds she knew exactly what it is, and then went to her library to show me period photos of the bats in use. 

 

Here are some other early 20th century comparables...

download-1.jpg.508ebb4e63ebfdaad8eeff56ecbbf027.jpg

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Greekgeek
1 hour ago, Bluehawk said:

"The die used for the U.S. stamp appears to be consistent with other WWII maker's service bat markings."

 

That, is very interesting, and makes me wonder if it might have been added fairly long after the 1920s? As for the bat itself, it is for sure as she identified it, by every possible sign - unless it be a repro? It might have been repurposed as a GI softball bat, but chances are it never could have withstood any regular use with a modern hardball. Apparently, after the dead ball era, the ball went through a few structural changes between then and about the early 1940s or so, essentially changing the game forever - the ball came to the plate a lot faster and popped off the bigger thicker bats, instead of sorta mooshing its way into relatively short flight. 

 

The righteous wear on both tip ends also suggests an authentic age of that length in time, about a century, as an example. That light colored band there about half way up could have been from a tape or band wrapped around the handle? 

 

I showed the photos to her - in less than 5 seconds she knew exactly what it is, and then went to her library to show me period photos of the bats in use. 

 

Here are some other early 20th century comparables...

download-1.jpg.508ebb4e63ebfdaad8eeff56ecbbf027.jpg

That is awesome!  Agai. Please tell her thanks.  I just love learning more. 

 

Wish I could help here but I just have no idea.  I think I mentioned it was thrifted, so I do not have any history on it at all.  About 10 or 12 years ago I was on a business trip outside Chicago and stopped into a Goodwill, I think it was in Schaumberg Illinois.  There it was in a small sporting goods section, and the U.S. stamp jumped out at me.

 

I took it home for all of $1 or $2.  If a reproduction no one got rich off it! well it does seem to have some age on it and it's not in perfect shape.  But it's still solid and has a little heft to it! 

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Bluehawk

"If a reproduction no one got rich off it! well it does seem to have some age on it and it's not in perfect shape.  But it's still solid and has a little heft to it!"

 

That heft is good news, the really old bats were made of very dense wood (not sure which types) as most still are today. We see many old ones are a dark color either from varnish, or natural color handled a lot, or bat crud added to improve grip. 67Rally's earlier comment about small local furniture makers getting some contract work from Uncle Sam for things like this in the early-mid 20th century really made your bat even more authentic to me - because the makers would have been more likely to use a local wood source - e.g. hickory, black walnut, elm, oak etc etc etc., all of which are normally some shade of a light color until fiddled with. Pine or Cottonwood would not be their first choice.

 

I don't think your bat saw a lot of actual playing time from the overall look of it, and the light band around the handle looks like it reveals the original color. So, it survived a century of some sort of life, and appears to be a treasure. 

 

I, too, am really curious about those hand end stamps... 

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67Rally
5 hours ago, Bluehawk said:

"The die used for the U.S. stamp appears to be consistent with other WWII maker's service bat markings."

 

That, is very interesting, and makes me wonder if it might have been added fairly long after the 1920s? As for the bat itself, it is for sure as she identified it, by every possible sign - unless it be a repro? It might have been repurposed as a GI softball bat, but chances are it never could have withstood any regular use with a modern hardball. Apparently, after the dead ball era, the ball went through a few structural changes between then and about the early 1940s or so, essentially changing the game forever - the ball came to the plate a lot faster and popped off the bigger thicker bats, instead of sorta mooshing its way into relatively short flight. 

 

The righteous wear on both tip ends also suggests an authentic age of that length in time, about a century, as an example. That light colored band there about half way up could have been from a tape or band wrapped around the handle? 

 

I showed the photos to her - in less than 5 seconds she knew exactly what it is, and then went to her library to show me period photos of the bats in use. 

 

Here are some other early 20th century comparables...

download-1.jpg.508ebb4e63ebfdaad8eeff56ecbbf027.jpg

 

The challenge with using characteristics as the sole age/era pointers is that we overlook preferences of the players of any given time. During the deadball era, major leaguers used some tree trunks - long bats with girth that were considerably more heavy than those of the 1950s and 60s. There are always exceptions that as trends in conditioning, swing analysis and pitching, bats did tend to shorten and decrease in size. Cupping the barrel ends began as a player mod and became a manufacturer-provided option. While some may believe that knobless bats are a relatively recent feature, they were in use in the early part of the 20th Century.

Since this bat lacks manufacturers markings, we truly do not know the age. The service marking is comparable to what was seen during WWII but is not what was used on bats provided for troops during WWI.

Here is a selection of service bats that includes two softball pieces.  Note the differing knob sizes and patterns. Also note the narrow barrels on the two softball bats. Two of the bats are team index pieces (pro player models ordered and used by the Naval Academy's baseball team). 

Also, pay attention to the wear and usage marks. While such markings CAN be utilized to determine use, it is nearly impossible to use them as indicators of age. Greekgeek's bat has wear that is roughly the same as the two pro-model bats (3rd and 4th from the left in the first photo below) and yet those are 20 years newer than the rest of the bats shown.

One last piece of info on Greekgeek's bat: the single stripe above the handle is a normal placement for what is commonly seen on 1940s-50s fungo bats. 

20220316_161657.jpg

20220316_161707.jpg

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Bluehawk

"... the single stripe above the handle is a normal placement for what is commonly seen on 1940s-50s fungo bats."

 

Now you've gone and done it 😊  I found this, and so am wondering how it comports with Greekgeek's example?

 

"Typically, they [fungo bats] are around 34 to 37 inches in length and between 17 and 24 ounces in weight, give or take a couple of ounces. They will also almost always feature a 2 1/4 inch barrel diameter..."

 

and this

 

"A normal adult wooden baseball bat will weigh around 27-31 ounces..."

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Greekgeek

The plot thickens!   I had to Google fungo bats, never knew what one was!  

 

What a cool picture of your WWIi bats collection. Thank you!

 

Kind of hope it's not one, but as the ol saying goes, it is what it is...

 

To my untrained eye I am thinking it is similar to WWII soft ball bats.  

 

I'll try to get some measurements soon and report back.

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Greekgeek
17 hours ago, Bluehawk said:

"... the single stripe above the handle is a normal placement for what is commonly seen on 1940s-50s fungo bats."

 

Now you've gone and done it 😊  I found this, and so am wondering how it comports with Greekgeek's example?

 

"Typically, they [fungo bats] are around 34 to 37 inches in length and between 17 and 24 ounces in weight, give or take a couple of ounces. They will also almost always feature a 2 1/4 inch barrel diameter..."

 

and this

 

"A normal adult wooden baseball bat will weigh around 27-31 ounces..."

I came up with 33" long.  About 1 7/8" in diameter.  Weighing in at 28.7 OZ.

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Greekgeek

Here are a few pics of the barrel.  Unfortunately, it suffered some abuse before being rescued at the thrift.  Hard to get in the pics but there is a series of lines and a few small chips in a couple sides of the barrel.

 

No idea what someone was whacking with it.

 

And one close up of the marking.

 

 

20220607_150346.jpg

20220607_150355.jpg

20220607_150407.jpg

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67Rally
8 minutes ago, Greekgeek said:

Here are a few pics of the barrel.  Unfortunately, it suffered some abuse before being rescued at the thrift.  Hard to get in the pics but there is a series of lines and a few small chips in a couple sides of the barrel.

 

No idea what someone was whacking with it.

 

And one close up of the marking.

 

 

20220607_150346.jpg

20220607_150355.jpg

20220607_150407.jpg


That is NOT abuse. That is light use or just wear and tear from years of varying storage situations. This is what an abused bat looks like:2020-11-26_06-55-40.jpg.49d69f1d5bd31b3e712604bd71803e6b.jpg

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Greekgeek
4 hours ago, 67Rally said:


That is NOT abuse. That is light use or just wear and tear from years of varying storage situations. This is what an abused bat looks like:2020-11-26_06-55-40.jpg.49d69f1d5bd31b3e712604bd71803e6b.jpg

Ouch!  Now see that, I would have described as neglect.  Looks like a cool bat though!

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Greekgeek

Hey, cannot edit my comment above.  At first I thought it was insect damage and rot. 

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67Rally
5 hours ago, Greekgeek said:

Hey, cannot edit my comment above.  At first I thought it was insect damage and rot. 

The Hillerich & Bradsby 40TW Ted Williams U.S.N. bat has been through the wringer. The indentations lead me to suspect that it was used later in its life to hit pieces of gravel. Typical of utilitarian bats, this one was likely stored barrel end down on the basement or garage floor where it suffered through years of moisture penetration And subsequent rot and grain separation. It is the only military-marked Ted Williams bat I've seen in more than a dozen years so I call this a good save.

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Greekgeek
8 hours ago, 67Rally said:

The Hillerich & Bradsby 40TW Ted Williams U.S.N. bat has been through the wringer. The indentations lead me to suspect that it was used later in its life to hit pieces of gravel. Typical of utilitarian bats, this one was likely stored barrel end down on the basement or garage floor where it suffered through years of moisture penetration And subsequent rot and grain separation. It is the only military-marked Ted Williams bat I've seen in more than a dozen years so I call this a good save.

A survivor indeed!  Pretty cool that it surfaced before being too far gone.  Great markings to boot.

 

The depth of field is too shallow in my pics, in person it looks like it lived a second life as a mallet.  Lots of line/arc like depressions.   I know it's round, but if you could imagine the barrel had sides or faces, all the faces have the marks except for the one with the U.S. stamp.  Presumedly, that was intentional. 

 

My best guess is someone was using to bang paint cans closed, or something else that would leave arc like marks.  Also, I see at least four different colors of rather small paint splatters (green, white, black, turquiose) possibly two for stains (unless a natural stain!).  

 

Two other new observations.  There is a spiral mark just above the light colored band, as though something was cut off.

 

Lastly, there is one small section/side of the handle area that is exceptionally smooth, like smooth as glass.  Part of a wear pattern, or maybe someone smoothed it out?

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  • 1 month later...
easterneagle87
On 5/2/2022 at 3:52 PM, easterneagle87 said:

Gleaned photo from the lot, showing WW1 US and Canadian soldiers in a baseball game. There are two other shots, but they are labeled and show Canadian soldiers so I didn't include them here. 

US Candian Baseball.jpg

 

FYI ... I just posted these on the "bay" in a mixed ww1 photo lot.  

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67Rally
On 1/5/2022 at 6:23 AM, General Apathy said:

.

Hi 67Rally.

 

A few of the pieces I auctioned off in 2018, there was another front pad guard and shin guards sold but not shown, I kept my U.S. Army marked bats though. 

 

.fullsizeoutput_fb27.jpeg.255ed95eadbb24a0e1addff59cb4b2ad.jpeg

 

.fullsizeoutput_fb2d.jpeg.18f1fd822a95e2ff8cd9fcd3bf30b9b6.jpeg

 

regards lewis.

 

..


I finally landed a full catchers' rig. Chest protector, mask and shin guards - all marked.

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General Apathy
On 7/11/2022 at 5:54 PM, 67Rally said:


I finally landed a full catchers' rig. Chest protector, mask and shin guards - all marked.

20220607_161840.jpg

20220607_161853.jpg

20220607_161847.jpg

20220607_161906.jpg

20220607_173725.jpg

20220619_143110.jpg

.

Hi 67Rally,

 

Nice clean set and well marked, pleased for you . . . . . continue enjoying the collection.

 

regards lewis.

 

...

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