MEARS Auction #133, Ends Saturday, January 4th, 2019, 10:00 PM CST W/30-Minute Rule In Effect
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 1/4/2020




“This autographed bat was used by Dizzy Dean during the 1934 World Series and was owned by WF Baily, former sheriff and respected citizen of Waco, TX” …Julia George, consignor.

After being in this business for 30+ years, I have heard A LOT of stories. They varied from farfetched, outright lies, fish tales, and some stories of family provenance or a direct link to a famous player that makes you love getting up for work in the morning.

Several months ago, MEARS received an email from a lady that stated she had Dizzy Dean’s autographed 1934 World Series bat. I was of course interested and asked to see pictures.

Within minutes JGP attachments came of the bat. Looking at it, I immediately recognized the autograph as vintage, period and authentic. The bat, a 1930s Lew Riggs model, was certainly period to Dean’s career with the Cardinals. After verifying the bat did exist, it was the job of MEARS company president Troy R. Kinunen to see if this was indeed Dizzy Dean’s 1934 World Series Bat. Here is the exact research that went into evaluating the bat and the findings are shared in this lot description.

To begin, we had to research the career and life of Dizzy Dean. Did he have any relationship to a sheriff from Waco, TX?

“Son, what kind of pitch would you like to miss?” Dizzy Dean was often quoted as saying to his future strikeout victims. Some might call him cocky, but he sure could back it up!

That tough persona was shaped by his early life. Born Jay Hanna Dean in 1910 in Lucas, Arkansas, Dizzy and his brother Paul worked the fields along side their sharecropper parents. By 1925, Dean had become accustomed to working the cotton fields with his father and brothers, but the back-breaking work made Dean strong, tough, and confident- all traits soon to be exemplified on the pitcher’s mound.

Without much formal education, Dean played a lot of sandlot baseball, and pitched for the 1930 Houston Buffaloes of the Texas League. There he was discovered by Don Curtis, a professional scout who discovered Dean while playing in a Texas Sandlot, quite possibly while playing for the Buffalos. Curtis signed him with the St. Louis Cardinals where he pitched in 1 game that season.

In addition to his connection to Dean, Don Curtis also was buried in Waco, TX, the home of the original owner (W.F. Baily) of the bat after being given it to him by one of his uncles, also residents of the town. Don Curtis’s obituary documented his connection to Waco and the town of the bat’s origin appeared as,

“WACO, Feb. 27 (AP) - Funeral services for W. D. (Don) Curtis, 57, veteran baseball scout, will be held here tomorrow. Curtis, credited as the discoverer of Dizzy Dean and Willis Hudlin, died yesterday.”

We were not able to establish a direct link between WF Baily, the original owner, and Don Curtis, but they did both reside in Waco, TX. Being gifted the bat by his uncles, we believe that Don Curtis and the Baily family were acquaintances and St. Louis Cardinals fans.

Once permanently called up by St. Louis, in 1932, Dean won 18 games, and then 20 in 1933, and 30 during 1934, while leading the Cardinals to a World Championship and he himself won the NL MVP.

About the bat…

Lew Riggs reported to the Shawnee (Oklahoma) Robins of the Class C Western Association in 1930 at the age of 20, and hit .356 with 52 hits in 36 games, which earned him a promotion to the St. Joseph (Missouri) Saints of the Class A Western League. He had signed as a shortstop, but the Cardinals wanted him to play third base. Riggs spent the next three seasons and most of a fourth playing for the Columbus (Ohio) Red Birds of the Double-A American Association, where he was consistent, hitting between .277 and .293 in his four seasons there. In 1931 and 1932 Riggs showed some power, hitting 18 and 20 home runs, respectively. In St. Joseph he roomed with Dizzy Dean for a couple of weeks before Dean was promoted to Houston of the Texas League. In 1931 Riggs set an American Association record, hitting six home runs in six days.5

Riggs made his major-league debut for the Gas House Gang Cardinals on April 28, 1934, in Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs, striking out as a pinch hitter for Dizzy Dean. His only other appearance was as a pinch-runner. A direct personal link between Riggs and Dean had been established.

It is quite possible and very likely that Dizzy Dean used the bat that was once owned by his former roommate. The bat dates to the 1934 timespan, is a Lou Riggs facsimile barrel stamp, measures 34” long, and weights 34 ounces. Bat shows heavy game use, has ball marks, and remains in excellent to near mint overall condition. The bat has been signed by Dizzy Dean in near mint period black fountain pen and authenticated by JSA. The bat has been authenticated as a MEARS A10.

MEARS has never seen a signed Dizzy Dean game used bat. Signing a game used bat during the 1930s was a very rare practice, and examples that have entered the hobby were most often gifted to dignities. The Baily family was very prominent in Waco, and Mr. Dean thought enough of them to bring an autographed game used bat to the St. Louis Hotel bar to offer as a gift.

For the 1934 season and World Series, Dean needed bat. With pitchers rarely having bats supplied directly to them by H&B and the documented practice of using other players bats, it makes sense that Dizzy Dean borrowed a bat from his former roommate. For the 1934 season, Dean batted in 51 regular season games, 118 At Bats, 29 hits, .246 batting average, and even belted 2 homeruns! There are no known records showing bats being sent to Dizzy Dean during the 1934 season, so borrowing from another player was very possible.

With respect to the 1934 World Series, Dean was successful at the plate and the account was recorded by sabr.org: “Elden Auker was pitching for the Tigers in the third inning of a scoreless tie of game 7. With one away, Dizzy came to the plate. He hit a popup foul, to the back of home. Detroit catcher and manager Mickey Cochrane did not give chase, and the foul nestled into the first row of seats. Dean then hit a blooper over third base. Goose Goslin in left field was slow getting to the ball and Diz never let up, pulling into second base. Pepper Martin hit an infield single to first and Jack Rothrock followed with a walk to load the bases. Frisch doubled, clearing the bases. After Dean scored, he turned to Cochrane and said, “You’re beat now, Mickey.”4 Indeed, the Cardinals scored seven runs in the frame on their way to an easy 11-0 win and the world championship. The Dean boys carried the Series, each winning two games. As it turned out, it may not have mattered whom Frisch chose to pitch on this day.”

Per the research of MEARS, we could not find any other bat attributed to have been used by Dizzy Dean, and this is the only autographed bat we have ever encountered.

Provenance

Our consignor, Julia George, received the bat from her late husband, who was personally given the bat by Mr. W.F. Baily of Waco, TX. The family has always been aware of the bat which had been stored for decades in a family safe. W.F. Baily countlessly recalled how he received the bat as a gift from one of his uncles, also a Waco resident. Baily stated his Uncle attended the World Series and after the season ended, was personally gifted this bat and a Dizzy Dean signed baseball (given to another member of the family) at a Hotel bar in St. Louis. The bar was inside a hotel near the stadium and was frequented by Dean and other members of the Gashouse Gang. This bat was always described as being Dizzy Dean’s 1934 World Series bat.

Although, there is no direct documentation that states this bat was used by Dizzy Dean in the World Series, we do know the following:

The consignor, Julia George, stated that the family always referred to this bat as “Dizzy Dean’s 1934 autographed World Series bat

The original owner of the bat, W.F. Baily, from Waco, TX received this bat from his uncle who was also from the same town.

Don Curtis, also from Waco, lived and scouted for major league prospects during the time this bat was brought back to Waco in 1934. It is not documented if the Baily family knew Don Curtis, but being a relative close-knit town back in 1934, it was quite likely that Don Curtis introduced Dizzy Dean to the Baily family.

The bat was issued to Lou Riggs, Dizzy Dean’s minor league teammate and a member of the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals. The practice of pitcher’s using other player’s bats is well documented. It is VERY plausible that Dizzy Dean used this bat, and there is nothing about the provenance or the physical manufacturing traits of this bat to dispute it’s usage by Dizzy Dean during the 1934 World Series. The autograph is also period and supports the reported history.

In sum, the provenance, physical manufacturing traits of the bat, no known records of Louisville Slugger bats with Dean’s name being shipped to him, game use, vintage autograph, and personal connection to Lou Riggs, MEARS Auctions is confident to attribute this bat as “1934 Dizzy Dean Autographed & Game Used Lou Riggs H&B Louisville Slugger Professional Model game used bat (MEARS A10). LOA from Julia George and MEARS will accompany this lot. Interested parties may request a private interview with Julia herself. (33I0032)

(MEARS Auction LOA; JSA Auction Letter)
Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $750
Final prices include buyers premium.: $4,657
Number Bids: 14
Auction closed on Sunday, January 5, 2020.
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