1916-19 Ray Chapman Game Used Bat, One Of Two Kn
But game used material rarely even enters the dreams of the advanced collector, who is well aware that such a flight of fancy is borderline preposterous. Dead Ball Era gear rarely surfaces, period. To tighten that already narrow focus to Chapman alone is to search for a needle in a hayfield of a thousand stacks. But, sometimes miracles can happen.
Presented is one of just two Ray Chapman game used bats known to survive to participate in the modern hobby. It was discovered by a collector in 1995 who answered an intriguing ad in the Thursday Plains Dealer newspaper. The bat had been stashed with some period Indians pennants in an old trunk the gentleman who placed the ad had found in his recently purchased home. The collector recognized the "dash-dot-dash" Hillerich & Bradsby trademark format as indicative of 1916-19 production. Stamped in block lettering at the barrel was the word "Chapman."
The collector then turned to baseball reference books to investigate his purchase further, and found that just two men named Chapman had played Major League ball during his era. There was Ray, and there was Harry Chapman, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1912 to 1916, with just thirty-one at bats that final season. But, as a member of a National League club, Harry would have had no reason to come to Cleveland, and, of course, the bat's discovery with ancient Indians pennants further pointed to the tragic Ray.
Several years later, the collector was able to acquire the other known Ray Chapman bat, and was thrilled to find that, other than the initial "R" that joined "Chapman" on the barrel, the bat was identical in length and weight to the presented model (thirty-four and a half inches, thirty-six and a half ounces). The bat exhibits heavy use, with a handle crack that has been repaired with ancient nails. Many ball marks and stitch impressions are visible on the barrel, which exhibits a degree of termite damage. Cleat marks appear on left and back barrel, and the handle has been scored approximately eighteen inches to enhance the grip. The barrel end has been drilled, indicating that the bat may have been corked at one time.
The bat has been confirmed as a Ray Chapman model by PSA/DNA bat expert John Taube, who assigns a grade of 6.5. LOA from PSA/DNA.