80091: 1865 Trophy Bat Presented to Shortstop Ike Wilki
"Presented to Ike Wilkins by his Friends and admirers of the Minerva Base Ball Club, Dec. 7th, 1865."
Thrillingly, our research team has been able to track down an 1866 publication by author Charles A. Peverelly's entitled "The Book of American Pastimes: Containing a History of the Principal Base-Ball, Cricket, Rowing, and Yachting Clubs of the United States," which makes direct reference to the presentation of this stunning artifact. After discussing the 1857 founding of the Minerva club, and noting that the team roster remained from its founding, and undefeated but for two meetings with their famous cross-town Philadelphia rivals the Athletics, Peverelly writes:
"On the 18th of January, 1866, the Minerva Club, by unanimous vote, presented to Mr. Isaac Wilkins, the champion short stop of the Athletic Club, a handsome prize bat, valued at $150. This splendid bat was forty inches long; of rosewood; mounted at the base with solid silver, three inches in length; a silver band, ten inches from top, and capped in like manner; a silver cord was attached, and an inscription plate bearing date, name and cause of presentation."
Also here is a photocopy of a column from the January 18, 1866 Philadelphia Inquirer, which reads, in part:
"Testimonial to Mr. Isaac Wilkins, the well-known short-stop of the Athletic Club--A committee of the Minerva Base Ball club, consisting of Messrs. Theo. E. Wiedersheim, C.J. McClary, Richard M. Neuman, Edward B. Paul and William Colbert, waited upon Mr. Wilkins and presented him with a handsome silver-mounted prize bat, wrapped handle and tastefully ornamented. The President of the Minerva (Mr. Wiedersheim) presented it in an appropriate speech, and alluded to the playing of Mr. Wilkins upon all occasions, and noted in particular the game at New York for the championship, where Mr. Wilkins' playing was the subject of comment, and thanked him for the manner in which he had always acted towards the Minerva Club. Mr. Wilkins responded and thanked the members of the Minerva for their kindness, and hoped always to merit the treatment just received. His modesty forbade him saying all he wished to. The bat, which is considered the handsomest ever gotten up, will shortly be on exhibition on Chestnut Street, where all base ball players will have an opportunity of seeing it."
This noble and generous show of sportsmanship makes its hobby debut within this Platinum Night auction, discovered just months ago in a Philadelphia attic. Though the engraved date of presentation differs from Peverelly's text, there is no doubt that this is the referenced award, capped at each end in silver with a band ten inches from the knob end, a braided cord looped around the lower handle and the engraved plate at the barrel. The glowing reports of its beauty are clearly not overstated, and while the silver adornments have tarnished over the passing decades, and the rosewood minimally scuffed, one could make register complaints over the current condition. As the earliest known trophy bat related to this founding member team of both the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players and the National League, the import and appeal is difficult to overstate.