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This page was last updated on: 07/18/2010

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Grading Bats Assessing Use   Labeling changes in 2003

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H&B Shipping Records



Bat collecting has changed dramatically over the past decade.  One the major changes has been the evolution of the hobby from an "art" to more of a "science".  This has been aided in no small part by access to The H&B shipping records.  Although only a select few in the hobby actually own copies and have access to the records, their impact is far reaching.

 I am not certain exactly when access to the H&B factory records was granted.  I believe that their release was associated with the publishing of the book BATS (1994, Malta, et al).  BATS was one of the first major publications to supply the hobby with comprehensive bat pricing based on era, player, manufacturer, and model.  In conversations with one of the contributors, Bill Riddell, I became aware of work being done with H&B and the existence and access to H&B shipping records.  The hobby of collecting, trading and selling game used bats has become a major business.

What are H&B shipping records? They were a means to manage the various models, sizes, weights and specifications requested by players.   Hillerich & Bradsby developed an elaborate card system for tracking the thousands of models being ordered and supplied to players.  Each player’s name was listed by hand on a card with date, size, weight and model ordered.

Access to this information has proven to be extremely valuable to the hobby.  This information has allowed collectors to distinguish between bats actually ordered and used by the player whose name appears on the barrel opposed to those bats that were ordered and sent to minor league team, town teams, and college teams.  For instance, I owned a late 40s era Joe DiMaggio H&B.  It was a model D29 with all of the appropriate labeling for a professional model H&B bat.  However, it was 34” long.  According to H&B records DiMaggio never ordered a 34” D29 during that era. So the question was…was it a DiMaggio gamer or something else?  Well, there are a couple of possibilities.  One possibility is that it was a professional model bat ordered and used by a minor league club.  The other possibility is that, based on DiMaggio’s popularity, H&B made his model bats available to the public at some point. The third, and most appealing to the owner of the bat, was that it was a bat ordered and used by DiMaggio that was either recorded incorrectly in H&B records or not recorded at all.  Never the less, since its existence was not supported by the H&B shipping records, the value and interest was significantly impacted.  To give you some indication, a DiMaggio gamer in nice condition and supported by H&B records would fetch $10-$15,000.  Whereas, the bat that I owned was sold to another collector, knowing full well about the fact that its existence was supported by the H&B shipping records, for $2,000.   

A copy of the H&B shipping records showing the bats DiMaggio ordered from 1941-1944 is shown below.

Since the process for documenting this information was done by hand the notation and penmanship is reportedly difficult to decipher at times.  Furthermore, it is suspected that there are gaps in the records, instances in which bats were ordered by a player but not properly documented in the shipping records.  There are documented instances were a player claimed they used and particular model or size bat that does not appear in the H&B records.  Therefore, there is no question that there are gaps but records have proven such a valuable resource that bats not supported by them are significantly devalued.  

The only individuals that I know for certain have access to the H&B records are Dave Bushing (authenticator for SCD Authentic), John Taube (JT SPORTS and PSA/DNA), Vince Malta (PSA/DNA), and Mike Specht (Global and GUU).  To find out more about H&B shipping records, or to have your bat professionally authenticated you may contact John Taube of JT Sports, Mike Specht of Global or Dave Bushing of MEARS. 


Photos of the H&B shipping records were taken from the book: Crack of the bat, The Louisville Slugger Story (Bob Hill, 2000).