Category Archives: Authentication

A 1925 game-used bat that traveled from the hardware store to the Southern Association

I am probably one of the largest collectors of  all things vintage Chattanooga Lookouts. There may be others out there as big but I know one great collector that owned a collection of all things Chattanooga baseball that would rival my small personal museum.

While I was in Chattanooga for the week of Thanksgiving, this collector was holding a sale of his collection. I knew of a few pieces he had that I wanted and I contacted him for some pre-sale negotiations.

One of the items I purchased was previously unknown to me.  It was a side-written bat. I find side-written bats particularly interesting, especially if they are related to former Lookouts players.


A side-written bat is simply a bat that was sent to Hillerich & Bradsby (aka Louisville Slugger) to be used as the model for the making of bats. When the bats were received, they would be written on with a black grease pencil with the players name and date received. Sometimes the team would be noted as well. These bats were used on the lathe to make an identical copy and the original would be stored in the warehouse for future orders by that player.

The story of this bat begins in the small north Georgia town of Chickamauga, GA and with a player named Clarence “Cap” Crossley.

Only 60 years before this bat was turned, Chickamauga was the site of one of the largest battles of the American Civil War, or as we call it in the South, the war between the states, as there was nothing civil about it. The town hasn’t changed much since the early 20th century and I can imagine the building that was the birthplace of this bat is still standing.

This bat must have been a special bat to Clarence. It isn’t your typical Louisville Slugger bat. In fact it isn’t a Lousiville Slugger at all. Upon first glance, it appears to be a vintage pre-war bat that was taken care of. Its clean and without major damage. It has a rich dark patina that you hope  to find on every vintage game-used bat. It features a “Hornsby” style knob that isn’t seen much in baseball today. I believe they also call this type of flared knob a “Clemente” style knob, too.

While it may look like a typical bat from this era, It was specially made for a hardware store under the name of “R. Stogsdill of Chickamauga GA” The bat brand is in a similar oval style to Louisville Slugger. It carries a “HY POWER TRADE MARK” designation.


Adding to the evidence of it being a game-used bat is the batboy repair. It is a clean and professional repair to a crack in the handle, complete with nails.



By June of 1925, the bat must have seen enough action and Clarence thought it was time to get himself his own model bat from Hillerich & Bradsby. Above the bat brand is the remnants of a mailing label. The bat was simply labeled with address and postage and dropped in the mail.

Once the bat reached the Hillerich & Bradsby factory, it was side written with Clarence’s name and a date of June 1925 and placed in the warehouse to wait for Crossley to order bats. It is assumed that this was his bat during the 1924 and ’25 seasons with the Lookouts. The fact that it was turned only a few miles south of Chattanooga backs this thought.


Not much is remembered about the career Minor Leaguer Clarence Crossley other than his baseball record. We know he was born in 1902 and played in the bush leagues for 18 seasons. After his playing days he was a manager and even spent a few years later in life as a scout for the Reds and the White Sox.

Side-written bats can provide not only important reference information when dealing with valuable bats such as those used by Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb but also determine value of a bat that could have historical significance. A bat that belonged to a Black Sox member that is side-written after 1920 would be worth less than one with a date before their banishment from baseball. Sometimes the date can determine the value.

Side-written bats can also add to the story.

Every bat tells a story. From ball marks and cleat marks to nails and cracks, every bat is a part of baseball history. And so many stories are lost to the ages. Even players can be largely forgotten. Sometimes all we have today is what they left behind in the vaults of Hillerich & Bradsby.



Counterfeit Alert – 1984/85 Star Jordan

Today’s counterfeit alert is a franken-graded card. And it is one that I ask you help other collectors and take action on.

What we have today is a fake card in a fake holder.  The card is currently on eBay:

Fake card currently on auction

This is a case of someone taking a fake card, making a fake label and placing them into a fake holder. This particular holder is nothing like a real BCCG holder. If you compare the image to an authentic holder, you can see the difference in the shape. Fortunately, even our BCCG holder is very tamper resistant. This is why the crooks have to go with a completely different holder.


The BCCG holder is similar to the BGS holder in that it has more squared corners. The corners almost come to a point, not rounded like the fake holder in the image.


I try not to ask too much from my readers, but I ask you in this case to report this kind of item to eBay and help keep fakes off the market.






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Counterfeit Alert – 1957 Topps Mantle/Berra

Yankees Power Hitter Mantle and Berra from 1957 Topps set. A great looking card featuring two Yankees Stars.

But the card we have here today is not all that great. In fact, as the title of this posts says, this is a counterfeit.


This particular fake is testament to the ever evolving counterfeiters. This card upon first glance is somewhat of a convincing  fake. It takes some closer looks to spot the problems with this card.


It may be a bit hard to see in the photo, but one will notice the spray of fine blue dots all in the white ares of the card and border. It is one of the few flaws in the quality of the printing.


Tilting the card under a light source reveals the wrong type of ink that I have talked about before. Notice the shiny purple sheen the surface has? The gloss that should be covering the printing is not there, either.


Finally, we look at the edges. Here we find a common move by the frauds that make these cards. Notice the thin line in the center of the cards edge? That is a thin strip of metal foil sandwiched in-between the two halves of the card. This is an apparent attempt to make the incorrect modern stock feel closer to the correct weight.





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Counterfeit Aler….. oh you know this one #thehobby


The 1934 Nap Lajoie. The stuff of hobby legend. One of the iconic cards that most all collectors at least recognize if not know about the story behind the cardboard.

This one is bad. The screwdown just adds insult to injury. So Instead of boring you with why this copy here is fake, I thought I would share the story of the real card.

It was mostly likely a case of simple manipulation. Goudey Gum had no idea how successful their cardboard would be when they wrapped them with slabs of gum. To make sure they sold enough of their gum, the fine folks at Goudey decided to mess with the minds, and pockets of young kids of the country. When the 240-card set was laid out, one card number in particular was missing. No matter how many slabs of penny gum you tore through, you were not going to find card #106. This was a big deal for the set collectors (remember those?) Some kids were spending more and more chasing this elusive card that actually did not exist. No one even knew who was suppose to be on this mystery card.

It became a big enough issue that parents felt compelled to write letters to the Goudey company to complain about the gimmick. Even the father of our hobby Jefferson Burdick reportedly received 10 copies himself from Goudey. The company must have received enough of these letters to feel they had to do something. They decided to print card #106 in 1934. They chose Napoleon Lajoie to be depicted on the mystery card. Old Nap last played in 1916. Why exactly Lajoie was picked has been lost to history.

Even though the card was made to complete the ’33 set, the card was printed in ’34 and carries a ’34 copyright. The replacement card was printed on high number ’34 sheets and supposedly were only given out in response to complaint letters. There have been rumors that the card found its way into ’34 Goudey packs but this has never been proven and at this point in history, it will probably never will be. All good legends need some mystery.

If the card was printed on the high number sheets, it would stand to reason that the card is really no more scarce than any ’34 high number. But the card does exist in far fewer numbers. Most likely, the folks at Goudey simply cut the cards, separated them from the ’34 cards and fulfilled the requests. Any cards left were thrown out. If any survived until the dumping of Goudey material in the 1960s is unknown.

The ’33 Goudey Lajoie remains one of the most important cards in our hobby. It has been reprinted countless times since at least the 1970s. I have seen fakes in giant 1″ screwdowns at flea markets and card shops alike over the years. Because of its rarity, any time you come across this card, be suspect.

But don’t lose all hope. Chances are, there’s a real one still lurking out there that once made its way from Boston in the U.S. Mail to an upset set collector.





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