One of baseball’s most remarkable comeback stories took place eighty years ago this season. Johnny Mostil, who had blossomed into one of the American League’s top outfielders, was found lying in a pool of his own blood inside a hotel room at the Chicago White Sox 1927 spring training camp. He had used a razor blade and pocket knife to cut himself 13 times. He wasn’t expected to live, but by September, Mostil was back in the Sox lineup.
A Chicago native, Mostil had signed with the White Sox in 1918. After ten games, he was demoted to the minors, a move that helped him avoid the Black Sox scandal that shook the franchise—and baseball—to its core. Several of his former teammates were implicated in the scandal and never played big league baseball again. Mostil made his way back to the Sox, batting over .300 four times between 1921 and 1926 and making a name for himself as a speed demon on the base paths and in the outfield.
At some point, Mostil acquired Joe Jackson’s fountain pen signature below his own name on one of his Louisville Slugger bats. Jackson, who couldn’t read well and struggled to write, rarely signed anything unless required to do but apparently agreed to honor a fellow player’s request. The autographed bat is among the items in Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night catalog, set to run until mid-November. The same bat sold at the 2005 Louisville Slugger Auction for $42,460 but Heritage officials believe it will top $200,000 this time.
The bat measures thirty-four and a half inches (34.5″) in length, at a weight of thirty-four and a half ounces (34.5 oz.). A handle crack extends close to the center brand but is invisible upon display, according to the auction description. A coating of polyurethane was applied at some point, presumably to protect the autograph.
The bat has been authenticated by PSA/DNA with the autograph also deemed genuine by the same company. James Spence Authentication has also written a letter of authenticity for the signature.
The bat also comes with a letter of provenance from the original owner.
As of Sunday evening, the high bid, with the buyer’s premium factored in, was $72,000.