Thirty-one lots representing one of baseball’s greatest players are up for grabs in Heritage Auctions’ Summer Platinum Night catalog, including a 1920s era game-used bat Ty Cobb once gave to a fellow Hall of Famer.
The battle-scarred signature model Hillerich & Bradsby carries a PSA/DNA GU 10 rating, along with the grip tape that Cobb favored – and dark staining from the tobacco juice he employed to harden the grain.
The bat originated in the collection of long-time big leaguer Joe Sewell and had been given to him by Cobb in 1925. Heritage says an inscription affirming that exchange was expertly removed by a subsequent owner, but the PSA/DNA letter of authenticity pictures the bat (estimate: $250,000+) both before and after that inscription removal.
“Ty Cobb was one of the most feared hitters of all time, but he gave this to an opponent – Joe Sewell played his entire career for the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees – which was unheard of from a player with Cobb’s reputation for spiking an opponent before giving out gifts,” Heritage Auctions Vice President Derek Grady said. “Combine his superior talent with his aggressive personality, and it’s easy to see why many did not enjoy playing against him. His memorabilia is absolutely coveted by serious collectors, and this bat is a museum-worthy piece around which an entire collection can be built.”
“The Georgia Peach” made the most of his physical talent with an analytical approach, relentlessly studying his opponents for any edge he could gain. Strategy, daring and quick thinking were hallmarks of his game, leading to 12 batting titles, a Triple Crown in 1909 and a 1911 season in which he led the American League in hits, runs, runs batted in, batting average and slugging percentage – every major offensive category except home runs – on the way to AL Most Valuable Player honors. Incredibly, he stole second base, third base and home in succession four different times in his career.
“I never could stand losing,” Cobb said. “Second place didn’t interest me. I had a fire in my belly.”
The bat isn’t the only Cobb item attracting collector interest. The auction catalog also has a signed T206 Cobb Red Background portrait that was part of a group of tobacco cards sent to him by autograph collector George Hitner in the 1940s. Hitner was a friend of Cobbs and a headmaster at Hill School, where Cobb’s son was a star athlete in the late 1930s.
Cobb dutifully signed all of the tobacco cards and returned them in his own monogrammed envelope. They later made their way into the collection of George Sands and were originally sold through Hunt Auctions in 1995. The card listed by Heritage was only recently authenticated and encapsulated by PSA.
The Green Background variant from the same collection sold for $144,000 in Heritage’s 2020 February 22 – 23 Winter Platinum Night Sports Collectibles Catalog Auction.
Among the other Cobb items in the current catalog:
1917 Boston Store Cobb #30 SGC 84 NM 7 – Pop One, None Higher (estimate: $10,000+)
1912-13 Original Oversized Photograph from The Cobb Collection, PSA/DNA Type 1 (estimate: $10,000+)
1909-11 T206 Sweet Caporal Cobb (Bat on Shoulder) SGC VG/EX+ 4.5 (estimate: $5,000+)