Auction Item Details

Lot 344

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Lot Number: 344

Description: Historically significant July 5, 1886 Charles "Kid" Nichols Spalding presentational baseball bat from the Blue Ave BBC. During the late 19th century the midwestern portion of the United States supported numerous professional quality baseball teams and clubs. Many of these teams and leagues spawned some of the finest talent which would filter into the more established professional leagues. Charles Augustus "Kid" Nichols was one such talent when he began his professional baseball career with the Blue Ave BBC of the Kansas City, MO area. The team was one of the more highly regarded of its region capturing several tournament and regional championships during the mid to late 1880s. As referenced by Kansas City newspapers of the period, the Blue Ave Club played against the Wyandotte Reds several times during the time between June and August of 1886. Included in these articles was mention of a win in Bonner Springs, Kansas. The offered baseball bat is in fact a presentational trophy bat from that very championship tournament played at Bonner Springs by the Blue Ave club with Kid Nichols. The bat itself is of the highest quality of manufacture for the era by Spalding measuring 36 3/4" long with a weight of 29.9 ounces. Centerbrand area of the bat retains the vast majority of its original mustard color painted ring decoration with Spalding insignia in black. "Pat. June 17, 1884" date stenciled in black under the logo area. Remainder of the bat exhibits appropriate evident use including several small surface indentations as well as vestiges of period handle tape removed prior to 1949. Reverse side of the barrel displays an affixed coin silver oval shaped placard having engraved baseball player graphics with script names for the players of the Blue Ave club. Players include Kid Nichols along with two of his brothers Willie and George. Placard measures 5" long with original hand cuts tacks in place. Surface of the placard has a few small indentations and some tiny areas of tarnish. An additional gold shield shaped placard measuring 1 1/2" tall is found affixed to the centerbrand area. Placard is inscribed, "Won by Blue Ave BBC". Finally, a small 3/4" diameter silver disc is located on the end of the knob inscribed, "Bonner Springs Tournament July 5, 1886". Overall condition of the bat is stunning with superb patination and completely unrestored original surface. As well documented for numerous other baseball teams of the period the offered bat was very likely either uniquely used or one of two used for the tournament by all teams involved given the cost of the bat for the era. It is almost certain that Kid Nichols himself would have used this very bat which would equate to the only surviving exemplar of same. As recounted by Nichols during a 1949 interview, "The first team I played on was the Blue Ave. Club of Kansas City, MO in 1886. In 1886, when I was 16 years old, being confident in my ability as a ball player, I was determined to get on a baseball team." Nichols would of course graduate from the Blue Ave team to enjoy an illustrious career from 1890-1906 with the Boston Beaneaters, St. Louis Cardinals, and Philadelphia Phillies. His career pitching statistics were truly remarkable with a final record of 361-208 that included an incredible run of seven 30 win seasons. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949 as the youngest pitcher in Major League history to reach the vaunted 300 win plateau (30 years old). Presentational 19th century trophy bats of this quality and pedigree are exceedingly scarce with the offered exemplar ranking as one of the more coveted of the select group. The bat has remained within the family of Kid Nichols until this very special offering and includes an image of Nichols holding the bat with two small children in 1949. The historic import of the bat is only further enhanced by its almost assured game use by one of the elite players of the late 19th century. These reasons coupled with its superb visual appeal as a presentational baseball bat of the late 19th century place this specimen among the very elite to have ben offered to the collecting public. Includes LOA from Hunt Auctions, photo of Nichols holding the offered bat, and letter of provenance from the Nichols family: EX

Estimated Price Range: ($40,000-$60,000)

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