By PJ Shelley, Tour and Programming Director
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory’s mobile museum hits the road again, heading to the North Side of Chicago. In addition to Silver Slugger Awards for two Cubbies, old-fashioned bat making demonstrations, and Signature Rubbing Boards, we’ll have plenty of game used and replica bats for visitors to hold.
Fans will have a rare opportunity to hold one of the oldest bats in our collection – Joe Tinker’s game used bat. Tinker (pictured below) was a vital member of the Cubs’ first dynasty – winning four pennants and two World Series with the Cubbies. He also initiated the iconic double play in the poem, Baseball’s Sad Lexicon, that gave us the familiar refrain, “Tinker to Evers to Chance.” Tinker’s bat is a monster by today’s standards: 36 inches, 36 ounces. Designed by Tinker himself and used late in his career, the ash bat is over 100 years old.
While many players create their own model bats, most players swing models already created by other players. Our 2015 Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Living Legend Award Winner, Andre Dawson, used an R43 as his “go to” model. His R43 gamer (pictured below) that fans can hold is flame tempered ash and is 35 inches, 34 ounces. The Hawk was in good company. Fellow Cub greats Ernie Banks (our 2010 Living Legend Award Winner), Billy Williams, and Ryne Sandberg all strode to the dish with an R43 Louisville Slugger at some point in their careers. The R43 was actually created in 1933 by Babe Ruth. The model’s large barrel, thin handle, and large knob was quite revolutionary at that time. However, the trend caught on and continues today.
While 2016 MVP Kris Bryant has never ordered Ruth’s R43 model, he did create his own model Louisville Slugger with a large barrel, thin handle and large knob. A replica of Bryant’s B430C is 34 inches, 32 ounces is pictured below. And unlike Tinker or Dawson, Bryant’s bat is made of maple and it’s cup balanced, which means some wood is scooped out at the end of the barrel to make the bat lighter. Bryant is also among a group of young players now ordering flame tempered maple bats. The flame tempering process rolls the bat under a gas flame for a moment to bring out the beauty of the grain lines in the wood. While many players, like Dawson, have been swinging flame tempered ash bats for years, flame tempering maple bats just began a few seasons ago.
So whether we see you in Chicago at Cubs Convention or back at our museum in Louisville, be sure to ask us about these bats (and countless more). We’re always ready and willing to talk bats. From Tinker to Dawson to Bryant.