Invented by Cobb, wielded by Babe, Honus and Shoeless Joe, cork-handled bats are the stuff of legend in collecting circles. As Bambino bat mavens know, Louisville Slugger's Professional Bat Ordering Record (PBOR) lists Ruth's April 10, 1923 request for a 40K-model "Kork Grip" bat based on the specifications used by Brooklyn Dodgers player Tom Griffith. Famously, Ruth was pictured during pre-game festivities at Yankee Stadium's first Opening Day, April 18, 1923, with just such a Kork Grip in hand. Yet of the three previously documented Ruth 40K corkers to reach auction, none has ever matched the specs closely enough to be deemed a potential game-used example, rather than mere pro stock. Now, we are proud to report that this newly discovered fourth survivor may well be the missing link to Ruth's 1923 PBOR entry.
As John Taube's comprehensive PSA letter states, "Our database includes three examples of Babe Ruth 40K models, all of which are not consistent with the length and/or weight of bats being ordered by Ruth. This is the first 40K model we have authenticated, that we consider to be consistent with the 40K order, appearing on Ruth's PBOR dated April 10th, 1923. The length of the bat is perfect [36"], and the weight today [39.8 oz.], is in an acceptable range, for bats being used by Ruth during the 1923 season. Another notable feature of the bat is the wood quality, which in our opinion, is professional grade."
While acknowledging that without direct provenance or defined player characteristics, no bat could be definitively proven as a Ruth gamer, Taube concludes by stating that "the length and weight, plus the quality of the wood, do qualify the bat as one that Ruth would have used." And it is no exaggeration to say that if a 1923 photo match is ever unearthed with an identical wood-grain pattern (which, alas, is not the case with the aforementioned Opening Day photo), this bat's value will instantly soar by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Let the archive search begin.
Uncracked with excellent use including several ball marks on the right and left barrel. LOA from PSA/DNA.