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Lot # 1414 (of 1743)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Extraordinary 1978 Pete Rose Signed Pro-Model Bat - Highest-Graded Example!

Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $5,875

Pete Rose Adirondack block-letter (full name) model "69A" bat dating from his historic 1978 season with the Cincinnati Reds in which he recorded his 3,000th hit and tied Willie Keeler's mark of hitting in forty-four consecutive games. Graded A10 by MEARS (one of only two ever graded at this level). When our consignor purchased this bat many years ago, he was told that it originated from the Cincinnati Reds gift shop in 1978. While no other documentation accompanied the bat at the time of its purchase, its gift-shop provenance is actually supported by a telltale physical characteristic: a wrap of white tape around the base of the handle with the year "1978" written upon it. The practice of labeling bats in such a manner is exactly how the Cincinnati Reds gift shop marked their game-used bats sold during the 1970s (during which time many game-used bats and jerseys were sold directly to fans) and in part allows for the narrow one-year dating of this particular bat by MEARS. In terms of use, this bat could not be any finer. Numerous ball marks and deeply embedded stitch marks are evident along the entire barrel, including a concentrated area just below the barrel stamping. Minor dead wood is found on the reverse of the barrel, which is the result of repeated contact with pitched balls. Also evident are rack marks and pine tar on the handle. Rose's uniform number ("14") is written in vintage black marker on the knob. Also written on the knob is the number "34," which indicates the bat's original factory weight. Rose has inscribed the bat in blue marker (grading "7") on the side of the barrel "Good Luck/Pete Rose."

The precise dating of this bat to 1978 is highly significant, as it was during that season that Rose not only recorded his 3,000th hit, but later captivated the nation by making a serious run at Joe DiMaggio's legendary fifty-six game hitting streak. Rose's 3,000 hit occurred on May 5th at Riverfront Stadium in a game against the Expos. While it was a tremendous feat, few realized at the time that Rose would later eclipse Ty Cobb's record of 4,191 hits seven years later on the very same field. As if that milestone were not enough, for an encore Rose treated fans to an exhilarating six-week stretch that recalled all of the excitement of DiMaggio's fabled streak in 1941. Rose began his streak on June 14th and by July 24th he had tied Tommy Holmes' modern-day National League record of hitting in thirty-seven straight games. The following night Rose broke that record and set his sights on Willie Keeler's mark of forty-four, which was set in 1897. With the eyes of the nation upon him at every at bat, Rose continued on and tied Keeler's mark on July 31st. Only one man remained ahead of him: Joe DiMaggio. Unfortunately, Rose's streak was finally ended the next night by the Braves' Larry McWilliams and Gene Garber, who held him hitless in five at bats. During the streak, Rose batted .385 with 70 hits. He finished the year with a .302 average, 198 hits, and a league-leading fifty-one doubles. Was this bat responsible for one or more hits during Rose's historic streak? Obviously, we will never know for sure, but given the amount of use on this bat it seems certain that it saw extended use by Rose that summer. Length: 35 inches. Weight: 35.1 ounces. Graded A10 by MEARS (5 point base grade, plus 3 points for use, plus an additional 2 points for all of the exceptional player traits/gift-shop provenance). This is one of only two Pete Rose pro-model bats listed in the MEARS census (out of twenty-nine graded examples) ever to receive a grade of A10, thus without even reference to its ideal and important year-specific dating, confirming its status as one of the finest Pete Rose pro-model bats in existence. The fact that it dates from the very same season that he recorded his 3,000th hit and forged his historic forty-four game hitting streak only adds to its mystique and significance. This museum-quality Pete Rose bat would be a highlight in even the most advanced bat collection. LOAs from Troy Kinunen/MEARS and James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $5,875

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