Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Frank Roth's Double-Knob Bat, c. 1906-1908

This beautiful Wright & Ditson Napoleon Lajoie-model double-knob bat was featured in MEARS's December auction.

This was the catalogue description:
Lot #45: 1908 circa Napoleon Lajoie Double Knob Wright & Ditson Bat – Used by Frank Roth with the Milwaukee Brewers AAA

Advanced bat collectors will appreciate the link between this store model bat and use in the professional leagues.

Born on October 11, 1878 in Chicago, IL, Frank Roth excelled in sports and became a professional baseball player. Mainly a catcher, Frank Roth did play some infield during his major league career which dated from 1903-10. He bounced along the big leagues, playing with the Phillies, Browns, White Sox, and Reds. In between, he played for the Milwaukee Brewers AAA team at Borchert Field during the 1906-08 seasons.
This bat was uncovered in Milwaukee, WI as a recent MEARS Auction consignment. It is safe to assume the bat was used during Frank Roth’s career with the Brewers. The provenance comes in the form of his leather bat case, which was engraved, "Frank Roth". The leather is severely deteriorating, but the brass name plate with his name remains intact and in excellent condition.

Since great care was taken to protect this bat, it may have been used during Roth’s stint in the major leagues.
The bat itself is a standard Wright & Ditson Napoleon Lajoie Double Knob bat. Thick handled as was Lajoie’s style, this bat measures 34" and weighs 43 ounces. On one surface in excellent black screening is "Patent Applied For, Wright & Ditson, Boston". On the reverse side "LAJOIE" is deeply factory stamped.

Bat remains uncracked and in excellent condition, despite its probably major league use. A very unique Lajoie bat with true provenance. The original bat bag with Frank Roth's name is included. LOA Troy R. Kinunen / MEARS (A0559)
I love the double-knob.

Frank Roth, seen here in his rookie-season 1903 Philadelphia Phillies sweater, spent three seasons bouncing around from Philadelphia to the St. Louis Browns to the Chicago White Sox.

The Brewers acquired him in 1906 as a platoon catcher, and he produced instantly, hitting .290 in 86 games. At the time, the American Association season was shorter than that of the American League, and after the Brewers closed out their 1906 calendar Roth was sent back to Chicago's South Side by Brewers owner Charles Havenor for the last sixteen games of the big-league schedule.

Roth was back in Athletic Park at the beginning of 1907, where he batted .320 before Havenor again loaned Roth to the White Sox in September.

The late-season exposure garnered Roth notice from other big-league clubs, and in February of 1908 the Toledo News-Bee reported that Washington Senators manager Pongo Joe Cantillon (himself a former Brewer skipper) offered to trade his veteran backup catcher Mike Kahoe, 28-year old pitcher Charlie Smith and an unnamed pitcher to Milwaukee for Roth, but Havenor declined.

The Cincinnati Reds were more successful in prying Roth away from Athletic Park, and in January of 1909 Havenor announced that he had reached a deal to sell the catcher. Roth played in Cincinnati for two seasons before retiring into the coaching ranks.

This gorgeous bat sold for $4,061, including buyers premium. I'd love to talk to the new owner, maybe see if we can get a picture of that leather case.

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