Honus Wagner’s Bat | Banging Walk-Offs in the 1800’s

Honus Wagner's Bat

Honus Wager, of baseball card fame, was also the first player to be endorsed by a bat company. Some argue he was the very first professional athlete to have any type of endorsement contract. His bat may be the most sought after piece of baseball memorabilia in existence, save possibly his baseball card. We scoured the internet and collector sites to put together this landing page for research on Honus Wagner’s Bat.

Brand Length Min Length Max Weight Min Weight Max Model Type Years
Louisville Slugger 33 3/4 36 35 43 W107, Kork Grip 1905 – 1916

Honus Wagner's Bat

What Size Bat Did Honus Wagner Use?

Honus Wagner's Bat

Although few examples exist, the ones that do, weigh no less than 35 ounces. Many Wagner bats weigh as much as 43 ounces. Length is 36 inches—very customary for the time. See, for example, Ty Cobb’s bat.

What Bat Model Did Honus Wagner Use?

Honus Wagner's Bat

Honus Wagner is largely credited as the first player to sign an endorsement deal for a signature bat. In fact, the term “signature bat” originates from the agreement Honus made with JF Hillerich and Son. (That company was soon to be known as Louisville Slugger). The agreement allowed Slugger to stamp his signature on bats.

The only record we found was of Honus Wagner using Slugger bats. These model numbers ranged over the years, but the W107 with a Kork Grip was likely his most common.

Honus Wagner’s Game Used Bat Characteristics

With only six in known existence, Honus Wagner’s bats do carry some common characteristics. As a hitter who spaced his hands apart on the handle, the grip of Wagner bats is well up the bat. That grip consisted of either a type of tape job or factory applied cork (kork).

Sizing matters too, as Hillerich & Sons produced Wagner bats for the public. But, bats for the public were shorter, in the 33-inch range, while Wagner’s game used bats were almost always 36 inches long.

Any game used Honus Wagner bat has been thoroughly vetted by the industry at large. It would be a miracle to find one that has yet to be recorded.

Honus Wagner’s Best At Bat

Honus Wagner's Bat

Honus Wagner may have recorded the first walk-off home run in history. After much research, we have to find one that predates his April 25, 1899 at bat against Jesse Tannehill. Tannehill, a 3-year starter for the Pirates, would pitch to his future teammate from the Louisville Colonels, Honus Wagner. Wagner, batting in the cleanup spot, hit a solo shot in the bottom of the 9th to break the 1 to 1 tie. The term walk-off wouldn’t be coined for another 100 years but, sure enough, Wagner was dropping walk-off bombs in the 1800’s.

The following year, Wagner was acquired by the Pirates. The rest, as they say, is history.

Honus Wagner Bat Sources

Wikipedia’s write-up on Honus Wagner’s career, and his relationship with Ty Cobb, is noteworthy. PSA Bat Facts Wagner section is valuable. We also checked in the National Pastime Museum. Mears online auction house has an interesting write up on a bat not confirmed to be Wagners. Gold In Auctions has the best write up on a game used Wagner bat.