I received this email from Mike Specht in reference to the on-going debate about branding variations from 1976. Mike has provided his thoughts on this subject via an article on the Game Used Universe forum. I was very happy to see Mike do this as this is the first article posted on that site in almost 2 years. I invite you to read Mikes article.
Below is Mikes e-mail:
Hi Dave G. , Dave B, and Troy---I just wanted to give you a heads-up that I just posted a piece about the H & B 1976 dual branded (Powerized / Bicentennial logo) bat label variation.... Link is below.--- I mentioned the Roy White bat in the article....nothing negative, but it is possible that the entire article may prompt some phone calls , so I didn't want anyone to be blind-sided if collectors ask for additional information...
Hope all is well back there .
Below is my response to Mike:
Thanks for the note and for taking the time the time to layout your thoughts, but I don't see this as much of an issue for me based on the question posed to me and the premise of are there likely to be branding variations for H&B products from 1976 and what might they be. I have provided photographic proof that there are in fact variations to support my theory.
Reds Photo from 1976:
Liberty Bell Logo, Model Number and NO Powerized
NO Libery Bell Logo, Model Number and Powerized
The variation that has spawned this debate are bats that have a combination of these characteristics. Thus my theory that what we are seeing is a branding variation. A theory has to be based on something. My theory that what we are seeing is nothing more than a branding variation is based on what we can already see and know.
A position that these bats were manufactured for promotional purposes because they may have come from the same source and show similar amounts of use or non-use, is what I would categorize not as a theory, but conjecture. (CONJECTURE: inference from defective or presumptive evidence b : a conclusion deduced by surmise or guesswork c : a proposition (as in mathematics) before it has been proved or disproved)
We do know that in 1976, clubs like the Reds offered bats out of their gift shop. Other bats were made available for players like Cobb, Ruth and some of these players as well. If my memory is correct, I believe those were foil branded bats.
In my mind, any theory proffering that these are not professional model bats that may just not have been used would also require looking to into:
1. The quality of the wood used (examination of the knobs for a grain count would be one such indicator).
2. A detailed study of period literature in order to identify the source of the proposed offering. (Where were these bats being offered and were they offered for these players and with this branding variation?)
3. Identification and rationale for exclusion of other possibilities such as they could represent a sample of bats ordered late in the year that were not used.
The idea that some of these bats may have contrived use is another subject entirely and has to be dealt with as an independent issue until such a time as it can be shown that they could not have been manufactured for the players use.
All this is compounded by a problem I pointed out years ago about what can be gleamed from examination of period images to confirm branding variations. The source for the photograph I provided was the Royal Reds by Hal McCoy. That publication features images from the 1976 season and some 48 images containing bats. Of those 48 images, only 6 permit you to see the area in question in sufficient detail to determine how the bat was branded. One of those six is the image of Rose, Bench, and Morgan. In other words, 78% of the images are of bats we have no idea of how they were branded.
This is very much in line with what I wrote about in August of 2006 in the article "What Do We Really Know About Baseball Bats"?
"The Image of Their Greatness: An Illustrated History of Baseball from 1900 to Present in an empirical manner", one thing becomes very clear. Consider that this book devotes some 221 plus pages to cover the period from 1900 to 1950. Of that:
Of those 221 pages, 194 feature pictures...
Of those 194 picture pages, 79 of them include bats...
Of those 79 bat pictures, they contain approximately 168 bats...
Of those 168 bats, only 30 permit you to discern a manufacturer by the label...
What this means is that only about 18% of the available data provides any relevant information. The converse is that we dont know what brand or manufacturer is found within 82% of the bats we can see.
Once again, thanks for the note, your work in this matter and the professional courtesy to inform me of your article. In that same vein, please know I will making my response to you as part of a board post.