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  #1  
Old 02-19-2021, 09:20 PM
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Default Tour of the Spalding Company’s Bat Factory in the 1920s

Here is a series of 7 photos that shows the workings of the Spalding bat factory. I have posted one photo in each of the following posts, along with some zoomed in crops of each photo for stuff where I thought people would like a better look. These photos appear to be double weight and are linen mounted – all by the same Chicago photographer. The back of one of the photos is in the first post.

Spalding was located in Chicago, something confirmed in one of the photos as the pennants on the wall in the background are Big 10 schools and one for Hyde Park, a Chicago neighborhood. The 1914 Chicago phonebook gives two addresses for Spalding, 28 S. Wabash and 140 W. 54th St. Wabash is still standing, but the windows don’t match the photos, so these photos were likely taken at the other location, which was torn down and is now a strip mall with a Family Dollar.

One of the photos has a Spalding Autograph model for Ross Youngs, who played from 1917-1926, passing away at the age of 30 in early 1927. So that gives us a pretty good 10-year window for these pictures. There are also Reach George Sisler bats in one photo, but he played from 1915-1930, so that doesn’t narrow things down any further.

It is also interesting to see that there are three brands of bats in these photos, being made side by side: Spalding, AJ Reach, and Wright & Ditson. Spalding bought the other two companies around 1892.
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File Type: jpg Spalding Factory Type 1 - 1b comp.jpg (77.4 KB, 341 views)

Last edited by Jobu; 03-27-2021 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 02-19-2021, 09:20 PM
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This looks like the room of unworked blanks.
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File Type: jpg Spalding Factory Type 1 - 1a.jpg (69.5 KB, 341 views)
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  #3  
Old 02-19-2021, 09:22 PM
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Lots of fine shavings on the floor here. Some of the bats still have the holder at the top, other don’t. The shavings on the floor are all pretty fine, but there are lots of them. This might be the first step of processing the blanks, removing the excess wood from left from the both ends of the bat.

Spalding Factory Type 1 - 2a.jpg

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Spalding Factory Type 1 - 2aa - 1.jpg

Last edited by Jobu; 02-19-2021 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 02-19-2021, 09:23 PM
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Here is a guy sitting in front of an open torch and giving the bats their flame treatments. The pile of bats propped against the wall at the bottom right of the cropped image of this guy has both AJ Reach (Model 100) and Spalding bats together.

On the wall in the back are the pennants I mentioned. There is also an interesting machine in the foreground on the right. It looks like a press and so may have been what they used to stamp the bats, but I am guessing on that.

Spalding Factory Type 1 - 3a.jpg

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Spalding Factory Type 1 - 3aa - 1.jpg

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Spalding Factory Type 1 - 3aa - 2.jpg

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Spalding Factory Type 1 - 3aa - 3.jpg

Last edited by Jobu; 02-19-2021 at 09:30 PM.
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  #5  
Old 02-19-2021, 09:24 PM
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One worker appears to be using a tool to shave down a bat on a lathe. The filings look pretty significant, but interestingly the bat he is working on appears to already be flame finished. There are AJ Reach George Sisler bats on one trolley Wright & Ditson League Special No 96.

Spalding Factory Type 1 - 4a.jpg

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Spalding Factory Type 1 - 4aa - 1.jpg

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Spalding Factory Type 1 - 4aa - 2.jpg

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Spalding Factory Type 1 - 4aa - 3.jpg

Last edited by Jobu; 02-19-2021 at 09:32 PM.
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  #6  
Old 02-19-2021, 09:25 PM
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Three gentlemen using lathes, note the foot pump. The two on the left are using rags to polish bats – in between them is the stack of Spalding Autograph Ross Youngs bats. The guy on the right is applying tape to the handles. The bats on the trolley between the two guys on the right at AJ Reach (tape on the handles).

Spalding Factory Type 1 - 5a.jpg

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Spalding Factory Type 1 - 5aa - 1.jpg

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Spalding Factory Type 1 - 5aa - 2.jpg

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Spalding Factory Type 1 - 5aa - 3.jpg

Last edited by Jobu; 02-19-2021 at 09:33 PM.
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  #7  
Old 02-19-2021, 09:27 PM
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These are the bats as they are getting prepped to go out. They are being placed in paper bags and the guy at the table appears to be stamping one of the bags. On the shelf on the right side of the cropped image, you can see the bag for Wright Ditson & Victor on the top and Spalding on the bottom.

Spalding Factory Type 1 - 6a comp.jpg

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Spalding Factory Type 1 - 6aa - 1.jpg

Last edited by Jobu; 02-19-2021 at 09:33 PM.
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  #8  
Old 02-19-2021, 09:28 PM
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What appears to be the shipping department. The boxes look like they are full of bats in the paper bags we saw in an earlier photo.
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File Type: jpg Spalding Factory Type 1 - 7a.jpg (72.0 KB, 328 views)
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  #9  
Old 02-19-2021, 09:57 PM
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Wow, wow, wow!

Amazing stuff.
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  #10  
Old 02-19-2021, 11:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jobu View Post
These are the bats as they are getting prepped to go out. They are being placed in paper bags and the guy at the table appears to be stamping one of the bags. On the shelf on the right side of the cropped image, you can see the bag for Wright Ditson & Victor on the top and Spalding on the bottom.

Attachment 441461

.

Attachment 441462
Fantastic bit of history here.

But I really need to know what’s behind the workbench door.
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  #11  
Old 02-20-2021, 04:17 AM
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[quote=Jobu;2070927]One worker appears to be using a tool to shave down a bat on a lathe. The filings look pretty significant, but interestingly the bat he is working on appears to already be flame finished. There are AJ Reach George Sisler bats on one trolley Wright & Ditson League Special No 96.



Very cool photos. It looks like he's using whatever those shavings are to rub the bat down
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  #12  
Old 02-20-2021, 04:39 AM
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Awesome, thanks for posting those.
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  #13  
Old 02-20-2021, 05:15 AM
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Really cool photos...thanks for sharing.
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  #14  
Old 02-20-2021, 05:32 AM
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That's incredible, thank you.
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  #15  
Old 02-20-2021, 06:53 AM
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Amazing!! That’s a LOT of bats. Wonder how many they were pumping out each day.


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  #16  
Old 02-20-2021, 08:18 AM
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Thanks for sharing Bryan. You see a lot of old Hillerich & Bradsby factory photos but I don't think I have ever seen any vintage Spalding factory pics. Very interesting to examine various parts of the pictures and see all the details.
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  #17  
Old 02-20-2021, 09:17 AM
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Very cool, Bryan! You always do a nice job of telling the story and including research when posting photos.

Side note, I'm not sure the fire extinguisher on the column in the first photo would have helped very much, if it were needed...

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  #18  
Old 02-20-2021, 09:45 AM
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Hey Bryan, thanks for sharing these. You are an excellent photographer!
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  #19  
Old 02-20-2021, 10:36 AM
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WOW! That is absolutely amazing!!!
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  #20  
Old 02-20-2021, 12:13 PM
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Default enjoyed that very much

Thanks for taking the time......
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  #21  
Old 02-20-2021, 12:45 PM
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Default Spalding Bat Factory

Killer behind the scenes look! Priceless!
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  #22  
Old 02-20-2021, 01:43 PM
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I like how you laid out their manufacturing process. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Very interesting and I learned a lot.
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  #23  
Old 02-26-2021, 05:23 PM
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LOL -- I too wondered that. There are lots of interesting little things to find in these - the photographer was a good one because the entire images are really clear.

Being from Wisconsin, I also can't help but think how cold this building must have been during the winter.



Quote:
Originally Posted by slightlyrounded View Post
Fantastic bit of history here.

But I really need to know what’s behind the workbench door.
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  #24  
Old 03-11-2021, 10:08 PM
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Anyone photo match their Ross Youngs bat to the photo in post 6 yet????
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  #25  
Old 03-27-2021, 09:45 AM
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A board member (thanks!) was kind enough to let me know that the two addresses I found were retail locations. He also shared an image of what was likely the outside of this factory, where they also did testing and research & development. It looks more like the type of building I was expecting and the windows look like a match too.
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File Type: jpg SPALDINGBATFACTORYCHICAGO.jpg (72.9 KB, 86 views)
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