Heinie Groh
1925-27 Zinn-Beck Diamond Ace 100 Heinie Groh Game Used Bat
Recently I acquired a 1920s Heinie Groh bat manufactured by the Zinn-Beck bat
company of Greenville, South Carolina. When I first became aware of the bat being
offered for sale I was immediately interested. Not only are bottle-bat style bats
extremely hard to find they are also an absolute treat to examine due to their unique
measurements and shape.

Since this bat is from what is considered an off-brand manufacturer the key was to
compare it to other known examples with regard to length and weight. Equally
important when attempting to verify the use of any bat by a specific player is to
examine and identify available player use characteristics.

                                               
PART 1 - Length & Weight

In the case of this bat, I was able to compare the length (32.5") and weight (40 oz) to
several known examples. They are:
  • MEARS 307803 - 1921-30 H&B Heinie Groh - 33" - 40.1 oz
  • MEARS 306095 - 1912-19 SPALDING Heinie Groh - 32.75" - 45 oz
  • MEARS 304918 - 1921-30 H&B Heinie Groh - 32.75" - 43 oz
  • MEARS 301413 - 1921-30 H&B Heinie Groh - 32.875" 36.2 oz
  • MEARS 258131 - 1921-30 H&B Heinie Groh - 32.75" 40.8 oz
  • Barry Halper Auction - 1920-27 Kren's Special - 33" 44 oz
  • Hall of Fame Bats Archive - 1921-30 H&B Heinie Groh - 33" 40.8 oz
  • Hunt Auctions 2006 - 1921-30 H&B Heinie Groh - 33" - 33.4 oz
  • Hunt Auctions 2004 - 1930s Batrite Heinie Groh - 32" 35.5 oz
  • Hunt Auctions 2003 - 1921-27 H&B Heinie Groh - 33" - (No weight listed)

As you can see, the length and weight of the offered Zinn-Beck example compare very
favorably with many other examples of Groh's bats from throughout his career.

Shown below are a few different Heinie Groh professional model bats that have been
offered for sale in various places. Included is the Zinn-Beck example I currently own.
1925-27 Zinn-Beck Heinie Groh - 32.5" - 40 oz
1920-27 Kren's Special Heinie Groh - 33" - 44 oz (From Barry Halper Collection)
1923-25 Hillerich & Bradsby Heinie Groh - 33" - 40.8 oz
1930s Hanna Batrite Heinie Groh - 32" - 35.5 oz
                                          PART 2 - Player Characteristics

Along with the known similarities in length and weight it is often helpful to closely
examine available photos to note similar player traits between offered bats.

In the current Zinn-Beck example, the handle of the bat displays vintage white tape in
a sprial pattern. Similar taping patterns are present in the Kren's Special bat (offered in
the Barry Halper Collection), the post-career Hanna Batrite (offered through Hunt
Auctions), and now in the examined Zinn-Beck bat.

While it seems that Groh mostly used black tape, the Batrite example (shown above)
displays remnants of white tape similar to what is present on the Zinn-Beck.
1925-27 Zinn-Beck Heinie Groh - 32.5" - 40 oz
1920-27 Kren's Special Heinie Groh - 33" - 44 oz
Unfortunately photos of Groh with his bats aren't very
easy to find. However, the pictures I was able to find seem
to show a clear pattern of taping the handle and can be
seen in the two photos at the right.

In addition to the similarities in taping style, the located
concentration of use present on the examined Zinn-Beck
bat is also correct for a right handed hitter like Groh.

The examined bat shows evidence of heavy use with light
surface seam impressions on the left barrel as well as grain
swelling on both the right and left hitting surfaces. The
grain swelling is heavier on the left barrel which indicates
heavy use by a right handed hitter.

I feel that the presence of tape on the handle of the
examined Zinn-Beck bat is a highly positive characteristic
and greatly adds to the likelihood that it was used by Groh
sometime between 1925 and 1927. It is safe to say that
without the presence of tape on the handle I would likely
still have purchased it, but I doubt I would have been as
excited about researching it any further.
                                         PART 3 - Photographic Attribution

When attempting to attribute use of a particular bat (especially an off-brand) by a
particular player one must use all of the information available. When trying to
attribute an off-brand bat to a particular player or at least prove major league use you
might get lucky and find that brand pictured in front of the dugout. If you are really
lucky you might find a picture of a different major leaguer using that brand. Then
again, you mind get really, really lucky and you may find a picture of the player whose
use of a brand you are attempting to attribute pictured with that particular brand
during the player's career.

As shown in the below photo (click image to enlarge) of Heinie Groh and Rogers
Hornsby from 1927, you can clearly see that the bat held by Heinie Groh on the left is a
Zinn-Beck. The lower part of the diamond shaped center brand is visible and you can
faintly see where the player stamp "TYPE OF BAT USED BY HEINIE GROH" is present.
The style of the bat pictured is consistent with Groh's
preferred bottle-shaped model of bat.

What is most important to note about this picture is that
not only does it substantiate the use of Zinn-Beck bats in
the major leagues during the 1920s, it also substantiates
use by a particular player.
                                PART 4 - Additional Positive Characteristics

The last positive characteristic which will further serve to substantiate the likely use of
this offered bat by Heinie Groh during the 1920s is the lack of a factory stamping on
the knob.

Use of Zinn-Beck bats in the major leagues is pretty well limited to the Diamond Ace
100 and Extra Special models. The Diamond Ace 100 model in most cases features a
factory stamp with the 100 logo on it. However, there are also hand-turned models
which do not feature a factory stamped logo on the knob.
Above are shown two knobs from Zinn-Beck Diamond Ace 100 bats. The picture on the
left is from a 1920s Zinn-Beck of Ken Williams. The picture on the right is from the
1920s Zinn-Beck of Heinie Groh. See the lack of the factory stamp? This indicates it
was hand turned for professional use. Hand turned Zinn-Beck bats are extremely rare,
but they are out there.
                                                      PART 5 - Summary

In summary, this Zinn-Beck Diamond Ace 100 of Heinie Groh has many positive
characteristics. These include comparitive length and weight, similar style of handle
tape, and photographic evidence of use of similarly taped bats used by Groh.
Additionally he was photographed with a Zinn-Beck bat in hand on at least one
occasion. The knob is lacking the factory stamped Diamond Ace 100 logo which
indicates this particular bat was hand-turned for professional use by Heinie Groh.