Aug 21, 2013, 1:52 PM EDT
A new weekly Irish UNDerground feature revolves around the @NDSportsBlogger taking time away from his desk to go find an interesting artifact around the University of Notre Dame Athletic Department, enjoy…
In the past we have presented new artifacts that have been found in the archives of Notre Dame athletics. Today we are doing something different. We are re-presenting a past “Wayback Wednesday” with updated information that has been provided to us through former monogram winners and Notre Dame students. The updated information in this post is in bold font.
In today’s “Wayback Wednesday” we turn to the Irish baseball squad and former head coach Jake Kline.
Kline held the head job at Notre Dame from 1934-1975 (and was the freshman coach from 1931-35) after playing and earning three monograms with the Irish in his playing days in the 1910’s. While at Notre Dame Kline compiled a 558-449-5 record over the 42 years at the helm of the Fighting Irish. Aside from having the field at Eck Stadium named after him, Kline was also voted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 1968.
Now that we have dispensed with the background of coach Jake Kline, let me turn your attention to 1957. The year 1957 was a banner year for Notre Dame baseball. Kline’s team earned Notre Dame’s first trip to Omaha (Neb.) for the College World Series after winning district 4 (Midwest region) with a 3-1 record.
The Irish would go 2-2 in the College World Series, finishing in a tie for third place. It would be 45 years before the Irish returned to Omaha when the 2002 team made their miraculous run through the NCAA Championship Regionals.
Today for “Wayback Wednesday” we are looking at a Hanna Batrite Northern Ash baseball bat with Jake Kline inscription.
In the first release of the “Wayback Wednesday – Jake Kline’s Bat” I led everyone to believe that the bat was possibly presented to Coach Kline. Thanks to conversations and the gratitude of others, I have been able to better understand where this bat came from.
After speaking with former assistant baseball coach and Notre Dame baseball captain, John Counsell, he believed the bat might have been in honor of Jim Morris, a member of the 1957 College World Series team. Morris, an infielder, established the College World Series record for batting average (10-14, .714), a record that stands to this day. Additionally, Counsell believed that Coach Kline bought a plethora of these bats for the team to use and for marketing purposes in that time.
Without a definitive answer on the bat, I kept searching.
I finally hit pay dirt one morning when I received an email from 1959 Notre Dame graduate Joe Mulligan. Mulligan provided me a few leads on the history of the bat, one of which was Charles Lennon.
Reaching out to Charles (Chuck) Lennon was simple as Mulligan provided me with his information. Lennon, a 1961 graduate of Notre Dame, still lived close to Notre Dame and called me out of the blue to say that he was on campus. 15-minutes later I was standing face-to-face with Lennon.
It only took two seconds for me to know that he had seen this bat before. His eyes lit up as I handed over the 56-year old bat.
Our conversation lasted only five minutes, but the information he provided was astounding.
Coach Kline actually created the cup bat idea according to Lennon. The bat that I presented him had a smaller barrel than the bats of today and this was the type of bat the Irish used in 1957. The Hanna Batrite bat was actually called the Hanna Batrite, so instead of a bat you would ask for “a Hanna Batrite.”
In summation Lennon claimed that the 1957 Northern Ash Hanna Batrite bat with the Jake Kline insignia was a unique bat. The smaller barrel, the cupped end and the fact that the Irish used them in 1957 was astounding.
The Hanna Batrite bat company from Athens, Ga., is not well known anymore because the factory and the company closed down over 40 years ago due to a fire at the main building. Sources I have read said that most of the information and records of the company were lost in the fire.
If you can provide anymore information regarding this ‘Wayback Wednesday’ Artifact, please email Aaron Horvath at AHorvat3@nd.edu or on twitter at @NDSportsBlogger
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