Collectors of pre-war flannel jerseys know how rare any team can be to acquire. Simply stated, 1920s big league flannel jerseys are incredibly scarce, with only the most advanced collections containing any examples.
For this lot, MEARS Auctions is extremely excited to present an all original 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates Game Worn Road jersey dating to their World Championship season, and containing the elusive and 100% all original National League Golden Jubilee (1876-1925) shoulder patch. The shirt is accompanied by a pair of original and properly styled period pants that complete the uniform. To our knowledge, this is the only surviving 1925 complete Pittsburgh Pirate uniform in the hobby, no other shirts are known to have survived.
The jersey originated from the estate of Clyde Barnhart. His name is not chain stitched, former Pirate Cliff Knox appears as the player of jersey issue.
(Per Evaluation by MEARS)
As stated, the jersey is attributed to Cliff Knox based on the name “Knox” done in in-line embroidery in the tail. References such as Total Baseball and Baseball reference.com sow Knox as being a member of the 1924 Pittsburgh Pirates. The same references have no record of Knox with the Pirates in 1925.
As mentioned above, there is no record of Cliff Knox appearing in any games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925. However, a more detailed look at the player and point in time as seen through contemporary references shows that Knox was in spring training with the Pirates in 1925 and was in fact still a member of the team when the season began and for a brief time afterwards: –
Knox signs 1925 contract with Pirates (Davenport Democrat; 19 Feb 1925)
Knox and Eddie Moore go see a doctor in LA (Los Angeles) as the Pirates arrive for a 10 game series. Each are said to be suffering from shoulder injuries (Waterloo Evening Courier; 31 March 1925)
Knox mentioned as the 4th string catcher going into the 1925 season (Morning Herald; 4 April 1925)
1925 Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day: 14 April 1925
Knox released by the Pirates to Birmingham of the Southern Association (Sandusky Register; 25 April 1925)
The jersey also features a period original 1925 National League Golden Anniversary patch. Examination of the jersey reveals no signs that a “P” as is present on the right shoulder, was ever applied to the left shoulder. The combination of this information with the above time line indicates to me that the jersey is a 1925 offering ordered for Knox by the Pirates during spring training in preparation of the 1925 season and subsequently issued to Knox and worn by him until he was released by the club some 10 days after the season started. This is an important distinction to make as opposed to the jersey being a 1924 Knox offering carried forward to the 1925, having the “P” on the right shoulder removed and the 1925 Golden Anniversary patch added.
Size: The jersey is without any sort of tagged or annotated size. This is not atypical of major league uniforms of this time frame. Static sizing data for Knox lists him at 6’; 170lbs. The measured size of the jersey suggests something in the order of a size 42. As such, I would consider this to be an appropriate sized jersey for Knox at this point in time. The jersey is accompanied by a pair of pants that are attributed to Babe Adams (Pirates 1909-1926) and these appear to of a size 34 with a 24” inseam. These appear consistent with sizing data for Adams as well (5’, 11”; 185 lbs).
Manufacturers Tagging: Both garments feature the same style Spalding tag and manner of applique for supplemental player identification. The supplemental player identification is done with “in-line” embroidery. Period Spalding products can be found with either “in-line” or chain stitch embroidery. I attribute the variations to not so much the team in question, but more likely the point of origin of the work as Spalding had various facilities supporting their work at this time. All tagging is assessed as being original to the garments and is consistent with on hand Spalding major league exemplar uniforms. (PLATE I)
Use and Wear: The jersey shows signs of light use and wear with the pants showing a bit more. Both garments are assessed as being in well above average condition given the vintage of the artifacts. With specific respect to the jersey, the overall condition of the body of the garment is virtually un-improvable with respect to fabric surface wear, absence of any appreciable holes, staining, or fabric tears. The jersey is however missing two buttons and features very minor fraying to the soutache on the right rear-neck line. The pants are in equally sound condition with some soiling and staining in the crotch area, missing button on the right rear pocket, as well as the fact that the closure system (both parts present) has come free from the anchor stitching (easily repairable).
Non-Grade Related Commentary: The garment is said to have been sourced from the family of teammate Clyde Barnhart. I do not find it hard to believe that this uniform could have been acquired as stated offered (both jersey and pants). Sizing data for Barnhart shows in by comparison:
-Clyde Barnhart: 5’, 10”; 155lbs
-Cliff Knox: 6’, 170lbs
-Babe Adams: 5’, 11”; 185lbs
As such, the size of these garments may have precluded them from being worn by Barnhart in all but the most extreme situations, and as such the uniform is not attributed to Barnhart with any degree of certainty or objectivity, other than possible source/origin to the hobby. This would also be consistent with the current overall condition with light use and wear.
Even without any definitive or absolute attribution to Barnhart who was a starting outfielder for the 1925 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, the uniform is an extremely rare and significant artifact given condition, year, and the presence of an extremely rare all original 1925 National League Golden Anniversary patch. While this patch comes in various color combinations, it was the first time that an entire league wore a common patch and the patch itself is one of the rarest and most highly sought after of those of the 20th century. (PLATE II)
Opinion: It is my opinion that this jersey possess all the characteristics I would expect to see in 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates road jersey provided by Spalding for road use by Cliff Knox in that same year. The jersey is assessed as being original and without any signs of alteration or contrived application, use or wear. The same is said for the accompanying Babe Adams pants.
The MEARS worksheet and grading criteria provides for 5 categories for which points may deducted. I found these reasons to deduct points:
Category 1: -.5 x 2 for missing buttons (-1)
Category 5: Frayed Soutcahe; -0. No points were deducted for this given the nature, size, and location; but it is noted for the sake of accuracy.
Category 5: Light use/wear. -0. No points were deducted from the jersey given what we know about the duration of time that Cliff Knox spent with the Pirates in 1925 and the size issues that make regular use by Clyde Barnhart a less likely possibility. This is also why no points were deducted for this being considered a “two player” jersey (-3).
As such the final grade for this jersey bearing the MEARS hologram # 313383 is A9. No separate grade is assigned to pants as they are only deemed as being authentic. LOA MEARS / MEARS Auth, LLC
This lot represents the finest and sole surviving 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates World Championship Season uniform available. Jersey and pants from this era rarely are found together, so the prospect of having a complete uniform heightens the desirability of this grouping. The scarcity and fine condition will make this a centerpiece to any advanced flannel collection. With nearly 100 years passing since the jersey was originally issued, the coveted high grade of a MEARS A9 properly documents the high state of preservation that this jersey has survived. With the possibility of recycling or other forms of re-purposing, it is just short of a miracle that the 100% all original National League Golden Jubilee (1876-1925) shoulder patch remains and was not removed and lost to time. Housed in a private collection for nearly 35 years, this is the first time in recent history this jersey has been offered to the general public. Historians, team collectors, Pittsburgh Fans, and jersey aficionados, embrace this rare opportunity to add a piece of baseball history to your collection!