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Size: This offered jersey is tagged as a size 44 and this is the true measured size of the garment when compared to period Spalding products in sizes 42, 44, and 46. A size 44 would also be consistent with period sizing data I have for Rip Russell (6’, 180lbs). As such, I consider this to be an appropriately sized jersey for Russell in 1939.
Manufacturer/Construction/Dating the Jersey: The jersey was manufactured by Spalding as indicated by the manufacturers label sewn into the rear of the collar. The combination of this style of tag, laundry instructions, and small flag tag denoting size (44) are consistent with Spalding products c 1939-1941. Overall jersey construction with respect to fabrics and stitch patterns/embroidery were compared to these period on hand Spalding exemplars:
-1938 Pirates Road
-1938 Cubs Home (Zipper closure; Talon)
-1939 Giants Home
-1939 Dodgers Home (Zipper closure; Talon)
The uniform is dated to 1939 based on the supplemental tagging (39) found both in the pants (set 2) and the jersey (set 1). The jersey features Raglan sleeves cut to a full elbow length of 8 ½” inches. Although longer sleeves had begun to have gone out of fashion by this time, period images of Russell in road Cub uniforms from the 1939 season and into spring training of 1940 indicate this is a correct sleeve length for the player. All alpha-numeric fonts are assessed as being team, period, and manufacturer appropriate as confirmed by period images. (PLATES I-VI)
Use and Wear: The jersey exhibits overall moderate use/wear. All lettering and numbering is assessed as being original to the garment as confirmed by examination on a light table. (PLATES VII-VIII) The jersey is missing the 1939 Baseball Centennial patch, but signs that it was in fact once affixed to the jersey can be seen via light table analysis; coming in the form of aligned small fabric cuts that were made when the patch was removed. This removal is not immediately or readily apparent to the naked eye, and as such, the garment would be an ideal candidate for vintage patch restoration. (PLATE IX) The jersey does feature very minor spot stains that are best seen under UV lighting. The use and wear on the pants is commensurate with that of the jersey. Zippers on both the jersey and pants are original and remain fully functional. The right rear pocket area features a small, and apparent vintage fabric tear repair, but this in no way effects the structural integrity or display of the pants. Russell appeared in 143 games for the Chicago Cubs, but only 68 of those were road appearances. The Cubs adopted a vest style uniform for the 1940 season, so extended organizational use at the major league level would have concluded with spring training of 1940. As such, use and wear on both the jersey and pants may be assessed optimal.
Evaluation Findings: Based on my physical examination of this uniform and supporting data, it is my opinion that this uniform possess all of the characteristics you would expect to find in a 1939 Chicago Cubs road uniform manufactured and supplied by Spalding for use and wear by Rip Russell in his rookie season. With the exception of the above mentioned removal of the 1939 Centennial patch, both jersey and pants are assessed as being original and otherwise unaltered.
For Pre-1987 jerseys, the MEARS grading metric begins at base grade of 10 with five (5) major categories for consideration when looking to codify deductions. I found this reason to deduct points for this offered jersey.
Category II: -1 (missing non-rare patch)
See MEARS Article:
As such the final grade for this jersey with MEARS hologram number 313837 is A9. In accordance with MEARS Grading criteria, no separate grade is assigned to the pants (313838) as they are only deemed Authentic.
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