I recently got an e-mail asking if the Dodgers wore road jersey made by either Spalding or MacGregor in 1959, and if so, which ones did they wear in the World Series that year? Without appearing to be launching into Stengalize… the answer is yes.
I have decided to make this question the focus for an article because it serves to reinforce four things I feel are important for uniform collectors to understand:
1. The value of building a data base.
2. The value of a reference library.
3. The value of understanding manufacturer’s characteristics.
4. The value of imagery analysis.
The Value of a Data Base.
I went into my data base and was able find, that among other entries, Leland’s had offered two Roger Craig 1959 LA Dodgers road jerseys in their November 1998 Auction. When I pulled the catalog, I saw a number of items in this same grouping that came from the personal collection of Roger Craig. One of the jerseys was manufactured by MacGregor, the other by Spalding. (Lot # 63). In April of 2004, Mastro’s had offered as Lot # 817 a grouping of items that came from Larry Sherry, including a 1959 road jersey manufactured by Spalding. Since both of these lots were sourced directly from the players, I felt they were acceptable examples to explore with.
The Value of a Reference Library.
My collection of old auction catalogs, was both a feeder to my data base and also serves as a reference as well. I then looked at what I had on hand that might be useful in finding images of the 1959 World Series and Dodgers uniforms. I knew I could find at least one useful image in Corbis, but then that does little to make the case for a library. The other images came from:
-The World Series: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Fall Classic
-Baseball’s Great Dynasties: The Dodgers
-The Los Angeles Dodgers: Images of Baseball
The more references, you have, the better your chances of finding something helpful. This does not mean I can find a picture of anything or everything, but it does show there is value getting beyond the internet.
The Value of Understanding Manufacturer’s Characteristics.
In looking at these two shirts, you will notice the numeric font is different as well as the style of buttons. You will also notice that there is some variation in the tagging of the Craig and the Sherry Spalding jerseys. Variations will exist, but to properly evaluate them make sure you are also looking at other teams from the same manufacturer for that year as well as the same team over time as well. Both of these jerseys feature the same period Spalding manufacturers tag in the same place; both feature a single flag tag for size; and both feature the year “59” chain stitched in the tail. The Sherry jersey however has his name and the Craig does not. I don’t recall ever labeling a uniform as Unable to Authenticate based solely on a tagging variation.
I few years back I was talking with Lon Lewis, a person I have a tremendous amount of professional respect for, and Lon mentioned when he looks at a uniform, he starts with the tagging. His point being that if the tagging is atypical, it automatically cues you to look at everything in greater detail.
What Lon was referring to was problems with lettering, stitching, etc. While all of this true, I would recommend that you look at the jersey in a holistic approach…only then will you be able to decide if the tagging is a variation or signs of one that has been altered for the purpose of deception.
Besides the numeric font and button style differences between the Spalding and MacGregor products, there are also differences in the lettering font style for Los Angeles as well.
The Value of Imagery Analysis.
Images from the 1959 World Series and those games played in Chicago confirm the presence of both the Spalding and MacGregor numeric font styles. Button style can also be confirmed. When you find examples of actual uniforms, period images and lay them out in concert, certain subtle details can become more clear. Take a look at the differences in the letters “l” and “s” in Angeles. The MacGregor “l” has a slight curve to it and the letter “s” has a more pointed top. I point this out since not all images I looked at had the numeric font style available for study based either on photographic cropping or in instances when that part of the jersey was obscured by a player or other object.
Could any or all of this have been handled with a response along the lines of “The Dodgers wore both Spalding and MacGregor jerseys on the road in the 1959 World Series.” Of course it could have been, but where’s the fun in that.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com.