First and foremost I have been and remain a collector/researcher of baseball uniforms. Like many of you, when I sell something it’s because I already have something else in mind that I want more. I have turned my collection over at least twice with brief forays into bats and like, but at the end of the day I love baseball uniforms. A few weeks ago I saw a jersey listed on E-Bay by Zane Burns that I knew I just had to have; a 1975 Wayne Granger Houston Astros jersey. Zane is one of those dealers who make use E-Bays “Buy It Now/ Make and Offer” option. Seeing the jersey and the $1,495 price tag and with two offers already submitted, I pulled the trigger at full price. I could not be happier that I did.
If I had to list the toughest knits of the 1970s, this would be at the top of my list. Coming in just behind this would be the 1974-1977 Cleveland Indians “blood red” or the 1977-1979 Pittsburgh Pirates “bumble bee” jerseys. Having acquired examples of each of these last year, I knew this was a must. To date, I have only seen or heard of the Granger example and three others (Cedeno, Metzger, and Jutze). Seeing this jersey appear again (offered by AMI March 2005/$1,902) and not seeing the others offered or any additional ones, indicated to me to that either they’re not out or folks are holding fast. For collectors, I would encourage you to build a data base of the things you are after and track them when they come up for sale. This will give you some indication on potential numbers and availability. It also can help you make personal buying/price threshold decisions.
Getting back to the jersey, not only is this jersey a first year style, but it is a one year style with a number of interesting characteristics. The 1975 Astros jerseys featured a circular patch on the left sleeve with the #40 for pitcher Don Wilson as Wilson inexplicably took his own life in January 1975. The Astros decided to retire his uniform number and have the players wear a sleeve patch in his memory. While player and team personnel uniform memorial adornments where not new in 1975, this was only the second time a team had opted away from the conventional black arm band and went with a player number. The first such occurrence was the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1973 with the circular “21” patch for Roberto Clemente.
The most significant and striking attribute of these uniforms is clearly the way the player number is affixed to the back of the jersey. The number is heat pressed to a 11”section of white circular knit fabric and it is this fabric circle that is sewn to the jersey. The name is done with individual letters sewn to a name plate and the plate sewn to the jersey. Other than the patch (number heat pressed to the patch; patch sewn on), nothing else is sewn to the jersey. It is the #40 patch and the manner in which the rear numbers were done that is unique to the 1975 season. In 1976, the #40 patch would give way to the National League 100th Anniversary patch and player numbers on the rear would be pressed directly to the jersey body.
One thing I did not know or realize about these jerseys is just how light they are. This was obvious as soon as I held the jersey. I compared this jersey to others I had on hand from the same period/size from other manufacturers and found:
-1975 Astros (Sand Knit) 9oz (size tag missing, estimated at size 42)
-1974 Astros Road (Wilson) 13oz (Zipper front)
-1975 A’s (McAuliffe) 12oz
-1975 Mets Road (Rawlings) 12oz
While a matter of 3-4oz may not seem like much, it does represent a 25-30% difference in the weight of the jersey and it is noticeable. In other words the 1975 Houston Astros may in fact have been the coolest dressed players both in a literal and figurative sense, but one of them is a matter of personal taste. In my book, they get the nod on both accounts. What’s your opinion?
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect. If you have knits from the 1970s and 1980s you are interested in selling or trading, drop me a line.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to contact me at DaveGrob1@aol.com