I never get tired of looking at flannels, especially those being attributed to members of the Hall Fame. As usual, Troy called to say he a Tony Lazzeri jersey for me to look at. As is my custom, all I asked upfront was if was a home or road and the year if known so that I could begin to gather references. It is always best to have an idea of what you should expect to see before you begin the work. I am sorry to report, I don’t think the jersey was what it was represented to be, but the good news is it saved a potential buyer a lot of money he might otherwise have spent. With that being said, here we go.
SUBJECT: 1927-1928 Tony Lazzeri New York Yankees Road jersey
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1927-1928 Tony Lazzeri New York Yankees road jersey. After a detailed visual inspection and evaluation of this jersey using lighted magnification, a light table, a digital microscope, UV light and various references, I offer the following noted observations:
DATING THE JERSEY: This jersey is without any sort of year identification. This is not uncommon for uniforms of this period. Establishing a date is seen as an essential first step as it helps to narrow the time span for evaluation. Tony Lazzeri played for the New York Yankees 1926-1937. YANKEES was featured on the road jerseys from1927-1930. The Yankees added numbers to the rear of their jerseys on April 16th, 1929. This jersey is without any number nor signs one was ever applied to it. This characteristic eliminates 1929 as a possibility. The type of Spalding manufacturers tag is of little help in further narrowing the range since it is a style that can be found from around 1915 through roughly 1929. This leaves us with a range of 1927-1928.
I do not think the jersey to be from 1927 based on the application of the player name Lazzeri, sewn into the collar of the jersey. I base this off of how other Yankees jerseys that can be attributed to the 1927 season were sewn. These jerseys featured a combination of initials and a player’s last name. Exemplars referenced included:
1927 Spalding Yankees road jerseys name stitched as initials and last name
Whitey Moore Road Jersey: Moore W. W.
Lou Gehrig Road Jersey: Gehrig H.L
Wait Hoyt Road Jersey: Hoyt W.C.
Mark Koenig Road Jersey: Koenig M.A.
Bob Meusel Home Jersey: R. Meusel
As such, I felt comfortable in looking at this jersey as dating to around the 1928 time frame. I studied this characteristic in great detail in 2008 when trying to date a similar period Wilcy Moore New York Yankees road jersey. I also found that Lou Gehrig jersey dated to around 1928 had the player’s last name sewn into the collar.
CONSTRUCTION: This jersey features ¾ length set in sleeves and a conventional collar. Images found of Tony Lazzeri throughout his career show a preference for the sun collar. This can be seen in images that date to 1928, and times earlier and later as far as 1937. This is interesting to note as a player characteristic since this collar type began to fall out of fashion well before the end of Lazzeri’s time with the Yankees. I was able to find two photographs of Tony Lazzeri that can be year dated to the 1928 season. One of them based on the players in the photo. The two key players are Mike Gazella and Leo Durocher. The only time that these men played together on the New York Yankees was 1928. The road jersey that Tony Lazzeri is wearing features a sun collar, unlike the offered jersey. The same thing can be found in the other 1928 year dated photo.
The collar on this uniform is not consistent as an aspect of construction that you should expect to see in a Tony Lazzeri jersey in 1928 or throughout his career. Even if I did not date this jersey to 1928, a non-sun collar jersey for Tony Lazzeri at any point in time would not be what you would expect to see.
SIZE: No size is annotated in or on this jersey, while not uncommon in all cases, the jersey measures out to be a size 44. Similar period NY Yankee road jerseys that can be seen and tagged as such are:
Spalding: 1927 road jersey, Waite Hoyt: 6’, 180lbs: Size 44
Spalding: 1927 road jersey, Mark Koenig: 6’, 180lbs: Size 44
Spalding: 1928 road jersey, Lou Gehrig: 6”, 200lbs: Size 46
Tony Lazzeri: 5’, 11” 170
As such, I would expect to see Tony Lazzeri wearing either size 42 or 44 jersey.
USE AND WEAR: Overall, the jersey shows signs of little use and wear. The lettering of YANKEES appears to show fading from the once navy blue as seen on the back of the felt. The felt, while lacking a backing, is still fairly stiff and firm. However, this has almost faded to a light black as opposed to an almost purplish blue that I have seen in the past. (PLATE VII) The anchor stitching of the YANKEES is strong and tight in all areas. The closing stitching and long remnants of thread still remain behind most letters, especially the “S” and the “A”. (PLATE IX) There is no wear to the felt lettering nor is there any bleed into the body of the fabric from the felt. This appears to be inconsistent with the fading of the lettering. In this case, this effect is most often caused by expose to light as opposed to use and laundering associated with it. The lettering as seen by the letter K as it aligns with the second and third button also appears to be larger than you would expect to see. (PLATES VII and XVIII)
There is very little or no stressing to the fabric along and seem lines of the body with three notable exceptions:
1. The collar area where LAZZERI is stitched. The area immediately around and behind the LAZZERI chain stitch is worn and disclosed, yet there is virtually no discoloration to the red thread. (PLATES X and XI). In addition, the stitching line at the lower collar fold has been sewn in such a manner as to indicate the collar had been opened and closed. This typically is indicative of something done after the original manufacturer/production in order to accommodate a name being added at a later date.
2. The front tail area where remnants of red chain stitched thread remain. Here too, the area around and behind is worn and faded, yet the thread remnants remain bright red.
3. A small area on the button line below the third button from the top. This area is not suspect, only mentioned for consistency.
There is also a noticeable fade and fabric wear difference between the front of the jersey and the back. There is no wear to the felt lettering nor is there any bleed into the body of the fabric from the felt. This appears to be inconsistent with the fading of the lettering. In this case, this effect is most often caused by expose to light as opposed to use and laundering associated with it.
OPINION: Based on the aforementioned observations, while it appears this is a correct period Spalding jersey body, I have serious reservations about it being a jersey that can be attributed to have been worn by Tony Lazzeri. The jersey features a conventional collar which is atypical for Lazzeri. In addition, since there is no number on the back or signs one was ever present, and as such, the only thing that ties the jersey to Tony Lazzeri is the name chain stitched in red thread in the collar. This area is of concern based on the manner of appliqué, evidence that the collar having been opened and re-closed, and the inconsistent fading of the thread compared to the area immediately behind and around it. The lettering of YANKEES is also not what I would have expected to see by color and font size. As such, I an unable to authenticate this jersey as one having been issued to and worn by New York Yankee Tony Lazzeri during the 1927-1928 time frame.
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