I was reading the Game Used Forum the other day when I came across a thread on detailed letters of opinion. One poster referred to authentication as a “McJob” and went on to say that “Someone needs to tell the MEARS guys to stop blowing their time on those exhausting multi-page analyses.” Our fees are the highest in the industry and someone submitting a piece like the one that is the subject of this article should be provided with a detailed Letter of Opinion that enables them to see and understand what the basis of our opinion was.

People may not always agree with an opinion, but at least they will know why ours was what was. I encourage collectors to start asking “why” and get away from the what… The “what” refers to those Letters of Opinion that focus on an item description or the player’s accomplishments. If the person offering the opinion has reached one, and they clearly have if they wrote a letter on an item, take them to task with respect to the what; for both items they like or don’t like. If the person offering the opinion touts an incredible reference library, then be like your high school math teacher and make them show their work in order to get credit.

SUBJECT: Lou Gerhrig 1937 New York Yankees Home Jersey

For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1937 New York Yankees Lou Gehrig Home Jersey. After a detailed visual inspection and evaluation of this jersey using lighted magnification, a light table, UV light and references listed. I offer the following noted problematic observations:

This jersey features Raglan style sleeves. Images of Lou Gehrig in 1937 show him wearing three distinctly different jerseys that all have Set-In sleeves. The sleeves, or at least certainly a portion of those on this jersey also appear to have been restored or added back to the jersey. This can been seen clearly when the garment is examined from the inside out. The cuts in the material are obvious. The sleeves themselves also feature what appears to be the combination of home white and road gray fabric with an atypical center joining seam in the middle of the sleeve. This does not mean that this shirt could have started out as one with Set-In Sleeves and was later changed to a Raglan style. With respect to a mix of fabrics, I have seen fabric taken from pants used to repair jerseys, but this is not the case here in that the Yankee road uniforms did not feature a pinstripe pattern.

Additionally, based on a recent and detailed study of New York Yankee jerseys from the pre-war period, I consider it highly unlikely that Gerhig had a fourth home jersey of this sleeve style. While the Yankees did feature a combination of Raglan and Set-In sleeves in 1938, this is not a properly constructed Raglan sleeve in any event. In addition, in both 1938 and 1939, the Yankees wore a shoulder patch on the left sleeve (Worlds Far and Baseball Centennial respectively) and there are no signs that a patch was ever applied to this jersey.

In order to accomplish these sleeve alterations to this jersey, the stitching that closes the collar fold has also been redone. This does not permit me to say that the player identification of “L GEHRIG” chain stitched in the collar in red thread could not have been added at a later date as well as this area was clearly opened at one time.

The jersey is identified as a Spalding product as evident by the manufacturers tag in the collar. The jersey is tagged as a size 46 and this is both the true size of the jersey and one appropriate for Gehrig. While Spalding was a know supplier of New York Yankee jerseys at this time frame, the style of the Spalding tag is one most commonly found in Spalding products from approximately 1915-1928. This appears to be inconsistent with respect to this jersey since it features the year annotation of “37” sewn in red thread in the rear-center tail of the jersey.

The jersey also features six two hole buttons (bottom button is missing). These are also not characteristics you would expect to see in this period Yankees home jersey with respect to either number of buttons or style.

This jersey was accompanied by a letter signed by Mr. Barry Halper dated 10 October 1997. In the letter, Mr. Halper states that with respect to the NY crest for post 1935 “For the first few years of its reemergence, the NY was smaller than the current edition.” For this jersey, the cut and font style does not appear to be appropriate. Specifically, each of upper segments of the letter “Y” is distinct, sharing very little fabric with the letter “N”. This is not consistent with photograph of Gerhig or the NY Yankees from 1937 as seen in period images.

While the NY crest on this jersey is more visually similar to those worn in 1938, it is noticeable smaller than the NY crests of that year. In this jersey, the NY is roughly the width of 3 ½ pinstripe segments while those in 1938 appear to be a full four pinstripe segments in width. The spacing of these pinstripes segments on this jersey is approximately 1 ¼ inches. So the NY crest on this jersey does appear to be appropriate in style for 1937 or size for 1938.

The rear numeral “4” also appears to be smaller than what should be seen, especially given the fact that the crest appears also smaller. In looking at images from the NY Herald Tribune from August 1937, while the crest to numeral ratios are close, you still have to factor in that crest size is smaller on this jersey than the ones in photographs. If we assume that the pinstripe spacing width is the same on this jersey as those in images from 1937, then the rear single digit numeral “2” as seen in the Tribune image is approximately 7 ½ inches in height compared to this numeral “4” which is 4 7/8” in height.

Evaluation Findings: Based on a my physical examination of this jersey, supporting data, images, and references , it is my opinion that this jersey does not posses the characteristics you would expect to find in a 1937 New York Yankees Lou Gehrig Home Jersey and it is my opinion that this jersey can not be authenticated as such.





Reference List

On-Line References:

-Getty Images

-Corbis Images

Film References:

-Ken Burns Baseball DVD Series

-The History of the All Star Game from Ruth to Mays

Print References:

Lou Gehrig and Yankee Specific

-The New York Yankees: An Illustrated History: Honig

– Lou Gehrig; Macht

-New York Yankees: Seasons of Glory; Hageman & Wilbert

-The Yankees: An Illustrated History; Sullivan & Powers

-Yankee Stadium; Robinson & Johnson

-Yankee Stadium; Fifty Years of Drama; Durso

-Baseball’s Great Dynasties: The Yankees; Gallagher & Gallagher

-Newspaper Reports About Big League Baseball in the Big Apple: The New York Yankees from 1901-1961; HBI Books

General Baseball Reference

-Baseball Hall of Fame; Cresent

-The Story of Baseball; Rosenburg

-The Ultimate Baseball Book; Okrent & Lewine

-The Illustrated History of Baseball; Smith

-Baseball: The History of America’s Game; Honig

-The American League; Zoss & Bowman

-Baseball as America; National Geographic and the Baseball Hall of Fame

-The Pictorial History of Baseball; Bowman & Zoss

-150 Years of Baseball; Publications International LTD

-The Baseball Book; Sports Illustrated

-Going, Going, Gone: The History, Lore, and Mystique of the Home Run from Babe Ruth to Mark McGwire; Halbertam & MLB

-The Image of Their Greatness; Ritter & Honig

-Players of Cooperstown: Baseball Hall of Fame; Publications International LTD

-Baseball’s Legends of All Time; Publications International LTD

-Greats of the Game: The Players, Teams, and Managers That Made Baseball History; Robinson & Jennison

-Big Stix: The Greatest Hitters in the History of the Major Leagues; Rains

-Baseball: A Celebration; Buckley & Gigliotti

-Baseball; Burns & Ward

-The Baseball Chronicle: Publications International LTD

-The Chronicle of Baseball; Mehno

– 20th Century Baseball; Beekman House

-Baseball from the Archives of the Sporting News; The Sporting News

-The Sporting News Chronicle of Baseball; Smith

-Golden Years of Baseball; Kaplan

-Great Moments in Baseball; Beekman House

-Illustrated History of Baseball; Chadwick

-Treasury of Baseball: A Celebration of America’s Pastime; Publications International LTD

-The Power Hitters; Honig

-The American League; Honig

-Baseball in the 30’s; Honig

-The Sluggers: Those Fabulous Long Ball Hitters; Hollway

-Low and Outside: Baseball in the Depression, 1930-1939; Mead

-That Old Ballgame; Phillips

-The Story of Baseball; Durant

-The Baseball Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary Book; Baseball Hall of Fame

-Smithsonian Baseball: Inside the World’s Finest Private Collections; Wong

-The Game That Was: The George Brace Baseball Photo Collection; Cahan & Jacob

-Baseball’s Golden Age: The Photographs of Charles M. Conlon; McCabe & McCabe

-Baseball; Voight

-The Sporting News First Hundred Years; The Sporting News

-The History of Baseball; Its Great Players, Teams and Mangers; Danzig & Reichler

-Baseball: More Than 150 Years; Publications International LTD

-The All Star Game; Honig

-Baseball’s 100 Greatest Players; The Sporting News

-Baseball’s 25 Greatest Teams; Reidnbaugh

– The All Century Team; Vancil & Hirdt

-Home Run Kings; Minsky

-Baseball Legends; Garber

-Greatest Moments in Baseball; Zoss

-Baseball’s Greatest Sluggers; Libby

-Great Hitters of the Major Leagues; Graham

-Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century, Okkonen

-Baseball Treasures; Schiffer

-The Baseball Anthology; Wallace

-The Autobiography of Baseball; Wallace

-The Baseball Scrapbook; Bjarkman

-America’s Game; Kurkjian

-Baseball in America; Smith

-Baseball; Miers