I suspect I could build an article around just about any item I am asked to evaluate and offer an opinion on. I prefer to write about items that I feel can be tied to some larger issue, either topical or educational. I think this evaluation presents me the opportunity to address both. The jersey in question is a 1940s Horace Partridge Jersey City Giants road jersey having the name “Hartnett” chain stitched in red thread on a white felt swatch in the collar. The rear of the jersey features the #7.
Had my evaluation efforts on this piece centered around what I call the ever growing trend of “Google-Thentication,” then I might be calling this a 1941 Gabby Hartnett New York Giants road jersey, recycled for use by their AA affiliate in Jersey City and possibly worn by Bobby Thompson in his stint with the Jersey City Giants. “Google-Thentication” refers to solely relying on searching the internet to find information necessary to form an opinion on an item. This particular jersey was sent to MEARS by Robert Edwards Auctions. I know that Rob Lifson and his consigners and bidders value what we do because they also know this is not how we operate.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the internet is a valuable tool and I did use it in part for this effort. However, based on the various e-mails and board posts I have read over the past few years, I feel this tool has only made collectors and evaluators even lazier and less diligent in the work they do. It never ceases to amaze (and disappoint) me when I see people asking the same questions over and over again, even on informative sites that have a search function. Folks, I hate to break it to you, but not every answer you are seeking can be “Googled”…And yes, while it may be out there someplace on that World Wide Web….your interests are best served by following some proscribed process or method that involves research, analysis and some investment of your time. This is what I strive to do at MEARS and my only hope is that the people who have paid for my opinion find it to be as worthwhile as I have.
With all that being said, let’s get into this jersey…
SUBJECT: Mid 1940s Jersey City Giants Road Jersey
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a Mid 1940s Jersey City Giants Road 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 observations:
This jersey is believed to have been one originally issued for wear by the NEW YORK GIANTS and subsequently sent to Jersey City for minor league use. During this period, the Jersey City Giants were the AA affiliate of the New York Giants. Although the offered jersey is without any sort of year identification, it is placed to the mid 1940s based on a combination of factors:
Dating the Jersey:
1. Manufacturer: The manufacturer of this jersey is the Horace Partridge Co of Boston, MA. While not a widely seen supplier of uniforms to the NY Giants at this time ( MacGregor-Gold Smith and Spalding), other NY Giants uniforms manufactured by Horace Partridge are recorded in the MEARS Data Base which include a 1944-45 jersey and pants manufactured by Horace Partridge belonging to Johnny Rucker. The style of manufacturers label and supplemental size tagging is also consistent with the Rucker offering.
2. Patches: Inspection of the jersey with UV lighting indicates the on time presence of what appears to have been wartime Stars and Stripes patch or HEALTH Patch on the left shoulder.
3. Jersey Style: Since it is presumed that this jersey began as a New York Giants offering, the style by color scheme and closure (zipper) place it to the period of 1940-1946. As a minor league jersey, it certainly could have been worn after 1946, but then the presence of the once worn war time patches would not have been found.
The jersey features the name “Hartnett” sewn in red chain stitch to a white felt swatch below the Horace Partridge label in the rear of the collar. Gabby Hartnett did play for the NY Giants in 1941, but wore #9 as opposed to the #7 currently on the jersey. The lettering of JERSEY CITY and the numeral 7 on the rear are period by construction and fabric and may have been placed on a jersey more than once given the amount and pattern of fraying to the backing material. To date, I have not been able to locate numerical rosters for the Jersey City Giants from this entire time frame. The exception being a 1944 Jersey City Giants program that lists #7 as being worn by outfielder Carroll “Whitey” Lockman.” This same program shows that Charles “Gabby” Hartnett wore #11.
It is interesting to note that Ebbets Field Flannels currently markets and sells a retro 1942 Jersey City Giants jersey with the #7 on the back. Some retailers of this jersey attribute those jerseys and number to Bobby Thompson and list the jersey as being from 1943.
An e-mail sent to Ebbets Field Flannels by me on this subject read: “I noticed you have a 1943 Jersey City Giants jersey with the number 7 on it. Could you tell me why that number was picked and who that player was?” Ebbets Field responded with “We are not quite sure how you saw the 1943 Jersey City Giants road jersey, since it is not activated on our web sire. The 1942 home and road jerseys are active, but not the 1943. In any case, the number was selected arbitrarily and is not associated with any particular player.
Ebbets Field Flannels”
While this could potentially bode very well for this offering, the fact of the matter is that Bobby Thompson did not wear the #7 for the Jersey City Giants at this time nor was he even with the club. According to Bobby Thompson’s own accounts as chronicled in “The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thompson, Ralph Branca, and the Shot Heard Round the World” by Joshua Page, Thompson played 34 games in Rocky Mount, NC in 1942. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on November 5th of that same year. Bobby Thompson was not even discharged until the end of October 1945. He did not begin to play for Jersey City until 1946. (The Echoing Green: pages 131-147). Thompson is also noticeably absent from the International League records for the war period as well.
Since it appears that both the lettering and number are not original to the uniform (as a minor league re-issued offering), an opinion needs to be offered with respect to if this jersey was at one time worn by Hall of Famer Gabby Hartnett either as a player with the New York Giants in 1941 or player/manager of the Jersey City Giants from 1942-1945. The problem I have with attributing this jersey to Gabby Hartnett has to do with the felt swatch with his name chain stitched to it. Upon examination under UV lighting, the swatch reacts to “Black Light” giving off a noticeable fluorescent glow.
This is often the case with felt fabrics containing more modern synthetic fabrics. Chemicals in detergents can also cause this effect, but then you would expect to see this same phenomenon throughout the jersey. This is not the case with jersey as this effect is localized to this piece of white felt material. For the purpose of comparison, I compared this “Hartnett” felt swatch with the material found on but not limited to a 1946 Giants home jersey by MacGregor-Gold Smith and a 1950 (road) and 1952 home Boston Braves jersey manufactured by Horace Partridge. The fabrics in those jerseys do not fluoresce. I also compared the “Hartnett” felt swatch to a piece of recently purchased white felt of similar in thickness, texture, and color and found that both the “Hartnett” and the modern felt sample share the same fluorescent characteristic (sample enclosed).
The other thing to note about the “Hartnett” felt swatch is that is surprisingly clean and stiff compared to the rest of the jersey. The combination of fabric and condition seem to indicate to me that they are not of the same period as the rest of the jersey. If this was a New York Giants “Hartnett” jersey from 1941 sent down to Jersey City for subsequent use, then the player swatch should be expected to show more wear. If it was worn by Hartnett as a player in Jersey City in 1942 or a player-manager at Jersey City in 1943 (see enclosed International League Player and Team Baseball Guide and Record Book entries 1943-1945), then more use and wear should also be expected, the issues of the fluorescent felt and the current #7 not withstanding.
Based on the aforementioned information, it is my opinion that this jersey is a mid 1940s Jersey City Giants road jersey that was recycled for use from the then New York Giants. Since it appears the lettering and #7 may have been used more than once at the minor league level and without currently having access to Jersey City Giant numerical rosters from this entire period, I can not make any definitive claim to player attribution based on the number, but can say with great certainty it was not worn by Bobby Thompson during this period, contrary to other information found on the internet. With respect to attributing this jersey to Charles “Gabby” Hartnett based on the name sewn to the felt swatch in the collar, I can not do that with any degree of personal and professional comfort or certainty based on the issues sighted above. In light of the fact that appears that Hartnett wore #11 at least for the 1944 season, then for it be a “Hartnett” jersey, then it would most likely to have been from his playing days with the Giants in 1941. Hartnett played appeared in some 64 games for the Giants in that year and as a once professional offering later used in the minor leagues, the condition and fluorescent issue of the felt swatch bearing his name lead me to seriously call this into question. I feel that if any player attribution is to be made based on the information available to me at this time it would be to attribute the jersey’s minor league wear to Carroll “Whitey” Lockman.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com.