In my last uniform related article featuring a 1957 Willie Mays NY Giants home jersey, I discussed how shirts like that and the work behind evaluating them can assist in rounding out or filling in gaps a data base. This next uniform highlights some of the challenges when the jersey you are looking at is a specific example from the data base. Before I go into the jersey itself, it should be understood that listing an item in the MEARS data base does not constitute a determination of authenticity. It serves as a reference that can later be used for trend or characteristic comparative and analysis.
When I began building my uniform data base, which was then expanded during the SCDA effort and continues with MEARS today, I looked to capture as much information as possible from as many examples as possible. What this does is permit you to gather a large sample in order to be able to do some form of comparative analysis. Over time, as you begin to add more examples from a team and or year, you can begin to see certain trends.
Not sure if you realized this, but you probably learned this along time ago as a kid if you watched Sesame Street… “one of these things is not like the others…one of these things just doesn’t belong…” When you have few examples of a team or player by year or era, you then have to devote more time in looking at what images from that period tell you about the item as a shirt can not be used a reference for itself. With all of that as a backdrop, here we go. Text of my Letter of Opinion as part of a coordinated MEARS effort is below:
SUBJECT: Hank Greenberg 1941 Detroit Tigers Home Jersey
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1941 Hank Greenberg Detroit Tigers Home Jersey. After a detailed visual inspection and evaluation of this jersey using lighted magnification, a light table, UV light, and various references as noted below, I offer the following noted observations:
– The jersey appears to be the same one that was offered in the March 1994 Richard Wolfers Auction; Lot # 711, page 78 of catalog (Enclosed). The macro level physical characteristics of these two jerseys appear to be identical. On a micro-level, there appear to be the same five (5) pulls in the blue soutache braid that appear along the outer button line of both jerseys. This distinction is important for both the purposes of identification and as it applies to referencing this jersey in the MEARS data base. The MEARS data base records this jersey and one other as examples of 1941 Detroit Tigers Home jerseys The other jersey is a 1941 Barney McCosky jersey that is listed as lot # 1341, page 7 of Catalog II from the Barry Halper Collection. Although no image of the McCosky jersey was provided in the Halper Catalog, the jersey is described as having a Gold Smith label in the collar with a size “42” tag; “Barney McCosky 41 is stitched on the left front tail.” Given the striking differences in this Greenberg jersey and the description of the McCosky jersey, imagery analysis becomes all the more important in evaluating this jersey with respect to what we should expect to see and find in a 1941 Detroit Tigers home jersey worn by Hank Greenberg.
– With respect to this Greenberg jersey and what you should expect to find in looking at images from the period, there are three (3) identifiable features that should be viewed as either supporting or refuting the likelihood that it is in fact a jersey manufactured for the purpose of and use by Greenberg in 1941. They are:
1. The crest style in the form of the Gothic font “D”.
2. The numeral font style of the 5 on the back of the jersey.
3. The sleeve style. This jersey features a Raglan sleeve.
Crest Style: A study of images from on-line sources, print, and video indicate that the Gothic font “D” on this Greenberg jersey is inconsistent with those that appear on Detroit Tigers home jerseys from this period. Examples in Plates 1-6 show that the internal horizontal fabric arches on this jersey arch inward whereas the ones that appear in photographs arch outwards. While the plates provided only cover the span of 1935-1941, examples can also be found extending until at least 1943 as can be seen in the 1943 All Star Game. (Page 57, the All Star Game: A Pictorial History from 1933 to Present by Donald Honig). Getty Images Editorial #50454896 Hank Greenberg, also shows this “arch outward” style.
Numeral Font Style: The font style of the numeral “5” on the back of this jersey is also not consistent with what you would expect to see on a 1941 Detroit Tigers home jersey worn by Hank Greenberg. References that can see to confirm this include:
1. 1939 All Star Game. (Page 38,the All Star Game: A Pictorial History from 1933 to Present by Donald Honig).
2. Getty Images, Editorial #50454896 Hank Greenberg. Image shows Greenberg handing in his uniform prior to leaving for service in the United States Army.
Sleeve Style: This jersey features Raglan sleeves. Raglan sleeves are constructed in such a manner that the entire sleeve runs from the collar area to the end of the sleeve. “Set-In” sleeves are those that are actually a separate section of fabric and joined to or “set-in” to the garment body. The way this identified in images is seeing the presence of the seam line joining the sleeve to the body of the jersey. Plates 1-4, and 6 indicate that the Tigers home jerseys were constructed with “set-in” sleeves. Plate 5 from 1941 was not conclusive in that it is too bright to determine sleeve style. However, plate 5 does show the inconsistency of the Gothic “D” in this jersey from the 1941 season and is Greenberg specific.
Both the sleeve style and crest style that can be seen in the above image references can also be seen in an example of a 1942-43 Dizzy Trout Detroit Tigers home uniform offered in the Halper Auction (Lot 1385, page 21). What it also of interest to note is that the Manufacturers tagging in the collar of the Trout jersey is that of Lowe & Campbell/Wilson. This has bearing on the annotation in Plate 6 from the 1941 season with respect to the manufacturer’s tag that can be seen in the rear of the collar of Tiger’s Manager Del Baker. A review of manufacturer’s labels from this period highlight that:
-Spalding is a white tag black lettering or a blue tag with red border.
-Gold Smith is a white tag with blue and red lettering.
-Rawlings is white tag with black lettering.
-Wilson is a black tag with red and gold lettering.
-McAuliffe is a white tag with blue lettering.
-Horace Partridge is a black tag with orange lettering.
Based on other Tigers jerseys in the MEARS data base from this period and Trout example from the Halper Auction I would suspect the tag in Plate 6 is a Wilson tag and could likely be a tandem arrangement with a Lowe & Campbell tag. This jersey features no such Wilson tag nor is there any evidence that one was ever present.
The previously referenced Getty Image, Editorial #50454896 Hank Greenberg provides an additional reference as to internal manufacturer’s characteristics for the 1941 Detroit Tigers home jerseys. In the second locker from the right you can see a Tigers home jersey hanging. The collar area features two dark areas separated by a white or light space. This appears more consistent with the tagging array from Plate 6 than this jersey. Also, the jersey in the locker appears to have a players name sewn into the lower rear of the neck area. There is no such identification in this jersey nor does there appear to be signs that one was ever present.
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 1941 Detroit Tigers home jersey manufactured for use by Hank Greenberg. As an additional note, when this jersey was inspected under UV lighting, the body of the jersey gave off consistent and even fluoresce in the form of fabric particles. This may indicate the body contains a blend of synthetic fabrics. This same phenomena can be seen in the area of the white felt swatch in the collar and the stitching of the soutache braid. This could also be the result of chemicals or detergents used in cleaning, but the jersey shows no signs of use and wear. It is my opinion that this jersey can not be authenticated as a Hank Greenberg 1941 Detroit Tigers Home Jersey
MEARS Auth, LLC
Wolfers Auction Lot Lot # 711, page 78 of catalog.