Although Troy Kinunen will serve as lead on this item, he did ask me to review the color 1:1 scale plates on it and offer any other thoughts I might based on what might be found in my personal reference library (images, documents, uniforms). I was clearly more than happy to oblige. Even looking at this jersey in the form of to 1:1 scale color plates, I couldn’t help but be taken back by anything related to Jackie Robinson.
In working in tandem with Troy in this manner, although we are separated by some 800 miles, we are able to collaborate and do complimentary work. Troy will focus on the physical examination of the jersey using a light table, black/UV lighting as well as previous made 1:1 scale color plates of other 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers jerseys in the MEARS Exemplar library. My role is to provide additional information for him to consider since he will actually be the person signing the final MEARS Letter of Opinion.
Besides the collaborative nature of this work, this system also provides a second set of eyes on a historic uniform from an iconic American legend who transcends the game of baseball. Truth be told, I think Troy is really sending me plates like this in order to convince me that if I moved to Milwaukee, I would get to see more of these timeless treasures in person. While I would like nothing better, that is still a few years away at least.
The other reason I am writing the article on this jersey is that I have a bit more time on my hands than does Troy at this time. Please understand that his work on the pin back grading division and new Corporate Research and Conference Center will not detract from his work on this jersey, but he is always one who is looking to make the most of his time so I offered to cover this. Troy’s final and complete letter will be available to MEARS Members as part of the LOO Library/Jersey Census, but we thought we’d carve out some time and editorial space for the general collecting public as well.
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this offered jersey is referred to as a 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers Jackie Robinson Home Jersey. I was not presented with the actual jersey, but rather full color 1:1 scale plates in order to perform imagery and trend analysis. The jersey was purchased by the submitter in the December 2001 Leland’s Vintage Sports Auction as Lot # 791. Although the lot description states that the jersey comes with a letter from Mrs. Jackie Robinson, no such letter or copy of a letter was provided to me at the time of this evaluation. This same auction featured a number of other items sourced from Rachel Robinson as well.
In comparing these color plates with period reference information and that includes team yearbooks and photographs, dated period photographs and actual period examples of other Rawlings products, I offer the following noted observations:
COMPARISON WITH OTHER 1952 BROOKLYN DODGER’S JERSEYS
With respect to other 1952 Brooklyn Dodger’s jerseys in the MEARS Data Base: (NOTE: Having an item captured in the MEARS data base does not confirm or deny the authenticity of an item. It only serves to provide a data point for comparative and trend analysis).
1952 Cal Abrams, Rawlings
1952 Pee Wee Reese, Rawlings
1952 Bobby Morgan, Rawlings
1952 Johnny Rutherford, Rawlings
1952 Charlie Dressen, Rawlings
1952 George Shubba, Rawlings
1952 Cookie Lavegetto, Rawlings:
1952 NO PLAYER ID, #33 non roster number, Rawlings
1952 Pee Wee Reese, Rawlings
1952 Pud Podbelian, Rawlings
1952 Joe Black, MacGregor
This seems to indicate that Rawlings was both a supplier for home and road (along with MacGregor) jerseys for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952.
All above player identified Rawlings jerseys feature the players first initial, last name and “52” chain stitched in blue thread in the outer left front tail of the jersey in order to denote player and year. The Reese and Rutherford jerseys are tagged “52-2”.
This manner of player and year identification is consistent with a photograph of Gil Hodges wearing a home jersey on 15 September 1952 as that shirt has the player and year identification of “G. Hodges 52” sewn in the same manner and location as the offered jersey and sighted examples from the same year. Period images from 1952 also support MacGregor as a supplier of road jerseys as identified by the button and font style. The provided image of Joe Black and his 1952 MacGregor road jersey are clearly not one in the same given the alignment of DODGERS and the button placement however.
The Rawlings examples also feature the Rawlings manufacturers label and single size flag tag sewn in the collar. The unknown player jersey features the same Rawlings manufacturers/size flag tag combination with only “52” chain stitched in the lower left front tail. What is not readily apparent in these examples if you happen to locate one photographed in a pervious auction offering, is the presence of an internal supplemental laundry instruction tag.
COMPARISON WITH OTHER PERIOD RAWLINGS PRODUCTS
For the purpose of comparison, I have compared this offered Robinson jersey with both a 1951 St. Louis Browns road jersey (Rawlings product) and a 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers road jersey (Rawlings product) in my oh-hand exemplar reference collection. The offered Robinson compares quite favorably to both of these with respect to all aspects of applied manufacturer’s labels, which include the supplemental laundry instruction tag sewn into the interior tail of the jersey.
With respect to the font style and manner of appliqué between the offered jersey and the 1953 Rawlings Dodgers road jersey, both feature the same style of lettering and approximate numeral size. All felt lettering and numerals are applied with a single straight stitch pattern.
The buttons are a four-hole style with raised lip which is appropriate for both Rawlings and Brooklyn Dodgers jerseys manufactured by Rawlings in this period. The Raglan sleeve style is also appropriate and consistent with other period Rawlings Dodgers jerseys.
COMMENTS ON THE SIZE OF THE JERSEY
The offered jersey is tagged and measures at a size 42. Other period Jackie Robinson jerseys seen in the MEARS Data Base Include:
1949 Home: Size 42
1950 Home: Size 42
1952 Home: Size 42
1953 Road: Size 44
Height and weight listed for Jackie Robinson in period Brooklyn Dodger Yearbooks:
1949: 5 11 ¾”, 204 lbs
1950: 5 11 ¾”, 205 lbs
1951: 5 11 ¾”, 205 lbs
1952: 5 11 ¾”, 205 lbs
1953: 5 11 ¾”, 215 lbs
Height and weight entry listed in Total Baseball for Jackie Robinson is 5, 11”, 204lbs.
What this indicates to me is that period/contemporary references seem to account for what appears to be a jersey size change for Jackie Robinson after the 1952 season. The size 42 jersey in 1952 is supported by contemporary data and would be consistent with other Robinson jerseys from this time frame as well.
In looking at the color plates for this jersey against the backdrop of the references I have mentioned, this jersey, in my opinion possess all the characteristics you would expect to find in a Rawlings 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers home jersey manufactured for use by Jackie Robinson.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com.