Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite styles of flannel jerseys. Something about the gray body, the ornate felt Tomahawk logo, numbers on the front and the old “war bonnet” patch. All of these only existed from 1953-1956 since before 1953 there were no numbers on the front of the Braves jerseys, and after 1956, the patch changed. For me, baseball in the 1950s has to include Warren Spahn on some level. That classic windup, arms stretching skyward only to be brought down and masked behind the right leg, then coming forward with the hands in a tight package. Throughout the decade of the 1950s, only twice did Spahn fail to win 20 or more games; all this for a guy who turned 30 in 1951. Spahn would close out the decade stronger than he began by leading the NL league in complete games and wins from 1957-1961…yep, your math is right as he was 40 at the time.
I truly relish the time I’m afforded to spend time with rare artifacts such as this. While I have business responsibility to both MEARS and the customer to ensure they both can objectively see and understand the basis for my opinion, I also try to convey information that hopefully allows others to both learn from and enjoy the process I find myself engrossed in. Looking at this jersey was a delight, which unfortunately is not always the case with uniforms I am sent. I hope you enjoy reading this evaluation as much as I did preparing it. For the winning bidder of this jersey in the next MEARS Auction, I offer both my congratulations and envious admiration.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions and comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com
SUBJECT: 1954 Warren Spahn Milwaukee Braves Road Jersey
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1954 Warren Spahn Milwaukee Braves 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:
Size: The jersey is tagged as a size 42 and this is the true measured size of the jersey. The 1954 Milwaukee Braves team yearbook lists Spahn at 6’, 175lbs.
Other Spahn flannel or period jerseys in the MEARS data base indicate:
1948, Home Satin, Boston Braves, Horace Partridge: Size 42
1949, Home, Boston Braves, Horace Partridge: Size 42
1953, Home, Milwaukee Braves, Horace Partridge: Size 42
1953, Road, Milwaukee Braves, Horace Partridge: Size 42
1955, Home, Milwaukee Braves, Wilson: Size 42
1960, Home, Milwaukee Braves, Wilson: Size 42
1962, Home, Milwaukee Braves, Wilson: Size 42
As such, I consider a size 42 to be an appropriate size for Warren Spahn.
Manufacturer/Construction: The offered jersey is identified as a Wilson product by the manufacturers tag and Wilson type laundry instructions sewn into the lower outer left tail. The period of Wilson manufacturers tag is from the period of c 1943-1954. This is a transition period for Wilson tagging so I would have expected to find either this style tag or the yellow square version that contain the jersey as size.
The jersey features a correct and original period Talon zipper which remains fully functional. The jersey is constructed with raglan style sleeves which is also period correct. The underarm fabric is made of a cotton elastic material as opposed to the vent hole construction found in other period jerseys. This same style of fabric can be found in a 1954 Chicago White Sox home jersey (manufactured by Wilson) of Matt Batts.
The jersey features the number 21 on the front left lower chest. This is appropriate and can be confirmed by examining Milwaukee Brave team yearbooks from the 1953-1955 period which I did. The felt used for the numbering and the lettering is without any sort of backing. This is also consistent with the 1954 White Sox Wilson product in my on-hand exemplar library.
The jersey also features the “Brave in War Bonnet” patch on the left sleeve. This patch is period correct and original to the jersey. Provided is a side by side comparison with a modern replica. These replica patches often find their way on vintage uniforms or forgeries. This is not the case with this jersey. The patch also compares very favorably with sleeve patches on the 1950 and 1952 Boston Braves jerseys in my on-hand exemplar library as this style patch was worn by the Milwaukee Braves from 1953-1956. (PLATE IV)
The offered jersey features a red over navy soutache (narrow flat decorative braid) around the collar and down the front of the jersey. This same soutache is found at the end of each sleeve. This too appears to be period correct and is original to the jersey.
References used to style match/evaluate this jersey include:
U1260727INP (Spahn, rear numerals)
U1065631 (Bobby Thomson, front lettering/crest style & font)
1954 Milwaukee Braves Team Yearbook
1955 Milwaukee Braves Team Yearbook
1955 Dell Baseball Annual
The Braves Encyclopedia by Gary Caruso (pp78-81)
The Milwaukee Braves by Bob Buege
The Baseball Scrapbook by Peter C. Bjarkman (Spahn front numerals, p153)
The National League by Donald Honig
Baseball in the 50s by Donald Honig
Supplemental Player Identification: Supplemental player identification for Warren Spahn is provided on this jersey in the form of “Spahn 54” chain stitched in red thread on white felt swatch in the lower left front tail. This tag is in immediate proximity to the manufacturers label, size tag, and laundry instructions. Period images confirm that this location and combination of tags to be period appropriate. The “Spahn 54” was examined in detail under UV lighting. The fabric appears period correct. The only thing the UV lighting revealed was some soiling to the laundry instructions that are not readily apparent to the naked eye. (PLATE III)
Use and Wear: I would categorize the use and wear on this jersey as moderate. The wear to the fabric of the body is uniform. The rear upper two thirds of the jersey show fairly heavy signs of thread pulls. They appear uniform in nature and end at the point were you would expect to see the jersey tucked into the pants. This in all likelihood may have been caused by repeated contact or rubbing with surface associated with a bench or dugout wall. These do not detract from the appearance or condition of the jersey in any manner. The external wear to the external felt lettering and numbering is consistent with the rest of the uniform and the gathering on the underside of the numerals, lettering and shoulder patch is also consistently moderate. The collar area shows slight signs of seam stressing and separation in two areas. This too is not a detractor, but is consistent with the overall condition of the rest of the jersey.
Provenance: The jersey was offered with provenance provided by a Mr. Ed Quinn who states that it was acquired by his mother while employed by the Milwaukee Braves as a switchboard operator. Mr. Quinn goes on to state that he served as a Braves bat boy from 1958-1961. Mr. Quinn has provided notarized letters to this effect. I consider this provenance to be both reasonable and verifiable because Mr. Quinn can in fact be found pictured in Milwaukee Braves team photographs from 1959 and 1960.
Evaluation Findings: Based on my physical examination of this jersey, supporting data, images, and PLATES I-IV, it is my opinion that this jersey posses all of the characteristics you would expect to find in a 1954 Milwaukee Braves road jersey manufactured by Wilson for use by Warren Spahn. For Pre-1987 jerseys, the MEARS grading metric begins at base grade of 10 with five (5) major categories for consideration when looking to codify deductions. With the use being both moderate and finding this jersey to compare very favorably with the cited references, coupled with the fact that it is in all original condition, I found no objective reason for any point deductions. At the time of my inspection, there was not writing on this jersey. Final Grade for this offered jersey bearing SCD Cert # 258491 is A10.
MEARS Auth, LLC