Folks often ask what I look for and how do I look at things that I am considering adding to my own collection. The answer is very simple. I look at them in the same way I do the items that are sent to me for my opinion. While I have never offered an opinion on a cap for MEARS, I thought this recent pick up of mine might provide an opportunity to address a few things of interest to collectors. The bottom line is you should be comfortable with the items you acquire and I am no different than you in that respect. I purchased this cap and a 1940s Red cap of Bill Baker with the understanding that if I did not like what I saw, I was free to return them with no questions asked.
I will be the first to admit that caps can be tough, especially since many of them only offer had written annotations to denote the player in question. Then there is the issue of size. Caps don’t seem to have survived in the same quantizes as jerseys, thus making data sampling and trend analysis a bit more difficult. Cap sizing and the considerations involved are also a bit different than jerseys as well as I hope you will see.
For me, I asked some detailed questions up front and began my research before the cap arrived. The goal being to have already formed in my own mind “what right should look like.” I would recommend this methodology to collectors for a number of reasons. First it permits you to make a timely purchase decision so you are not tying up your money. More importantly, it helps to prevent you from “talking yourself into” an item that you have long been after. The pre-evaluation research was facilitated by my own personal reference library and contacts I have made and maintained in the “Reds” community over the years; two things that I recommend you explore along the lines of whatever it is you collect.
In the end, I decided to purchase this cap because I was comfortable with what I saw along the lines of using the word CAPS:
Company of manufacturer.
Ability to year date.
Photographic support for style and variations relative to the team in question.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com
SUBJECT: Ted Kluszewski 1955 Cincinnati Reds Cap
Manufacturer/Construction: The offered cap was manufactured by Wilson as seen by manufacturer’s label. The cap features a dating code of HWC stamped on the inside of the cloth sweat band.
WILSON CAP CODING
For caps manufactured for professional clubs, Wilson stamped a three-letter code inside/underside of the sweatband. This code was used to designate when the caps were manufactured.
The first letter was used to designate the last digit for the year of manufacture:
The second letter represented the month of manufacture:
Third Letter is “C” for Cap.
A similar style cap was worn by the Cleveland Indians from 1958-1964. As such a dating code for 1955 or 1965 would seem to preclude this from being a Cleveland Indians offering. Thus this cap was manufactured in April of 1955 for use and wear during the 1955 season since this was the only year ending in a “5” that this style cap was worn by Cincinnati. (PLATE II)
Cap Style: This style of cap was worn by the Cincinnati Reds during the 1954-1955 time frame. The style is distinguished from pervious years offering in that the design/cut of the “C” as well as the color scheme. Caps worn by the Redleg’s prior to 1954-1955 did not feature the “C” trimmed in white as with this cap. With respect to caps from this period of the early to mid 1950s, you will also find variations with respect to how the letter “C” is both cut and affixed to the cap. This is not unique to Cincinnati Reds caps and was something I addressed in my article for MEARS On-Line on June 10th 2009 titled “Hats off to Cap Collectors.”
The cap is of six panel construction with eight (8) stitching lines within the bill. The front two panels of the caps interior feature reinforced sections of fabric that are different from the other blue wool panels. This can be confirmed by period images with Kluszewski from 1955 as being appropriate. (PLATE III) This appropriate for Reds caps of this period.
References used to style match this cap included:
-1954 Redleg News, VOL XIX, Nos 1-9
-1955 Redleg News, VOL XX, Nos 1-8
-1954 Cincinnati Red Stocking Team Yearbook
-1955 Cincinnati Redlegs Team Yearbook
-1956 Cincinnati Redlegs Team Yearbook
(Team Specific References)
-The Cincinnati Reds: An Illustrated History by Donald Honig
-The Cincinnati Reds: A Pictorial History of Professional Baseball’s Oldest team by Ritter Collett
-The Cincinnati Reds Scrapbook by Bob Rathgerber
-The Reds in Black & White by Mark Stang and Greg Rhodes
-Crosley Field: Images of Baseball by Irwin J. Cohen
-Indians Illustrated: 100 Years of Cleveland Indians Photos by Mark Stang
-The Cleveland Indians Encyclopedia by Russell Schneider
-Baseball in the 1950s: An Illustrated History by Donald Honig
-The National League: An Illustrated History by Donald Honig
-The American League: An An Illustrated History by Donald Honig
Attributing this cap to Ted Kluszewski: The cap features the name “KLU” written in faded laundry marker on the inside crown and the number “18” is also written on the underside of the bill. The number “18” is the number Kluszewski wore with the Cincinnati Reds during the time frame that this cap was manufactured. In some cases for caps of this period, you will find a players name or uniform number sewn into the cap. (PLATE III) For others, hand written annotations had to suffice. This can be attributed to the fact that caps were issued to players in far greater quantity than uniforms and throughout the season as needed. According to an article in The Morning Herald, Hagerstown, MD from January 29th 1954 and an interview with major league cap supplier Tim McAuliffe:
“The average major league player, he (McAuliffe) explains, wears out or loses an average of 10 caps per season, but the members of the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers use 15 caps per head per year. They apparently are within easier reach of fans who grab player’s caps.”
The size of this cap is 7 ¼ as indicated by both the stampings and flag tags on the interior of the cap. Other Kluszewski caps I compared this to with respect to size are those from his coaching days in the 1970s with the Cincinnati, one of which came directly from the Reds 580 Gift shop. Both of those later year caps were a size 7 ½. As a means of illustration:
Cap Size and Circumference
7 1/4 or 22 5/8 inches (or 181 8ths inches)
7 3/8 or 23 inches (or 184 8ths inches)
7 ½ or 23 ½ inches (or 188 8ths inches)
1954 Ted Kluszewski Reds Cincinnati Home Jersey: Size 46
1971 Ted Kluszewski Cincinnati Reds Home Jersey: Size 50
While I am in no way suggesting that jersey size should be seen as a definitive and comparable sizing metric for caps, this is offered to highlight what a two size cap difference actually means. This especially is important when we have to account for time, weight loss or gain, hair length, personal comfort and actual fit of the individual cap at the time of issuance.
I am using percentages as this allows us to compare the relationship of the significance between a difference of two sizes for caps and jerseys.
The difference between a size 46 and size 50 jersey is roughly four inches across the chest. The difference between a size 7 ¼ and 7 ½ cap is 7/8th of an inch.
4 inches is roughly 8.6% of a size 46 jersey.
4 inches is roughly 8% of size 50 jersey.
7/8th of an inch is roughly 3.8 % of a size 7 ¼ cap.
7/8th of an inch is roughly 3.7% of a size 7 ½ cap.
As such a two size difference in caps is less significant than a two size difference in jerseys. As mentioned previously, cap sizes may be subject to fluctuation based on a variety of factors. With all this in mind, I consider a size 7 ¼ cap to be considered an appropriate size for consideration for Ted Kluszewski in 1955.
Allowance for Variations:
Allowance for variations includes more than just size. In the article I wrote titled “Hats Off the Cap Collectors” I touched on this with respect to crest and logo design and construction. In looking at this cap and images from the 1955 season, particularly those from the 1956 Cincinnati Redlegs team yearbook this seems to hold true. What is also interesting to note, is some of these variations for 1955 Cincinnati Redlegs uniforms and equipment are not limited to slight variations in the cut, shape or width of the “wishbone C”. They include a significant variation to the one year sleeve patch worn by in 1955. The two versions include a rare early season variation that is square and not custom shaped. (PLATE IV & V).
Provenance: The cap was offered for evaluation with no form of provenance.
Evaluation Findings: Based on my physical examination of this cap, supporting data, references, images, and PLATES I-V, it is my opinion that it possesses all of the characteristics you would expect to find in a 1955 Cincinnati Redlegs cap manufactured by Wilson for use by Ted Kluszewski.
MEARS Auth, LLC