It never gets any easier to give a collector bad news. As with any opinion I offer, my goal is to objectively show the person submitting the item why I had the opinion I did and what it was based on. I work to convey the information in such a manner that they can see these things for themselves. No one enjoys being told the jersey they submitted was something much less than what they thought it was. They like it even less when what they are being told appears to be based solely off “because I said so.”
I had high hopes for this Drysdale flannel when Troy called to say it was enroute. I asked the same basic questions I do all the time, what is the year and is it a home or road. Doesn’t seem like much, but really this is all I care to know up front. Using this as point of departure, I begin to gather references and research material in order to build a template if you will, on what I should expect to see. Unfortunately, when I opened the box, I quickly realized my expectations and the hopes of the submitter would not be met.
One of the issues I addressed in my opinion was the fabric used for the jersey body. I felt it both necessary and responsible to go to some lengths to show why this was problematic, especially in light of a description offered for a similar period flannel jersey via a major auction house. With respect to fabric, the authenticator offered that “the jersey itself is a heavyweight, course wool flannel, which is more germane to the late 1940s than the 1950s, but was still used in the 1950s. The Dodgers were one of the major league clubs which still retained high wool content in its flannel blend through their tenure in New York”. Not only was this information incorrect, but it was offered without any specific objective references or method of assessment.
This is not so much a commentary on the auction house that offered the jersey or the person they employ in the capacity of providing those opinions. Rather, it is a commentary on what should constitute a responsible level of work and supporting details, especially if you include fabric analysis as part of the basis of your opinion.
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.
SUBJECT: 1959 Don Drysdale Los Angeles Dodgers Road Jersey
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1959 Don Drysdale Los Angeles Dodgers 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 problematic observations:
Size: The jersey is without any sort of size tag or supplemental annotation. This is in itself problematic when compared to other period 1959 Dodger road jerseys. The measured size of the jersey is approximately a size 50. For period reference, I used the 1958 LA Dodgers team yearbook which shows Drysdale at 6’, 6”, 194 lbs and the 1961 Street and Smith Baseball yearbook which shows Drysdale at 6’, 6”, 216 lbs.
Other period Drysdale flannel jerseys in the MEARS data base indicate:
1958, Home, Wilson: Size 44
1958, Road, Wilson: Size 44
1960, Home, Rawlings: Size 46
1961, Road, Spalding: Size 46
As such, I would have expected to see a jersey in the size 44-46 range.
Manufacturer/Construction: The offered jersey is identified as Spalding product by the manufacturer’s label and laundry instructions in the lower left tail. The jersey is made of extremely heavy wool flannel and the body lacks any sort of taper. The jersey also only features a five (5) button front. All of this is atypical when compared to these 1959 LA Dodgers road jerseys in the MEARS data base:
1959 Road, MacGregor (Roger Craig, from his personal collection)
1959 Road, Spalding (Roger Craig, from his personal collection)
1959 Road, Spalding (Larry Sherry, from his personal collection)
1959 Road, Spalding, Ed Robuck
In addition, all three of the 1959 Spalding products above featured a size flag sewn next to the Spalding tag. Likewise all three of them featured Raglan sleeves and this offered jersey features set-in sleeves. The MacGregor jersey also featured Raglan sleeves.
The blue braid running along the button line on the 1959 Dodger road exemplars runs to the bottom of the jersey. On the offered jersey, it ends just below the 5th (bottom button) with some 9 ½” of material left unbraided.
The buttons on the offered jersey are solid gray, two- hole style that are not consistent with the above exemplars nor can be found in period images. These are not the same style of two- hole buttons found on MacGregor products.
The weight of the fabric is extremely heavy and atypical for a professional grade product from this time period. The offered jersey weighs approximately 18 ½” ounces. A similar sized Ted Kluszewski Rawlings product, tagged and measured at a similar size 50 weighs, approximately 12 ounces. The fabric of the offered jerseys was also compared to period professional grade major league jerseys in my on-hand reference collection including:
– a 1958 McAuliffe product
– a 1959 Macgregor product
– a 1960 Wilson product
– a 1960 Spalding product
In all cases, the weave and texture of the offered jersey was not consistent with any of these other period professional grade uniforms. I have provided a side by side fabric comparison as seen under a digital microscope between the offered jersey and a 1960 Spalding professional grade road jersey. As expected, the professional grade jersey shows a much tighter weave pattern per cm. (PLATE II)
Aside from the pervious mentioned uniforms, references used to style match/evaluate this jersey include:
BE061403 Drysdale, 8 Oct 1959; Raglan sleeves
BE061742 Drysdale, 29 Aug 1959; six (6) buttons visible
77829813 Drysdale, 1 Jan 1960; button style and placement
Team Specific Print References:
The Los Angeles Dodgers: Images of Baseball by Mark Langill
The Dodgers Encyclopedia by William F. McNeil
Baseball’s Great Dynasties: The Dodgers by Peter C. Bjarkman
General Baseball Reference:
Baseball in the 1950s by Donald Honig
The National League: An Illustrated History by Donald Honig
Supplemental Player Identification: The supplemental identification for this jersey is chain stitched in blue, being located in the lower left front tail and reads “Drysdale, Set 1 1959”. By way of comparison:
1959 Road, MaGgregor, Roger Craig: “Craig” chain stitched in the collar.
1959 Road, Spalding, Roger Craig: “59” chain stitched in tail.
1959 Road, Spalding, Larry Sherry: “L. Sherry 59” chain stitched in tail.
1959 Road, Spalding, Ed Robuck: “Robuck 59” chain stitched in tail.
Of interest to note is that MEARS Cert #305879 is for a 1959 Gil Hodges road jersey evaluated in February of 2007 that is also a size 50, five (5) button front jersey tagged and constructed almost identical, to include sleeve design and lack of size identification to this jersey. That jersey was deemed Unable to Authenticate.
Use and Wear: The jersey shows no visible signs of any use or wear. The felt lettering and numbers are made from an atypical thin felt fabric that remains firm and stiff. There is no aging or cracking to the backside of the felt on either the numbering or lettering.
Provenance: The jersey were said to have originated from a former major league umpire. This could not be confirmed.
Evaluation Findings: Based on my physical examination of this jersey, supporting data, images, and PLATES I-II it is my opinion that this jersey does not posses the characteristics you would expect to find in a 1959 Los Angeles Dodgers road uniform manufactured by Spalding for use by Don Drysdale. No grade is assigned and the jersey is deemed as being Unable to Authenticate as such.
MEARS Auth, LLC