Last week I wrote about a jersey that was sent to us by Rob Lifson at Robert Edwards Auction. The jersey that is the subject of this article came to us the same way. Over the years I have written roughly 20 or so pieces dealing with individual evaluations of uniforms. Of that number roughly half of them have been about items that were problematic. The actual % of good to bad items that I have looked at is not that high, but I tend to cover the problematic items more often than not for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they usually provide some potentially helpful points that collectors can use themselves in their own work. Secondly, because there is a very good chance the item will show up again at some later point in time.
We have seen such items offered with the knowledge of a negative opinion from MEARS either not disclosed or in some cases, conscious efforts have been made to mask this such as removal of a hologram or only listing partial information from a worksheet or letter. None of this is meant to imply that we are infallible or that anyone is forced to accept our opinion. It just seems very odd that collectors tend not lose the information provided on items that appear problem free as opposed to those we have taken issue with.
Working with Rob Lifson at Robert Edwards Auction has been a both a personal and professional pleasure. I have never had a single instance of dealing with him and conveying a less than glowing report about an item and have to had worried about him trying to get me to change my opinion or soften my language. I can say that this has not always been the case of his peers in the auction house segment of this industry.
While others have hidden or masked a negative opinion from MEARS, Rob has gone out of his way to encourage the publication of our findings. He has even gone to the trouble of doing this himself as was the case with the 1992 Michael Jordan Olympic Jersey.
With that being said, let’s take a look at a jersey you won’t find in the next Robert Edwards Auction, but you may see it again someplace else…
SUBJECT: 1964 Al Kaline Detroit Tigers Road Jersey
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1964 Al Kaline Detroit Tigers Road Jersey. After a detailed visual inspection and evaluation of this jersey using lighted magnification, a light table, UV light and references listed (including a 1965 Detroit Tigers road jersey (all original) manufactured by MacGregor in my on hand exemplar library), I offer the following noted problematic observations:
Jersey Size: The jersey is tagged with a 1961-1967 MacGregor manufacturer’s label and as a size 42. This is consistent with other period Kaline flannel jerseys in the MEARS data base:
1964 Road, MacGregor: Size 42
1967 Home, Wilson: Size 42
This jersey however measures out to be a size 46 jersey. Contemporary data on Kaline from Street & Smith Baseball Annuals show him as being:
1964: 6’, 2”, 180 lbs
1965: 6’, 1”, 185 lbs
1967: 6’, 1”, 185 lbs
As such, a size 46 jersey, even if properly tagged, would appear a bit large for him at this period.
Construction/Style: This jersey is without any numeral on the right sleeve or signs that any was ever present. According to “The Detroit Tigers: An Illustrated History” by Joe Falls (Walker & Company 1989), “The new 1960 road uniform dropped all piping trim and resurrected the plain block-lettered DETROIT from the turn of the century. The uniform number was repeated on the right sleeve of the road shirts.” This is supported by period images as well. Print references that will confirm this include but are not limited to:
1964 Street & Smith Baseball Annual: Pages 45,52
1965 Street & Smith Baseball Annual: Pages 39, 54
Detroit Aces: The First 75 Years by Mark Rucker: Page 118
Detroit Sluggers: The First 75 Years by Mark Rucker: Page 126
In addition to the issue of the missing supplemental numeral, the stitching for the lettering and numbering on the jersey does not compare favorably with other period MacGregor products in my on hand exemplar reference library:
1959 Cleveland Indians Road Jersey
1960 Pittsburgh Pirates Road Jersey
1961 Cincinnati Reds Road Jersey
1965 Detroit Tigers Road Jersey
1965 Washington Senators Home
1966 Cincinnati Reds Home
1967 Cincinnati Reds Home
The other thing this sampling of MacGregor products does is enables me to check consistency of size as a manufacturer’s product for non-vest style jerseys such as this offered jersey.
1959 Cleveland Indians Road Jersey: Tagged size 46, Measured size 46.
1965 Detroit Tigers Road Jersey: Tagged size 44, Measured size 44.
1965 Washington Senators Home: Tagged size 40, Measured size 40.
1967 Cincinnati Reds Home: Tagged size 46, Measured size 46.
I point this out to counter any such assertion that MacGregor products from the 1960s ran large with respect to size as compared to other manufacturers.
Based on the aforementioned problematic observations, it is my opinion that this jersey can not be authenticated as a 1964 Al Kaline Detroit Tigers Road Jersey.
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com