One of the things I enjoy most about performing evaluations is that is forces me to look at issues in detail. At any given time, I have more topics I would like to devote time to than I have the time to give them. In spending hours and hours on a single item or issue, many things become clear or better yet, new information is obtained. If there is one absolute in looking at uniforms, I have come to conclude that there are always likely to be variations. Others doing this type of work in our industry are quick to claim issues of variations, but then ask yourself, how much actual time and effort do they spend trying to actually show you what they are or what they have based their opinion on?
I was thrilled to learn I would be looking at this particular jersey as it offered me the chance to see if a variation I had noticed in looking at the 1970 World Series could be seen in other years. No, I am not talking about the change in uniforms from what the Cincinnati Reds wore in the regular season vs the post season, but just how the uniforms of Brooks Robinson were sewn as it related to player name identification. It appears now that what I saw in the 1970 World Series, can in fact be seen as far back as the 1966 season when this particular naming/player identification characteristic began.
You will notice as you read through my work, that much of the focus centers on whether this shirt is likely or not to have been worn by Brooks Robinson in the 1966 World Series. If your wondering why this is, well it’s because this is what the collector asked for in his letter to us. Specifically, his request that we ,“authenticate this Brooks Robinson shirt as his 1966 World Series game shirt” since the jersey was listed as sold by Hunt’s auction as a “Significant 1966 Brooks Robinson Baltimore Orioles home jersey with World Series attribution.”
Let’s get started…
SUBJECT: 1966 Brooks Robinson Baltimore Orioles Home Jersey
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1966 Brooks Robinson Baltimore Orioles Home Jersey or offered jersey. After a detailed visual inspection and evaluation of it using lighted magnification, a light table, UV light and references listed. I offer the following noted observations:
DATING THE JERSEY:
This jersey was offered by Hunts Auctions in November of 2008 as lot # 697. It was sourced from the same person who also provided two additional jerseys and two pairs of pants (lots 698-700) that are year tagged to 1966. This particular Brooks Robinson jersey is without any year set identification as the felt swatch below the Wilson tag has become separated from the jersey. According to lot description provided by Hunts:
“Given the jersey’s provenance and association with the two previous jerseys, we presume it once featured the same “66-3” chain stitched notation, and as such can attribute its use during the World Series play in 1966.”
While compelling, given the potential significance of this jersey, year attribution should not rest with the uniforms it was offered with. The jersey should be able speak for itself and as such, I offer the following information not provided in the original evaluation or description.
The jersey features a Wilson manufacturers label from c 1958-1966. The jersey style is post 1965 with respect to the team name design. This jersey also features the name “B. Robinson” on the back. This particular player identification using the first initial and last name began in 1966 with the Orioles acquisition of Frank Robinson from the Cincinnati Reds. I do not feel the Robinson jersey is from 1967 based on a comparison with a 1967 Gene Brabender Baltimore Orioles Home jersey in my on hand exemplar collection. The 1967 Brabender jersey features both a c1967-1973 Wilson manufacturer’s label. In addition, the year set tagging on the Brabender jersey is sewn to flannel jersey material and not felt fabric (PLATE I).
With this combination of player name identification, style of manufacturer’s label, and comparison to a 1967 Orioles home jersey, even without a year set identification is this offered jersey, I feel dating it to 1966 can be objectively accomplished.
With respect to this jersey being the same Set 3 as lots # 698 (Bunker) and #700 (Held), A 1966 Brooks Robinson jersey was offered previously in the hobby as lot # 811 of the March 1992 Richard Wolffer’s Auction. This jersey was tagged as Set 1. As such, it is reasonable to assume this offered jersey is either Set 2 or Set 3.
– All lettering and numbering on this jersey appear original. The jersey features Raglan style sleeves which are appropriate for Wilson home Orioles uniforms from this period. The jersey is tagged as a size 42 and this is also the true measured size of the jersey. The size 42 also compares favorably with these other period Brooks Robinson jerseys:
1966 Road, Spalding, size 42
1966 Home, Wilson, size 42 (Set 1; B. ROBINSON on back)
1968 Home, Wilson, size 42 (page 228 of players of Cooperstown, 1995 edition)
1969 Road, Spalding, size 42
– The orange and black soutache braid is also what you would expect to see in a Wilson product that is found on Orioles jerseys from the period. Specifically, the width and manner of appliqué compares favorably with the 1967 common on hand exemplar. The buttons, while slightly different in style from the 1967 Orioles common jersey, do compare favorably with a 1966 Atlanta Braves Gene Oliver (Wilson product) in my on-hand exemplar library. As such I consider all seven (7) buttons on this jersey to be both appropriate for the year and original to this jersey.
USE, WEAR AND CONDITION:
The offered jersey shows signs solid but not excessive or abusive use or wear. This is evident in the gathering behind all lettering and numbering. Gathering is also present around the flannel fabric and the soutache braid on the sleeves and the collar area. The body anchor stitching features a few but consistent breaks, most notably being as the right Raglan sleeve is joined to the body of the jersey. The felt swatch that once featured the year & set identification below the Wilson manufacturers label has become separated, but enough of the fabric remains present to determine its one time placement and that it was in fact felt and not flannel material as seen in 1967. The jersey is free from stains or repairs of any kind. At the time of this evaluation, there was no writing or autograph on the jersey.
PROVENANCE AND WORLD SERIES ATTRIBUTION:
This offered jersey was sourced by the family of Paul Thiebaut Sr and it is said that Mr. Thiebaut was a scout for the Baltimore Orioles and obtained this offered jersey and lot #s 698-700 shortly after the World Series. It appears that Mr. Thiebaut may have been more than a scout for the Orioles. Period newspapers identify a Paul Thiebaut as the manager for the Orioles team in the Peninsula Winter League (PWL) as well. As such I feel the provenance offered with this jersey is both reasonable and verifiable. As mentioned previously, this uniform is without any year and set identification. Hunt’s mentions the jerseys of Wally Bunker and Woody Held as being Set 3 and therefore “bolsters the provenance of world series play.” They also go onto state that “Teams of this era were typically issued two sets of home and road jerseys.”
This theory of teams only getting two sets of uniforms is not something I feel holds up under objective scrutiny. Examples of jerseys tagged as Set 3 can be found in the 1950s and in non-World Series Seasons. My exemplar library includes an all original Chicago Cubs road Wilson product from 1960 tagged 20-1960-3-42. We also know that this practice of having access to more than two uniforms can be seen as far back as the 1930s.
An article in March 15th 1930 Saturday evening edition of the Syracuse Herald states that “It cost the Detroit baseball club more than $6000 to uniform the Tigers for this seasons play” and that “the Tigers sartorial purchase included 120 complete uniforms and 35 coats. Each player will have two home and two road uniforms and their will be sufficient replacements in the stock room to care for any emergences that may arise.” The article goes on to say that “Players used to get by on two uniforms but the modern fan demands neatness of appearance as well as performance and untidy players quickly are called by umpires who always have the welfare of the laundry business at heart.”
If the assumption is made that the Set 3 Baltimore Orioles jerseys were ordered specifically for the World Series, then the use and wear on this uniform would not support that claim especially if they were obtained shortly after the World Series. I am not disputing when the jersey was obtained, but rather that it needs to be a Set 3 and only Set 3 jerseys were worn in the World Series. In fairness to Hunts, this is not something they claimed outright, but their World Series attribution rests very heavily on the “Set 3” issue. The Orioles played both Game 3 (8 Oct 1966) and Game 4 (9 Oct 1966) at home. I don’t think it reasonable to assume that both games were played in the same jersey or that only one set, in this case Set 3 was the only one available for use and wear. Remember the pants (Lot # 699) appear to have been obtained at the same time and both are tagged as Set 1 products. The Held jersey (Lot # 700) is said to “exhibit evident use with no significant structural flaws other than minor fraying to the piping at the back of the collar; a few minor holes, and the aforementioned set tag.” The lot description goes on to acknowledge that Held did not play in the 1966 World Series so that use and wear have to be attributed at least in part to use either before or after the World Series.
I have always found event specific attribution is best evaluated using event specific images. In this case we would be looking for images from Games 3 and 4 of the 1966 World Series. For this evaluation, those included images found in 1967 Street & Smith Baseball Annual, various reference books on the World Series, Brooks Robinson and Baltimore Oriole references and actual film footage from the 1966 World Series. In addition, I also personally checked the player photograph files at the National Baseball Hall of Fame for both Brooks and Frank Robinson as well as the event file for the 1966 World Series.
PLATE II: The image found both in the 1967 Street and Smith Baseball Annual and on page 186 of “The World Series: An Encyclopedia of the Fall Classic” by Josh Leventhal is in my opinion, inconclusive with respect to making definitive World Series attribution. The alignment of the #5 alone does not preclude this offered jersey from being worn in the 1966 World Series because of both the body angle of Brooks Robinson and what appears to a shift in the fabric.
PLATE III: The alignment of the front numeral “5” does appear correct with respect to at least one photographic reference from 1966 as provided in the 1967 Street and Smith Baseball Annual. This further supports year attribution to 1966 despite the lack of a year set tag in this offered jersey.
PLATE IV: This plate features captured film footage from the 1966 World Series and is also from Game 4. The footage shows Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell warming up. This comes between time marks 31:10 and 31:16 and this footage does not readily indicate the presence of a “period” between the “B” and “R” in Robinson. As such, this would seem to preclude the offered jersey as being worn in Game 4 on 9 October 1966.
PLATE V: Images from the end of Game 4 also do not readily show a period between the “B” and the “R” in Robinson. This image is not as conclusive as the video because of the distance, angle, and possibility of material folds that could obscure the “period.” However, this is consistent with what pre-game images also seem to indicate and further seems to preclude this offered jersey from having been worn in Game 4 of the 1966 World Series.
This same body of film footage also shows Bob Johnson without an apparent period between his first initial and last names in Game 4. (There were also two Johnson’s on the 1966 Orioles; Bob #2 and Davy # 15.
PLATE: VI This photograph is from Game 3 (8 October 1966). The alignment of the front numeral “5” does not appear to be consistent with the offered jersey. Other numerals in the same image show a similar alignment to the one that Brooks Robinson is wearing in this photograph.
PLATE: VII This photograph shows Davy Johnson in Game 3 (8 October 1966) and is offered to highlight that when the “period” is present between the first initials of the first and last name, that is can be seen.
A review of footage from Game 3 (8 October 1966) does not appear to offer anything conclusive with respect to either the absence or presence of a “period” between the “B” and the “R” in Robinson for Brooks Robinson.
PLATE: VIII This image is from page 92 of “The Explosives Sixties”and is dated to 24 August 1966. This photograph shows no apparent “period” between the “B” and “R” in Robinson.
PLATE:IX This image is from the 1967 Baltimore Orioles home opener. You can see it features both “period” and “non-period” style name lettering conventions.
Based on the player identification naming convention and manufacturer’s label, the jersey is dated to the 1966 season. The provenance for this uniform appears to be both reasonable and verifiable. It also appears that Brooks Robinson Baltimore Orioles home jerseys worn in 1966 can be found in two variations; one with a period between the “B” and the “R” in Robinson and one without. It also appears that this trend can be seen at the start of the 1967 season as well. This opens the possibility that the jerseys worn by the Orioles late in 1966 may not have been part of the regular season order.
This regular season order may have included 3 sets. I base this off of other clubs having ordered three sets of uniforms as previously mentioned. Also, with the change in styles in 1966, the Orioles would not have been able to bring a set forward from 1965 in order to reach this number of uniforms. This may also explain the use and wear on the set 3 Held jersey since he did not play in the 1966 World Series.
It does not appear that this offered jersey was likely worn in Game 4 of the 1966 World Series based on the apparent absence of the “period” as part of the naming convention. It also does not appear the offered jersey was worn in Game 3 based on the alignment of the numeral with respect the script “Orioles.” As such, I can not make any definitive or objective claim that this jersey was worn in the 1966 World Series.
All of this leads me to believe this offered jersey was worn by Brooks Robinson during the regular season of 1966 and is in fact all original with the exception of the missing year/set identification swatch.
MEARS Auth, LLC
Enclosures: Plates I-IX
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