This shirt was something special for me to look at as one of my long time collecting goals is to obtain a home and road flannel for each team in each city they wore them in. For the Braves, this would include offerings from Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. What was special about this jersey is that it was worn by the only Braves player to have played with the club in all three of these cities. Shirts like these make me think along the lines of collecting and collecting themes. A 1966 Eddie Mathews Atlanta Braves road jersey would fit these niches:
-Post War Hall of Famers or Hall of Fame players in general.
-Members of the 500 Home Run Club.
-Members of the original Home Run Derby Series.
-First year team styles.
The jersey and the supporting work also highlights some of the things I have written about with respect to teams having multiple suppliers in a given year as well as identifying manufacturers’ characteristic’s to confirm this. It also reinforces what I have been saying about what constitutes a proper “style match.”
Getting back to the player and jersey at hand, I have always thought that Mathews was an under-appreciated player and his memorabilia under-valued. My hope is that as baseball historians and collectors begin to reflect back on the careers of players like Mathews within the context of the “steroid issue”, they begin to see him and his memorabilia in a more appreciative and valued light. Here’s a guy who averaged just over 30 home runs a season for 17 years when the likes of Drysdale, Koufax, Gibson, Roberts, Marichal, Jenkins, Bunning and Perry ruled National League mounds. How special was Eddie Mathews? I guess that question might be best asked to the person at Sports Illustrated who made the decision to feature him on cover # 1 back on August 16th 1954.
In my mind this jersey is special for any number of reasons and it is always a privilege and joy to be afforded the opportunity to examine a uniform of a true sports icon.
As always, enjoy what you collect and collect what you enjoy.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com
SUBJECT: 1966 Eddie Mathews Atlanta Braves Road Jersey
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1966 Eddie Mathews Atlanta 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 44 and this is the true measured size of the jersey. The 1966 Street and Smith Baseball yearbook lists Eddie Mathews at 6’, 1” and 200 lbs. This is also the same size listed for him in those publications for years 1961, 1963, 1964, and 1965.
Other Mathews’ flannel jerseys in the MEARS data base indicate:
1959 Braves Road, Wilson, Size 44
1961 Braves Road, Wilson, Size 44
1963 Braves Road, Macgregor, Size 44
1964 Braves Home, Wilson, Size 42
1965 Braves Road, Macgregor, Size 42
1966 Braves Road, Rawlings, Size 44 (Offered Jersey)
As such, I consider a size 44 to be an appropriate size for Mathews.
Manufacturer/Construction: The offered jersey is constructed with raglan sleeves and features seven (7) four-hole charcoal buttons. This is consistent what you would expect to see in a Rawlings product as opposed to the two hole Macgregor style buttons. This is an important characteristic since MacGregor also supplied road jerseys to the Atlanta Braves at the time this style was worn (1966-1967). The offered jersey correctly features the navy blue piping along the collar and button line which was discontinued in 1968. The font style, with special attention to the cut or finish of the “S” in Braves is also correct and helps to distinguish this jersey from a road MacGregor or style worn a Wilson product. These are all features that can be seen a previously examined 1966 Braves road jersey of Felipe Alou. For comparative purposes of manufacturers, it was also compared to a 1966 Braves home jersey manufactured by Wilson and a 1966 Cincinnati Reds home jersey manufactured by MacGregor in my on-hand exemplar library.
For confirmation of style matching of this 1966 Braves Road, please see:
# 50987130 & # 3429745 (Eddie Mathews)
#80586094 (Hank Aaron)
#50987269 (Phil Neikro-MacGregor product for comparison)
The spatial alignment of the lettering and the numerals on the front of the jersey are also consistent with the referenced dated images of Mathews cited above from 1966. (PLATES II-III)
Corbis Images: U1516753 (Hank Aaron)
1967 Atlanta Braves Team Yearbook (Wilson home font style for 1966)
Baseball in Atlanta by Paul Crater (p 97)
The Braves Encyclopedia by Gary Caruso (p97)
Featured on the right sleeve is an original “Screaming Brave” patch. This is not a modern replica as can been seen in the side by side comparison provided (PLATE IV)
The shirt features c 1963-1972 Rawlings manufacturers label in the outer left front tail as well as an appropriate Rawlings large box tag for laundry instructions found below the manufacturer’s label. The manufacturer’s tagging does not include a year/set flag tag. This is consistent with the previously examined 1966 Alou Braves road jersey.
Supplemental Player Identification: Sewn through only the first collar fold is a gray felt swatch with “Mathews” and “1966 1” for player, year and set. No player’s name is affixed to the back of the jersey and there are no signs that a name was ever present. This is correct and as should be expected.
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. Light but definite soiling can be seen, most pronounced under UV lighting in the left outer right collar and the back left shoulder area. These do not detract from the appearance or condition of the jersey in any manner. The external wear to the external twill 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. Thread pulls with the body and with respect to the anchor stitching to the lettering, numerals and patch are also moderate. Minor fraying to the bottom of the navy blue braid is present and expected given the overall condition of the rest of the jersey. The braid remains fully anchored and is without frays, tears, or pulls throughout the rest of the jersey.
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 1966 Atlanta Braves road jersey manufactured by Rawlings for use by Eddie Mathews in 1966. 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 MEARS Cert # 302446 is A10.
MEARS Auth, LLC