I am and remain a collector at heart. The items I buy for my own collection fall into two categories; those I really like and those I think I will be able to use. When I started buying 1970s knits, there were just certain styles that I thought looked great… one of those styles being the blue Braves road knits (pre-1976). I saw a shirt that fit this profile and belonged to pitcher Buzz Capra (#47)… a well worn but all original road knit from 1974. I can remember as a kid, watching Aaron launch #714 off of Jack Billingham on Opening Day of that year dressed in this manner. When I saw this shirt, I thought, great style and what an incredible exemplar to have on hand if I’m ever asked to look at a Hank Aaron Braves road jersey from 1974…Best $250 I ever spent.
SUBJECT: 1974 Hank Aaron Atlanta Braves Road Jersey
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1974 Hank Aaron Atlanta Braves Road. After a detailed visual inspection and evaluation of this jersey using lighted magnification, a light table, UV light and references listed. I offer the following noted problematic observations:
The jersey features a c 1974-1978 Wilson manufacturers label, size 42 sewn into the rear upper back of the jersey. Player and year identification is sewn below that in red chain stitch on a dark blue double knit swatch as “44” “74”. This jersey is tagged as a size 42 but measures as a size 44. This measured size is not consistent with period Aaron jerseys or this shirt itself. When compared to these other examples of 1974 Atlanta Brave’s jerseys, this jersey is also inconsistent in these respects:
1974 Buzz Capra Road Jersey (All original on hand exemplar). Same Wilson tagging on this size 40 jersey; supplemental tagging is “74 40”.
1974 Darrel Evans Road Jersey (Leland’s Auction, NOV 1998, Lot # 585). Wilson on this size 44 jersey, supplemental tagging is “74 44”
1974 Hank Aaron Home Jersey (Color center page insert of The Braves Encyclopedia by Gary Caruso, Temple Publishing, 1995). Same Wilson tagging on this size 42 jersey; supplemental tagging is “74 44”
1974 Eddie Mathews Road Jersey (Barry Halper Auction, Lot # 2013). Wilson sized 44 jersey with supplemental tagging as “74 44 3”
Since the offered jersey is a tagged 42 and measures 44, the “44” is not consistent with the above examples in that the 40 (Capra), 44 (Evans), 42 (Aaron home), and 44 (Mathews) have those jersey with those numbers indicating size. The color of the stitching, color of swatch, sequence of numerals and their intended significance is not the same as the examples.
The Wilson manufacturers/size tag on the offered jersey also appears to have been reapplied to this uniform. Although threads are missing and there the expected open seam holes in those areas, there are also open seam holes in the areas of the tagging where stitching is in place. (PLATES 1-3)
The lettering and numbering on this offered jersey are done in white over red tackle twill. The 1974 Capra road exemplar appears to be a more cotton based twill fabric.
When compared with the above road examples and the color image of Aaron provided, you will notice that the lettering and numerals appear to be trimmed in white at the outer edges. This is not fabric, but the weave of the white thread used to affix them to the jersey. To highlight this, I have provided comparative scans of this offered jersey and the on hand 1974 Buzz Capra road jersey (both front and back). You will notice the weave on the offered jersey is not done same manner by either thread width or stitch consistency/ spacing. (PLATES 4-7)
The 1974 Braves home jerseys are also constructed in this same manner, only with the out edges appearing to be red (once again caused by the weave of the thread use to affix the lettering and numerals to the jersey). I have provided images of Hank Aaron as seen on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1974 and a collection of artifacts from that season as seen on page 164 of “Treasures of the Hall of Fame (National Baseball Hall of Fame-1998). (PLATE 8)
The numerals (both front and back) and the Braves feather are larger on the offered jersey than on the Capra as well. (PLATES 9-11)
1974 Road Capra:
Front 4: 4”
Rear 4: 7 3/8”
Feather: 6 ¼”
Front 4: 4 3/8”
Rear 4: 8 ¼”
Feather: 6 5/8”
USE AND WEAR
The offered jersey shows signs of inconsistent use and wear. The collar area is well faded, but the rest of the jersey shows signs of little or no use. The front and rear numerals show signs of scratching and abrasions as well as some soiling, yet the interior of those fabrics show almost no gathering or fabric bleed.
The Capra jersey shows far more signs of use and wear, but it is even and there is no significant color difference between the collar and the rest of the jersey as with the offered jersey. This leads me to believe that the use and wear on the offered jersey is contrived. The collar’s are also not constructed in the same manner by size and fabric weave. The Capra is ¾” with a more ribbed construction. The offered jersey is 1 1/8” with a different style of fabric construction pattern. (PLATE 12)
Based on the inconsistencies between the offered jersey, other examples seen in the hobby, and an actual on hand exemplar of a 1974 Atlanta Braves road jersey, it is my opinion that this jersey does not possess the characteristics you would expect to find in an 1974 Atlanta Braves Road jersey manufactured by Wilson for use and wear by Hank Aaron and can not be authenticated as such at this time.
MEARS Auth, LLC
Enclosures: Reference Plates 1-12
Color 1:1 Plates of the 1974 Capra
POST SCRIPT: Full color 1:1 scale plates of the 1974 Buzz Capra Braves road jersey were made for and included for shipment back to the owner of the this offered jersey for their own use and reference.