I am sure this going to seem a bit out place as I usually don’t look at or write about knit jerseys much. This is not to say I am not interested in them, but in most cases my time is reserved for flannels or when a collector may specifically ask that I look at their item. In this case the collector wanted me because, well I am that collector. There are very few players from the more modern Cincinnati Reds era that interest me. One of those is Barry Larkin as we are both the same age, both born and raised in Cincinnati and went to high schools only a few miles apart. I always admired the way he played the game and can still recall listening on Armed Forces radio from the middle of the desert as he hit .353 in the 1990 World Series sweep over the Oakland A’s.
When I had the chance recently to buy this jersey, I did because it was of a player I liked, I knew the source of the jersey (Reds Gift Shop 1997/1998; Sold/Traded to another collector in 2008, and it offered me the opportunity to write about a process that transcends flannels or knits. While both flannels and more modern knits present their own challenges, understanding and following a process is invaluable no matter what you research or collect. Barry Larkin was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame this past July. My hope is this that his next stop might be Cooperstown. With all this being said, let’s get started.
SUBJECT: 1995 Barry Larkin Cincinnati Reds Road Jersey
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this offered jersey is referred to as a 1995 Barry Larkin Cincinnati Reds Road jersey. 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 observations:
STYLE: The style of road jersey with gray body with red pinstripes and CINCINNATI arched across the front with the lettering done in red over white tackle twill was worn by the Cincinnati Reds from 1993-1998 and is supported by images from this period. The jersey also features a CREDS patch on the left sleeve which is also correct by style, design and location for this period.
CONSTRUCTION: The construction of the jersey is one of set-in sleeve design which is correct and is supported by images from this period. The construction and application of CINCINNATI is also correct for Larkin in 1995 with respect to how that lettering is split at the button line:
The general alignment of the lettering and numerals also appears to be correct and consistent with what can be seen in period images from 1995. (PLATE I) This is noted in that when looking at images of Larkin in road jerseys, I found examples from 1993-1994 that show the split as being either CINC/INNATI or CINCI/NNATI in the 1995 Street & Smith Baseball Annual and Getty Images.
MANUFACTURER: The manufacturer of this jersey is Russell Athletic. Russell is a proper manufacturer and supplier to the Cincinnati Reds at this time for both home and road jerseys. The “R” Russell logo can be found on the lower right arm which is also correct and is supported by images from this period. (PLATE II)
TAGGING & SIZE: The size of the offered jersey is tagged as 46 with supplemental tagging for 2” in Extra length. This is the actual true measured size of the jersey. The jersey compares favorably with respect to these other Barry Larkin uniforms from the same period:
1994: Russell, Home, Size 46 (MEARS Data Base)
1995: Russell, Road, Size 46, 2” extra length (Grey Flannel, Lot # 66, June 2002
*1995: Russell, Road, Size 46, 2” extra length (Leland’s, Lot # 1008, Winter 2006
(Above jersey also appears to have been offered by Leland’s as lot # 814 in December 2004)
1995: Russell, Road, Size 46, 2” extra length (Rob Steinmetz/Authentic Gamers)
1999: Russell, Road, Size 46, Tapered Body (Leland’s, Lot# 700, Winter 2006
2002: Russell, Road, Size 46, Tapered Body, (Leland’s, Lot # 263, November 2007
In addition, comparing the offered jersey with photos of Barry Larkin in road jerseys from 1995, you will notice that both the offered jersey and ones imaged from 1995 are constructed with the same number of pinstripes across the chest. This observable trait adds both scale and validity to the size of the uniform. A shirt larger than 46 would likely have an additional pinstripe (or a portion there of) and size 44 would likely have one less pinstripe (or portion there of). This same “pinstripe width” with a division of 10 and 10 can be seen on the offered shirt and images of Larkin from 4 October 1995 as well. I do not think the offered jersey to be the one worn on 4 October 1995 based on the alignment of the lettering of CINCINNATI and the pinstripes, but this does appear to confirm the proper size of the jersey. (PLATE III)
We can also see by looking at all of these tagging examples from 1995 Larkin road jersey, that there may not be as many actual different jerseys as first thought based on tagging alignment and various degrees of separation and wear in the tagging area. You can also see how the tags compare with respect to alignment on the surrounding pinstripes as well. This is important to note when looking at other uniforms in order to do trend analysis. If you look at the backs and the tagging of the jerseys of the Grey Flannel, Lelands, and Steinmetz example, they all feature some very striking similarities. I have focused on characteristics that not subject to change over time such as use and wear as can be seen with the separation of the Reds Team tag over time. (PLATEs IV, V)
1. The “crimping” of the 100% Polyester tag
2. The alignment of the Reds tag to the Russell tag
3. The alignment of the Reds tag to the body of the jersey as seen by both the location of the pinstripes as well as the stitching pattern.
This way a sample size can be confirmed and not subject to “double counting” shirts within the sample. I am not prepared to call the Grey Flannel, Leland’s, and Steinmetz jerseys different jerseys based on the similarity to the tagging and the appearance of the back of both jerseys, but as single example which is consistent with the offered jersey.
However, based on comparative examples and imagery analysis with respect to pinstripe number/width as it relates to adding scale to a uniform image, I am very comfortable saying the offered jersey is an appropriate size for Barry Larkin in 1995.
The tagging for this jersey as a function of construction is also consistent with what I would expect to see. Specifically that all supplemental tagging:
-100% Polyester Tag
-2” Extra Length Tag
-Property of Cincinnati Reds 95 Tag
are all sewn under the Russell Athletic/Diamond Collection tagging and along the same stitch line. There is no sign or evidence that these tags have been altered or applied at any other time other than the time of first manufacturer. This is important as it seems to preclude this jersey as being one not manufactured by Russell for use by the Cincinnati Reds as indicated by the team inventory tagging. In addition, in looking at retail Russell Athletic Diamond Collection products from 1995, they do not to appear to have been readily available in a size 46 as seen in advertisements in both Baseball Digest and the Street & Smith Baseball Annual from that year. (PLATE VI). Those products also featured a Russell tag in the rear of the collar. This shirt does not have such a tag nor is there any sign that one was ever present and removed.
USE & WEAR: In my opinion, this jersey shows signs of use and wear I would place in the light/medium category. This can be seen in the form of gathering and fraying in the lettering and numbering. The jersey presents an overall clean appearance to the naked eye. However, when viewed under a black light, mild staining can be seen in the areas of the back of the neck and lower front tail. These are positive signs as they seem to indicate use or wear and not simply that the jersey has been laundered. The overall stress to the body stitching appears consistent with the rest of the jersey as well.
OPINION: Based on the information provided above, it is my opinion that this offered jersey possesses all the characteristics you should expect to see in a 1995 Cincinnati Reds road jersey manufactured by Russell Athletic for issuance, use and wear by Cincinnati Reds shortstop and 1995 National League Most Valuable Player Barry Larkin. I found no evidence or signs of alteration or contrived use or wear. In addition it does not appear as both a function of size and team tagging, that this jersey would have been available to the general collecting public as a retail offering. The jersey does feature an autograph almost four inches in length on the back to the lower left of the numeral “1” done in what appears to be blue sharpie. I offer no opinion on the authenticity of the autograph as this is outside of my area of expertise. It is only mentioned as a matter of record.
MEARS Auth, LLC
Enclosures: PLATES I-VI