One of the things I have written about over the years is the value and necessity of building a research library. Today, there seems to be an ever growing trend to rely on the “key stroke” as a primary research tool. While the internet is great, I still think that print references are the cornerstone of any library. Over the years I have built a nice personal library that contains a variety of references including:

Auction Catalogs

Hardcover & Soft Cover Books


Vintage Scrapbooks

Team Photographs

Wire Photographs

Team/Club Issue Photographs

Video and DVD Footage

Common Player Exemplar Uniforms and Color 1:1 Plates of Uniforms

Research Notes from Player Files at Cooperstown

Hobby References and Trade Publications

Baseball Cards and Baseball Card Reference Books

The other thing I have always looked for are team issues such as yearbooks and programs. The problem with trying to assemble these in great number rests on both the issues of availability and affordability, especially the further back in time that you go. Yearbooks from the 1940s and 1950s, if you can find them often,are priced in $100-$150 range and those from the 1960s can routinely cost at least half as much. A quick review of “The Standard Catalog of Sports Memorabilia” (3rd Edition-pages 272-279) will confirm this.

In years past, one of the only ways for collectors or researchers to identify what player might have worn a particular uniform that lacked any sort of “name” identification was to reference a jersey number against a yearbook or scorecard. Publications like “Baseball by the Numbers” by Mark Stang & Linda Harkness and “Now Batting, Number…: The Mystique, Superstition, and Lore of Baseball’s Uniform Numbers” by Jack Looney have made this both easier and far more affordable.

The hard thing for most collectors comes in weighing the cost of what they could spend on building their collection versus building a supporting library. For some, this is really not an issue because their collecting focus is narrow. As a researcher and one who also evaluates and offers opinions on items, I am required as well as expected to cast a fairly wide net when looking for references. One of the obvious advantages yearbooks have over other types of printed references is they are date specific. Meaning the images contained within them can not be any later than the date of publication.

I have written at length about the concept of imagery analysis and why it is far more than just “photo matching.” Images offer vast amounts of information if used in their totality and here is were things like team yearbooks are particularly helpful. Consider this scenario. You find a picture that is undated and the uniforms the players are wearing are not unique to a single season. Your player of interest has something associated with him that you are trying to year date such as longer or shorter sleeves; style of cap by slight variance of logo; variations in lettering, numbering or team crest or any number of other things…Now consider who else might be in the picture. Here is were yearbooks come in handy in that they allow you to date or place the picture in some sort of relative time frame by identifying other players in the image. This is much the same thing as dating a signed ball by accounting for all the signatures as compared to a team roster and looking for those one or two year players.

Another thing to consider with respect to yearbooks is what they tell us about the player with respect to height and weight. While static references such as “The Baseball Encyclopedia” or “Total Baseball” have a single entry for a player’s size, yearbooks can offer insights to chronological changes that can be used in tracking and or identifying when a players’ uniform size may have changed. Consider this example. Jackie Robinson is listed in “Total Baseball” as being 5’ 11”, 204lbs. If you look at Brooklyn Dodger yearbook entries you will find:

1950: 5’ 11 ¾” and 205 lbs

1952: 5’ 11 ¾” and 204 lbs

1953: 5’ 11 ¾” and 215 lbs

Now look at this against the examples of same period Robinson jerseys in the MEARS data base:

1950 Home, Spalding, size 42

1952 Home, Rawlings, size 42

1953 Road, Rawlings, size 44

In some cases, you will find that even over time, a players weight will not be reported to have changed or are even listed at all. I mention this so that people don’t assume I am stating this as a matter of absolutes, only an additional reference.

Team yearbooks are also a very solid period reference for determining the minor league affiliates for a club in a given year. This at times can help in researching provenance for items that were said to have been passed down to the minors and retained by the owner or family member. Also, since many yearbooks will feature budding stars in the minor league duds, they can serve as a means to also identify minor league uniforms and caps. A while back I was asked to look a mid 1950s NY Yankees home jersey manufactured by McAuliffe. There was very little in the way of Yankee McAuliffe exemplars in my data base. The jerseys were easy enough to identify as McAuliffe products in photographs by both the numeral font style and the style of NY crest so placing the jersey to 1953-1954 was not a problem. But what has happened to these jerseys? In the 1955 NY Yankees Yearbook you will find images of “up and coming stars” Ed Cereghino and Buddy Carter in spring training at Miller Huggins Field wearing these McAuliffe jerseys as indicated by the crest style.

The images contained in team yearbooks are probably the one thing that many collectors and researchers associate value with. While some will want to focus on those yearbooks from World Series seasons, the one from the subsequent year may in fact be more valuable as tool vs a collectable. Consider that this is the one that will contain images from the World Series.

One of the things I found most interesting along these lines was found in the 1956 Cincinnati Reds Yearbook. The Reds uniforms in 1955 featured the popular “mustached Mr. Red” patch worn on the left shoulder. But in looking at the 1956 yearbook with images from the 1955 season, you will see that there are two variations of this patch. The one worn on Opening Day was a square patch and later on, at least by the All Star Game in Milwaukee, the patch became a custom trimmed shape along the rough outlines of the figure of the head itself. The back page of this yearbook also offers detailed descriptions of the new uniforms (vests) that the Reds will wear in 1956. This includes fabrics and the manufacturer as well. If you are curious who manufactured the Colt 45’s home uniforms in 1962, consult the 1962 yearbook and you can see a picture of clubhouse man Norm Gerdeman proudly holding a up a Wilson home. Next to him is Equipment Manager Whitey Diskin holding up a road jersey. While no manufacturers label is visible because of the fold of the jersey, you can see what appears to be “42 62” in the collar indicative of what may be Spalding product.

A while back, I was looking on E-Bay for references and I noticed a number of reproduction yearbooks that appeared to be of solid quality. The price was clearly more in line with what I was looking to spend given my purpose for acquiring them. I am interested solely in content and not collectability. I decided to contact the seller and asked if there were others besides what was listed and asked about making a bulk purchase. The price seemed right, but given the volume, was not cheap. I sent off payment a couple of weeks later, two large boxes showed up at the door. I could not have been happier with the almost 200 yearbooks in the purchase.

This is a list of the yearbooks I added to my reference library with this purchase:

1934 Cubs

1934 White Sox

1934 Tigers

1939 Tigers

1941 Dodgers

1942 Dodgers

1942 Cubs

1945 Browns

1946 Braves

1946 Cubs

1946 Red Sox w/poster

1947 Braves

1947 Dodgers

1947 Giants

1947 Reds

1948 Indians

1948 Cubs

1948 Reds

1949 Reds

1949 Phillies

1949 Dodgers

1949 Athletics

1949 Cubs

1950 Yankees

1950 Phillies

1950 Athletics

1950 Senators

1950 Braves

1951 Braves

1951 Cubs

1951 Giants

1951 Dodgers

1951 Dodgers (Spring)

1951 Reds

1951 Cardinals

1951 Pirates

1951 Athletics

1951 White Sox

1951 Red Sox

1951 Browns

1951 Yankees

1951 Yankees (Revised)

1952 Yankees

1952 White Sox (Revised)

1952 Browns

1952 Red Sox

1952 Dodgers

1952 Dodgers (Spring)

1952 Cardinals

1952 Cubs

1952 Phillies

1952 Pirates

1952 Reds

1952 Braves

1952 Giants

1953 Reds

1953 Dodgers

1953 Cubs

1953 Giants

1953 Phillies

1953 Pirates

1953 Braves

1953 Cardinals

1953 Yankees

1953 White Sox (Revised)

1953 Indians

1954 Indians

1954 White Sox (Revised)

1954 Yankees

1954 Athletics

1954 Orioles

1954 Senators

1954 Braves

1954 Dodgers

1954 Giants

1954 Cardinals

1954 Cubs

1954 Pirates

1954 Phillies

1954 Reds

1955 Phillies

1955 Pirates

1955 Braves

1955 Reds

1955 Dodgers

1955 Giants

1955 Cardinals

1955 Cubs

1955 Yankees

1955 Red Sox

1955 Orioles

1955 Senators

1955 White Sox

1955 Indians

1955 Indians Sketchbook

1955 K.C. Athletics

1955 K.C. Athletics (Spring)

1955 Tigers

1956 Dodgers

1956 Braves

1956 Giants

1956 Phillies

1956 Pirates

1956 Cardinals

1956 Cubs

1956 Reds

1956 Red Sox

1956 Yankees (Spring)

1956 Yankees (Revised)

1956 Athletics

1956 Athletics (Spring)

1956 Indians

1956 Senators

1956 Orioles

1957 Orioles

1957 Tigers

1957 Indians

1957 Yankees

1957 Senators

1957 Senators (Revised w/poster)

1957 Red Sox

1957 Athletics

1957 Cubs

1957 Dodgers

1957 Giants

1957 Phillies

1957 Braves

1957 Cardinals

1958 Athletics

1958 Orioles

1958 Yankees (Spring)

1958 Yankees (Revised)

1958 Tigers

1958 Indians

1958 Red Sox

1958 Senators (Spring)

1958 Senators (Revised)

1958 Cardinals

1958 Dodgers

1958 Giants

1958 Braves

1959 Phillies

1959 Cardinals

1959 Giants

1959 Red Sox

1959 Senators

1959 White Sox

1959 Yankees (Spring)

1959 Yankees

1959 Tigers

1959 Indians

1959 Orioles

1959 Athletics

1959 Athletics (Spring)

1960 Athletics

1960 Indians

1960 Orioles

1960 Red Sox

1960 Tigers

1960 Yankees

1960 Senators

1960 Cardinals

1960 Giants

1961 Minn. Twins

1961 Yankees

1961 Wash. Senators Inaugural

1961 Giants

1961 Cardinals

1961 Phillies

1962 Houston Colt 45’s

1962 Mets

1962 Cardinals

1962 Angels

1962 Senators

1962 Twins

1962 K.C. A’s

1962 Yankees

1962 Giants

1963 Angels

1963 Athletics

1963 Yankees

1963 Mets

1963 Cardinals

1964 Cardinals

1964 Mets

1969 Seattle Pilots

These yearbooks have all been created by copying the covers in color and then the insides, by and large, in black and white. The interior pages are doubled sided and the volumes are neatly spiral bound. The interior images, while not of the exacting quality of the originals, are more than sufficiently useful for research purposes.

While the focus of this article and purchase has been on vintage references, I would encourage new and younger collectors to begin to add more modern yearbooks to their libraries/collections as well. Not only are you building a reference library that can be used for the above mentioned reasons, but since these are new, you are also buying an affordable collectable that may increase in value over time.

For those of you interested in the publications that I bought, the seller is Mr. Kevin Kearney. Kevin has given me permission to provide you with his contact information should you wish to make a purchase. For the record, I paid Kevin’s asking price for the bulk purchase and will not be compensated in any manner should anyone else decide to purchase his products.

Kevin Kearney


As with all my references, if you have a question that I might be able to answer or steer your research in a particular manner, please drop me a line…that’s why we write and that’s what we’re here for.