This week’s piece is really a way to tie in the a few previous columns dealing with the 1957 Willie Mays jersey, a Hank Greenberg jersey from the Richard Wolfer’s auction, and the use of locker room photographs. This article brings all of these things apparently together in a look at what I think is a spectacular uniform. Here we go:
SUBJECT: Willie Mays 1962 San Francisco Giants Home Jersey
For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1962 Willie Mays San Francisco Giants Home Jersey. After a detailed visual inspection and evaluation of this jersey using lighted magnification, a light table, UV light, and various references as noted below, I offer the following noted observations:
The MEARS data base has examples of 1962 San Francisco Giants Home Jersey’s as being manufactured by both Wilson and McAuliffe. Photographic evidence as seen on PLATES I, II, and III confirm this. The common player example of a 1962 San Francisco Giants Home Jersey’s manufactured by Wilson features the same tagging style with the exception of the player identification in the collar is done with first initial and last name. The player is “A. Engel.” Although no record can be found of Engel in the either Total Baseball or Mark Stang’s Book Baseball by the Numbers, the San Francisco Giants 1961 and 1962 Year Book Rosters do include Arlo Engel, so this common player does seem to provide a verifiable reference. A second reference can be found on page 66 of the September 1991 Richard Wolfers Auction catalog. This example is in fact a 1962 Willie Mays home jersey that could possibly be the same as this one. In cases where I suspect the jersey I am evaluating as being an exemplar of itself, I am forced to look at other aspects as a jersey can not be an example of itself for evaluation purposes.
The collar area of this jersey features the Name “WILLE MAYS” chain stitched in black thread and sewn to a white felt swatch. This identification has only been sewn through the first fold of the collar material and the area shows no signs of tampering, leading me to believe it is in fact original to this jersey.
The lettering and numbering of this jersey are done in a black over orange felt and sewn in a zig-zag vs straight stitch pattern. This is proper and there are no signs of any lettering or numbering replacements. The orange and black soutache braid around the sleeves and neck line is also appropriate and original. The font style for the both the numerals and lettering are appropriate with this period as well as those of a Wilson product. The Wilson numeric font style can be seen photographs of Mays in the 1962 World Series as shown in PLATE IV.
The button style for this jersey are a four hole variation, clear, but not opaque style that is consistent with Wilson products from this period. All seven (7) buttons are original to this jersey.
The jersey is tagged as a size 42 as indicated on the c 1958-1966 Wilson manufacturer’s label. This is also the true measured size of this jersey. The size 42 is consistent with other jerseys of Mays from this time period. It is also consistent with the height and weight listed for him in the San Francisco’s Giants year book (page 5):
Mays, Willie 5-11, 180lbs
General construction of the jersey, especially with respect to the length of the sleeves in proportion to the lettering is also a very positive characteristic. The sleeves on this jersey are the appropriate set-in style and are approximately 120 mm in length. The “S” in Giants along its longest vertical axis is approximately 95mm. This ratio appears to be consistent with period pictures of Mays from 1962 and seen in PLATE 5.
This body of jersey shows very little use and or wear with an almost stiff feel to it. There is very little in the way of seem wear or stress. The most notable sign of laundering is the apparent shrinkage and separation of the wool felt swatch in the collar containing the player identification “Willie Mays.” There are two small 1mm holes in the outer front center tail just below the bottom button. Another is found on the inside left front center. Only the hole on the right front jersey goes through all layers of the fabric. There was no writing or autograph on this jersey at the time of my inspection and evaluation. There is no foxing or bleeding of colors associated with perspiration and undergarments in the collar or under arms area.
There is no pronounced shade differential between the fabric above and below the belt line. There is no noticeable fabric or contact wear in this area either.
Based on how this jersey compares with other period examples, manufacturers characteristics that are supported by period and verifiable dated images, it is my opinion that this jersey posses all the characteristics that you would expect to find in a 1962 Home San Francisco Giants Home Jersey manufactured by Wilson for use by Willie Mays and is in all original condition. Images confirm that Wilson jerseys were worn by Mays in the 1962 World Series. If the San Francisco Giants ordered additional 1962 uniforms for post season play, this may be a possible explanation for the superb condition of the jersey.
While I am not stating this jersey was in fact worn during the World Series, I felt it was important enough to mention. I am without the ability to place this jersey specifically to the World Series since there is evidence that Wilson products were also worn by Mays during the regular season and there appear to be no unique or distinguishing features that seem to make definitive attribution to the 1962 World Series possible.
MEARS Auth, LLC
Richard Wolfers Auction Catalog September 1991
1962 San Francisco Year Book Roster