A couple of weeks ago I addressed sizing of jerseys and the change in player size since the 1950s. Today I will spend some time talking about other related facets that have changed as well. In order to work from a relatively common point of reference, all of the jerseys we are looking at today are of the common size of 44. What does vary are the years, teams, manufacturers and sleeve cut.
PLATE I features the following jerseys, all in a size 44 and all manufactured by Wilson. From top to bottom they are:
1960 Cleveland Indians Home
1967 Philadelphia Phillies Home
1977 New York Yankees Home
1980 Chicago Cubs Road
1994 Chicago White Sox Road
With the exception of the 1994 White Sox jersey, all of the rest feature a Raglan style sleeve. The White Sox jersey features a “Set-In” in sleeve. As an introduction or refresher, the construction of a Raglan sleeve is different from that of typical shirt sleeves, because the raglan sleeve has a seam that goes from the underarm straight to the neckline. A raglan sleeve is only one piece of fabric, instead of several pieces sewn together and attached to the shell of the garment. This style makes Raglan shirts easy to move around in and very comfortable. A “Set-In” sleeve is just that; the sleeve is set into the body of the fabric, joining it at the shoulder.
This is important to note because in looking at the data from PLATE I, you will see that the underarm to underarm measurement has changed in these jerseys over time. The impact of the sleeve style and effect it has on this measurement can be seen in the data provided in PLATE II. At first glance, this might suggest that a Spalding size 44 is larger than a Wilson or Rawlings product from the same period. This is not the case. What happens is the sleeve cut can effect where the front and rear panels of the jersey meet along the vertical axis of the jersey. While this manner of construction does not change the physical size of the jersey across the chest per say, it does have an impact on the width of the garment at the point this measurement is taken. This also appears to have an impact on “fit” or comfort. In the case of the Spalding product, this joining takes place lower on the vertical axis and actually includes more of the underarm area than the Wilson or Rawlings products.
One other thing I think this data suggests is something we seem to already know intuitively on some level from looking at the players in their uniforms over the years. Players in the 1950s appeared to be playing in loose fitting garments and this changed in the 1960s-through the 1980s. In the 1990s and certainly today, players prefer loose fitting uniforms, both tops and bottoms. When you combine larger players with a preference back to loose fitting jerseys, it is not surprising to see the 1955 average size of 42 having given way to the 48-52 range of today.
Since I was looking at products and mentioned pinstripes a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would provide that information well. This is a topic I have covered in the past and you can read up on that at your leisure. When looking to compare the jersey you have with period images, count and compare the actual number of pinstripes. You would be surprised at how many auction houses and those they employ on their behalf fail to do this.
I know there are some readers who wish I would just write about tagging and give players sizes. To those I will offer no apology since it is my belief that this hobby/industry has spent far too much time on looking myopically at data points seen as essential to support the buying and selling product. Along the way countless “theories” have been advanced with that sole aim in mind.
One my favorites “theories” from a long time and well known hobby entity actually had to do with sizing. The jersey in question was that of a pre-1960s Hall of Famer. One of the issues I had with the jersey was the actual measured size was three sizes larger than the tagged size of the jersey. When I made this point known, I was told, in all seriousness, that the player in question had hurt his shoulder/collar bone, and as such needed a larger jersey to make movement easier and this accounted for the larger sized jersey. In my mind, this is the sort of problem that has plagued this hobby/industry for decades because of the focus on sales versus study and research.
I have always enjoyed a certain aspect about my relationship with MEARS and MEARS On-Line. That being, I have always been free to research and write about any topic I cared to address, even if it went contrary long held hobby/industry beliefs. I have always felt that since the name of the company includes the word “Research”, this should be a primary focus for the organization and hence, articles like this. In my mind this has a greater impact on the value of items than writing to achieve value for one item.
Think about what you like about what you collect and why. Spend some time doing some research to better know and understand what it is you actually have or are looking for. If you do, I think you will end up making smarter purchase decisions. I have done this for years and have always found this to be the case. In any event, 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