By the spring of 1972, Major League baseball clubs were wrestling with any number of issues. The most pressing was if the coming season would see its first work stoppage (it did). Another topic closer to our hearts as uniform researchers and collectors, is what the teams’ would wear and what those uniforms would look like. Recently I picked up a 1972 Minnesota Twins road jersey for my exemplar library and I thought it might be good fodder for an article. Not only is this jersey a first year knit style, but it is also a year one year offering. In addition, the Twins were one of the last teams to be outfitted by Spalding.
The Minnesota Twins opted for a fairly conservative transition from flannel to knit. They retained a gray body with button down front. No real change to the color scheme of the lettering or frontal design. They also stayed with Spalding as the supplier of their road jerseys since 1961. With new knit material and changes in cut/construction methods from flannel products (collar & sleeve endings), this permitted adding a bit of color. Probably the most striking difference or feature was the change to the Twin Cities patch on the sleeve. In any event, the change in styles and fabrics for the jerseys worn on the road by the Twins in 1971 and then in 1972 was easily discernable from each other. As a uniform collector, this is just what I want to see.
Depending on who you talk to, collectors have different takes on what constitutes a style change or what is a variation. I have touched on this in previous articles so we won’t chew that same dirt twice. When a team changes styles, I want to see what I call “bleacher level changes (BLCs).” The concept is simple; if I was sitting in the bleachers and two players were standing at home plate, each one wearing either the old or new style, could I easily see the difference from the bleachers? In this case, I feel pretty sure I could tell the difference between the Twins’ road jerseys from 1972 and those form 1973 based on the body color and sleeve trim. Patch might be tough, but general difference in shape would probably be discernable. Small play on words here, but they certainly weren’t Twins. As a collector, I am drawn more to the BLCs from a display/aesthetics standpoint. If Frank Bitzer is reading this, then yes Frank, I would prefer to look at and display a collection of Atlanta Braves knit style jerseys from 1972-1987 as opposed to those worn by the Cincinnati Reds over this same time frame. BLCs SCORE: Braves 8 ; Reds 2.
I mentioned earlier that was a Spalding product. To my knowledge, this was the last year that Spalding supplied jerseys to the majors, and then only to the Twins, Astros, Brewers, and Orioles. For these teams and these manufactures, the only offerings I have seen are also road jerseys. Hard to believe that at the turn of the 20th Century, Spalding was outfitting the overwhelming vast majority of major league clubs both for home and road uniforms. By 1972, they were left with expansion and transplanted clubs. Be that as it may, the 1972 Spalding products showed great promise in variation of both color and style:
1972 Brewers Road: Blue body; pullover
1972 Astros Road: Gray body; zipper front
1972 Orioles Road: Gray body, button down front
Alas, by 1973 Spalding was gone and so were these road gray Twins jerseys; replaced by a powder blue Wilson product. What was brought back was the original variation of the Twin Cities patch. In looking at both of these side by side, my vote is for grey all the way. What’s yours?
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions and comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com