I get e-mails all the time, and when collectors are polite and actually identify themselves by name, I try to very accommodating. I decided to use this e-mail (omitting the collector’s name) to shape an article for a number of reasons. First to share some information that others might find valuable as well. Second to make a point to all of those who have e-mailed me requests for information that included no name and curt questions. Point being… this is an example of the type of request I am more inclined to respond to. Lesson on the second point, if you are too busy to be polite and say thank you, then don’t be surprised when others are too busy to want to help you. Here then was the e-mail request:
Hope you’re doing well. First, thanks very much for sharing your time with me about this. I know you’re busy.
I am interested in purchasing my first game used flannel uniform. As an Atlanta Braves collector, a 1966+ Atlanta-era flannel uniform is the one I am pursuing. I am in the beginning stages of looking for a jersey. As such, I haven’t yet found one. My price range will likely be around $600-$700. I have no interest in coaches or bat boy tops and prefer a uniform in all-original condition.
Do you have any advice about flannels and/or Braves tops from this era that you would be willing to share? Before making a purchase I’d like to know as much as I can about Braves flannels, if possible. For example, I’m not sure if there are certain characteristics (positive or negative that I should be aware of.
Let’s pick this one apart. First of all I applaud JT’s efforts in gathering information before spending the money. As for what he is looking for and what he is willing to spend, you may be looking to spend more than the top end price of $700 if you are hard and fast on finding a jersey that is entirely original, especially if this includes a first year offering from 1966. To give you some idea of what a common player all original offering from 1966 might set you back, consider that Ball Park Heroes has a 1966 Hank Fischer jersey priced at $1,295.00. The good thing is you will not be worrying about having the name on the back removed from jerseys of this vintage as names on the back were not a feature.
As far as what to look for, let’s begin with manufacturers for this period:
Road: Rawlings or MacGregor
The next to consider is what to expect to see with respect to manufacturers tagging and supplemental identification.
The home jerseys manufactured by Wilson during this period will feature one of two styles of manufacturer’s labels sewn in the lower left front of the jersey tail. (PLATE I). I would not expect to find supplemental tagging for laundry instructions. I would expect to find player identification and year set annotated in the collar of the jersey sewn to a flannel swatch that is sewn only through the first fold of the collar material.
The road jerseys will vary a bit more since you are dealing with three different manufacturers.
1966 Rawlings Products: The manufacturers tag would be the type typically dating from 1963-1972 (PLATE II). This jersey should include a supplemental tag for laundry instructions. Player and year/set identification should be sewn to a flannel swatch in the collar, and like the Wilson products, only through the first collar fold.
1966-1967 MacGregor Products: There are likely to be two styles of manufacturers’ labels as 1967 appears to have been a transition period for MacGregor (PLATE III). I would expect to find a year/set tag inside the lower center front of the tail. To date, I have not seen any examples that have the player’s name or other supplemental information either sewn into the jersey or affixed to any sort of swatch. The jersey should feature the MacGregor style buttons.
1969-1971 Spalding Products: These jerseys will feature the same style manufacturer’s label that appears to have been used from around 1957 through 1971. The year set should be in the form of a flag tag and the size indicated with a small flag tag as well. I have seen Braves Spalding road jerseys from this period without year/set flag tags as well. Supplemental player identification can be found on gray felt swatches in the collar with player number, uniform size and year annotation in some manner as well. (PLATE IV)
The one thing I would expect to find in all of these offerings would be the presence of Raglan versus set in sleeves. Another thing common to all of these jerseys will be the screaming Brave patch. Jerseys from this period can often be found with replacement or modern replica offering applied. It is easy to distinguish the difference between them especially in side by side comparison. (PLATE V)
Now that you have some idea of what to look for with respect to manufacturers and tagging, you will likely want to focus on styles and players. Besides on-line sources, recommended references would include:
Street & Smith Baseball Annuals from 1967-1972*
Atlanta Brave Yearbooks and team publications from 1967-1972*
*I omitted 1966 as those images are likely to be from 1965 and I included 1972 as they are likely to contain images from the 1971 season.
Baseball in Atlanta: Images of Baseball by Paul Crater
The Braves Encyclopedia by Gary Caruso
The History of the National League by Donald Honig
As far as looking for evidence of alterations and contrived or fabricated use or wear, any number of the articles I have previously written for MEARS On-Line might be of some help.
Lastly I would advise that JT or other collectors to be patient and to make your first flannel purchase from someone who you are comfortable dealing with. I know, nothing awe inspiring about that.
I hope this has been helpful to JT and to others reading this, and as always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com.