Who wants to buy an A2 flannel uniform? I do and I was thrilled that a final bid of $921 was high enough to win it. For the work that I do, having on hand period products to work with and from is invaluable. When they have a chance of being a part of baseball history, it’s all the better. Connie Mack led the storied Philadelphia A’s for half a century with his last great run being the 1929-1931 Athletics. That ball club took the American League flag for three straight years. The tail end of that run coincided with the first part of the dating range of this uniform. Not only did I get a wonderful jersey, but a pair of pants, wool stirrups and white sanitary socks as well with each piece being a reference in and of itself. I also got something that transcends the dollar value of the uniform. I got the chance to do some very rewarding and enjoyable research that I’ll share with you today.
The jersey fabric weight also provided insights on the transition of materials in the early 1930s. This is in line with my recent article titled “Facts and Figures on Flannel Fabrics.” Additionally, the jersey is also the earliest Spalding product I have found with the cotton/elastic underarm gusset. This manner of ventilation is something that can be found in major league products well into the 1950s. So for those of you who are thinking that the combination of fabrics in the modern “Cool Base” jerseys is a great innovation, it’s really the case once again of taking a lesson from the past and making it work today. This is why I wanted this A2 jersey, it allows me to take lessons from the past and make them work today. With all that being said, let’s take a look at what I bought.
Subject: Lew Krausse Sr. c1931-1933 Philadelphia Athletics Road Jersey
Dating the Jersey and Player Attribution: When offered as Lot # 64 in Hunts December 2010 Auction, the jersey was listed as “c.1920s”. This estimation on the date is incorrect. While the jersey is without any form of supplemental year identification, it is possible to date the jersey to a more precise timeframe based on a combination of factors. (PLATE I)
1. Lew Krausse was a roster player for the Philadelphia Athletics for portions of the 1931-1933 seasons. With his name being applied on a cotton twill swatch sewn into the collar of the jersey (original to the jersey and sewn only through the first fold of material), the jersey can be attributed to him and the Philadelphia Athletics. In addition, the outline of the number #18 can be found on the back of the jersey when viewed on a light table or with UV lighting. This is the roster number associated with Krausse from 1931-1933.
2. The jersey features a couple of defining characteristics that appear in period images. The most notable is the blue soutache along the placket and collar line. Period images from 1931 indicate that this decorative blue braid was worn on the road uniforms in 1931-1933. Athletics road uniforms worn by players on the Athletics roster during this same time frame can be found with this soutache as having been removed, leaving only remnants.
3. Krausee was with the Athletics at various times and lengths throughout the 1931-1933 seasons, to include spring training of 1933. This is an important fact since uniform orders were largely based on players in spring training expected to make the major league roster for that year. Krausse stayed with the Athletics until 13 May 1933, when he was reassigned to the International League. Krause was brought back to the Athletics on 8 June of 1933, but would be given his final release on 18 July 1933.
4. Size: Lew Krausse Sr. was listed as being 6’, 170 lbs. Contemporary newspaper accounts will confirm his slight build. So much so that the 1 March 1933 edition of the Chester Pa, Chester Times found it noteworthy enough to mention that he had actually “put on six pounds.” The jersey is not tagged with a size, but this is not atypical of uniforms from the time frame. It does measure out to be between a size 40 and 42 jersey. As such, I would consider it to be of an appropriate size for Krausse and consistent with what I would expect to see for this time frame. (PLATES II-VII)
Construction: The jersey body is constructed with pearl gray professional quality 8 oz wool flannel. The fabric by weave and weight is period appropriate for a major league offering as compared to an on hand period Spalding 8 oz product (c1921-1925 Tigers road jersey) as well as 1934 period professional fabric samples of Goldsmith products. The jersey features Set-In sleeves and five (5) button front with light blue soutache having been originally sewn along the placket and collar area. Remnants of the soutache still remain. The jersey at one time featured a sun collar which has been neatly trimmed from the jersey. The underarm gussets are constructed with a cotton/elastic material. This manner of gusset construction is also a characteristic that can be found in period images as well of the Philadelphia Athletics. (PLATE VIII)
In looking at the jersey on both a light table and under UV lighting, signs of original “A” on the front are almost indiscernible. What is easier to see is the outline of a once present letter “M” seen in the left breast area. (PLATE X) The Montreal Royals were a Philadelphia Athletics International League affiliate in 1933-1934 (Source: http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Montreal_Royals). This appears to account for the presence of the outline of the “M”. The jersey is accompanied by a pair of Spalding pants with the annotation of “38-38” and “36”. The length of these pants is 36” and the waist measurement is 38”. This leaves “38” for either year (1938) or supplemental player identification. The # 38 was not issued by the Athletics in 1938, so I would presume it to be the year identifier. The style of the Spalding manufacturers tag present in the jersey is consistent with the period of c 1915-1933, while those in the pants is consistent with the c 1936-1942 time frame. The solid blue wool stirrups and white sanitary socks appear to period appropriate for the Philadelphia Athletics as well.
Use and Wear: The jersey shows signs of heavy use and wear, typified by the general surface wear to the wool flannel fabric as well tears to the fabric in the rear of the collar. The sun collar has been cut away from the jersey and the blue soutache along the placket and collar area has all but been removed. In those places where the outer most portions of the soutache has been removed, what remains is a bead of fabric, largely faded in color, with the original color blue only found at the bottom of the placket. All lettering and numbers, original and subsequent have been removed. It appears that the number 18 was the only number applied to the jersey as there are no outlines of another. The bottom two buttons on the jersey have been replaced. The use and wear to the pants is heavier than that of the jersey, including 3 large vintage repairs and the replacement of the bottom button.
Opinion: The jersey possesses all of the characteristics that I would expect to find in a 1931-1933 Philadelphia Athletics road jersey manufactured by Spalding for use and wear by Lew Krausse, Sr. This timeframe includes the 1931 World Series, a series that Krausse was a roster player for. (PLATE IX) The MEARS grading criteria for pre-1988 jerseys begins with a base grade of 10 and five categories for deductions. I found these reasons to deduct points from this jersey:
Category I: -1 (Two replaced buttons at .5 each)
Category III: -3 (Missing A’s logo and number);-2 (Use by more than one player for more than one season)
Category V: -1 (Fabric tears/removal);-1 (Worn and missing soutache)
Only 2 points (of 3) was deducted for use by more than one player for more than one season because this is the primary contributing factor for the overall condition of the jersey. Only 1 point each was deducted for the soutache removal since period images confirm this as well as collar removal as a known team/period characteristic. Final Grade if I was grading this as a MEARS submission: A2.
This was a great pick up for me on both a personal and professional level. As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect. I know I do.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel to contact me at DaveGrob1@aol.com.