MEARS is an acronym for Memorabilia Evaluation And Research Services…O.K. I am sure that comes as a blinding flash of the obvious. Evaluations have always been at the forefront of the organizational service lines, but what about Research Services? For the most part this has involved providing content to the collecting community via the articles posted here. It was suggested to me a while back that we may want to consider providing specific research products for collectors to leverage in the form of team, manufacturer, or player guides. On a personal level, I have always loved the idea.
I started toying with ideas and concepts and thought it would be a worthwhile project to produce a series of player specific uniform reference guides. I suspect these could evolve into ones that featured both uniforms and bats. While I have done a fairly significant amount of research and writing on bat related topics over the past few years, my first love remains uniforms so I think this is where I will focus.
While these could be prepared on most any player, I have always wanted to take a serious look at those I consider greats of game. I have performed research and evaluations on many of their jerseys and have always enjoyed the work. What I have today is fairly detailed “content concept” of what I think these products might look like. Formatting is envisioned at being in the 10-12 page range, excluding introduction and cover. Initially, I think the “starting lineup might look like this:
While efforts could certainly be undertaken for Pre-War Greats as well, the farther back in time you go the difficult, time consuming, and expensive the efforts become to provide a credible product. With all that being said, provided today is the “content concept” for Ted Williams. I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your thoughts on the idea (DaveGrob1@aol.com)
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
Theodore Samuel “Ted” Williams
The Boston Red Sox 1939-1960
A Collector’s Uniform Reference Guide
As children we all had dreams and aspirations of greatness and in that respect Ted Williams was an average child, but that’s where the average story ends. In his early teens, Ted longed to be an envisioned himself as becoming “The Greatest Hitter That Ever Lived.” It would not take long for others to see that his brash and boastful manner had substance. Arriving on the scene with the Boston Red Sox in spring training as a rookie, the skinny kid made his presence known right away when he was told what a treat it would be for him to see the legendary Jimmy Foxx in the batting cage. To that the wily youth replied “wait till Foxx sees me hit.”
From the time Ted Williams first donned a Red Sox uniform in 1939 until he hung it up for the last time on September 28th 1960, he captured the attention of the Nation both on and off the diamond. While many other ball players from his generation performed military service in either World War II or Korea, Ted Williams is the only member of the Baseball Hall of Fame to have lost portions of his playing career to both conflicts. In Korea, Williams lost more than at bats; he almost lost his life as a Marine Aviator.
For me, the thing that always set Ted Williams apart from being average was his sense of self and the responsibilities that went with that. Fast hands, superior eye site, and a disciplined strike zone are not uncommon attributes for a major league player. The courage to challenge these same talents in yourself during extreme circumstances are. In 1941 Williams showed this to world by his refusal to back into a .400 average on the final day of the season. Banging out six hits in eight trips to the plate, Ted finished the 1941 campaign with a .406 batting average making him the last of the .400 hitters. Triple Crowns would follow in 1942 and 1947, American League Most Valuable Player Awards in 1946 and 1949. Ted Williams did it all over some nineteen seasons and he always did it in a Boston Red Sox uniform.
Provided here for your enjoyment and reference is some information about those uniforms. It is by no means a definitive work on the subject since there is still much we don’t know and likely never will. This information also does address potential issues/problems that can only be discerned through a detailed physical examination and study of the jersey itself. It is only intended to serve as a reference and guide with respect to helping you decide for yourself “what right might like and why.” Ted Williams was a student of the game and showed tremendous restraint and discipline at the plate. If you are considering adding one his jerseys to your collection, these would traits you would be well served in emulating.
Ted Williams: 1939-1960 (Sizing Data)
Use of contemporary sizing data is preferred to that offered by static references. This allows you to make a more accurate assessment of the appropriateness of the size relative to the time frame the jersey is represented as being from. As you can see by the number of sources, finding this information is not as easy as using one of the static references, but it is more accurate for any given year.
6’,3”; 205 lbs (Baseball-Reference.com)
6’,3”; 205 lbs (Total Baseball)
Contemporary Dated References
1939 Period Newspaper: 6’,3”; 169 lbs
1940 Period Newspaper: No height listed; 170 lbs
1941 Play Ball, Card # 14: 6,’ 3”; 175 lbs
*1942 Period Newspaper: No height listed; 183 lbs
1943-1945: Military Service
1946 Baseball Souvenir Program (Boston Globe): 6’,3”; 180 lbs
1947 (No Specific Year Data Found At This Time)
1948 Street & Smith Yearbook: 6’, 3”; 190 lbs
1949 Leaf Card # 76: 6,’3”; 190 lbs
1950 Bowman Card # 98: 6,’3”; 190 lbs
1951 Red Sox Yearbook: 6’, 4”; 195 lbs
1952 Red Sox Yearbook: 6’, 4”; 195 lbs
**1953 (No Specific Year Data Found At This Time)
**1954 The Mutual Baseball Almanac: 6,’ 3”; 195 lbs
1955 Red Sox Yearbook: 6’, 4”; 195 lbs
1956 Red Sox Yearbook: 6’, 4”; 198lbs
1957 Red Sox Yearbook: 6’, 4”; 198lbs
1958 Red Sox Yearbook: 6’, 4”; 198lbs
1959 Red Sox Yearbook: 6’,4”; 215 lbs
1960 Red Sox Yearbook: 6’, 4”;215lbs
* Newspaper account with Williams commenting on his weight during his recent induction physical. Includes quote by Williams that the 183 pounds is “15 pounds more than I’ve ever weighed before.” This is fairly consistent with the 1939 reported weight of 169 lbs.
** Red Sox Team Yearbooks not published prior to 1951, nor in 1953-1954.
A number of Ted Williams’ jerseys have been offered throughout the collecting community over the years. They have ranged in size from 44-48 for his playing days to sizes 48/50 for his time as a manager in both Washington and Texas. Based on sizing data, I would offer this suggested template as a guide:
Pre-War: Size 44
c 1946-1948: Size 44-46
c 1949-1958: Size 46
c 1959-1960: Size 46-48
Post Career: Size 48-50
Ted Williams: 1939-1960 (Manufacturers’ Data)
In looking at any prospective Ted Williams jersey, you will want to have some level of comfort with seeing that the uniform was manufactured by a likely or known supplier of jerseys to the Boston Red Sox during the year/time frame in question. While production/manufacturing records for such information are not readily available, there ways you can still make informed observations and equally informed decisions leveraging both trend and imagery analysis.
Trend Analysis: This refers to looking at data collected from period Red Sox uniforms with an emphasis on the “common player.” By this I mean if the common player jerseys are showing up as having been manufactured by Spalding, Wilson, or say McAuliffe for any given year, then it is reasonable to expect that the Ted Williams jersey from that same year or period should follow the same trend. The best source for this information are auction catalogs or capturing data from on-line offerings as well.
Imagery Analysis: This refers to looking at period images in order to ascertain information about the various aspects of the jersey, including the manufacturer. In some cases, significant data can be obtained in this manner. Imagery analysis requires more than simply searching Getty, Corbis, or other on line references. These sites are great, but research and analysis requires more than limiting or restricting your efforts to what is free and easy. If you want to do it well, like most things in life, it will require time and effort. If you search Corbis images for “Ted Williams” you will come up with almost 800 images. If you search Getty Images the same search will yield over 350 results. In either event you would not have come across this photograph. Take a look at this offered image from page 221 of “Red Sox Century: The Definitive History” by Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson and let’s “analyze” it for all the information we can gain from it (PLATE I). The caption contains information that identifies the players as Ted Williams and Bobby Doer, but there is no reference to the date.
-We can date this image to 1939 by the presence of the Baseball Centennial patch worn by both Williams and Doer. Although the details of the patch are not clear, the shape of the patch eliminates it from being the “Hale America” HEALTH patch worn in 1942. No patch was worn in 1941 and Williams was in the service during 1943-1945 so the patch can’t be the “Stars & Stripes patch. It is not the 1951 American League 50th Anniversary patch worn in 1951. These are only years during the Williams’ era that the Red Sox wore sleeve patches, so the image is from 1939 or the remote chance it is a spring training 1940 photograph.
– We know that Ted Williams had a preference for shorter sleeves since his are cropped to a length that removed the band of red soutache that trimmed the sleeve cuffs. We can also see that these have been left un-hemmed.
-We know that the jersey Williams is wearing is a Spalding product, size 44, and that his name was sewn into the upper part of the rear collar. We know that the flag tag used to denote the size is the smaller version used by Spalding during this general period as opposed to the larger style.
-We know that the red soutache that was used to trim the collar and placket does not extend the entire length of the button line.
-We know that these jerseys feature Raglan sleeves and not the Set-In style.
Consider this image from 1954 (PLATE II). This image not only confirms McAuliffe as the supplier of road jerseys to the Boston Red Sox, but it also offers insights on how the products were tagged with supplemental information for that year (“1954”=Year; “44”=Size”, “3in” = sleeve length; “4” = player number).
Before going any further on known and likely suppliers of jerseys to the Boston Red Sox during period of 1939-1960, it is important to provide some background information on the Tim McAuliffe Company. McAuliffe was never a manufacturer of uniforms in the same sense as say Spalding or Wilson. McAuliffe sold uniforms that were manufactured by other producers. These included partnering efforts with Spalding, Wilson, and later on the Stall & Dean Company. McAuliffe products provided to the Boston Red Sox through Spalding and Wilson typically features duel tagging. This is a something that appears to end in the early 1950s, possibly as the relationship with Stall & Dean became established. To date, I have not found any credible evidence to suggest that other period manufacturers such as Rawlings or the Horace Partridge Company provided uniforms to the Boston Red Sox during the 1939-1960 timeframe.
With all of this in mind, I would offer this suggested manufacturers’ template as a guide:
c 1939-1940: Spalding
c 1941-1942: Spalding/McAuliffe
1943-1945: No uniforms for Ted Williams
c 1946-1951: Wilson, Wilson/McAuliffe, McAuliffe
c 1952-1960: McAuliffe
When considering likely manufacturers for the jersey in question, you also have to consider the style of manufacturers tag present in the jersey as these have changed over time as well. As much as collectors would like to believe that there are hard and fast rules for when these tags were used, I don’t feel this is a reasonable assumption or expectation. It is always possible that a particular manufacturers tag was used after a known/suspected transition time. It is also possible that they may have been introduced a year or so before the trend indicates. There are also such factors as changes in supplemental tagging (size/laundry instructions) that occur during the period of when a manufacturers tag was thought to have been used. Manufacturers tagging is only one factor to consider as part of the overall mosaic of analysis required to make an informed opinion about the jersey you are looking at. This ties back directly to the idea of leveraging common jerseys in order to perform trend analysis.
With all of this in mind, I would offer the information in PLATE III-PLATE V as suggested manufacturers’ tagging template as a guide. Please note that the referenced dates to not always coincide with the overall likely use dates of the tags. This date range only applies to use during the 1939-1960 Williams’ era.
As you examine the manufacturers tagging, be vigilant for tags that have been trimmed or have the boarders “close cropped.” This is often done to mask the open seam holes that will be present if the tag was removed from one jersey and sewn to the one you are looking at. You will also want to ensure that the supplemental information is problem free as well. The 1940s Wilson/Wilson-McAuliffe/McAuliffe products typically feature the player name sewn to a felt swatch that has been affixed to the jersey below the collar line. These are an easy item to add to any jersey at a later date, and while they may look great in a picture, can constitute a reason or reasons to question the authenticity of the jersey.
Ted Williams: 1939-1960 (Player Preference/Customization)
A baseball uniform is nothing more than a work garment worn by a skilled artisan applying his craft for our enjoyment. It is not uncommon to find them modified for comfort or functionally practical reasons. With respect to jerseys, these modifications/preferences typically involve the sleeves and the tail length or cut of the jersey.
Pre-war Ted Williams’ jerseys are most typically found with post-production modifications to the sleeve length. While difficult to spot at times on the road offerings, this characteristic is easily seen in the home jerseys based on how the sleeve ends of the Red Sox jerseys were trimmed with bands of red soutache. This is something that can be found with his early post-war jerseys as well.
This is not to say that Williams’ no longer preferred shorter sleeves in the post 1946 period. It could simply be a matter that the sleeves were cut and sewn in a preferred shorter length at the time the jersey was cut/manufactured (PLATES VI-VIII).
Another sleeve aspect you will want to make note of is the actual style of the sleeve found on the jersey. Jersey sleeves come in two styles; those being Raglan and Set-in. 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, instead of several pieces sewn together and attached to the shell of the garment. This style makes shirts easy to move around in and very comfortable. There is no shoulder seam in a garment with a Raglan sleeve. The “Set-In” sleeve is the other type. A sleeve joined to the body of a garment by a seam starting at the edge of the shoulder and continuing around the armhole. The 1942 image of Williams and DiMaggio provides a good illustrative example as seen below (Williams: Raglan /DiMaggio: Set-In) (PLATE IX).
Ted Williams:1939-1960 (Sleeve Patches/Arm Bands)
Sleeve patches and arm bands can be found on Boston Red Sox jerseys during various years during the Williams’ era. If these are original to the jersey or at least original period offerings, they can add value to the uniform in question. I mention original period offerings because it is rare to find jerseys with the original patches intact. Quite often you will find them as having been restored. Because of the availability of more modern replica patches, you will want to know how to spot the differences.
1939 Baseball Centennial Patch (PLATE X- XI)
1942 Hale America “HEALTH” Patch (PLATE XII)
1951 American League 50th Anniversary Patch (PLATE XIII)
Twice during the Williams’ era the Red Sox wore memoriam armbands to pay tribute to recently departed personnel associated with the ball club. These instances occurred in Spring Training 1951 for the passing of former Red Sox General Manager Eddie Collins (d 25 March 1951) and in 1955 for the passing of Red Sox First Baseman Harry Agganis (d 27 June 1955).
With the Collins’ armbands having been worn in Spring Training of 1951, I would expect to find them or signs they were once present on jerseys from 1949 or 1950 since previous seasons jerseys are typically worn in Spring Training (PLATE XIV).
The Agganis armbands or signs that they were once present should be found on jerseys tagged/identified to the 1955 season. The exception might be a 1954 jersey that was carried over for the 1955 season (PLATE XV).
Depending on the current condition of the jersey, signs of the once applied armband might be difficult to detect. You should expect to find eveidence of seam holes or fabric cuts to the sleeve if the armband was removed in haste. If these are not readily apparent, examinization of the sleeve area with either a UV light or placing the fabric on a light table (or done in combination) might in fact reveal evidence not apparent to the naked eye.