Every once in a while I come across a photograph that I have long been looking for. In this case it had nothing to do with a player or style, rather something I have been looking to confirm for myself and the collecting public since I felt it has been recorded and reported incorrectly for years. The topic has to do with supplemental tagging that can be found on McAuliffe products from the 1940s and 1950s.
For the most part when I see these jerseys offered with numerical supplemental tagging with a number and inch annotations such as “2 ins”, 3 ins”, 5 ins” etc, these are referred to as indications of extra length in the tail. To be brutally honest, I have also seen this recorded on MEARS letters that were produced in the past as well. I really never thought this was the case and now I have what I think is some interesting evidence to support my position. My position being that these annotations refer to sleeve and not tail length.
The long awaited picture presented itself as I was pouring over images at the booth of the John Rogers Archive while at the National. Trust me, if you’re a uniform researcher, access to what John and his crew bring is worth the price and time of going to the National. The photograph in question was one from 29 June, 1956 and it featured a collection of New York Giants players in the home jerseys with the tail tagging visible for all the players. That image is provided here for your reference.
What you will see is that the players all wore a size 44 jersey, and while their heights and weights ranged from 5’, 11”; 175lbs to 6’,2”; 190lbs, all four of these uniforms bore annotations of “3 ins”. I have also included images and contemporary sizing date (source being period team yearbooks) of other uniforms from this same general time frame. These too are of jerseys that were tagged as a size 44 and contained similar annotations for “2 ins”, “3 ins”, and up to “5 ins”. When we roll this data in with that of the players pictured, this is what we have as a composite snapshot arranged by player height from shortest to tallest:
Jackie Brandt: 5’,11”; 175: “3 ins”
Foster Castleman: 5’,11”; 175lbs: “3 ins”
Gail Harris: 6’; 195lbs: “2 ins”
Monte Irvin: 6’, 1”; 195lbs: “3ins”
Bill White: 6’,1”; 185lbs: “3 ins”
Dayrl Spencer: 6’, 2”; 190lbs: “3 ins”
Al Worthington: 6’,2”; 205lbs: “5 ins”
Mickey McDermott: 6’, 2”; 170lbs: “2 ins”
Remember these are all sized 44 jerseys, yet if we are to believe as we have long been told that these annotations reflect “extra length”, then don’t you find it odd that the players who are 5’,11” have longer jerseys than some who are 6’,1” and 6’, 2”? Of course the argument could be made that a player wears what he likes to wear and maybe these guys just preferred longer jerseys.
One of this issues that I think comes into play is that a number of folks have never given much thought to how to actually measure or determine a sleeve length. The sleeve length is determined by the length of that portion of the fabric that extends from the “outer seam” of the underarm gusset (where it actually becomes a sleeve) to the end of the sleeve cuff. If you have a jersey pictured like those examples provided, have a little fun and measure this out for yourself. I’d love to hear what you come up with and please consider sending photos we could share with others as well.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions and comments on this article, please feel to drop me a line at MEARS Auth, LLC1@aol.com