McAULIFFE…THE INITIAL RESEARCH
The issues regarding McAuliffe MLB jerseys that have been discussed on Game Used Forum have prompted me to engage in some research utilizing the MEARS database and also the MEARS jersey population report. The issues, one of which was part of the original posting by well known and knowledgeable collector Lon Lewis and the other of which seemed to spring forth from subsequent posts from other hobbyists, will engage two questions:
1) Did McAuliffe, during the era of their manufacture of MLB knits (1972-81) ever sell game-jerseys (similar to what today would be termed “retail authentics”), with team-issued tagging, over the counter or in similar retail fashion?
2) Is there any pattern in terms of date of issuance that would ascribe a specific time period to a McAuliffe tag with blue vertical lines on the left and right edges vis a vis McAuliffe tags with no such blue lines?
The research I was able to do gathered items from both the database and census report of MEARS, and will be grouped into four categories, listed below with reasonings as to their individual entity status.
1) MEARS A10 jerseys…gamers with no flaws and, where applicable, player or team provenance.
2) MEARS A6-A9 jerseys…gamers with minor flaws, but still regarded as game-used via MEARS standards.
3) MEARS A5 and below…jerseys that, based on the MEARS A5 grade, carry all the characteristics that would be expected to be found in a game-issued uniform. Technically, this is a post-1987 criteria, however, it is being applied here as well as the criteria mentioned appears to have been used or influenced the grading of a number of MEARS-examined jerseys of this genre.
4) MEARS database photos: These were taken from eBay images, websites, and other sources depicting game used and game-issued jerseys. Since selection for the database is based on visual examination, rather than hands-on authentication, while some examples may be jerseys that would grade Unable To Authenticate if examined by MEARS due to obvious flaws, others may depict jerseys with flaws or inconsistencies that are not discernable from basic computer images, and, as such, may be retail or non-team-issued jerseys.
FIRST OFF…THE A10s
The MEARS Census shows four jersey that have been evaluated and graded A10. Two are gamers with “game-used” or “My Gamer” notations inscribed on them as part of an autograph; the other two gained an A10 grade solely on reasonable wear and other pertinent characteristics.
The two inscribed jerseys are a 1976 Red Sox Carl Yastrzemski, gifted by Yaz to close friend and longtime show promoter Dick Gordon, and a 1977 Red Sox Fred Lynn. Gordon’s gamer has a McAuliffe tag without blue lines, the Lynn’s McAuliffe tag has them.
The other two A10s are a 1974 Red Sox Jim Rice, a late-season call-up gamer, and a 1977 Oakland A’s Joe Coleman. Both carry the blue-lined version of the manufacturer tag.
OTHER HIGH GRADE MEARS CENSUS JERSEYS
Eight McAuliffe jerseys in the census have MEARS grades in the A7-A9 range. They are listed below with the notation BLUE if the tags have blue lines, and no notation if they don’t.
1973 Red Sox Yaz A8
1973 Angels Nolan Ryan A7
1974 A’s Rollie Fingers A8
1975 A’s Larry Haney A8 BLUE
1975 A’s Reggie Jackson A8
1975 Red Sox Carlton Fisk A8
1976 Red Sox Yaz A9 BLUE
1976 A’s Steve McCatty A7 BLUE (1976 shell worn in 1977).
This sampling only includes census jerseys to which I had availability to photographs that showed the McAuliffe tag. Some census jerseys didn’t have photos, and they are not included in this sampling.
LOW GRADE AND NO GRADE
MEARS showed four jerseys in the census that were graded A5 or less, or had no grade. They are listed below.
1) 1973 Red Sox Yaz, A5. The jersey was given this grade based on an application of the post-1987 A5 criteria to this older item. No blue lines on tag.
2) 1974 Angels Nolan Ryan, A3. The jersey was found to be a genuine common player Angels gamer that was doctored to reflect Ryan’s identity, and was discernable from font differences with game photos in the MEARS database. No blue lines on tag.
3) 1975 A’s Reggie Jackson, no grade. This jersey was deemed to be a retail item based in inconsistencies in the A’s logo on the front with a photo of Jackson in uniform on Getty Images. No blue lines on tag.
4) 1975 A’s Billy Williams, no grade. Jersey was dubbed a salesman’s sample or possibly a retail jersey based on a major font inconsistency in the 2 in the jersey number (28). Blue lines on tag.
1977: Red Sox Fergie Jenkins
1977: Red Sox Yaz (2)***
1977: Red Sox Reggie Cleveland
1977: Red Sox Dick Drago
1977: Red Sox #20
1977: Red Sox Ramon Aviles
All have blue line tags except one of the Yaz jerseys.
***Both Yaz jerseys are likely retail and/or tag tampered. One of the two (the one with no blue lines on the tag) has tag tampering only discernable upon an enlarged photo. The other, with a blue line tag, is, like the Rice and Aaron, not a team-issue and likely a retail exemplar, based on it, like the Rice, being sized at a measurement Yaz never wore as an active player (in this case, size 46).
1978: Red Sox Yaz** No blue lines on McAuliffe tag, but enlarged image shows tag tampering in neck.
1979: A’s Bob Kearney…blue line tag
1980: A’s Lee Walls (no blue lines on tag)
1980: A’s Rickey Henderson (no blue lines on tag)
1981: A’s Rickey Henderson
1981: A’s A’s Keith Drumright ++
The Henderson has no blue lines, but the Drumright game item, a jacket does. The Drumright jacket is dated to 1981 as that was his only MLB season with Oakland.
Here, now, broken down by years, are the images MEARS has collected on the database that I had access too. Jerseys with the blue-lined manufacturers tags will be marked or categorized appropriately.
Angels Mickey Rivers BLUE LINES
A’s Ken Holtzman
A’s Vic Davalillo
Angels Nolan Ryan BLUE LINES
A’s Reggie Jackson
A’s Bert Campaneris
A’s Larry Haney
A’s Joe Rudi BLUE LINES
A’s Catfish Hunter (2) ONE BLUE LINES
A’s Reggie Jackson (2)
Red Sox Jim Rice BLUE LINES
Red Sox Mario Guerrero
A’s Bert Campaneris
A’s Paul Lindblad
Red Sox Rick Burleson
A’s Vida Blue
Red Sox Cecil Cooper
Red Sox Johnny Pesky
Red Sox Yaz
Red Sox Jim Rice **
Red Sox Jim Burton
All except the Yaz have Blue Line tags.
** The Rice jersey is believed to be a retail/pro style jersey based on a sizing (40) that has not been documented as a size Rice took during his career..
A’s Vida Blue
Red Sox Fred Lynn
Brewers Hank Aaron **
A’s Joe Lonnett
A’s Bill North
Red Sox Rico Petrocelli
Red Sox Eddie Popowski
All except the Aaron have Blue Line tags. The Aaron is an obvious retail/pro style jersey, as McAuliffe did not supply the Brewers with any jerseys in 1976.
SO WHAT HAVE WE FOUND?
A few observations from this project:
1) The presence of off-sized, tagged game-type jerseys indicate possibility of retail jerseys with pro tagging being available to fans. Whether these retail/pro-style jerseys were sold on-site, by mail order, or through company insiders is open to debate and has not yet been determined.
2) The transition period for blue line tags replacing non-blue line tags appears to cover two years (1973 and 1974)
3) 1975-79 jerseys look to have been predominantly made with the blue line tags. MEARS graded exemplars used, and a small number of other similar jerseys, may have the old tags due to a carryover that most manufacturers have when a tag design is changed, not a foreign concept to most knowledgeable collectors.
4) The newer non-blue line tags sampled first were seen in 1980 jerseys; however, the sampling was limited, and additional exemplars may show earlier jerseys with the similar tag. The tag carryover design reality is evident with the 1981 A’s jacket of Keith Drumright, a 1981 tagged item with a blue line tag. Drumright’s only year with Oakland was 1981.
5) Retail jerseys from the era may carry either tag, as evidenced by the improperly sized Yaz and Rice jerseys, as well as the Aaron Brewers piece.. Also, tag-tampered exemplars, including the Yaz mentioned above, as well as one other, suggest tag doctoring as a possible cause for the older tags being in later-issued jerseys in some cases.
This constitutes a start on this study, but there’s certainly more out there that will either support the above findings or show possibilities of more liberal tag chronology for a specific style. I’m sure Lon Lewis is accumulating data on this research challenge, being the studious and knowledgeable hobbyist that he is. Also, any additional findings, pro or con, can be emailed to me at email@example.com for future expansion of what’s been started here.