Beginning with the NBA in 1986, the idea of contracted suppliers…official supplier for sports uniforms for a major league…became part of the game-used hobby lexicon. MLB and the NFL soon followed, although the NFL employed a number of official suppliers until 2001. Below is a rundown of contracting sources for game attire in the three major sports leagues.

MLB: Rawlings supplied most of MLB from 1987-91, although five teams (Braves, Blue Jays, Tigers, Yankees and Red Sox) ordered at least one style from Wilson, and two other teams (Padres and Astros) and one player (Nolan Ryan) went to Goodman for a limited number of unies. Russell was the new contracted MLB supplier from 1992-99, with some teams (Braves, White Sox, and Blue Jays) ordering some Wilson attire for the entire time frame, and the Cardinals and Pirates using Rawlings in that same eight year span. The Dodgers wore Rawlings from 1992-94, and the Mets ordered garb from both Rawlings and AIS during a portion of the Russell contract. The contract was split among three companies (Majestic, Rawlings and Russell) from 2000-2002, and two (Majestic and Russell) in 2003-04. As of 2005, all MLB uniforms have been supplied by Majestic. One other exception has been certain Turn Back the Clock outfits over the last 15 or so years, with AIS, Ebbets Field Flannels, and Mitchell & Ness being involved.

NFL: Multiple suppliers were the norm for the NFL from the late 1980s all the way into 2000, with participating official suppliers at some point in that span including Wilson, Russell, Champion, Apex, Starter, Puma, Logo Athletic, Nike, Reebok and Adidas. Sand-Knit uniforms also were made in 1989-90. In 2001, Reebok took over all but a few teams, who used Adidas. The following year, Reebok was totally exclusive, the standard of the league til now.

NBA: Sand-Knit was the whole ball game from 1986-87 through 1989-90, as was Champion from 1990-91 through 1996-97. From 1997-98 through 2003-04, the league used multiples sources, predominant among them Nike, who was involved the entire time. Champion was in the mix until 2000-01, Starter and Puma saw action in 1997-99 and 1998-2000, respectively, and Reebok showed up in 2001-02. Reebok got exclusive uniform rights in 2004-05 and 2005-06, with Adidas succeeding them and the current contract holder.

The next Shirt will discuss the presence of the supplier sleeve logos (also called TV logos) that are connected to this listing.


Greg Maddux will have two number retirement ceremonies to attend in 2009. In addition to the Cubs’ ceremony in which his #31 will be retired for both Fergie Jenkins and himself, the Braves will mothball #31 all for him on July 17.

The Washington Nationals will wear special caps in a game later this year to honor recently departed general manager Jim Bowden. While the red home cap will feature a front side W, instead of the curly W they normally use, the letter will be a logo of two wishbone C’s (think the Cincinnati Reds) points down and connected to create a W.

Tag carryovers of manufacturer label designs can ad do occasionally happen, but one eBay item with solid provenance shows one of the more extreme examples. A 1998 Red Sox road knit of Greg Swindell, sourced from the Fenway Park Garage Sale a couple of months ago, bears a Russell label that was the norm for 1992! . That time delay is one of the most extreme time gaps I’ve ever seen.


More sightings of Go Green NBA game uniforms this past week include ones worn by the Bobcats on April 7 and the Bulls on April 9. I’m sure Al Gore will start a collection of these. 🙂

Just as there seem to be a few Pro Line NFL jerseys being offered, either through lack of knowledge or planned deceit, on the Bay, NBA jerseys are sometimes found with the same problems, as well. Recently, a seller had a Juwan Howard Wizards jersey by Nike that had he gnawing problem of bearing a “Made in El Salvador” notation on the extra length flag tag…a death knell as far as team-issued/game-worn pedigree goes. You don’t want to see this tag notation on the tail of a Nike-made NBA jersey.


Not the cereal…but another made-up word recently encountered to describe authentication in an eBay listing. Garbled English has now gone from “authentification” to “authenticizing”. I know some vintage football game-used enthusiasts chafe a little when they see “dureen” instead of “durene”, but this one is ridiculous!


Nick Adenhart, 22-year-old Angels pitcher, was killed in an auto accident in the wee hours of April 9th when his vehicle, carrying three other people, was hit by a van. Two of the three passengers also died. Adenhart had thrown six innings of scoreless ball in a start just hours before his life was ended.

Ken Anderson (not the Bengals QB great) died of a heart attack April 3rd at age 33. He played college ball at Arizona and was a member of the 1999 Bears.

Gus Cifelli, a tackle for 3 National Championship football squads at Notre Dame and a pro with the Detroit Lions, died March 26th of natural causes. He was 84.

Paul Davis, head football coach at Mississippi State in 1962-66 and again in 1987, died at age 87.

Marvin Webster, a 9-year NBA center known as the “Human Eraser”, died of an undetermined illness at age 56. Eight steady seasons with Seattle and New York found Webster making a mark on the game, with a NBA Championship ring earned with the Sonics. Two years of hepatitis pretty much ended his career, although a brief comeback was attempted with Milwaukee.

Mike Casey, a Kentucky Wildcats hoops star from 1967-69 and 1970-71, died from heart complications at age 60. He missed the 1969-70 NCAA season with a broken leg.