Collectors are usually more comfortable with baseball gamers that have tags included. For the purposes of this discussion as well as the previous statement, we’re not discussing manufacturer or size tags. No, collectors usually like to see notations such as the year of usage, maybe the set number, a name or numeric player ID, and, on rare occasions, an inventory number. Most teams carry at least one of these items in their current game attire, although a handful…Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Houston, for example…have been largely tagless since 2000.
A few tagless teams is not a recent occurrence. Even in the 1970s, there were a few styles of the then-newfangled doubleknits that didn’t feature the numbers and names hobbyists like to see. The Shirt will feature a nearly complete list of 1970s knits that bore only a supplier label, generally with the size included in the design.
Baltimore: The Orioles were very tag-friendly on their Wilson, Rawlings, and Spalding knit gamers, but the one style from 1971-79 not made by those three…the 1971 orange pullover alternates…were tagless. The style was made by Brooks Robinson Sporting Goods, and the HoFer’s company tagged pretty much nothing it made…that included O’s Old-Timers Game garb in the later ’70’s, as well as the prototype for the ABA Baltimore Claws, who folded before playing a game.
California Angels: Virtually anything supplied to the Halos by Los Angeles-based Goodman and Sons were tagless items, except for the 1979 Angels ALCS home whites, of which I have only seen two in my 30-plus years of jersey collecting (a Frank Tanana and a Joe Rudi).
Chicago White Sox: The Veeck-designed 1976 Rawlings pullovers with the oversized collars were untagged 90 percent of the time. Occasional examples will emerge with a set 1 flag tag, but those are minimal in quantity.
Cincinnati: Tagless Wilson road knits were the norm for the 1972-76 time frame, although many examples feature a markered set number (1, 2, or 3) handwritten on the Wilson label.
Cleveland: Normally a tagging team, one can find nearly all 1975 Wilson gamers to not bear the year tag that other years included. Also, as in the case of the 1976 White Sox garb mentioned earlier, team budget constraints found the tagless threads being worn periodically one and even two seasons later.
Los Angeles Dodgers: You can find tagged jerseys, featuring year and set notations, for some 1970s Goodman issuances, but not, from my experiences, on home or road Dodgers duds from 1976, 1977, or 1979.
There are still too many NFL retail jerseys, discernable by a separate Pro Line tag on items made by companies who didn’t use the notation on team-issued items, being offered as gamers on eBay. Three popped up in the past week, including a Russell Eagles jersey, a Bears Champion shirt, and one from Wilson of the Colts. Sad to say, all three companies never featured Pro Line notations on the tagging of any of their team-issued garb. In the case of the Bears jersey, the Pro Line tag replaced the team-exclusive tag in the dual tagging on the tail. The Wilson fake showed the 1995 shield logo on the tag…appropriate for sleeves on ’95 NFL game attire, but NEVER on the Wilson tag.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, LOUISVILLE SLUGGER
Louisville slugger will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of their existence as a MLB bat supplier by placing a logo on 2009-issued MLB game bats. Located between the centerbrand and the barrel ID notations, the logo will bear the 125th designation, as well as the years involved (1884-2009). Louisville has only placed special logos on their bats twice before: the BiCentennial Liberty Bell logo in 1976, and the pink ribbon insignia for Mothers’ Day/Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Bats, beginning in 2006.
RETRO BECOMES REGULAR
Word comes from Wisconsin’s Murf Denny that the 2009-10 NBA season will find the Philadelphia 76ers making the current season’s 1983-style Hardwood Classics design their regular style for all games. As in that bygone season, home versions will be white and road designs will be red.
GIVE IT TO THE KID…
…Not the course of action of most adult game-used collectors, but the definitive choice of one NBA player recently.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas of the Cleveland Cavaliers entered the NBA 10,000 career point club on March 21st, and team officials were looking to retrieve the game ball that scored that milestone point to give to Ilgauskas. Problem was, the ball somehow made it into the stands after the game, and was gone by the time team officials began searching in earnest. Local media immediately began calling for the ball’s new owner to turn the ball over to the Cavs for Ilgauskas.
The thing was, the ball was not in the hands of a memorabilia dealer or even a diehard NBA collector, but rather an 8-year old kid. The kid’s mother, seeing the media outcry over returning the prized ball, called the Cavs and explained the circumstances. Ilgauskas contacted the family, and, noting the pressure being placed on a grade-school youngster, defused the dilemma by telling the boy that he could keep it. A nice ending if the kid enjoys his souvenir from an NBA game, but not so nice if the ball shows up on eBay in a few weeks…here’s hoping for the former.
Lou Saban, who played for the NFL Browns from 1946-49, and coached the Patriots, Bills and Broncos of both the AFL and AFC over 16 years, died from heart failure March 29 at age 87. Saban had two coaching stints with the Bills, winning the AFL Championship the first time around in 1964-65, and, after returning, coached O.J. Simpson.
Herman Franks, a former big league catcher and manager, died on March 30 at age 95. Franks caught in the National League (1939-41) with St. Louis and Brooklyn before serving in World War 2, and, upon his playing resumption, caught for the Athletics and Giants in the 1947-49 time frame. He managed both the Giants (1965-68) and Cubs (1977-79), never winning a pennant or division title, but scoring four consecutive 2nd place finishes during his years in San Francisco.