I just received this e-mail from long time Cincinnati Reds collector Mike Wills. It was addressed to me and various other individuals. It read:
“Has anyone seen anything like this before on a Jersey. I’ve posted on the forum. Rawlings tag with instructions to wash in warm water vs cold.
I feel that the answer to Mike’s question lies in understanding that Rawlings produced knits in various fabrics in the early to mid-1970s. I believe there is evidence to suggest that the laundry instructions on the various products were intended to be matched with the products by fabric content. If you ever handled one of the early “square tail” Rawlings products worn by the Reds, Cardinals, Pirates, or Orioles and then compared it a product such as those worn by the Mets or Indians, you know what I mean.
This is something I have suspected for some time as part of my continuing study of uniform materials as seen in my recent article on flannel fabrics. Just this week I bought both the Cardinals and Mets salesman’s samples pictured here today. What is ever funnier is they just arrived as I was typing this article.
PLATE I shows the jerseys that Mike mentioned in his e-mail and post on the Game Used Universe Forum.
PLATE II shows the fabric content for the Rawlings “square tail” products. Notice these contain cotton fibers. You will also see the 1973 Phil Gagliano Cincinnati Reds jersey (cotton/nylon product) has wash in cold water tag, but a handwritten vintage notation of “W”. I have always taken that to refer to warm water laundering.
PLATE III shows the fabric content of jerseys worn by the Mets. Notice the fabric content and instructions for cold water laundering in both the 1972 offering and the 1974 salesman’s sample.
I think what we are seeing in the jerseys in PLATE I is nothing more than a jersey that was tagged with an outdated/incorrect manufacturers’ label. Really not much different than the Gagliano jersey if you think about it. The knit jerseys worn by the Cincinnati Reds by 1974-1975 are more consistent by fabric content with the Mets sample(non-natural fibers) than the earlier ones they wore in 1972-1973. Without physically inspecting either the Bench or the Nolan also leaves open the possibility that they could be two different fabric blends and the tags are correct. Looking at this under a digital microscope would help to confirm this as well. Additionally, if you look back at the laundry instructions on Rawlings flannels from the late 1960s-early 1970s, you will notice that those jerseys also contained man made fibers and also called for laundering in “Luke Warm Water.”
Great question and could not have come at a better time. Always makes me feel good when I can use the uniforms I buy for my on hand exemplar library.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com