Another topic I would like to devote some time to is the subject of patch collecting and its support to imagery analysis as they are related. The area I would like to highlight is their value as an object of known size. In many cases, the picture or image you are looking at requires that a determination of size be made so that lettering, numbering, sleeve length can be evaluated. One of the ways this can be accomplished is if there is an object of known size in the picture. Other examples include things like the Hillerich and Bradsby Center Brand Logo on bats from the early 1920s through 1979 has remained relatively consistent 4 inches.
The way you use this information is very simple. If the patch in the picture you are looking at is say 4 inches in height, then everything within the same relative plain that takes up the same amount of space is 4 inches as well. When I talk about the same relative plane, I am referring how close something is to the patch in terms of both proximity and depth. Two players standing next to each other would be within the same relative plane. A pitcher on the mound and a batter would not be.
What I like to do is make an enlargement of the photo I am working with and take the measurement of the patch in the picture in millimeters. Then make the same measurement of what I am trying to discern in the same manner. Next step is to establish a proportional ratio. For example if the rear numeral on the jersey is 2 ½ times the size of the 4” patch. This means numerals in question are 10” in height. You can do the same thing to determine other things such as approximate bat length or sleeve length as well.
In order to enable you to begin to do some of this for yourself, please consider this partial list of baseball patches:
Assorted Baseball Patch References
Height —– Width
1939 —– MLB Centennial —– 4” —– 3 5/8”
1940s —– Reds Jacket Patch —– 7” —– 10 ½”
1943-45 —– MLB Stars & Stripes —– 3 ¾ “ —– 3”
1950 —– Boston Braves Indian Head —– 4 ½” —– 5 1/8”
1951 —– 50th Anniversary (AL ) —– 4 ¾ “ —– 3”
1960s —– Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo —– 4 ¼” —– 3 ½”
1960 —– Baltimore Orioles Bird Patch —– 4 ½” —– 3 7/8”
1965 —– NY Mets Sleeve Patch —– 4” Diameter
1967 —– Minnesota Twins Patch —– 2 7/8” —– 3 3/8”
1969 —– MLB 100th Anniversary —– 2 7/16” —– 2 5/8”
1969 —– Houston Astros —– 4” Diameter
1974 —– Atlanta Braves Feather —– 6 ¼” —– 3 ½”
1976 —– Bi-Centennial (NL) —– 3 ¾“ Diameter
When looking to apply this to answer your own questions, take a few minutes to look at the photo(s) in their entirety. Although you may be looking at a Yankees crest, take note of what another team’s player may be wearing in the same picture. The best photos I have found for this type of research as those from All Star Games. These are preferred for a couple of reasons. First they feature such a wide assortment of uniforms from the same season. Secondly, many shots can be found of players from both leagues posing for shots side by side in pre-game shots.
As mentioned previously, Willabee and Ward has produced some wonderful replica patches. The problem comes in when you find one of these patches on a jersey and the claim is being made that the shirt is all original. One of the things you will want to look for is the manner of construction, paying close attention to the stitching. Consider this comparison between a replica 1951 American League Golden Anniversary Patch (on the right) and an original (on the left). Notice the difference, especially with how the letters “C” and “G” are done. Additionally, look at the differences in how the seams on the ball appear at the bottom of the patch.
One of the things were do at MEARS is record data and measurements on the work sheets for crest sizes, lettering and numeral sizes. This does a couple of things. It permits us to establish data for the comparison of these features for future reference. In addition, like patches, they too can be used as objects of known size. I encourage every collector to record like type information on what ever you collect. This permits you to leverage information you already have for additional use.
Patches, in my opinion, can really make a jersey. Patch collecting can make for an enjoyable hobby focus as well…More importantly, patches and understanding of both their collectability and empirical value can take your hobby knowledge to another level.