The article I wrote a few weeks back on the 1972-74 Oakland A’s appears to have been a big hit with collectors. I was curious how long it would take until someone asked about the Pirates of the mid 1970s to early 1980s. This article focuses not so much on style variations, but the variety of manufacturers who supplied these…shall we say…interesting styles.
In looking at this subject, I drew data and information from numerous sources. These included old auction catalogs, previously evaluated uniforms, team publications, period images, Pirates collectors, and contemporary newspaper accounts. For collectors looking to answer similar questions, I would suggest casting the same wide net on any project you undertake. However, if there is one source that is most often overlooked, it is contemporary newspapers.
To highlight the value of older newspapers, they were the source of the information confirming a foreign supplier of uniforms to the National Pastime in 1977 in the form of Descente. Descente was a French-Japanese company known their ski garments and apparel. Period newspapers identified that Descente would provide two of the three styles in 1977. By way of the uniforms seen in the hobby, those appear to have been the home pinstriped and the black uniforms. The existence of gold pants manufactured by Rawlings in 1977 appears to answer the question about the lone American supplier for that year. Rawlings was a likely choice since they had been suppliers of the Pirate’s knits since 1970, something else that period newspaper accounts confirmed. Rawlings as the sole American supplier in 1977 is also supported by period news paper accounts as well. What was interesting to note was the price for the Descente uniforms at $80.00, a cost higher than the Rawlings product. Another thing to consider when doing your own research is to use one source of information as confirmation of another. This can be seen in the Stargell locker room shot from 1982 and the Tim Foli jersey from 1981.
The following sample of uniforms has been compiled by looking at Pittsburgh Pirates jerseys and pants that have been offered in the hobby through various auctions or are in private collections. Also included in this listing are uniforms that have been evaluated by MEARS. This list is solely intended to offer data points for consideration as you look into this subject on your own.
Tommy Helms Jersey (Descente)
Al Oliver Pants (Descente)
Dave Parker Pants (Descente)
Fernando Gonzalez Jersey (Descente)
Jerry Heristan Jersey (Descente)
No Player # Pants (Rawlings)
Bobby Tolan Jersey (Descente)
John Candelaria Pants (Descente)
Manny Sangullien Pants (Descente)
Manny Sangullien Jersey (Descente)
Fernando Gonzalez Jersey (Wilson)
Manny Sangullien Pants (Wilson)
Bert Blyleven Jersey (Rawlings)
Will McEnaney Jersey (Descente)
Grant Jackson Jersey (Descente)
No Player # Pants (Wilson)
Dave Parker Jersey (Rawlings)
Harvey Haddix Jersey (Wilson)
Chuck Tanner Jersey (Descente)
Mike Easler Pants (Descente)
Harvey Haddix Jersey (Descente)
Bill Robinson Jersey (Descente)
Steve Nicosia Jersey (Rawlings)
Ed Ott Pants (Rawlings)
Tim Foli (Rawlings)
Kurt Bevaqua Pants (Wilson)
Dave Parker Jersey (Wilson)
Tim Foli Jersey (Wilson)
Willie Stargell Jersey (Wilson)
Willie Stargell Jersey (Descente)
Tim Foli Jersey (Descente)
No player # Pants (Rawlings)
Kent Tekulve Jersey (Rawlings)
Pascual Perez Pants (Wilson)
Willie Stargell Jersey (Wilson)
Matt Alexander Jersey (Descente)
Enrique Romo Pants (Descente)
Mike Easler Jersey (Rawlings)
Bill Madlock Pants (Wilson)
Brian Harper Jersey (Descente)
Willie Stargell (Descente)
Mario Mendez Jersey (Rawlings)
Lee Lacey Pants (Rawlings)
John Candelaria Jersey (Wilson)
#35 (Un-issued) Jersey (Wilson)
Johnny Ray Pants (Wilson)
Rod Scurry Pants (Descente)
Larry McWilliams Pants (Descente)
After laying all of this out, I cant help but wonder what it would have been like to watch the A’s and the Pirates in the World Series at this time had they played each other. I’m not sure it would have been a pretty sight, just pretty interesting and colorful.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com.
POST SCRIPT: I purchased my 1977 Descente black jersey and 1977 yellow Rawlings pants from Mr. Vin Lembo via E-Bay. Vin’s E-Bay ID is pittpirate21 and I would recommend him to anyone looking for uniforms through E-Bay. Thanks Vin…