One adage shared with me by a collector friend I’ve since lost touch with is one most collectors should be aware of when participating in the game-used realm. Former contact John Steffan, a collector of White Sox and hockey attire, once opined, “Teams use tagging as a way to identify what’s on hand to be used, and not to leave a legacy for collectors.”

Truer words are rarely spoken in the game-used realm. Teams tagging their unies, or NOT tagging them, or doing so in a certain way, is meant to fill the needs of the organization, and not to provide a blueprint of authenticity for those of who collect game-used wearables. As such, certain oddities and anomalies pop up that, despite their offbeat nature, are perfectly legitimate. The Shirt will examine a few such out-of-the-norm tagging features that, despite their odd nature, are perfectly legitimate.

Rawlings “chintzy” tag:

The name “chintzy” is of my own creation, not of the game-used hobby in general. This relatively plain manufacturers’ label, one that merely depicts the Rawlings script logo inside the diagonal stripes and no washing instructions nor any size specifics, can be found in a small number of 1987 MLB jerseys, apparently part of the initial tagging confusion that resulted from Rawlings supplying a half-dozen or so MLB squads to 25 of the 28 that existed at the time. In these specific jerseys, size tagging can be found on what is normally a Rawlings retail size tag placed in an abnormal position (inside torso seam).

Yankees 2000 year tag:

Russell was the manufacturer of Yankees game jerseys from 1992-2004. Various designs of tagging exist in that 13-year time span, ranging from year only, to year and NIT (name in tail), to no year tag (most frequently found in 2002 and 2003).
The year 2000, however, carried a unique year ID, that being “Y0”. Not “YO”, as in Rocky Balboa’s “Yo, Adrian!”, but Y-zero, as in year zero. It’s decidedly different from the other ID notations mentioned earlier, but every bit as genuine.

Intera tag (Russell)

When Russell was awarded the MLB contract for uniforms in time for the 1992 season, one of the company’s selling points was the creation of its Intera fabric, billed as a ‘double-knit that breathes”, according to articles of the time. The use of intera was limited and short-lived, however, with known examples in the MEARS database being only seen in 1992 and 1993, both for MLB and NFL duds. The intera tag, which features the fabric name as part of a more detailed text, replaces the more commonly seen “100% Polyester” and “100% Nylon” nub tags in most Russell game and BP tops, and is sized more like a vertical flag tag than a small vertical nub.

Store tags, but game jerseys (Russell)

Why the team went this route is unknown, but most of the Colorado Rockies gamers from 1993, especially home whites and road greys, bear no fabric tag (poly, nylon, or intera) and a collar-located retail-style size tag in lieu of the fabric content tag and standard year/set labelling, found in a limited number of ’93 Rockies gamers of the home and road variety, and more common in the black alternate style the team used that year. The 1993 Rockies garb was sold in bulk to longtime game-used dealer Ball Park Heroes of Indiana, with team LOAs issued for all such items, a fact I was made aware of as BPH’s hired third-party authenticator in the early and mid-1990s. The hobby dealer’s policy of that era was to use team LOAs when available, and my LOAs in conjunction with theirs when none were supplied.

Two flag tags, one jersey (Rawlings)

Rawlings flag tagging used a unique format in 1976: dual flag tags, one with the Set 1 or Set 2 notation, and the other, with “1976”, underneath. A single flag tag with a three-line format (SET 1/2, #8P. 197_) in blue ink was used from 1970-75, and a black ink-lettered tag with both set and year identifiers was the norm beginning in 1977. The dual tagging, also in black print, was the norm for Rawlings that year, although examples of one or the other in a tagging format do exist. More often than not, single 1976 flag tags can be found in 1976 Mets home jerseys (year already appears in collar strip tag), as well as very rare examples of the 1976 White Sox pajama jerseys, the vast majority of which are untagged.

Remember, hobbyists, we collectors are not the main focus of pro sports organizations when they order uniforms for their athletes. As such, flexibility in what to expect in the way of tagging those uniforms, within specific parameters, is an essential part of the authenticating experience.

Dave Miedema