I have yet to see a game-worn example of the Chicago Bears’ orange alternate jerseys on the game-used market yet. The team introduced them in 2005, in a win over San Francisco, and trotted out the 2006 edition the Sunday before Hallowe’en, again besting the 49ers in pumpkin colors.

One thing for sure about them, however…if you are offered the 2005 orange Bears’ jersey of Nathan Vasher, don’t bite. The Bears cornerback was the guy who returned a missed 49er field goal 109 yards for a touchdown while wearing that particular shirt, the longest play from scrimmage record in the NFL. His jersey from that game went straight to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

2)…Is it or isn’t it…game-used that is? That is a question that can be legitimately asked by anyone owning a 1990 Rawlings White Sox Turn Back the Clock uniform.

Worn the day after the 1990 All-Star Game, in a rescheduled rainout against Milwaukee, the team ordered two sets of this then-unique uniform design. The players only wore one, but two were provided, one for the team to keep for fundraising, the other for the player to keep, at his choice. While some players opted not to take home a TBTC unie, some did, meaning that there is likely no way to tell, short of player provenance or something obvious like a sliding stain that was never laundered out, whether a uniform in a hobbysist’s collection is the worn one or the mint one.

3) Another major MLB-level recycling project was brought to my attention recently, as another follow-up to previous Shirt articles discussing MLB jerseys being used multiple seasons on the MLB level. One can find several 1998 Arizona Diamondbacks jerseys that were trotted out for additional use in 1999, with the year tagless tops being altered only to the extent of the standard logo patch on he left sleeve replacing the 1998 Inaugural Year logo…a change not even necessary on the home vest knits. A tip of the hat to D-Backs collector/employee Sam Kiser for that bit of news.

4) Major league memoriam bands and patches can sometimes be used at the same time by organization farm teams, as well. I had known for years that the Olin/Crews memoriam patches that the Major League Indians wore in 1993 (for pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews, both killed in a March boating accident) were also used at the Tribe’s Triple-A outpost in Charlotte, and have been told, but cannot verify, the same patches being worn at Double-A Columbus Ga., as well.
I just acquired a set of cards of the 1986 Columbus Clippers (Triple-A Yankees), and have plenty of photographic examples of Clipper players wearing black armbands a la the parent club for Yankees legend Roger Maris, who died in December 1985.

5) Of course, MLB jerseys can be handed down and have memoriam bands added for minor league notables, as well. Early-mid 1980s Cubs jerseys that were handed down to Peoria IL (low A Midwest League) for use often have black mourning bands on the left sleeve, often with the white initials WKW prnted on them. A few experts-in-their-own-minds, upon discovering these, declared them to be memoriams for William Wrigley on the Major League level. NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND, as Lee Corso would say…the ACTUAL honoree being eulogized was Walter K. Walters, the Midwest League presdient who died before the 1986 season. The bands also show up on other MLB jerseys handed down to Midwest League clubs of the era, though not as frequently as with thenCubs/Peoria Chiefs.

Another sometimes confusing case of minor league memoriams on major league jerseys passed down: early-mid 1970s Braves knits that were passed on down to Triple-A Richmond. Black bands on the left sleeves of these were Richmond-based in origin, as the 1975 season saw Richmond manager and ex-MLB catcher Clint Courtney die of a heart attack during a Braves road trip to Rochester to play the Red Wings.

6) It’s amazing how some things never change in the hobby. Back in the 1990 time frame, collectors of the era were aghast at seeing game-quality uniforms WITH TAGS being sold by a company of the era. New York-based Score Board, over a three-year period, worked with Rawlings to issue signed, game-quality retail jerseys of the likes of Will Clark, Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, Nolan Ryan and others…all bearing Rawlings tagging, although, in most cases, tagging designs that slightly differed from what the team used that year. Leading collectors and dealers of the era were worried sick that, while Score Board didn’t sell them as “game-used” or “team-issued”, the decision to include tags would eventually result in massive erroneous descriptions, either through ignorance or planned deceit, by sellers of the jerseys once they hit the secondary market.

Despite the efforts of yours truly and others, the Score Board-induced aggravation continues to this day. These tagged retail jerseys are repeatedly offered by uninformed and/or unethical sellers on eBay as “game-used”. One major auction house recently had three Score Board examples up in their auction, all “authenticated” by their hired “expert” (not MEARS).
The MEARS database has made an effort to track and record examples of such jerseys when publicly offered, in order to prevent misrepresentations, unintended or otherwise. It’s a shame that some industry leaders don’t have the knowledge and/or the desire to follow suit.

NEXT TIME: The player said it’s his…IS IT? We’ll find out.

Dave Miedema