Commemorative patches and the like have gained interest and usage in pro sports over the last 20-30 years, and, at least for now, misrepresented replica patches haven’t become nearly as widespread as misrepresented replica jerseys. Still, a few alternate versions of the non-team issued variety…and we’re not talking Mitchell and Ness or Willoughby & Ward items, here, but either team-issued or privately produced replicas and/or knockoffs…need to be identified. TSOMB will detail several from Major League Baseball in this article.
MINI-ME: Certain replicas are team-produced souvenir versions, identifiable by a smaller sizing than the official examples. Among these replicas to be aware of are the 1975 Massachusetts Bicentennial patch (Red Sox), the 1986 Mets 25th Anniversary patch, the retail jersey version of the 1993 Marlins Inaugural Year patch, and the 1997 Dodgers Jackie Robinson 50th Anniversary logo.
CENTENNIAL CONFUSION: Several knockoffs of the 1976 National League Centennial patch exist, and, rather than detail the flaws in each one, here’s what to look for in the correct version: a red, raised rim around the edge, larger sizing, and a 1975 copyright notation in very subtle white embroidery on the white background of the patch…replicas either use the wrong color or make the notation too obvious.
CARL-LESS MARLINS: A souvenir version of the Marlins Inaugural Year patch, sans the black CARL for deceased team president Carl Barger, was made, as well as a recently seen knockoff at a card show that carried the CARL notation in teal instead of the correct black.
CHISOX SOUVENIRS: The White Sox had patch day giveaways in the 1990’s at New Comiskey Park, but would often give out souvenir versions instead of what the players wore. The 1991 Inaugural Year patch the team gave out, for example, used a lower grade of embroidery, with the INAUGURAL YEAR wording connected by small threads to the border of the inside of the logo, whereas the genuine version did not. Another variance exists in a souvenir edition of the 1995 patch given out. The logo, in recognition of the team’s 95th Anniversary, does not have a white border around the black edging on the giveaway version, while the one the players wore does.
STRIKING DIFFERENCE IN STRIKE YEAR: The 125th Anniversary patch created for 1994 game jerseys has a bright, speckled gold color to the batting player silhouette. A souvenir, replica version uses the same basic design, but the gold silhouette is a much more subdued, duller metallic gold hue.
ALL-STAR KNOCKOFF: Finally, the 1982-83 patch worn by the White Sox for the 50th Anniversary All-Star Game (the game was in 1983, but the team also wore the patch on 1982 jerseys after that season’s All-Star break) has a metallic gold rim around the edge, while a bogus version that has been offered on Ebay several times as the real deal has a red rim instead.
The same team, the same patch…but different versions. Yes, it can happen…usually over the course of multiple years, but occasionally in the same season. TSOMB lists a few such examples, as well as a pair of unique logo patches from 1972, all in the realm of Major League Baseball and the NBA.
TEXAS RANGERS: A shield-shaped patch made its debut on Rangers knits in 1976, and stayed in its basic form until the early 1980’s, at least in part. The first version from ’76, though, was unique, as it carried the notations “1776” and “1976” in reference to the U>S> Bicentennial. Later years saw no numeric notations of this kind.
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: Likewise, the pirates introduced a diamond-shaped logo patch in 1987 that was used for several years, and, also likewise, they used numeric year notations in the first of those years. Rather than a national bicentennial, however, the 1987 version of the patch carried the notations “1887” and “1987” to pay tribute to the franchise’s 100th anniversary.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: When the new Comiskey Park (now known as U.S. Cellular Field) opened in 1991, the team used a stadium inaugural year patch that was a stylized image of the team’s scoreboard and pinwheels, noting the team’s new home. Subsequent years (until and including 2002) used the same design, but with a “Comiskey Park” notation, which was terminated when the team sold naming rights to Joan Cusack’s favorite cell phone provider.
WHITE SOX AGAIN: the Sox used two versions of the same patch in the same year. The year was 1984, and the patch was a joint memoriam for coaches Charley Lau (6) and Loren Babe (46), both of whom passed away in the 1983-84 off-season. The original version of the patch was one with black embroidered numbers and a black rim, but later versions appeared with screened numbers and no rim.
CINCINNATI REDS: Same occasion, decidedly different image…that was the theme of the 1994 Cincinnati Reds 125th Anniversary patch. Rather than the brightly speckled gold batter used by the other 27 ball clubs, the Reds’ version utilized an image of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings team photo.
MONTREAL EXPOS: Given the Franco-Anglo dialect duality in Montreal, the 1994 MLB 125-year patch and the 1997 Jackie Robinson Breaking Barriers patch carry notations in French as opposed to English.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: Being Jackie Robinson’s only MLB team, a special version of the color line-bashing patch with the Dodgers team name was worn by the Dodgers that year.
FLORIDA MARLINS: Red, white and blue tend to clash with the Marlins’ team colors. Ergo, their version of tribute to Jackie Robinson was recast in the team’s teal-and-black hues.
TORONTO RAPTORS: The NBA, as a whole, wore patches to honor the fallen of the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the 2001-2002 season. Being the only Canadian team in the Association at the time, however, the Raptors wore a unique version depicting both the Canadian and American flags in the center of the design…the other hoops teams wore one with only Old Glory depicted.
ONE YEAR, ONE-STYLE PATCHES:
Spalding, a prominent MLB uniform supplier during the flannel era, ended their involvement as a uniform manufacturer for The Show after 1972, meaning that precious few styles and teams of Spalding-made knits exist.
Two such styles, both from ’72, are unique not only for being knits produced by Spalding, but also
for unique sleeve logo patches used only on that style for that season. The Houston Astros kept the same basic design for the homes and roads, but, rather than the orange background and dark blue print that was standard, the ’72 road greys used a white background with a lighter blue print and a blue rim. An example can be seen on the 1973 Topps card of Jesus Alou (#93). When it came to the Minnesota Twins, however, the design was markedly different. As opposed to the odd-shaped patch depicting two full-bodied ballplayers shaking hands over the Mississippi River, the ’72 road greys used a round patch with just the players’ heads, in a more cartoonish form, and the word TWINS at the top in red. Such as patch can also be seen in the 1973 Topps set, on card #598 (Phil Roof).
Patch variations can also be the sign of souvenir versions not worn or used by the ball clubs. Next time out, The Shirt will cover some of those, and how to tell the authentic from the replica styles.
ANOTHER SESSION OF NUMEROLOGY
You know these men as having wore certain numbers for certain teams…but did you know what different digits they wore in less heralded times? Now, you will!
DAWSON’S PEEK: Quarterback Len Dawson made himself a Hall of Fame career in Kansas City wearing #16 in the Chief’s red-and-white hues…but, before that, he was, however briefly, a pass-thrower for the Cleveland Browns, wearing number 16, and photographically immortalized as that in a scarce 1961 regional football card issued as part of a set from National City Bank of Cleveland.
WIMPY’S WORLD: You may know Tom Paciorek as one of the current voices of the Atlanta Braves, or as Hawk Harrelson’s one time partner on Chicago White Sox TV broadcasts. Or, you may know Wimpy as a wearer of normal numbers during stops in L.A., Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Texas, and New York. You probably didn’t know, however, that, upon joining the Dodgers at the tail end of 1970, he was issued the since-retired #53 worn for over a decade by Don Drysdale.
MAN OF GOD: Reggie White was a fierce lineman on the field, and a student of Christianity off it. While 92 is the number that both Green Bay and Philadelphia are retiring in memory of him this current NFL season, he broke in with the Eagles wearing #91, as seen on his 1986 Topps card.
CHASING THE MAILMAN: Karl Malone had an NBA title elude him for his entire career. As a Los Angeles Laker, he also was eluded by his standard #32 jersey, retired years earlier for Laker legend Magic Johnson, and instead donned #11.
61: THE MAN: Roger Maris went through FOUR different digits with his first two MLB teams before getting and sticking with #9 in Yankee Stadium and Busch Stadium. The list: 1957 Indians (32), 1958 Indians (5), 1958 A’s (35), 1959 A’s (3).
SECOND TO SANDBERG: Joe Morgan has been known as #8 to most fans, just as fellow HOFer and Morgan’s griping target, Cubs great Ryne Sandberg, is cemented in fans’ minds as #23. However, as a Houston Astros star before being traded to the Reds, Morgan was the proud owner of #18…very clearly displayed on his 1971 Topps card.
“BOUND HOUND”: Even after leaving his beloved #10 behind in Detroit and San Antonio, Dennis Rodman wore odd (by NBA standards) numbers that, individually, equaled 10…91 (9+1) with the Bulls, and 73 (7+ 3) with the Lakers.
MR. SEPTEMBER: Called up to the majors in late 1967, Reggie Jackson, who would make October his month a decade or so later, made his September debut with the Kansas City A’s in the unusual number 31.
TOMAHAWK CHOP: Once Eddie Mathews left the Braves, his #41 was not available to him in two subsequent (and brief) MLB stops. He was #11 with the 1967 Astros, and #7 with the ’67-’68 Tigers.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES: Chipper Jones is well known as #10 in Atlanta double-knits, but, when h joined the Braves in late 993, he was issued #16 instead.
SAVED BY THE BELLE: Even curmudgeonly Albert Belle would not stoop so low as to demand that Cal Ripken Jr. give him the #8 jersey he wore for years in Cleveland and Chicago, would he? No, he wouldn’t. Instead, he donned #88, making this his third and final big league number (he wore 36 when he first joined the Tribe).
Lack of tagging can sometimes be a hindrance in trying to establish the authenticity of a game-used jersey, especially in baseball, where tags have been a major staple for decades. In most cases, however, tags are as securely attached to the jersey as the script, logo and numeric identifiers on the front and back. As a result, it would be highly unusual for a jersey to have had a year tag, for example, “fall out”, especially when other tags remain intact and relatively unscathed.
In the days when names on backs were not prevalent in MLB as they are now, NNOB jerseys plus “missing” year tags have equaled anything from wishful thinking at best to intentional deception, at worst. This article details a few such examples I have seen over recent years, and explanations as to what was/is more likely the case.
LUIS APARICIO RED SOX: The Hall of Fame shortstop wore McAuliffe Red Sox knits during his final two seasons (1972-73) in The Show. The style, however, was kept by the team until after 1978, and Aparicio’s #11 was worn subsequently by at least two other lesser lights, infielders Kim Andrew and Ramon Aviles, both of whom are in the 5-9 to 5-10 height range and 155-160 weight class…same as Little Louie! As a result, more than one Andrew or Aviles jersey, also in the size 38 Aparicio wore in Boston, have popped up as being “game-used Aparicio jersey, year tag removed” Yeah, RIGHT!
FERGIE JENKINS RED SOX: Fergie spent 1976 and 1977 as a member of the Red Sox mound staff; clad in those same McAuliffe NNOB knits (albeit significantly larger ones) as fellow HoFer Aparicio. His size 48 frame (6-5, 210) wore #31…the same number as worn before that by Bosox coach Don Bryant, identical in height to Jenkins and only 10 pounds lighter, and whose size 48 gamers have been advertised as having been worn by Jenkins, again with that “missing” year tag.
EDDIE MATHEWS ASTROS: I recall, decades ago, when I was learning the ropes of the hobby, buying, and eventually dealing away, an Astros home Shooting Star flannel of #11, purported to have been Eddie Mathews’, and trimmed in the tail so that the Wilson size 42 tag was still visible, but the year was lopped off. Only well after letting the piece go (we’re talking 20-plus years ago here) was I to learn that the subsequent wearer of #11 for the Astros…Denis Menke…also took a size 42, and had the number in 1968-70, making me sadly realize that I had been had (and, in turn, unintentionally had someone else) with a doctored Menke jersey that had been presented as a Mathews piece.
BAGWELL/BIGGIO 1995 ASTROS: Many of you will recall the plan for MLB owners to trot replacement players out in their teams’ uniforms in 1995, before Judge Sonya Sontmeyer made a ruling that, in effect, halted the MLB labor stoppage. Still, all teams made jerseys for the fill-ins, and a few even released the team-issued, unworn items to the public. Case in point: the Astros, whose untagged 1995 replacement player knits were sold en masse to Ball Four Sports of Maryland. Ball4 sold them legitimately, as what they were, but secondary owners, in a handful of instances, bought them and doctored them to reflect the identities of Houston superstars Bagwell and Biggio, as Russell’s normal Astros game jerseys for the real major leaguers were untagged, as well. Eventually, a Texas dealership, Smoking Pistols, bought what was remaining in Ball4’s inventory and proceeded to mark them in order to deter any future revisionist practices by the secondary marketplace, but a few are still floating around out there that have gone undetected.
ONE-YEAR AND OUT:
Occasionally, teams will use a specific style of jersey for only one season, and then change it. In many cases, the style works its way into the hobby in at least moderate numbers (such as 1984 Texas Rangers red knits and 1968 Oakland A’s chenille script front vests). A few of these one-year wonders, however, rarely, if ever, show up in our hobby. Three such MLB styles will be examined here this go-round.
1961 Tigers home flannels.
The Tigers broke from the decades-old tradition of the Olde English “D” briefly, opting instead for a home flannel in 1961 that used a navy scripted “Tigers on the front, with a smaller number beneath the script.
Have you ever seen one, other than in a photo (such as the accompanying 1962 Topps card of manager Bob Scheffing)? Neither have I, and the only sure way to see one up close and personal, according to collector/sportswriter Nick Edson of Traverse City, Michigan, would be to visit Al Kaline. Edson related to me years ago that the Tigers’ general manager of the era (Jim Campbell, I believe) hated these odd jerseys so much that he had nearly all of them burned! Nearly all…as Kaline, in a lunch discussion with Edson, revealed that he had taken one of his with him…the only example currently accounted for that I am aware of (and anyone who has one out there is encouraged to send me a photo and account of same at firstname.lastname@example.org).
1972 Indians home/road knits.
The first year of double-knit usage for the Indians and most other MLB teams found a Tribe style of threads that, unlike most later Cleveland unies, did not make it into the hobby in any notable numbers. Fact is, I’ve never seen an all-original OR a restored example in 25+ years!! If you have one, send us a snapshot. Rumor has it that nearly all of them were recycled in the minors. The style, a white home version and a grey road design, with a vertically arched “INDIANS” across the front in red, can be seen on many 1973 Topps cards, a couple of which are shown here.
1971 Orioles orange alternates.
The ’71 Birds broke out double-knits during the year, one version of which was a bright orange top made by Brooks Robinson Sporting Goods. Yes, the Hall of Fame third sacker had a sports apparel company that made these wearable for the O’s in-season usage, though the company is better known for producing various flannels and knits for Orioles Old-Timers games, such as the flannels made for a 1976 10-year reunion of the 1966 World Champs.
Thanks to Phil Wood, the publisher of the now-defunct newsletter Diamond Duds, we even had a population report of examples accounted for in the hobby, albeit as of the writings he did on them (some 10 years ago). Two were known at that juncture in time to be in the hobby, a Clay Dalrymple (catcher) and a Jim Frey (coach), both with apparent NOB removal. Tagging, based on a photo Wood used in the article, showed the manufacturer label and a size, but no year/set/name tagging. The style can be seen in photos circulating of the quartet of 20-game winners (Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Jim Palmer and Pat Dobson) from that year’s Orioles squad.
NEXT TIME: Some “transitional” jerseys made by one supplier and used under another company’s watch, in the NFL and MLB. See you then!