I had seen these catalogs any number of times and they appear on E-Bay with some regularity. When I asked a fellow hobbyist about them, they were generally described to me as “ABC” catalogs… Ammunition, Badminton, and Camping catalogs… with very little to offer with respect to value for the game used researcher. I was not taken back by this less than thrilling endorsement, so I decided to purchase a small grouping of them for around $50.00. I am happy to report, that while they are filled with Ammunition, Badminton, and Camping, there are interesting none the less.
Remember, as the name implies, this is a trade focused publication and is combination of advertisements as well as industry and product news. If you are looking for historical information on the nature of the Sporting Goods Industry in the United States, then these publications are for you. I have always been fascinated with all aspects of history, so they suit my interests. If you are product focused, in that you collect retail catalogs from the actual manufacturers such as Hillerich & Bradsby/Louisville Slugger, Adirondack, Reach, Spalding…well you get the picture, then these are not for you.
The price range on these seems to be all over the map on E-Bay…some for a little as $5.00 and others upwards of $50.00, with no apparent reason based on the age of the publication or the cover image.
The grouping I bought included offerings from:
April 1962: 284 pages
July 1962: 280 pages
March 1965: 322 pages
March 1966: 298 pages
December 1967: 250 pages
December 1973: 200 pages
Highlights from this grouping include:
I found a couple of interesting things in this issue. The first has to do with an advertisement featuring Dean Chance. The ad depicts Chance as the hometown boy offering patronage to his local retail sporting goods dealer. The ad has Chance’s endorsement that “I have purchased sporting equipment at throughout my high school and pro career at Pierce’s Sporting Goods.” This could mean any number of things as it relates to product…could have been gym socks or fishing lures. The other possibility is that of gloves. I know, we all want to believe that professional players never bought off the shelf for their leather, but given the time frame in question, is it really that hard to believe? Remember, this was time when players worked in the off season, and many did this by returning home to do so as you will see later on. The second thing to consider was the quality and price of a “Top of the Line” ball glove available at the retail level. At this period in time, the “Top of the Line” fielder’s gloves were priced at:
Spalding: 42-111 Whitey Ford Personal Model at $36.95
Rawlings: TTP Professional Model at $43.50
Wilson: A2000 Professional Model at $42.00
MacGregor: KC2 Kangaroo Pro Outfielder at $53.00
Yes players could have received gloves from factory reps in spring training, but I think it is also very plausible they may have accepted one from a local retailer, especially if they had a personal history with them and it was a high quality product. Call that corny, but it was a different time and loyalty was still an acceptable social norm.
This same edition features a rather neat ad for the Stan the Man line of sporting goods, with the note that high quality gloves were available for school and professional use. Do I know of any professional players who used these gloves? I do not. It’s hard to imagine that Musial would not have made an effort to at least get someone to give them a try. This would not have been the first time that an ex-ballplayer sought to leverage his status. If you remember in one of my pervious articles on Adirondack bat, former Giants pitcher Hal Schumacher was able to sign Willie Mays to an endorsement deal prior to Mays reaching the majors because of his history with the Giants organization…just food for thought.
One of the ads dovetails back to the previous issue about the times…players worked in the off season. Here we find Broncos Linebacker (love those helmets) John Bramlett being signed on as a local sporting goods rep. To put this into some perspective, think about being a local high school coach today and picking up the phone so you could speak to Brain Urlacher about what helmets and shoulder pads your kids should be wearing under the Friday Night Lights…as I said, it was a different time.
The other ad from the April 1966 issue focused on what jackets were worn by the Minnesota Twins and the LA Dodgers in the 1965 World Series. You will see jackets manufactured by Butwin show up every so often, but I find people often pass on them because they never considered Butwin major manufacturer or supplier. Maybe time to re-think that if that has been your position based on their claim made here that both the Twins and the Dodgers wore Butwin jackets.
This issue also featured an ad from a lesser know manufacturer/supplier, that being Powers Athletic Wear from Watterloo, Iowa. We have seen numerous examples over the years of a regional manufacturers/suppliers providing product to regional teams. The Power’s ad describes their products as being available for high school, college, and pro use. This claim in the ad makes sense against the backdrop of some of the information contained in the MEARS Basketball Uniform Data Base.
Power’s manufactured uniforms in the MEARS Data Base Include:
1973-74 Dave Bustion Denver Rockets Home Preseason Jersey
1973-74 Al Smith Denver Rockets ABA Road Jersey
1973-74 Denver Rockets Warm Up Shirt & Pants
1975-85 Kansas City Kings Warm Up
1977-79 Bobby Wilkerson Denver Nuggets Home Jersey
1978-79 Bob Nash/Ernie Grunfeld Kansas City Kings Home Jersey
Circa 1978-81 Kim Hughes Denver Nuggets Road Jersey
Circa 1978-81 Kim Hughes Denver Nuggets Road Jersey
Circa 1979-80 Reggie King Kansas City Kings Road Jersey
I suspect I will continue to pick these catalogs up from time to time when priced right. I don’t see them commanding the same money or being as collectable as the actual period retail manufacturers offerings for any number of reasons. My point is, that had just taken the advice of the other hobbyist, I would have passed on these and missed some good information. Without trying to sound arrogant, the person’s opinion I trust in most matters is my own. That should be your goal as well when it comes to evaluating products and information related to this hobby….spend your own time and spend your own money on things that will truly enable you to enjoy what you collect and collect what you enjoy.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com