November 23, 2006

During the past 6 months, MEARS has been asked to examine a handful of pre 1930 game worn jerseys. Included in the list of jersey we were asked to examine were a 1915 Yankees jersey, 1915 Red Sox, 1925 Tigers, and 1928 Indians. Over the past 20 years, only a small handful of jerseys from this era have entered the hobby making comparables hard to reference. The usual sources used by our company to aid in the identification and dating of these jerseys include Getty Images, Corbis, and the book, “Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century” by Marc Okkonen. Although sometimes helpful, these resources were found to be incomplete when examining these early examples. The Okkonen book is limited in the fact that the jerseys are depicted via artist renditions not real photos. What we have found is that dated accurate images from this era are very, very scarce.

As part of our operational procedures of photo style matching, we had to be innovative in our search for photographic resources. To overcome the challenges of finding photos needed for examination of jerseys from that era, we needed to explore different sources. One very valuable source of dated images from this era was found in Sporting News Supplements issued circa 1908-1924. Issued by the St. Louis based company, the supplements were oversized 11×14 b/w photographic images. The photography usually captured full body shots of players during pre-game activities. This allowed for a phenomenal visual examination of the jerseys:

* Team crests
* Logos
* Pin striping
* Jersey style
* Buttons
* Collar style
* Sleeve lengths
* Caps design
* Glove styles

The examination of all of the above jersey physical attributes aided in the dating and identification of the jersey from the 1907-24 era. For example, the jersey style, pinstriped versus non-pinstriped could be identified. There were several instances where the collar style was used to positively identify the year of the jersey. The sleeve lengths came into play as noted in the 1909 Browns jersey. Finally, the design of the cap was used to positively I.D. year of issuance, as noted in the case of 1909 Indians road jersey.

All of the Sporting News Supplements were issued with dates. When using these photos for reference, be aware that some of the photos were taken previous to the stated issue date. Sometimes two to three years. Before entering these images into our database, we crossed referenced the “Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century” by Marc Okkonen book to properly attribute the dating. The images listed in this article are properly dated by year the jersey was worn, but may not match the stated date on the supplements. Here are the images examined-

Year, Team, Home/Road, Player Examined
1907 Cubs Road Joe Tinker
1907 Giants Home Christy Mathewson
1908 Athletics Home Eddie Plank
1908 Cubs Home Mordecai “3 Finger” Brown
1908 Cubs Road Lew Ritchie
1908 Indians Road Napolean Lajoie
1908 Tigers Home Ty Cobb
1909 Athletics Home Eddie Collins
1909 Athletics Home Harry Krause
1909 Indians Road Cy Young / Browns Home Louis Crigery
1909 Cardinals Home Ed Konetchy
1909 Cubs Home Orval Overall
1909 Cubs Road Frank Chance
1909 Dodgers Home George Bell
1909 Dodgers Home Nap Rucker
1909 Giants Home Hal Chase
1909 Indians Home George Stovall
1909 Indians Road Addie Joss
1909 Indians Road Napolean Lajoie
1909 Pirates Home Honus Wagner
1909 Pirates Home Tommy Leach
1909 Red Sox Home Tris Speaker
1910 Athletics Home Harry Davis
1910 Cubs Home John Kling
1910 Cubs Home Team Photo
1910 Indians Home Joe Jackson
1910 Tigers Home Ty Cobb / Honus Wagner Pirates
1910 Reds Road Bob Bescher
1910 Reds Road John McLean
1910 Red Sox Road Bill Carrigan
1910 Tigers Home George Mullin
1911 Indians Home Joe Birminghamm
1911 Dodgers Road Zack Wheat
1911 White Sox Home James Callahan
1911 White Sox Road Ping Bodie
1912 Cubs Road James Lavender
1912 Red Sox Road Jake Stahl
1926 Athletics Home Al Simmons
1926 Cardinals Home Rogers Hornsby

1907 Cubs Road Joe Tinker: Style worn by the 1907 Chicago Cubs. Dated 1908, but a case where the photo was clearly taken the previous year. 1907 offered 3 different styles of jerseys worn by the Cubs. This photo shows the home jersey worn by Joe Tinker. A very simple design with a large C found on the left breast. The jersey was issued with a collar. The jersey was the ¾ length front button down style.

1907 Giants Home Christy Mathewson: Another style we examined was the 1907 Giants Home Christy Mathewson supplement. The previous year of 1906 the Giants sported jersey, which proudly read “World’s Champion” celebrating the team 1905 championship. The examined Sporting News Supplement clearly showed the collarless design first introduced during the 1907 along with the addition of the prominent addition of the N Y found on each side of the button path. The jersey was the ¾ length front button down style. The photo is important as the style changed again for the 1908 season, thus making 1907 photos rare.

1908 Athletics Home Eddie Plank: The 1908 Athletics home jersey was issued as the same style until 1912. A large “A” was found on the left breast. The jersey was issued with collar. The jersey was the ¾ length front button down style. The cap is the key identifier distinguishing a 1908 vs. 1909 jersey. The 1908 cap was the last year before the pillbox style was introduced for the 1909 campaign.

1908 Cubs Home Mordecai “3 Finger” Brown: From 1908 Cubs introduced a new jersey design. The previous year the Cubs wore a simple oversized “C”. The new design incorporated a Cubbie bear with bat encased in a block letter C. The jersey was the ¾ length front button down style. In 1909 the collar was removed from the jersey.

1908 Cubs Home Orval Overall: Same as above, but Orval was wearing his 1907 style cap. MLB must not have been cracking down on uniformity of uniforms.

1908 Cubs Road Lew Ritchie: The Cubs 1908 road jersey incorporated the same design as the home, but was issued as a grey pinstripe. 1908 was a one-year style, as in 1909 the words “CHICAGO” was found sewn vertically down the front button alignment. The jersey was the ¾ length front button down style.

1908 Indians Road Napoleon Lajoie: The 1908 Indians road jersey was offered with a black collar. This differentiated it from the ’07 and ’09 offerings. CLEVELAND was applied on across the front of the uniform. The jersey was the ¾ length front button down style.

1908 Tigers Home Ty Cobb: Style of Tigers home jersey issued during 1908-11. The main design feature to focus on was the front old English “D”. Upon close inspection, you will notice that starting in 1908, on the left edge of the “D”, you will see two barbs. The previous year there was only one barb on the left edge. This style of jersey and “D” was issued until 1911. The following season, 1912, the Tigers introduced pinstripes. The jersey was issued with a dark collar, but the image shows Ty Cobb wearing the collar flipped up on his neck. The jersey was the ¾ length front button down style.

1908 Giants Road Hal Chase: Style of jersey worn only during one season. Very distinct NY on sleeve. Collarless design, ¾ sleeves, and ¾ length front button down style. Topped off with an all black cap.

1909 Athletics Home Harry Krause: Style of home jersey worn by the Athletics from 1909-1912. The jersey style was the same as the 1908 issue, but the introduction of the striped pill box cap was the difference for the new style. The style remained the same until 1912, where the following year, 1913, the Athletics dropped the collar from their jersey. The jersey was the ¾ length front button down style.
Also, note the extra wide striped belt, which rounded out the uniform.

1909 Indians Road Cy Young / Browns Home Louis Crigery: The 1909 Indians road jersey is a case study in details. Although similar in appearance to the 1908 issue, the 1909 jersey was found without the dark collar. This trend of this collar continued in the 1910 season. With the identification of the 1909 style collar, we next noted the cap. Starting in 1910, the Indians wore an all dark style cap. This photo illustrates Cy Young wearing the light cap with dark brim with a collar that matches the uniform. Therefore, we were able to positively identify this jersey as a 1909 issue.

The 1909 Browns Home jersey sported the newly tailed ¾ length sleeves. Previously the Browns wore full-length sleeves. The Browns wore this jersey also in 1910, then returned to full-length sleeves for 1911. The uniform was topped off with a pinstriped cap. STL was found encompassed inside of a diamond shaped design. Another logo was found on the left sleeve. The jersey was the ¾ length front button down style.

1909 Cardinals Home Ed Konetchy: For the 1909 season, the Cardinals home jersey became very plain. “St. Louis” was removed from the jersey and the only identifier to the team is the St. L found on the left sleeve. The collar is the same color as the rest of the jersey. The jersey was the ¾ length front button down style. The sleeves were ¾ length, and they were shortened to half-length for the 1910 season.

1909 Cubs Road Frank Chance: For the 1909 season, Frank Chance donned a very rare one year style 1909 Cubs road jersey. With scarcity of photos from the era, this image is one of only a few surviving examples of this Cubs style. The button path, collar, and sleeves were trimmed in dark navy blue. As the road pinstriped version, the dark trimming in conjunction with the pinstripes makes for a visual imposing specimen. “CHICAGO” is found running vertically down the button path. The Cubs abandoned the dark trim in 1910.

1909 Dodgers Home George Bell: For the 1909 season, the Dodgers again donned a one-year style jersey. The major difference was the script style “B” which differed from the old English style wore the year before. The jersey was issued with a collar and ½ sleeves. The “B” was dropped entirely from the front for the 1910 season.

1909 Indians Home George Stovall: Style issued for the Indians to wear for the 1908-09 seasons. For 1907, the Indians jerseys sported a “C”, but the style changed slightly for the 1908 season. ½ sleeves and the jersey was the ¾ length front button down style. Style of “C” changed again in 1910.

1909 Indians Road Addie Joss: Another one-year style. The 1908 road issue was found with a black collar. Also, the dark brimmed cap was last used during this 1909 campaign. ½ length sleeves and the jersey was issued as the ¾ length front button down style.

1909 Indians Road Napolean Lajoie: 3,000 hit club member Napolean Lajoie was outfitted in his 1909 Indians road jersey.

1909 Pirates Home Honus Wagner: Any items associated with Honus Wagner bring serious consideration from all collectors. With no known playing day jerseys known from Honus Wagner, maybe this information can help a collector track down a true hobby rarity. The 1907 Pirates home jersey found the Bucs wearing a large P on the left breast. The following year the Pirates changed to the examined 1908-1909 style examined here. In 1908 the “P” was dropped and an interlocking PBC (Pittsburgh Baseball Club) was added to the left sleeve. The supplement photo matched in terms of the dark colored collar. ½ length sleeves and the jersey was issued as the ¾ length front button down style.

1909 Pirates Home Tommy Leach: The Tommy Leach supplement photo supported my findings from the 1909 Honus Wagner.

1910 Athletics Home Harry Davis: Style worn by the Athletics from 1909-13. Similar style to the 1908 version, but the study of the supplement illustrated the striped pillbox caps were introduced for 1909, thus eliminating 1908 as a style choice. ½ length sleeves and the jersey was issued as the ¾ length front button down style.

1910 Cubs Home John Kling: Style worn circa 1908-1910. Eye appealing design of a cubby bear wrapped within the confines of a larger C found on the left front breast. Complete with collar, and ¾ button down. ½ length sleeve.

1910 Indians Home Joe Jackson: circa 1910-12 Cleveland Indians home style jersey. The one major difference between the 3 years is in 1911; the collar was not dark.

1910 Tigers Home Ty Cobb / Honus Wagner Pirates: The Ty Cobb was the circa 1908-11 style discussed with the 1908 Ty Cobb jersey previously. The image depicts both Cobb and Wagner. Honus is depicted and the photo shows a detailed image of his game day wool jacket.

1910 Reds Road Bob Bescher: This image illustrates the style of jersey worn by the 1909-10 Reds. One of the more radical styles of the 1909-10 season as the team employed a dark blue flannel shell with a large red “C” on the left front breast and a small one on the left sleeve. Complete with collar, ¾ length button down front and ½ sleeves.

1910 Red Sox Road Bill Carrigan: This jersey represents the end of a style breed. 1910 marked the end of the Red Sox using the tie up front design. 1911 the jersey was replaced with the button down style used by the rest of the major leagues.

1910 Tigers Home George Mullin: Same basic style from 1908-11 as seen on the previous Ty Cobb photos.

1911 Indians Home Joe Birminghamm: Style worn by the Indians during the 1910-11 seasons. Collar same color as rest of the jersey. 3/4 button down front with ½ length sleeves. The previous 1909 season the Tribe was wearing the cursive style large “C”. This version was more of a standard block.

1911 Dodgers Road Zack Wheat: Another one year style, although quite similar to the 1910 offering. Both were road grey, but the Dodgers incorporated pinstriping for 1911. “BROOKLYN” was sewn in dark lettering down the front button path. The cadet collar was trimmed in dark color.

1911 White Sox Home James Callahan: The Sporting News Supplement of James Callahan showed another one-year style. The collar and button path was dark and “SOX” was spelled out and placed horizontally.

1911 White Sox Road Ping Bodie: The 1911 White Sox road jersey was another stylized example. “CHICAGO” appears on the front in large stylish letters. C S appears on the collar. The shell was navy blue.

1926 Athletics Home Al Simmons: The supplements were also issued in 1926 and this example featured Al Simmons with the Elephant logo on the front left breast with full button down front path.

The study of these images were quite rewarding as served as a strong basis to start our documentation of jersey styles from this early period. By adding wire photos, trading cards, and watching for samples to enter the market, MEARS will remain at the forefront of gathering images needed to aid us in the authentication of these early baseball gems.


Troy R. Kinunen