All of this began with an e-mail from a bat collector/dealer who had been offered a 1940s flannel. He had some questions about the rather unique and odd patch that been sewn over the team logo. I told what I knew and didn’t know about it as well as a possible retail price range. He ended up with the jersey and I bought it from him.
The bulk of my free time is spent on the work I do for MEARS. At the end of the day, I am first and foremost a collector and researcher and it is always nice to be able to spend time on items for my own collection. I am often asked what I look for in things I chose to pick up for my own collection. With that in mind, what I would like to do today is take you through these facets of this transaction:
What I bought…
Why I bought it…
What I did with it…
What I have today…
What I Bought
From the pictures I was sent, I knew I was potentially buying a 1942 Birdie Tebbets Detroit Tigers home jersey with at least a couple of couple of modifications/changes. Those being a circular 3 ½ inch patch sewn over the gothic “D” Tigers logo and the fact that 1942 HEALTH patch had been replaced by thee 1943-1945 Stars and Stripes war time patch. I said potentially buying as I said I would not return the jersey based on the circular patch or if there were appearance/presentation problems once that patch was removed. I did not mind the 1943-1945 Stars and Stripes patch as long as it was an original period offering.
Why I Bought It
Back in 2007, I evaluated a 1941 Hank Greenburg Detroit Tigers home and found a number of problems with it. That shirt and those issues can be seen in the news archive at “A 1941 Detroit Tigers Hank Greenberg Home Jersey” by MEARS (9/28/2007). With doing this earlier work, I had a solid idea of what I should and should not expect to see in this jersey once it arrived.
For the Tebbets jersey, I liked the button and sleeve style, construction/cut of the gothic “D” logo, numeric font style, underarm gusset material and the manufacturer’s tagging to include supplemental player and year identification. This jersey features both the Wilson and Lowe & Campbell Athletic Goods manufacturers’ labels. Lowe & Campbell was a Kansas City (MO) based sporting goods manufacturer that was acquired by Wilson around 1931.
I had also seen these other Detroit Tigers major league baseball uniforms found with a Wilson/Lowe & Campbell label:
*1942-1943 Detroit Tigers Hal Newhouser road jersey
*1942-1943 Detroit Tigers Dizzy Trout home jersey
1945 Detroit Tigers Hank Greenberg road jersey
* Both the Newhouser and Trout jersey have “42” chain stitched in the tail and also have had the HEALTH patch replaced by the 1943-45 Stars and Stripes patch as well.
All of this got me thinking about whatI was seeing in this jersey and the Newhouser and Trout offerings. Could the Tigers have been recycling there jerseys for extended organizational wear during the war? According to “The Commercialization of Sport” by Trevor Slack, during World War II, some 65 raw materials used to manufacturer various sporting goods products came under the control of the War Production Board. I also found one internet site that features information on various companies had this to say about Wilson Sporting Goods.
“Yet the war effort seriously affected Wilson’s manufacture of athletic equipment and uniforms, since almost all of the company’s production facilities were retooled to make war material such as duffel bags, tents, and helmets to be used by American soldiers fighting overseas”.
Even after the acquisition of Lowe & Campbell (L&C) by Wilson, L&C continued to produce product under their own label. It stands to reason that in time of constrained resources and labor/manufacturing capacity, Wilson would look to leverage all the assets under corporate control. Why this appears localized to the Detroit Tigers remains a mystery and worthy of further research. Suffice it to say, after I had a chance to inspect and evaluate the jersey in person, I was very comfortable buying the jersey as is. But what about the Tigers patch over the logo?
I have no idea why this patch was present. It could be that it was sewn on for minor league use. This too is something worth additional research. My immediate concern was the removal of the patch and the impact it would have on the display/appeal of the jersey.
What I Did With It
As you can see from the images provided, the patch was affixed with a single tight line of straight stitching. This was somewhat problematic since this anchor stitching went into the felt of the “D” logo as well as the stitching that affixed it to the jersey itself. I could tell that no adhesive substance was located on the underside of the circular patch since the patch moved freely other than were it was stitched down. Time for patch removal.
If you are doing work like this, spend the money and time to do it right. Money comes in the way of the $2.00 you are likely to have to spend purchasing as stitch removal tool. These can be found at just about sewing/fabric center. Next comes the time. To ensure I did not damage either the felt of the gothic “D” logo or the associated anchor stitching, each stitch on the circular was pulled/broken individually. In doing this, I made sure all cuts/breaks were done mowing away from the jersey body. After about 40 minutes, the patch was removed. I was very pleased to see there was no difference in the fade to the color of the “D” between what was under and outside of the circular Tigers patch. What I was left with were open seam holes and an impressed outline of the patch on the “D”.
I will share this with since you may have an occasion to use it yourself. There are ways to help minimize these issues. I will also say, there are also ways to check to see if this has been done to a jersey; that I will not share with you. Since we are dealing with cotton/wool fabrics, the answer is a little bit of water and some time. A little bit of water was applied to the felt fabric and the area around the patch imprint was massaged in order to raise/lower the felt. The same thing was done with the open stitch holes. The water helps expand and then contract the fabric in the stitch holes. Once it dries, the holes close up a bit. As you can see, it turned out rather well.
I share all of this with you because it goes back to something I wrote about a while back, that being the documentation of restorations or changes made to items. Since this jersey is in my personal collection, should I ever decide to sell it, the person buying it should know just as much about the history of it as I do.
What I Have Today
Today I have a very visually appealing early 1940s Tigers home jersey from a player I like. Tebbets caught for the Tigers in the 1940 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. He was also an All Star in 1941 and 1942 with the Tigers and later again with the Red Sox in 1948 & 1949. But it is his post player career that I most enjoy him for. Tebbets was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds from 1954-1958, a period in team history that I relish. I also have a wonderful product for my on-hand reference library that will benefit someone else down the road.
In this case, I was given a chance to collect what I enjoy and now can better enjoy what I collect. I wish you all the same.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com