It was one of those phone calls that I just love to get. Troy phoned to say that a customer had jersey of a pre-War Hall of Famer that they needed done in two weeks. My questions; who’s the player and what’s the uniform? I always want to know this upfront because if I don’t think I can offer credible opinion, I don’t want to take the work. Additionally, in this case, we also had fairly tight timeline. When Troy told me it was a Red Faber Chicago White Sox home uniform, I knew I wanted to see this it.
While I had known for some time that this uniform was out there in the hobby, it wasn’t until last year that my interest in it was truly peaked. The jersey was included in an investigative effort undertaken by Peter Nash and featured on his site (Halls of Shame; http//haulsofshame.com) as he looked into what was reported to have been a 1919 Joe Jackson Chicago White Sox road jersey acquired by the National Baseball Hall of Fame from the Barry Halper collection. While the Jackson jersey turned out to be forgery, Mr. Nash provided some invaluable information that relates directly to this uniform. Before getting into the evaluation of this artifact, I would highly encourage collectors to spend some time reading through the information on Hauls of Shame web site. I have found Mr. Nash’s efforts to be extremely well researched and to call them “eye opening” would be a gross understatement. I can state without pause or reservation that Mr. Nash’s research has forever changed my opinion of many hobby/industry related institutions, business entities, and individuals associated with them. With all that being said, let’s get to the uniform.
Dating the Uniform: The uniform is without any sort of supplemental year identification. This is typical of major league uniforms from this period. A reasonable dating of the uniform is however possible by utilizing and combining a variety of information. The information contained on and style of the manufacturers tag suggests the jersey is pre-1925 since in that year Wilson became Wilson-Western Sporting Goods. The style of the uniform is one that was worn by the Chicago White Sox in 1919-1920. This aspect of uniform style will be address in greater detail later. (PLATE I)
Manufacturer: The manufacturer of both the jersey and the pants is the Thomas E. Wilson Company. Period product advertisements confirm that Wilson supplied uniforms to both the Chicago Cubs and White Sox during this time frame. (PLATE II)
Player Attribution: The uniform is attributed to Red Faber based on the name “Faber” that is embroidered (straight stitch applique) in both the jersey and the pants. The thread used to sew “Faber” in both the jersey and the pants did not react or fluoresce under UV lighting. This is a positive sign and tends to suggest the thread used does not contain manmade or synthetic fibers. Faber appeared in 20 games for the White Sox during the 1919 season and 45 in 1920. Faber did not pitch in the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati because of injury/illness. His final appearance of the season in 1919 was on September 15th against the Philadelphia Athletics. According to Brian E. Cooper, author of “Red Farber-Biography of Spitball Pitcher,” Faber had a bout with influenza – apparently, part of the Spanish Flu pandemic – about the time he was leaving the Navy in 1918-19. He lost about 30 pounds, and in his weakened condition he tired easily and lost velocity and movement on his pitches. As early as spring training, newspaper accounts reported that Faber did not look well. In his season preview, I.E. Sanborn of the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Faber, who combines both youth and experience in ideal quantities, was expected to have his best year this season, but for some reason which neither he nor anyone else can understand he cannot deliver the goods.” Faber did not pitch well throughout the season. His ERA ballooned to 3.83. His winning record (11-9) could be attributed to the fact that he had the American League champs playing behind him. Sometime in late summer he reportedly suffered an ankle injury. After a five-week layoff, in a test of his preparedness for possible World Series duty, Faber earned the victory – but was shellacked by the Athletics in a slugfest. The White Sox kept him on the World Series roster, but he rode the bench throughout”. This appears to suggest that Faber was in uniform for the World Series, but did not play.
Faber’s dressing/availability for the 1919 World Series appears to be corroborated by various newspaper accounts from the time of the World Series. These excerpts are provided: (The complete articles in which these excerpts appear are provided for reference as enclosures to my comments/working notes).
-Muscatine Journal and News Tribune; Friday 3 October 1919: “Urban Faber, White Sox star of the 1917 World Series may be used in the present World Series according to Chicago Players… We count on Faber to give the Reds the big surprise party said Arnold Gandil.”
-Syracuse Herald; Friday Evening 3 October 1919: Colum by Ring Lardner “so Mr. Kid (Gleason) started a left handed pitcher instead of going through with his original plan which was to pitch Mr. Red Faber.”
-The Bridgeport Standard Telegram; Saturday 4 October 1919: “Gleason faces the problem of pinning his faith on an also ran, unless he chooses to start Red Faber.”
-The Dunkirk Evening Observer; Monday October 6 1919: “Claude Williams and Red Faber batted with the White Sox regulars in practice.”
-The Kokomo Daily Tribune; Thursday 9 October 1919: “Red Faber, hero of the 1917 World Series, was mentioned as a White Sox pitching possibility today.”
-The Evening Courier and Reporter; Thursday 9 October 1919: “Faber and Schalk will take part in Series at Chicago.”
-Faber also appears on the scorecards for the 1919 World Series.
As such, I have no reason to doubt that Faber’s uniforms for the 1919 World Series (1920 season) were not ordered for and worn by him at the same time as the rest of his teammates. (PLATE III)
Size: The uniform is without any sort of supplemental size identification. This is typical of major league uniforms from this period. An article detailing the 1919 White Sox player’s fans could be expected to see in the upcoming World Series appeared in the Tuesday 30 September 1919 edition of the San Antonio Evening News (Enclosed). This article list Faber at 6”, 175lbs. Considering the trend for fitting and cut of uniforms from this period, I would estimate the jersey to be a size 44 garment. The pants also feature no size tag, but measurement suggests a waist size of 34-35 and 23” inseam. As such, I would consider it an appropriate sized uniform for Faber.
Construction/Style: The uniform is a pullover garment with a four button front and set-in sleeves. The collar and sleeve ends feature a navy blue band of soutache. This particular jersey also features button holes in the sleeve end to accommodate detachable sleeves (not an uncommon feature for the era and particularly with respect to pitchers jerseys). All of this is period/team appropriate. The fabric of the body of the jersey was examined under a digital microscope and is assessed as being consistent with professional grade fabrics of the period. The weave pattern can be seen as being tighter than a Wilson minor league product as expected.(PLATE IV)
This style of jersey appears to have been first introduced by the White Sox as a World Series uniform on 1 October 1919. Period newspaper accounts and images will confirm this. Ring Lardner’s syndicated column that appeared in the Syracuse Herald on 2 October 1919 states that “Well another part of Mr. Gleason’s strategy was dressing the White Sox in their home uniforms so as they would think they were playing on the home grounds in front of the a friendly crowd but the trouble with that was that the Reds was also dressed in their home uniform so as you couldn’t tell which club was at home and which wasn’t and it made both of them nervous.” (Article Enclosed)
A review of period images also indicates that this style of home uniform bearing crossed white socks on the left sleeve places the uniform to the 1919 World Series and the 1920 season. (PLATES V-VIII)
The construction of the crossed white socks patch does deserve some additional analysis as it relates to both construction and imagery analysis. In examining this this patch both in person and in the modern photographs of it, you will notice that both the toe and heal areas feature a cross-stitch pattern that does not seem to appear in all period photographs. I believe this can be explained based on the fact that this facet of the patch is constructed not as a solid object, but rather as loose weave of single threads with fairly wide spacing; in short the density of the area of varied color is not extremely strong. When you consider that these many of these same period images often do not often capture much more dense objects (such as pinstripes or even the boarder of the patch), then it is not surprising that individual threads will appear “whited out” or “washed out” due to exposure and or various aspects associated with lighting and color contrast. (PLATES IX-XI)
Use/Wear: The use and wear to both the jersey and the pants is assessed as moderate to heavy. There is significant color fade to the material of the body of both garments best seen in the fade to the pin striping. This holds equally true to the felt used in the construction of the “SOX” logo on the left breast. A small amount of surface wear/fabric separation is present on three areas of the “SOX” logo, but not to the point where either the structural integrity or the physical appearance is affected in any significant manner. All anchor stitching on the jersey remains strong, too include the four buttons which appear to be original to the jersey. The only surface damage to the body of the jersey is a 1/2” fabric tear in the upper right rear back/shoulder area. The pants feature a large repair to the left knee area (approximately 6″ x 5″). The fabric used to form the patch under the repair is less than professional grade material and appears to have been done by hand. The pants also feature unrepaired tears as well tears around the right rear pocket, rear right hip area, and the right rear thigh. The button from the left pocket is also missing. The elastic gatherings in the cuffs of pants remain pliable and unbroken. The stirrups, while both the same size, do not appear to be a matched pair based in differences in size (2 1/2″ difference). One stirrup, the longer of the two, features three holes, the largest of which is about 1” in width.
History/Provenance: No provenance was offered with the uniform at the time of evaluation. However some of the recent history of the uniform is known. The uniform was offered in the April 2003 Mastro Auction as lot # 1276 and identified as “Rookie Era Red Faber Chicago White Sox Uniform”. At the time of the Mastro offering, the uniform was identified as coming with a Letter of Authenticity from Dave Bushing and Dan Knoll. The Mastro offering included jersey, pants, and stirrups.
This jersey was then depicted in Stephen Wong’s 2005 publication “Smithsonian Baseball” (pages 87, 97). This book included an article was authored by Wong, Dave Bushing, and Dan Knoll that identified the jersey as being c 1915. Additionally, the uniform was identified as being part of the Depace Family collection at that time.
More recently, in November 2009, the uniform appeared as Lot # 8; Leland’s November 2009 Auction. This time the uniform was identified as a “Red Faber 1920s Game Used Jersey and Socks.”
Findings: The uniform was submitted for evaluation as a 1920 Red Faber Chicago White Sox home uniform. While this is not an incorrect description, and certainly more accurate than it has been previously described/offered, I feel it is not complete because it does not address or include the fact that this style of uniform was first worn in the 1919 World Series. Given what contemporary newspaper accounts show with respect to Faber’s status during the 1919 World Series, I feel the uniform may be more accurately described as a Red Faber Chicago White Sox 1919 World Series-1920 Home Uniform. My examination revealed no signs of alternations outside of the repair to the left knee. I also found nothing to suggest contrived use or wear. The MEARS worksheet and grading criteria provides for 5 categories for which points may deducted I found these reasons to deduct points: (Pants are not graded and only identified as authentic with condition noted).
Category II: Missing tag. Although the worksheet lists a 1 point deduction for missing tag, this deduction applies to the manufacturer’s tag which is still present. What is actually missing is the small rectangular laundry tag below this. Manufacturers tag is what this deduction is supposed to refer to so no points are deducted for a missing laundry tag.
-.1 for fading for the jersey. An allowance is made for deductions of .5 to 4 for fading. No more than one point was deducted because the fade to both the pinstripes (-.5) and the “SOX” logo (-.5) is even and consistent and does affect the visual appeal of the garment in any appreciable manner.
-.5 for the small fabric tear to the upper rear back of the jersey as noted.
FINAL GRADE: A8.5 (No holograms were affixed to either the jersey or the pants at the time of my inspection/evaluation)
MEARS Auth, LLC
Enclosures: PLATES I-XI and various related contemporary newspaper articles as referenced in the body of the comments.
So folks, there you have it. Great project and well worth my time. Was the 1919 World Series fixed? Some say yes and some say no. Can this uniform be fixed to that World Series? That too is something for you to decide based the research and information presented here. As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions and comments on this article, please feel to contact me at MEARS Auth, LLC1@aol.com