MEARS Auction #30, Ends October 1st, 2011, 9:00 CST w/15-Minute Rule
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 10/2/2011

With each new season, the comparisons are inevitable. He can run like…He can throw like…He can field like…He can hit like…Willie Mays. Yet as each season ends, there remains only one Willie Mays. Arguably the greatest living baseball player today, this jersey is well researched, well documented, and well poised to serve as both a solid long term investment and centerpiece of any upscale collection of historic baseball memorabilia. As this auction begins, there will be only one Willie Mays road jersey from his first season in San Francisco that deserves your serious consideration and its right here. The running debate continues to rage today on the comparisons between Mantle and Mays. While not debating the merits of the two players, we can tell you that Mays’ jerseys from the 1950s are rarer in the hobby by number when compared to those offered for Mantle. A 1958 Mantle road jersey sold in Mastro’s December 2008 auction (with restorations) for a price realized of $216,000 so you can decide how Willie and the Mick stack up with respect to value.

 

 

 

SUBJECT: 1958 Willie Mays San Francisco Giants Road Jersey.

 

For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1958 Willie Mays San Francisco Giants Road jersey. After a detailed visual inspection and evaluation of this jersey using lighted magnification, a light table, UV light and references listed. I offer the following noted observations:

 

 

- The jersey is tagged with a blue variation MacGregor manufacturers tag from the period of c: 1957-1961. The tagged is applied in the collar and sewn only through the first collar fold. The manner of stitching is consistent with other MacGregor products from this period. I covered this topic in detail in an article for MEARS On Line titled “A 1961 Roberto Clemente Road Jersey” by LTC Dave Grob,8/30/2006 (SEE MEARS Archived News). The jersey also features a single “SET 2 1958” flag tag sewn into the lower right front inside tail.

 

- The supplemental player identification of “MAYS” is chain-stitched in red thread on a white felt swatch and sewn in the lower rear neck. This appears to be original to the jersey. There are no visible signs that the collar was opened to re-apply the manufactures tag nor does the white felt or red thread for “MAYS” identification appliqué react or “fluoresce” under UV lighting. This is often the sign of more modern synthetic fabrics being used. This style of appliqué is consistent with other common player 1958 San Francisco Giants road jerseys that have been seen in the hobby. Specifically:

 

1958 Road; MacGregor Johnny Antonelli. Hunt’s Auction July 2007, Lot # 219. This jersey features the same manner of player annotation in red on a white felt swatch sewn below the collar seam as well as same style of Set and year identification. The shirt also retained at least three (3) of the original MacGregor style buttons. The front of the jersey had also been stripped off and replaced with the word GIANTS.

 

 

- The numbering and lettering, both done in an appropriate black over orange cotton twill. The numerals appear to be original to the jersey. SAN FRANCISCO has been restored to the front of this jersey with what appear to be vintage or period letters as seen by the wear and fade to the fabric. This restoration was very well done and the vintage lettering adds an aesthetic appeal to the uniform. The rear numerals shows some signs of discoloration in the form of what might be the bleaching of the fabric.

 

- The orange and black soutache braid in the collar and at the sleeves is both appropriate in construction and style and is considered original to the jersey. There is some fraying to the braid in the year of the collar, but it does not compromise the integrity of how the fabric is affixed nor distract from the displayability.

 

 

- The single flag tag of showing SET 2 and 1958 is both original to this jersey and is appropriate for a uniform manufactured by MacGregor during this time frame. It is sewn properly to the inside front of the button line and remains firmly affixed.

 

 

- The seven (7) buttons on this jersey are both original to the jersey and are correct for a uniform manufactured by MacGregor.

 

 

- The tagged size of the jersey is a 42. This is also the true size of the uniform and consistent with other Willie Mays flannel jerseys in my data base which includes (this jersey highlighted in bold):

 

New York Giants:

1951 Road, MacGregor/Goldsmith: Size 42

1955 Road, McAuliffe: Size 42

1957 Home, MacGregor: Size 42

 

San Francisco Giants:

1958 Road, MacGregor: Size 42

1958 Home, McAuliffe: Size 42

1962 Home, Wilson: Size 42

1963 Road, Spalding: Size 42

1964 Home, McAuliffe: Size 42

1965 Home, Wilson: Size 42

1967 Home, McAullife: Size 42

1967 Road, Rawlings: Size 42

1969 Road, Goodman & Sons: Size 42

1969 Home, McAuliffe: Size 42

1971 Home, Wilson: Size 42

 

 

- The sleeves on this jersey are close cropped 3 ¾ inch in length. This is consistent with the 1957 Willie Mays home Giants jersey that I evaluated in 2007. A survey of period and year specific images confirm this to be both appropriate and expected, especially with the MacGregor products. MacGregor products can be readily identified as such by a combination of manufacturer’s characteristic such as button style and numeric font style.

 

- The jersey shows even and solid use and wear, including what appears to be a small and vintage repair to the right shoulder. There is also a small brown stain on the right rear upper shoulder. There is some minor fraying to the soutache braid in the year of the neck line, approximately 1 ½ inches in length.

 

 

Provenance: There was no provenance or history offered with jersey at the time I obtained the jersey from the May 2008 Heritage Auction. I have included the letter written by Lou Lampson that came with the shirt as a matter of record. As someone who has been tracking jerseys offered previously in the hobby for some time in order to build a data base, I knew I had seen this jersey before based on the rear numerals and have therefore been able to recreate, chronicle, and verify its history. This is something that has never been done until now.

 

 

In June of 2002, Grey Flannel offered this jersey as Lot # 46, a Willie Mays 1958 San Francisco Giants road jersey, size 42; manufactured by Macgregor. It was tagged Set 2 1958 just like the shirt in Heritage’s Auction. The shirt featured the same bleaching pattern on the rear numerals. At the time Grey Flannel offered the jersey, SAN FRANCISCO had been removed from the front and had been replaced with the name QUINCY. (I’ll come back to this). The description also stated that shirt came with an additional letter from the minor leaguer who wore the shirt. This provided invaluable information as to the origin of the jersey and the reason why SAN FRANCISCO had been replaced by QUINCY. Grey Flannel also left the jersey in the same condition it was offered to them.

About a year later, the same jersey (Set 2, 1958 with same bleaching pattern) was listed in the May 2003 Leland’s auction as Lot # 1042. This time the Leland’s description noted that the SAN FRANCISCO on the front had been restored with original lettering, but made no mention of the previous linage, reason, or origin of the team name change. Then again, in August of 2006, Leland’s offered this shirt as Lot #1133 with the same general description.

 

Heritage Auctions offered this same jersey in October of 2007 as lot # 19639. At that time, mention of the restored San Francisco appears to have been added to their original auction description.

 

Now with the jersey being offered for a fifth time, all mention of the history of the jersey had been erased. In looking at period San Francisco Giants Team Yearbooks from 1958-1961, I was able to see that Giants had a minor league affiliate that played in the Midwest League in 1960-1961 called the Quincy Giants, in Quincy, Illinois. This makes sense on two levels both with respect to time and location. Period images from the 1950s will confirm that teams frequently wore the previous season’s jerseys in spring training the next year. The Giants were one of those clubs as 1951 jerseys with the NL 75th Anniversary can be seen being worn in spring training in 1952. So a jersey worn by Mays in the 1958 season, and then used again in spring training in 1959, would have been available for extended organizational use by a Giants affiliate in the 1960-1961 time frame.

 

This is important because the Giants minor league affiliate was only in Quincy, Illinois for those two seasons. This can be confirmed by looking at the Abilene Reporter News from 11 November 1961, where in an article titled Quincy Giants, Mets Sign Pact, the announcement is made that starting in 1962, the Mets will provide financial assistance to the Quincy ball club in exchange to claims on their Class D players and that “Quincy was associated with the San Francisco Giants last season.”

 

 

Since there was no mention of the minor league use or connection in any auction house description after the Grey Flannel offering, I contacted Mr. Rich Russek at Grey Flannel and asked him if he had any record of who this minor league player was after all these years. Mr. Russek informed me that the minor leaguer was a player named Richard “Dick” Haymore. Mr. Russek also recalled that Mr. Haymore may have been part of the Mets organization for some reason as well. Mr. Russek said he did not feel comfortable in giving me the contact information of the consigner. I said that was fine and I completely understood as all I was looking for was the name of the ball player. In looking at period minor league newspaper accounts/box scores for Quincy, I was able to find that Dick Haymore did in fact play at Quincy, Ill:

 

 

-Waterloo Daily Courier, 17 June 1963: Haymore went 2-5 against Waterloo while playing for Quincy.

-Earlier that year, Haymore was playing minor league ball in Auburn. At that time, Auburn was the A ball Mets affiliate in the NY-Pennsylvania League. This can be confirmed by checking the Citizen-Advertiser (Auburn, NY) for an article on 18 April 1963.

 

 

-The Cedar Rapids Gazette posted Midwest League player stats in their 30 June 1963 edition. Dick Haymore, of Quincy, is shown to have been hitting .246.

 

Richard “Dick” Haymore can also be found on page 45 of the 1963 NY Mets team yearbook in a photograph of the 1962 Auburn Mets, Governor’s Cup Champions of the NY/Penn League.

 

 

If by now you may be wondering how does a guy playing in the Mets organization get a Giants uniform? Remember the as detailed above, the Quincy Giants were bought by the NY Mets in 1962. This seems to make sense considering how few uniforms the Mets might have had to make available to all clubs in their organization by 1963. Remember this is a road jersey and what was placed on the front of the jersey was QUINCY and not the team name Giants (1960-1961) or Jets (1962) or Mets (1963).

 

 

I have always said that provenance has to be both reasonable and verifiable. Is it reasonable that Dick Haymore could have obtained this jersey as a minor league player? Yes. Is it verifiable that his minor league playing days included playing in Quincy around the same time as the jersey would have been in the club’s inventory? Yes. I don’t know if Haymore ever wore this jersey or if it was simply being discarded by the Quincy ball club at this time. I was concerned with being able to actually identify and trace Haymore to a place and time that made sense and could be verified…once again, reasonable and verifiable.

 

 

Some months ago I wrote an article on a 1957 Willie Mays home jersey that was also a MacGregor size 42, close cropped sleeves, same style of flag tag for year and set identification, same type of player identification sewn below the neck stitching of the collar, and same style numeric font As part of that article, I showed how imagery analysis and an understanding of manufacturers characteristics (numeric font and button style) could be used to identify MacGregor as a provider of uniforms to the Giants in 1957. This is probably as good a place as any to talk about numeric font styles. At times you will see the same manufacturer such as MacGregor having different font styles over the same relative period. You will also them vary within the same year. I bring this up to highlight that this why the unique MacGregor style buttons become so very important.As with the 1957 Mays home jersey, I showed just how important this was and lay that out for you with respect to this 1958 jersey in the plates provided.

 

 

The other thing this jersey did when comparing it with the 1957 Willie Mays home jersey was to better understand the transition of the MacGregor manufacturer’s label at this time. I have seen the black style tag in jerseys from around 1953-1958 and the blue style tag from 1957-1961. The tag changes color again to a green variation around 1961 as I have seen both green and blue for that year. So in my mind, the beginning of the black to blue MacGregror tag seems to begin in 1957 and the change from blue to green in 1961. My focus on the tag also centered on how it was affixed to the collar. In this case it was sewn only through the first collar fold and the manner of stitching is consistent with other MacGregor and MacGregor/GoldSmith products.

 

 

Getting back to this 1958 Mays road jersey, based on what I mentioned previously, it is important to be able to show use of MacGregor road jerseys in both 1958 and spring training in 1959 in order to trace the path from through 1958-1961. The pictures from September of 1958 and February 1959 bare this out with respect to numeric font style, player identification, and button style. I also felt that a side by side comparison of the difference in button style would be very worth while since I have talked about this at some length. To further highlight the fact that the Giants/Mays wore road jerseys manufactured by MacGregor, I have enclosed images from Mays’ player photograph files at Cooperstown, including one from the 22nd of June 1958.

 

 

One of the better photographs I have found that shows this actually involves San Francisco road uniforms worn by the DiMaggio brothers. I have created a grouping that also includes actual uniforms (including this one) so that you can the difference in both color and black and white. I have also included a grouping from 2 June 1962. This was done so that you can see that the Rawlings style buttons, like those of Spalding, are not the same as those used by MacGregor.

 

This also highlights again what I have shown about multiple suppliers for a team within a given year. With respect to other known suppliers of uniforms to the Giants, images are also provided for period Wilson and McAuliffe products. The convex, two-hole buttons are a unique Macgregor characteristic that lends itself to imagery analysis and product classification. This is something you will continue to see through the 1960s as well as show in the image of three additional teams that wore MacGregor jerseys later in the 1960s as well.

 

 

With respect to other 1958 Willie Mays or San Francisco Giants road jerseys, I was able to find these to use as points of reference:

 

 

-1958 Road; MacGregor Johnny Antonelli. (Listed above).

 

-1958 Home: McAulliffe; Willie Mays. Hunt’s Auction July 2007, Lot # 221. This jersey is also a size 42, but the numeric font style and button style is not the same as that on the MacGregor jersey.

 

-1958 Home: Wilson; Marv Grissom. Hunt’s Auction Nov 2007, Lot # 453. No image of the back is provided, so numeric font style can not be assessed. Button style is different from MacGregor style buttons.

 

 

What looking at these three uniforms suggests is that the Giants had multiple suppliers of uniforms in 1958 and through a combination of manufacturer’s characteristics, Macgregor jerseys can be found and identified as such. The fact that the fronts of the home jerseys have not been restored is not surprising. Had they been sent down for use at the minor league level, the name GIANTS would have in all likelihood been appropriate, as seen on the Antonelli jersey. SAN FRANCISCO is only relevant for shirts worn in that city. This concept of the Giants farming out uniforms can be further seen in another Willie Mays road jersey. This one was offered by Leland’s as Lot # 77 in their February 1993 auction. This road jersey was manufactured by Rawlings, size 42 with the following as part of the lot description. “Only SAN FRANCISCO on the front has been restored. Game worn jersey was sent to Springfield and appropriated by scout Tony Rabish.” There is a Tony Ravish listed in period San Francisco Giants yearbooks as a scout in the New England area and Springfield is listed as a minor league affiliate from 1957-1965. The 1957 Willie Mays jersey I evaluated last year showed signs of excessive wear to the point of what I would consider damage, Specifically (comments below relate to that 1957 home jersey and not this 1958 road jersey):

 

- “The jersey is extremely worn as indicated above with respect to areas of lettering and numbering. There are also signs of severe seam wear in the right shoulder area that has been left un-repaired.”

 

-structural problems with the numbers and the letters “A”, “N”, and “T” in GIANTS..”

 

- “There is evidence that the numbers and the letters above have been re-anchored with a more modern white thread…”

 

All of this seems to reinforce the provenance.

 

 

Evaluation Findings: Based on a my physical examination of this jersey, supporting data, images, and PLATES 1-14, it is my opinion that this jersey posses all of the characteristics you would expect to find in a 1958 New York Giants road jersey manufactured by MacGregor for use by Willie Mays in 1958. That this jersey, while showing signs of solid and even use and wear, is in original condition with the exception of the restoration of SAN FRANCISCO to the front (with what appears to be vintage lettering). The tagging and supplemental player/year identification on this jersey appears to be correct and original to this jersey and is consistent with other MacGregor products from the same period.

 

I also feel that based on the photographic evidence of the existence of Macgregor manufacturers characteristics (button and font style) as seen in dated wire photographs from Mays’ personal player file at Cooperstown (Enclosed) and the fact that MacGregor jerseys can be found in the database before and after 1958, that MacGregor should be considered a likely manufacturer for NY Giants home jerseys in 1958. That the history and provenance that I now offer with this jersey is both reasonable and verifiable by any third party. As compared to other similar period Willie Mays jerseys that have been offered in the hobby, this jersey is the only one to come with any sort of detailed and documented form of verifiable provenance and does not present the condition/displayability issues as either the 1957 or 1958 home Mays jersey.

 

As such, it is my opinion that this jersey is one issued to and worn by Willie Mays in 1958 during his first year playing for the San Francisco Giants. With the exception of the restored SAN FRANCISCO on the front, which has been documented, the jersey is otherwise original condition.

 

 

 

Dave Grob

 

Enclosures:

TAB A: Color Plates provided supporting this letter.

TAB B: Color Plates of this uniform.

TAB C: San Francisco Giants Team/NY Mets Relevant Yearbooks

TAB D: Period and Contemporary Newspaper Accounts

TAB E: Initial Auction House Offerings (Documenting front change)

TAB F: Lou Lampson Letter from May 2008 Heritage Auction

FRONT FOLDER POCKET: Dated Mays Wire Photographs from Cooperstown

Although Dave Grob provided extensive and extremely well documented information on this jersey, a separate evaluation and grading was conducted by MEARS in which Mr. Grob took no part. FINAL GRADE: MEARS A7.5: Pre 1987 jersey start with a grade of 10. Two points were subtracted for the restoration of the SAN FRANCISCO front with vintage replacement lettering, and minus 1/2 point for the combined aesthetics of the staining of the reverse 2 and some wear to the piping.

Collection of MEARS Staff.

NOTE: There is a reserve on this lot.



MEARS LOA/Troy R. Kinunen

(MEARS LOA)
Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,500
Final prices include buyers premium.: $21,047
Number Bids: 19
Auction closed on Sunday, October 2, 2011.
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