Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Auction Gold - Buford "Baby" Ray's 1948 Jersey and Jacket

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Leo Villasenor, a vintage clothing collector. He had found some interesting items in an antique shop:
I was shopping at an Antique mall here in Las Vegas and there was a small rack of really old clothing. I initially noticed the sweater because i thought it was an old motorcycle sweater. I read the packers and the size was a size that actually fit me. I noticed the Jersey as well and not knowing much about the Packers at the time, I assumed that the Packers colors had always been the green and yellow. I just figured either way it was cool item but i had no idea the 2 items belonged together because they were dated by the dealer 2 different time periods. In all honestly because I didn't see the green and yellow i didn't even think that there were Green Bay Packers items. I had assumed it might have been a college team or even a high school team.

The jersey had been dated earlier then 1950s by the gentlemen who was selling the items, because the label reads "O'Sheas Knitting Mills Oct. 10-1916 - April 8,1924." He had dated the sweater as 1940s, so I wasn't to sure what time period the jersey or the sweater was from.

I started to look at several websites and then i realized that these items were in fact Green Bay packers. I found some old pix from another site and even seen some auctions sites where similar items have been sold.

A friend of mine who also collects old clothing and even has a blog site helped cross reference sites. He suggested that I contact the Green Bay Packers to possibly get the items authenticated but I hit a brick wall there. It seems pretty impossible to get ahold of anyone at the organization.

I emailed you cause I seen your site was the most useful in finding out any info. Thanks again I really appreciate your help.
I wasn't terribly surprised that the Packers weren't able to help him; that's not really what they do. The team has made enough mistakes chronicling the broad outlines of its own history, much less detail work such as this (those mistakes were why I started this blog in the first place, which is a story for another day).

These were the photos Leo sent me:

I was floored. He got these in an antique mall in Las Vegas?

I recognized the sideline pullover instantly. I don't know when it was introduced, but the Packers were using it well into the 1950s.

The jersey looked to me like it could have been Curly Lambeau's last change to the Packers uniform, a solid navy jersey with gold numbers. The gold yoke, so emblematic of Lambeau's teams of the 1940s, had been removed to create a rather generic jersey, easily forgotten and easily ignored.

The tagging Leo described matched other Packer jerseys from the 1940s. The Packers bought their gear from O'Shea for many years during Lambeau's tenure.

It seemed to me that his find could well be genuine. At the very least, this required an expert. I referred Leo to MEARS, the Milwaukee-based authenticators and auctioneers. They must have been as pleased to see these as I was, because the jersey and jacket are featured in the current MEARS auction, now open through February 2nd, 2013, 9:00pm Central.

This is the jersey listing:
Lot #231: 1948 Buford "Baby" Ray Green Bay Packers Game Worn Home Jersey (MEARS A9) "First example discovered"

A free agent from Vanderbilt in 1938, Buford 'Baby' Ray was a dominating blocker and defensive tackle.

The co-captain of the Vanderbilt University Commodores in 1937, the 6'6" Ray was a giant of a lineman in his time. He weighed more than 280 pounds in college but dropped 30 pounds in his first season with the Green Bay Packers.

He blocked a punt for a safety against Detroit in 1939 in a game the Packers won 12-7. Ray played 11 seasons, from 1938-48. He was a member of two Packers championship teams. Ray became a long-time Packers scout after his retirement. For this auction, MEARS is proud to offer the first 1948 Green Bay Packers home jersey to ever enter the hobby. This is also less than approximately 6 surviving pre 1950 Packers jerseys known to have entered the hobby.

Supplied by rival city Chicago's King O'Shea, the jersey is manufactured from blue knitted wool. The body shell has full length set in sleeves with ribbed openings. The tail is complete with a 6 button crotch piece. The numerals, 44, appear on both front and back in serifed numbering. The numerals are yellow satin and serve as a bright contrast to the navy shell.

Size 44 appears in the crotch piece.

The jersey shows signs of heavy game wear. The shell fabric shows stress from contact. Numerous hit marks can be found on both the front and reverse numerals. The back of the jersey has about 12 small moth holes. They cannot be seen when displayed due to the navy color of the jersey, but are mentioned for accuracy and grading.

Final Grade (MEARS A9): Base grade of 10 points were assigned for jersey matching correct manufacturer, style, and sizing for Ray. 1 point was subtracted for the small holes on reverse. LOA Troy R. Kinunen / MEARS (B0238)
Here's the listing for the jacket:
Lot #226: 1948 Buford "Baby" Ray Green Bay Packers Game Worn Home Team Jacket (MEARS LOA) "First example discovered"

Offered is a matching jacket to the 1948 Buford Ray game worn jersey offered in this auction.

A free agent from Vanderbilt in 1938, Buford 'Baby' Ray was a dominating blocker and defensive tackle.

The co-captain of the Vanderbilt University Commodores in 1937, the 6’6” Ray was a giant of a lineman in his time. He weighed more than 280 pounds in college but dropped 30 pounds in his first season with the Green Bay Packers.

He blocked a punt for a safety against Detroit in 1939 in a game the Packers won 12-7. Ray played 11 seasons, from 1938-48. He was a member of two Packers championship teams. Ray became a long-time Packers scout after his retirement.

This is the first example of this style jacket that MEARS has evaluated.

Manufactured by Wilson (black tag with red lettering, 1948-55), this wool pull over jacket has full length sleeves which are trimmed in double stripe yellow trim. The collar has one single yellow stripe. "PACKERS" (3 ½") lettering appears in yellow cotton on the reverse. The jacket remains in excellent condition, with 12 moth holes on the reverse near the upper collar and 5 on the front. The holes are almost impossible to see due to the navy collar, but mentioned for the sake of accuracy.

Jacket shows heavy overall game wear, but still displays near mint. First example examined by MEARS. LOA Troy R. Kinunen / MEARS (B0237)
The description also includes this photo of Curly Lambeau and his men on the sidelines (it doesn't say whether this photo is included in the auction).

Bid early, bid often. I might never be able to walk past a vintage clothing shop again.

UPDATE:  The auction is over; the jersey sold for $8,084 and the jacket for $5,018 (including buyer's premiums).

Monday, January 28, 2013

2013 Pro Bowl Report

What the hell is going on out there? A spy in the huddle?

Not quite. Packers center Jeff Saturday, as everyone knows, spent his first thirteen seasons in Indianapolis before coming to Green Bay as a free agent at the beginning of this season. His time in a Packer uniform wasn't terribly productive—he was benched in December—but that didn't stop him from being the leading vote-getter of all offensive linemen in fan voting.

Saturday announced that he would retire after the Pro Bowl, so with the permission of Commissioner Roger Goodell he hopped the line to take one last snap from Peyton Manning (now representing the Broncos).

That's obviously the only time a Packer has played a down for the AFC.

On the sidelines, NFC coach Mike McCarthy and his counterparts eschewed the Hawai'ian shirts of recent years for more sedate conference colors.

And that's all the Packers-related news from what will hopefully be the last Pro Bowl ever played.

We could talk about other notable moments from the game, for example, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh wearing an old Lions logo on his jersey (it's only been four years since they introduced the new one, after all), but I'm having a very hard time working up that level of enthusiasm for this game. Out of all the All-Star Games, this is the one that seems the most pointless given the level of competition and the number of stars who find a reason to be elsewhere that day.

I'm far from the first person to say so, but it's time to find a new way to honor these players without making them go through the motions of half-heartedly playing a meaningless game; maybe another awards ceremony, this time in Hawaii?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2013 Pro Bowl Uniform Confirmed

Nike has confirmed Gerald McCoy's leak of the Pro Bowl uniforms:

The jerseys are simple and clean, reminiscent of the 1970s. Very nice.

Dont much care for the pants, though. They look good enough from the front, but those stripes wrap around the back of the leg behind the knee.

That's bad enough for the NFC's white pants, but looks especially goofy in white against the AFC's red.

This is more along the lines of what I expected from Nike. Looks for all the world like they sat down on freshly-painted toilet seats.

I'm also not a fan of the socks blending in with the pants. The unitard look never works for me; I like contrasting colors between the pants and the socks.

We'll see how they look in action.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 Pro Bowl Jersey Leak?

I have a pretty hard time caring about the Pro Bowl (which, based on the quality of play, really ought to be replaced by an awards banquet and a stack of free tickets to Hawaii), but at least the jerseys usually give us something to talk about.

Today, the Buccaneers' defensive tackle Gerald McCoy posted this photo of his Pro Bowl jersey:

That's shockingly old-school.

Looks an awful lot like the jerseys I remember from the 1970s and 1980s, such as this beauty from 1973:

Since 1993, the Pro Bowl has been where uniform manufacturers let their design teams run free:

Stuff that would never fly in the regular season is allowed to flourish in Hawaii.

And let's not forget this recent "winner":

This year, the Pro Bowl might be watchable. At least, the jerseys might be.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Braisher Stripes in the Super Bowl

The San Francisco 49ers are on their way to the Super Bowl.

If I don't have a rooting interest in any given game, I always pull for the team with traditional uniforms. That the 49ers also wear Braisher stripes is a bonus. A little bit of the Packers' legacy lives on in the postseason.

Monday, January 14, 2013

We've Got a Logo For That

Uni Watch ran this item today:
The Packers' travel gear included a new logo just for the coaches’ equipment. Never seen that one before.
I haven't seen it either, but it sure is a beauty.

The logo is obviously based upon the bronze statue of Vince Lombardi, sculpted by Julie Rotblatt Amrany and Omri Amrany, that stands outside the entrance to Lambeau Field's atrium.

While I hadn't seen that specific logo before, I was aware that the Packers recently introduced a whole series of roundel logos for various departments within the organization.

You can see the Equipment Department logo in that photo above, with the "Holstein Heisman" logo proudly displayed in the center.

Our blogging colleague Mr. Lambeau, of the must-read Packerville, U.S.A., has graciously agreed to share with me some outstanding photos he took of the sideline at Lambeau Field this past season. There we can see some of the other departmental logos in use.

From the pre-season game against Cleveland, we have this shot of equipment personnel getting the gear ready. There's the "Equipment Dept." logo again:

Packerville, U.S.A.
Also check out the black case on the right; that's the same logo found on all radio-equipped helmets since 2008.

The Equipment Department puts its logo on all its travel cases.

Packerville, U.S.A.
Equipment bags feature the team's classic Lombardi-era logo with the team's name circling it.

Packerville, U.S.A.
The Video Department's roundel (black case, bottom left) features the same basic layout, but in the center has an old-style movie camera emblazoned with Dad Braisher's "G" logo.

Packerville, U.S.A.
I also love the "Packers Field Video" decals on the folding chairs, incorporating the team's classic stencil wordmark and what looks like the NFL's standard new font.

I can't read the department name on the blue case in the photo below, but the roundel indicates that it belongs to the audio or communications department, with a coach's headset and mic:

Packerville, U.S.A.
That makes four roundel logos of which I'm aware:

There are undoubtedly others we haven't yet seen. I'll see what I can find.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Divisional Round - End of the Line

Well, that was fun while it lasted.

Yesterday, the Packers were eliminated by the 49ers in a blowout win at Candlestick Park. Not much in the way of uniform news from the game, other than the Packers wore the Sandy Hook Elementary memorial decal for the fourth and final time.

Interestingly, head coach Mike McCarthy wasn't wearing his S.H.E.S. pin.

The big uniform news for next season (so far) is the new rule requiring thigh and knee pads, meaning more players will look like Aaron Rodgers did yesterday:

I guess if I have to root for anybody left standing, it would have to be the 49ers. Not only is there somewhat less shame in losing to the eventual champion, but if Packers can't go all the way to New Orleans, at least the Braisher stripes can still be represented.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Auction Gold - Early 1960s Paul Hornung Jersey

This early 1960s Paul Hornung jersey was recently sold by Grey Flannel Auctions. It provides an excellent look at Packers jerseys of the period, who made them and how they were worn.

Early 1960s Paul Hornung Green Bay Packers Game-Used & Autographed Home Jersey (JSA)(Photomatch)(20+ Team Repairs)(Pristine Provenance)

Paul Hornung is one of three players to have won the Heisman Trophy, been selected as first overall National Football League draft picks, and been inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the 1960's All-Decade team and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. On the left front tail of this green durene shirt is the "RED FOX" manufacturer's tag with jersey size "46". Above is a wash instructions label. Inside the rear collar is a flag tag with size "46". Player number "5" appears on the front, back and on both sleeves in white tackle twill. Hornung has signed the front in silver marker adding the inscription "5" rating a 7. The jersey is properly tagged, was presented to us as game-used and in our opinion, shows outstanding use with numerous large team repairs. Accompanied by a letter of provenance which states, in part, "In the 1960's, my father worked the sidelines as a member of the chain crew in the Orange Bowl. One day he brought me home Paul Hornung's actual game worn jersey which had been given to him by Packers equipment manager Gerald "Dad" Braisher...the jersey has been in my possession ever since". Further accompanied by a LOA from JSA as well as a photo of Hornung signing the shirt.

"Red Fox Manufacturing Co." is a new one for me. Don't think I've heard of them before, but it gives us another piece in our timeline of uniform suppliers.

Here's a close-up of one of the shoulder numbers. The "5" is distinctive, with its angles along the top of the loop. I call this a "slashed-5", and it will be important when we're trying to narrow down the date of the jersey.

The repairs are remarkable. It was common in those days to keep repairing a jersey until it was ready to fall apart. In those days, before a fresh jersey at halftime, players would wear the same battered uniform again and again, even for years at a time.

Finally, Grey Flannel has a photo of Hornung wearing this jersey in a game, matching the team repairs and game markings to establish provenance.

Maybe we can narrow down the timeframe a little by looking at pictures of our own.

This team photo from 1960 indicates that the Packers were still using a sans-serif block style in that season (there's the Golden Boy in the back row, far right or next to the far right in all these photos).

1961 seems to have seen the introduction of the serifed, slashed-5 numbers. Again, not everyone is wearing them, as some players carried jerseys over from season to season (look at Max McGee to Hornung's left). Still, there are enough examples here that we can say with some certainty that this was the new number style for '61.

We can't see Hornung in these 1962 photos, but again his teammates are wearing the slashed-5s.

Hornung found himself embroiled in a gambling scandal, and on April 17, 1963, he was suspended indefinitely by Commissioner Pete Rozelle for betting on NFL games. The suspension turned out to be little less "indefinite", and the Gloden Boy missed only one season before being reinstated in 1964. By that time, the Packers had changed uniform manufacturers, resulting in a small number change to the "hooked 5s" they wear today.

That makes 1961 through 1963 the likely range of years this jersey was worn. Given the propensity for hanging on to old laundry, I think it'll be tough to narrow down any farther without more information.

But when did the consignor acquire it? Maybe the Orange Bowl connection can help tell us. The Bert Bell Benefit Bowl, sometimes known as the "Playoff Bowl" or "Runner-Up Bowl", was played in Miami between the runners-up in each conference. The Packers played twice during this period, after the 1963 and 1964 seasons.

I'm not aware of the Packers playing any other games in Miami during this period, so it seems likely that the jersey would have been given to the consignor after one of those games.

It seems strange that even a frugal team like the Packers would keep an old jersey around for a player who was suspended indefinitely. Possibly "Dad" Braisher gave it to a member of the chain crew following the game on January 5, 1964.

This beauty sold for $44,428 including buyer's premiums. It will undoubtedly be an important part of somebody's collection.