April 25, 2012
Editor's Note: Longtime uniform industry expert at Mitchell & Ness with former M&N president Peter Capolino, and current Pro League Authentics president, Ray Jannelli shares his personal, inside story on the creation of the nostalgia NHL uniforms, which eventually led to Ray developing the "Vintage Hockey" series honoring the Original Six NHL clubs. In part one April 10, convinced there was a market for 1970s era shiny knit hockey jerseys with lace-up fronts, Ray leads us up to the phone call he made to an employee named Robin at Casey's Hockey in St. Louis...
By Ray Jannelli
Much to my surprise Casey's Hockey did indeed have the cotton/rayon ice hockey jerseys in stock - in the warehouse. As Robin from Casey's pointed out, these particular jerseys were from the early to mid 1970s and in very limited quantity. Robin,surprised by my inquiry regarding the vintage jerseys, was even more surprised that I wanted to purchase them, and she began to read off to me the teams in stock (all blank): Kansas City Scouts, California Seals, Atlanta Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, and Montreal Canadiens.
Robin had me at Scouts. About three dozen total, various sizes, home and away, manufactured by Sandow and Bauer. I purchased all of them. I also took a mental note that this rare selection must have been from 1973-74 because there wasn't any Colorado Rockies or Cleveland Barons, plus the Seals jerseys were kelly/gold, not the aqua they wore their last year as the Golden Seals.
In addition, Robin had located another dusty corrugated box containing NHL crests! Eureka!
I received the jerseys and crests shipment from Casey's the following week, and I certainly was not disappointed. All of the "old material" jerseys were in great shape, a perfect 1975 fold, these gems were brand new just in storage for 13 years. Applying the appropriate and accompanying crests, researching the number, lettering styles and colors, plus selecting the players was a labor of love Making hockey jerseys of my NHL heroes from that time period was the catalyst and inspiration to work full-time in the sporting goods business after college.
From a truly business perspective, the finished nostalgia NHL jerseys were priced, tagged, set on metal hangers, ready to be released on the Mitchell & Ness retail sales floor at the 1229 Walnut St. location (still the best location,by the way) providing instant market validation.
In two months all 36 jerseys were sold. Interestingly, sales were generated from a previous non-existent category at that time (take note future MBA's). I kept one jersey for myself, a Bruins home beauty by Bauer circa 1974, which I numbered and lettered as a "Gilles Gilbert" (fastest glove hand in the East).
Hockey jersey collectors and
former Mitchell & Ness customers of mine, Jordan Yuter and Kevin Rogers, have a
Flyers and a Seals from this original shipment, my guess a "Clarke" and a
This was the very beginning of the nostalgia hockey jersey business and I was there on the cutting edge. Was there a market for vintage/nostalgia NHL jerseys on a national and/or world-wide level?
It was 1989. I would re-visit the pursuit of nostalgia NHL jerseys one year later, but there was another league that peaked my interest pertaining to 1970s hockey jerseys. In fact, it was a professional ice hockey league that played in my N.J. backyard.
In our next installment: Zen and the Art of.....WHA Jerseys? When "Jannelli's Jersey Journal" returns on the May 9, 2012 edition of Authentically Speaking.
Coming up (1): Tomorrow on Authentically Speaking, author and baseball uniform expert Morris Levin takes a look at Majestic's Cool Base jerseys, spotlighting his hometown Philadelphia Phillies.
Coming up (2): Mark Thursday, May 10 as the next date of Pro League Authentics four-part exhibition series "The Jersey As Art." The second installment features former Mitchell & Ness president and throwback uniform expert Peter Capolino discussing and exhibiting jerseys going back decades to the all-flannel era, and a collector's look and presentation of virtually all of the commemorative jersey patches ever worn by the current 30 major league clubs. The event begins at 6:00 pm at our Center City store location (137 S. 13th St - between Walnut/Sansom), with refreshments provided and in-store discounts on all authentic MLB products. Hope to you see you there.
February 09, 2023