July 05, 2012
(Editor's Note: Longtime baseball uniform expert and author Morris Levin writes weekly for Authentically Speaking.)
By Morris Levin
In the beginning was Marc Okkonen and his 1991 publication, Baseball uniforms of the 20th century: The official major league baseball guide. Okkonen visually chronicled the authentic game uniforms worn by every National League and American League team since 1901.
His work was first widely published in the sports world in the 1987 Sports Illustrated baseball preview issue, and today his research is the basis for much of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Dressed to the Nines” uniform database. Okkonen published his last printed edition in 1993. His work is thorough, useful today in 2012, and neither complete nor infallible.
Ten years after Okkonen’s last update, Philadelphia area game worn baseball jersey collector Bill Henderson picked up the mantle and published his own ground-breaking work, the Game Worn MLB Jersey Guide.
Henderson is a collector who happened to grow up in the typography and print-setting industry. He can deconstruct font styles with the best of them, has a passion for the hobby, and came to find himself with the skill and knowledge to identify and verify the authenticity of game worn jerseys.
This month, Henderson has released his most recent update to the edition. The 2012 edition has been updated to include every jersey worn between 1970 and May 2012. The work is incredibly detailed and specific.
There are now more than 2,500 pages in Henderson’s study. The Brewers chapter details team uniform prototypes. There are hundreds of Turn Back the Clock games chronicled, and almost all of the one year Turn Ahead the Clock jerseys. The Orioles chapter has obsessive detail on variations of trim, styles discontinued just days before they were to be worn on the field, mid-season and unannounced changes to lettering.
It is a very fun read, and for the time being, there is a early bird special discount for orders of the new Sixth Edition. When you check out, enter the code, “EarlyBird10” and receive $10 your order.
A Patriotic Salute: Two observations on a day in which all 30 teams wore the cameo Stars & Stripes caps as they did on Memorial Day in observation of July 4: The Nationals blue patriotic jersey doesn't match up well with the rest of the home game attire, and boy, those Oakland A's gold alternate jerseys are sweet.
You can have an authentic gold alternate yourself, customized or blank, just check the store website. There's also a women's replica available as well.
Authentic Store Buzz: Please join us on Thursday, July 19 from 11:30-12:30 as we welcome former Philadelphia Atoms soccer goalkeeper, and current Philadelphia Union broadcaster Bob Rigby to our Center City Philly store meeting with fans and signing autographs.
Rigby, a Philadelphia-area native, helped lead the Atoms to the 1973 North American Soccer league Championship in his and the team’s rookie season, appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated, as the Atoms were the first U.S. team in any sports to win a professional championship in its first season.
We’ll have a reprint of the SI cover for Bob to sign. Hope to see you as soccer will be in the Philadelphia air with the MLS All Star Game the following week.
Speaking Trivia Time: From 1969-1975, how many times did the Cleveland Indians change their uniform in that six-year period?
Answer on Friday.
Tuesday’s answer: The 1970-71 NBA season all teams had to have a player's name on the back, including the (link pictured) Boston Celtics for the first time.
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