1938 Lou Gehrig Jersey Addendum

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized

 

In addition to the addendum presented below, please be sure to visit this illustrated REA blog post entitled “1938 REA Lou Gehrig Jersey: Perfect Photo Match? We think so. YOU decide!” at the following link:

http://blog.robertedwardauctions.com/?p=437

 

and also this REA blog post of 5/7/11 entitled “REA 1938 Lou Gehrig Jersey Displayed At Al Schacht’s Restaurant in 1942!”:

http://blog.robertedwardauctions.com/?p=501

 

The following additional information (in some cases duplicative from the printed catalog version, as it is a heavily edited/notated version of the printed catalog version) is provided to make absolutely sure that any errors or claims in the REA lot description (or pre-publication preview) are properly and unfailingly addressed, so that anyone potentially interested in bidding on the 1938 Lou Gehrig jersey is armed with accurate information that is properly attributed, and that any claims made or theories presented by REA alone are clearly noted, properly qualified, and distinguished from any claims by the MEARS authentication process.  We want no confusion as to what is being offered or claimed, so we are going out of our way to provide all possible relevant information regarding the jersey, its known history, and grading history. This jersey was purchased by our consignor at Mastro Auctions in August 2008 (Lot 62). At the time, it was graded A9, and was the highest-graded of all Lou Gehrig jersey in the MEARS census. It sold for $240,000. After being consigned to this auction, the jersey was regraded A5 by Dave Grob/MEARS. REA has no problem with this whatsoever, and no emotional investment or personal monetary exposure in how this (or any other) jersey is graded (aside from the commissions earned on its sale, of course).  The same cannot be said about the owner, who was upset and desired only to become whole.  It was then graded A7 by Troy Kinunen, with A7 being the average grade of A9 and A5. It is now graded A7.

The owner of the jersey has provided to us (on March 23, 2011) a document signed by him and Troy Kinunen of MEARS that reads as follows:

BEGIN:

February 18, 2011

Agreement between [CONSIGNOR’S NAME REDACTED] and Troy R. Kinunen

Re: 1938 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Road Jersey

Troy R. Kinunen agrees to purchase the 1938 Lou Gehrig jersey for the purchase price of $240,000 from [CONSIGNOR’S NAME REDACTED] on behalf of a third party. The amount of $240,000 will be paid with proceeds from the third parties [sic] consignments to be sold in the May, 2011 REA (Robert Edward Auctions).

Regardless of the value of the consignment amount, any shortfall in the consignments shall be paid by the third party to [CONSIGNOR’S NAME REDACTED] in full in the amount up to $240,000 within 30 day [sic] after the completion of the REA sale.

The deal is contingent upon the successful transfer of items to REA 2011 auction. This deal is null and void if the items are not consigned to REA 2011 Auction.

Regards,

(signed by Troy Kinunen)

Troy R. Kinunen/MEARS

(signed by consignor of Gehrig jersey)

[CONSIGNOR’S NAME REDACTED]

[END]

We cannot state with certainty exactly what this contract intends. It has nothing to do with REA; its qualified meaning is not entirely clear to us (although we do understand the clearly expressed desire of the consignor to be guaranteed to be made whole based upon his interpretation of the MEARS Buyer Protection Program, he did not draft the document); REA had no role in its drafting, and we are not a party to the agreement. (Note: REA was asked to accept consignments late as a courtesy to MEARS. We did so, so we assume that our cooperation in accepting these consignments was helpful in some way.) A scan of the signed document was sent to us by the consignor on March 23, 2011. Though the interpretation of the terms of this agreement are not clear to REA, REA policy (and we believe MEARS’ policy as well) is to clearly identify items that are presented for auction in which the authenticator has an ownership interest in part or whole. In this case, the ownership, or the risk of loss, may have been transferred to a third party. It is unclear to REA. In addition, it is a given that no party believed by REA to have a financial interest, whether direct or derivative, will be permitted to bid on the 1938 Lou Gehrig jersey. Please note that it is REA’s opinion that this jersey is worth every penny of $240,000 (or more), though as with any extremely valuable collectible item, there is no one precise value and it may sell for more or less than its previous sale price.

1938 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Game-Used Road Jersey

Monumentally significant New York Yankees game-used road jersey presumably worn by Hall of Fame first baseman and Yankees team captain Lou Gehrig in 1938, his last full season in baseball. We say presumably because we don’t know this with certainty. We DO NOT have a photo-match as the term is used in the science of photo-imaging. We have a style match and what REA calls “a possible photo match” in that the alignment of the lettering on the front of the jersey “NEW YORK” is consistent with the jersey Gehrig is wearing in a 1938 Yankees team photo (with the term “possible photo match” being a non-scientific term created by REA to mean simply “we personally think there is a really, really high likelihood it’s the same jersey; we think it’s a match; and we base this only on looking at the jersey and comparing it with the jersey in the photograph, but acknowledge we could be totally wrong, and they could be two completely different jerseys). The term “a possible photo match” is not to be confused with the definitive scientific term “photo match” which we do not have.  It is rare to have 100% absolutely certain photo-matches of vintage jerseys that do not have a great deal of detail to the design (and Yankees road jerseys have far fewer points of detail to allow for easy comparison with photos than many other jersey styles) but we like what we have. We have provided images so that bidders can see for themselves and draw their own conclusions.     

Few baseball jerseys are as worthy of display as national treasures at Yankee Stadium, The National Baseball Hall of Fame, or the Smithsonian, as is this 1938 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees game-used road jersey. While the word “rare” might be the most overused and liberally interpreted term in the hobby, it might actually be an understatement in regard to a Lou Gehrig game-used jersey. To the best of our knowledge, as few as five authentic Lou Gehrig jerseys are in existence. Only four, including the offered example, are currently listed in the MEARS census. We know of just two others, one of which resides in the permanent collection of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The offered example is particularly remarkable and noteworthy for many reasons, including its year of issue and the fact that both the front and reverse lettering are completely original. In addition, REA believes it is possible that based upon the placement, alignment and shape of the individual letters on the front and the shape of the number “4″ on the reverse (all of which are unique to every jersey - we are, however, limited by the quality of available photos to conclusively declare a true technical photo match) that we may not only have a photo match of Gehrig wearing this jersey in a 1938 team picture (as discussed above), but we may also have “a possible photo match” of Gehrig at bat wearing this very jersey in the 1938 World Series, his final World Series. The statement above that “the shape of the number “4″ on the reverse (all of which are unique to every jersey - we are, however, limited by the quality of available photos to conclusively declare a true technical photo match)” is REA’s statement, and REA’s statement alone. It is NOT a statement made by MEARS. It is a statement that REA sincerely believes to be true. We could be wrong. But we think it’s true. And once again: The term “a possible photo match” is not to be confused with the definitive scientific term “photo match” which we DO NOT HAVE.  The quality of this batting photo is not good enough to make a definitive photo match. We have a “style match” and what REA calls “a possible photo match” in that the font style and placement of the number “4” on the back of the Gehrig jersey is consistent with the jersey that Gehrig is wearing in the 1938 World Series photo at bat. This DOES NOT mean that this is the jersey Gehrig is wearing in the 1938 World Series batting photo. It could be a totally different jersey.  The photo quality is NOT sufficient to allow for a scientific photo match. REA personally thinks there is a really, really high likelihood it’s the same jersey; we think it’s a match; and we base this only on looking at the shape of the “4” on the jersey and comparing it with the shape of the “4” on the jersey in the 1938 World Series photograph, as well as the shape of other photos of Gehrig’s “4”, but fully acknowledge we could be totally wrong, and they could be two completely different jerseys. We have provided images so that bidders can see for themselves and draw their own conclusions.   

When Gehrig received this jersey at the start of the 1938 season no one could have imagined that it was to be his final full season in pinstripes, especially given his previous year’s totals. Please Note: REA is assuming that Gehrig did, in fact, personally receive this jersey in 1938. We were not there and have no concrete evidence that he in fact received this jersey in 1938 or ever, that it was ever in his possession, or that he ever wore it, though we believe it to be true that he both received the jersey and wore it. In addition, the most recent MEARS Letter of Opinion is titled “1938 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Game Worn Road Jersey”. We must acknowledge, however, that in Dave Grob’s MEARS report, he DOES NOT state that the jersey was issued personally to Lou Gehrig or specifically refer to the jersey as game-worn by Gehrig. His report is provided in full. Nothing included in his report precludes the possibility that Lou Gehrig wore this jersey. In Dave Bushing’s report, although he also does not refer to the jersey in his title as “game-worn” by Gehrig, REA interprets his statements regarding wear as the equivalent to stating that it was “game-worn” by Lou Gehrig (Dave Bushing: “It is in my professional opinion that although the jersey exhibits heavy wear, it was attributed only to Lou Gehrig”). However, REA must also note that in the original MEARS report for this 1938 Lou Gehrig jersey (MEARS item #309441), when it was originally graded A9 by David Bushing (examined on 6/6/2008), that original report also DOES NOT identify the jersey as “game-used”. The title of the MEARS letter has been changed in the heading only on the most recent A7 letter (created after the buyer expressed desire to be made whole based upon his interpretation of the MEARS Buyer Protection Program).  The language by Dave Bushing attributing use to Gehrig is new and appears only in the most recent A7 letter.  A cut-and-paste of the original MEARS report on the Lou Gehrig jersey from the MEARS data base that does not identify the jersey as game-worn was copied on 3/27/11 and appears below:

Letters of Authentication: Jerseys

1938 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Road Jersey
Final Grade with Respect to Characteristics and Game Use: A9

Internal Data
Date of examination: 6/6/2008
Certification number: 309441
Era: Pre-War HOF
Team Lettering
Team name: New York
Team lettering: Heavy felt
Team lettering size: 2 3/4″
Player Name
Player’s Name: None
Numbering
#: 4
Correct # for player: Yes
Number placement: Back
Other
Jersey Matches exemplars: Yes
Sewing examination: Yes
Player alteration: N/A
Autographed: No
Provenance/Origin
Letter of Authenticity: No provenance
Wear Characteristics
Evident Use: Heavy
Team Repairs: No
Wear consistent with
player and position:
Yes
Alterations/Usage Problems
No alterations or fabrication discovered upon evaluation
Grading Breakdown
Base Grade: 10
Provenance:
+/-: -0.5 - Replaced Buttons
+/-: -0.5 - Reinforced Shoulders
+/-:
+/-:

Please note: REA strongly believes this to be a 1938 Lou Gehrig jersey personally issued to and game-worn by Lou Gehrig.   

The fabled “Iron Horse” batted .351 with 37 home runs and 159 RBI in 1937, numbers that helped power the Yankees to their second consecutive World Championship. Although Gehrig was just two months shy of his thirty-fifth birthday at the start of the 1938 campaign, few had any concerns regarding the health of a man who had just played in 1,965 consecutive games and showed no signs of being ready for retirement. Perhaps it was that optimism, the belief that Gehrig would never slow down, that made his subsequent illness all the more painful to bear. Gehrig’s 1938 batting totals, on paper, looked fine: 29 home runs, 114 RBI, and a .295 batting average. They were, however, the lowest numbers Gehrig had posted in each of those categories in over a decade, and those close to him knew something was wrong. On May 31st, Gehrig made baseball history by playing in his 2,000th consecutive game, against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The glory of that achievement; however, could not overshadow what appeared to be a steep decline in his overall play. As the season progressed his strength seemed to be waning, and a gallbladder problem, which resulted in his doctors restricting his diet, seemed to make matters worse. During a golf outing that year, pitcher Wes Ferrell became concerned when he noticed that Gehrig was wearing tennis sneakers instead of golf shoes, and was sliding his feet along the ground to walk. By the end of the season it was apparent to everyone that Gehrig’s skills were significantly diminished, so much so that a few reporters even had the temerity to ask manager Joe McCarthy if he were considering taking Gehrig out of the lineup. McCarthy answered them tersely by replying, “It’s Lou’s decision.” In the spring of 1939, Gehrig’s condition severely worsened. His coordination was so bad that teammates privately expressed fear for his safety on the field. Still, McCarthy was adamant in letting Gehrig make the call. After struggling mightily for the first eight games of the 1939 season, Gehrig finally took himself out of the lineup on May 2nd at Detroit. He would never play in another game. Seven weeks later Gehrig received the official word on his condition from the doctors at the Mayo Clinic: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a terminal disease for which there was no cure. Gehrig passed away just two years later at the age of 38.

The gray flannel road jersey is lettered “New York” across the front and features the number “4” on the reverse. All letters and numerals are appliquéd in navy-blue felt. The name “L. Gehrig” is chain-stitched in red in the collar. Located directly below Gehrig’s name is both a vintage “Spalding” label and an adjacent “46” size tag. The year, “38,” is chain-stitched in red on the left front tail. One of the factors that is most significant regarding this jersey is the fact that all of the lettering and tagging is completely original. Many Yankees jerseys from this era, including some of the known Gehrig examples, display either a restored team name on the front and/or a restored number on the reverse. That is not the case with the offered garment. Both the front lettering and Gehrig’s number on the reverse, as well as Gehrig’s name in the collar, are original as issued, making this an exemplary jersey in that regard. As duly noted in the MEARS report, the jersey does have some minor professional conservation work on both sleeve areas for reinforcement due to the excessive amount of use and wear. This was performed for ideal preservation and for such a museum-quality garment this is a very accepted and positive practice that will ensure both its ideal conservation and display value for future generations. With reference to the precise extent of the use, wear, and conservation of the jersey: it is a very subjective process to describe the extent of use, wear, and conservation. For example, one person can look at restoration on an item and think it is minor; another person can look at the same restoration and think it is major. Subjective terms can vary from one person to another. The MEARS letter (which is provided in full elsewhere on this page) reads:  “Use and Wear: The use and wear to this jersey is categorized as heavy to excessive in places. Professional quality conservation work has been performed on both sleeve areas. The right sleeve in particular has one area 50mm by 30 mm that is affected in the that the [sic] flannel fabric has become completely worn through and is missing in places.”

The fact that this jersey displays a tremendous amount of wear itself is a positive attribute (this is REA’s opinion, and could vary from person to person) and is not surprising, since Gehrig played in every single game that season. In the MEARS report, authenticators Dave Bushing and Dave Grob had many different opinions regarding the jersey, including with reference to the buttons and whether or not a patch ever appeared on the left sleeve (please see MEARS reports which are provided in full for conflicting authenticator opinions in their own words). It is possible (though not certain) that the buttons are vintage replacements. It is possible that a 1939 New York World’s Fair patch once appeared on the left sleeve. Dave Grob believes that he sees trace evidence of a patch having been removed. REA believes Dave Grob is correct regarding his assessment. REA believes that the photo of Gehrig at bat in the 1938 World Series pictures him wearing this very jersey. REA believes that the cut of the number “4″ is unique to every Gehrig jersey. This is REA’s belief and REA’s alone. We could be wrong! Others may think completely differently and believe that some or all examples of the number “4” on Gehrig or other Yankees jerseys are identical and/or indistinguishable, even when examined in person or with quality photographs. In REA’s opinion, the number “4″ on this 1938 jersey is very distinctive. This is REA’s opinion and REA’s opinion alone. We could be wrong! Others may think that this “4” is identical and/or indistinguishable from the number “4” that appears on some or all other Lou Gehrig jerseys. REA has taken the time to carefully examine every image of Gehrig showing the number “4″ on his back that we have been able to locate, including images that we knew were from earlier years. The point of the exercise was not just to see if we could find an apparent match; in the alternative, the point was also to see if in our opinion we could find an image of the number “4″ on Gehrig’s jersey from a different year that could possibly be mistaken for the number “4″ on this 1938 jersey. In REA’s opinion and REA’s opinion alone, we thought the number “4” on most if not all of the other many images was easily identified as cut differently and clearly not a match. We could be wrong! Someone else might think that some or all the “4’s” are identical. To REA’s eye and REA’s eye alone, the only photo of Gehrig’s number “4″ that we thought was consistent, or even close to our eye (let alone a perfect “match”, a term we use NOT as a scientific term) was the photo of Gehrig at bat in the 1938 World Series. Subsequent to our photo research, REA was provided with additional Gehrig “4” images, some but not all of which we had previously seen or considered. We will review these images below.

Similarly, the only images of Gehrig from the front that are a match that REA has seen (referring only to the alignment of lettering and jersey style match, NOT a scientific technical photo match) also date from 1938.  While the batting photo may not allow for a stand-alone technical declaration of a photo match as the term is used in the science of photo-imaging, in REA’s opinion the 1938 World Series photo match becomes all the more powerful and conclusive in combination with looking at all the other Gehrig photos examined. In the 1938 World Series, the patch was on Gehrig’s sleeve. Images show that the Yankees players wore the 1939 New York World’s Fair patch on their sleeves in the 1938 World Series. These facts all alone, combined with  Dave Grob’s actually finding trace evidence of patch removal (detailed enlarged images of which are provided as illustration plates accompanying the MEARS report), confirm OR AT LEAST SUGGEST THE POSSIBILITY that the patch has been removed, which is a minor consideration, and one that pales in comparison with the enormous significance of a Lou Gehrig 1938 World Series photo match. REA is no way means to suggest that the patch, IF missing, is a positive quality. IF a patch is, indeed, missing, all other things being equal, of course it is less desirable than the same jersey with the patch not missing. That is a given. This is a remarkable game-worn Lou Gehrig jersey of incredible historical significance, dating from his final full season, and very possibly (in REA’s opinion only) his last World Series ever. Graded A7 by MEARS. The full MEARS LOA, which includes independent reports by both Dave Bushing and Dave Grob, is posted on our website. LOA from Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $50,000. Estimate $100,000+.

THE FOLLOWING IS THE COMPLETE TEXT OF THE MEARS LETTER OF OPINION (This is the exact text that appears on the scans of the three-page MEARS letter, and is provided here in this form also because it might be easier to read):

BEGIN MEARS LETTER:

1938 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Game Worn Road jersey

Final Grade: MEARS A7

Item MEARS #309441, 1938 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Road jersey, was submitted for evaluation by MEARS. Jersey was examined using a magnified light source light table, and comparison to available images. Data was gathered and compared to the MEARS database. Special attention was given to the “NEW YORK” team lettering and Gehrig’s reverse number 4. Both were deemed as all original and unaltered, a rare feature of 1930s Yankees game worn jerseys. It is a rare occurance to find a Gehrig jersey containing these features in their original, unaltered condition. Use and wear was evaluated and noted.

Originally evaluated by Dave Bushing on 6/6/2008. His opinion is provided. For the April, 2011 REA Spring Auction, the jersey was re-submitted to the staff of MEARS for evaluation by Dave Grob. Both have agreed the jersey is authentic as attributed to Lou Gehrig containing no team or number change. When applying the grading criteria to obtain the final grade, Bushing and Grob reached separate and different conclusions. Both are offered for your review.

 

6/6/2008

 

1938 Lou Gehrig Yankees Road Jersey (MEARS A9)

Notes on Examination by Dave Bushing

 

Jersey exhibits heavy use that is consistent throughout the jersey in regards to toning, wear to the jersey number and team name across the front, and the wear present around the neck. The top two buttons on the front of the jersey have been replaced with gray buttons instead of the original brown color buttons. In addition, the shoulder has been professionally reinforced.

 

Wear: (Minus ½ points) I deducted a half point on wear/reinforcement for several reasons. First, as most of the Yankees jerseys from this era were sent down to the minors and stripped of all or part of the original numbers and/or insignia. This is evidenced by the low survival rate of complete, unaltered examples, and the high number that have entered the hobby bearing signs of number changes, team changes, or the application of a minor league affiliates team. This suggests that this examined shirt did not come to such a fate as it has been examined and deemed all original with no number or team changes of any kind. It is in my professional opinion that although the jersey exhibits heavy wear, it was attributed only to Lou Gehrig.

 

Given that equipment managers had a practice of keeping and extra home and road of each player from one season to the next and given there are no signs of this jersey having been sent down and striped in the minors, then the wear on this shirt could be upwards of two seasons and one spring training.  If this wear was obtained while a shirt with number 4 resided in the Yankee Clubhouse for use by Gehrig up to that amount of time, then I do not feel that the word “excessive” can be attached to any wear exhibited that can be attributed to wear while the player was active on the team during a time frame of upwards of two seasons can be excessive.  It is simply game wear and the result of up to a hundred washings.  I deducted a half point due to the reinforcement of thinning that was expertly done by a professional restoration company.  Using an upgraded bat that has had some problems resolved and thus getting a higher grade as an example, I feel this was an appropriate deduction given that no historical aspect of the shirt was upgraded or changed.

 

Buttons: (Minus ½ points) In my opinion based on my experience, the buttons appear to be vintage and have the correct style for a Yankees jersey from 1938. Again, this is a judgment call but given the uncertainty of which buttons have been replaced with period appropriate buttons, to deduct more than a half point aggregate for this job seems to be excessive as the original look and era of the shirt have not been jeopardized. Due to the heavy game use, the buttons may have been replaced during the time of the jersey’s use by Gehrig, thus replaced, but possibly during the period. I deducted ½ point for the replaced buttons.  

 

1938 Sleeve patch: (Noted, but no points deducted) In my opinion if a patch on any jersey for a total of one year being worn in approximately half of the games played on the road and then, once removed, to have not a single trace of that patch having ever been on there. If it was worn all season in half the road games of 1938 and washed after each game, there would have to be a difference in fading under the place where the patch once resided along with some traces of bleeding of the thin felt patch. Also, when examining photographs from the 1938 season, in particular, a picture taken of Red Rolfe in October of 1938 stealing second base with a fairly clear shot of his left arm in which it appears no patch exists. We do not know for sure when the 1938 patch was applied or for how long it remained and if it was placed on both sets of jerseys but the fact remains, that if a patch had been factory applied and was on a shirt an entire season and had been laundered at least two dozen times, given fading and shrinkage differences around and beneath the patch, that there would have to be some sign of where the patch once was. This shirt shows no signs of such a patch.  We know the shirt is an original tagged 1938 jersey so this indicates, in my opinion, that the patches were not worn all year nor could they have been on both sets for an entire year without some difference in current appearance.  To retain the appearance it has today, if a patch had been applied, it would have to have been removed rather quickly before washing and sunlight changed the surface.  You can look at shirts that had a player’s name on back that is now removed yet the image makes it appear as if the name is still there.  Cy Young’s jersey had the sock removed after the season and it still appears as if the sock logo is still there from across the room.  Therefore, if it cannot be proved that every shirt for every game of the 1938 season had a sleeve patch on the left side and given that there is no sign of such a patch having ever been applied or removed, we must conclude that not every shirt worn throughout the 1938 season ever had such a patch and to deduct points for a patch that may not have ever been applied is not consistent with the criteria when grading a jersey on such a patch or one that might be missing or replaced.

1/15/2011

 

SUBJECT:  1938 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Road Jersey

 

For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1938 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Road Jersey. After a detailed visual inspection and evaluation of this jersey using lighted magnification, a light table, a digital microscope, UV light and various references, I offer the following noted observations:

 

Size:  This offered jersey is tagged as a size 46 as indicated by the “46″ flag tag sewn next to the Spalding manufacturers label in the collar.  This is considered period appropriate with respect to supplemental size identification. (PLATE I)  The jersey also measures to be a size 46 product.  This is consistent with other period Lou Gehrig jerseys I have evaluated, most recently both a 1927 home and road jersey.

 

Construction/Fabric Analysis:  The offered jersey is constructed with Raglan sleeves that are cut and hemmed to a length that would have been just above the elbow.  This is appropriate as confirmed by period images.  The jersey body appears to have been constructed professional grade 8oz wool flannel.  The fabric weave of the body of the jersey was examined using a digital microscope.  For the purpose of comparative analysis, it was compared against both a 1921-1925 Spalding Detroit Tigers road jersey (Bert Cole) and a blank period Spalding product (not of professional grade) from my on hand exemplar library.  Additionally, the texture and weave of the material in this jersey is consistent with a pair of 1938 Spalding professional grade 8 oz grey pants in my on hand exemplar library (Philadelphia Athletics). 

 

The underarm gussets of the jersey are constructed with a cotton knit/elastic fabric.  This is also something commonly found in Spalding products from this time frame.  The NEW YORK and the numeral “4″ are constructed from period wool flannel.  The fonts and sizing of both appear to be year appropriate as confirmed by images of Gehrig from 1938. While images of Gehrig dated to 1938 show some variation in the alignment of the lettering with respect to the button line, this alignment of the lettering is consistent with the jersey Gehrig is wearing in the 1938 Yankee team photograph (PLATE III) as opposed to the one shown in PLATE II.  Numeric font style and placement is also consistent with period images (PLATE IV).

 

The jersey features the supplemental player identification of “L Gehrig” sewn in to the rear collar of the jersey.  This is assessed as being original to the jersey as it is sewn through only the first fold of the material in the collar and the there are no signs or indications that this area has been opened up to accommodate adding the “L Gehrig” at a time after the jersey was manufactured. 

The red thread used to annotate “L Gehrig” appears slightly darker at the point where it enters and exits the gray wool flannel.  This is best seen using a digital microscope and it is what I would have expected to see if this means of supplemental player identification was to be considered period and original.

 

Dating the Jersey:   The jersey is dated to 1938 by the presence of “38″ embroidered in red chain stitch in the rear inside bottom of the jersey tail.  Missing from this jersey is the 1939 New York World’s Fair patch.  The New York Yankees, New York Giants, and Brooklyn Dodgers wore the Trylon-Perisphere-Helicline logo on their uniforms in 1938.  This includes the post season time frame for the New York Yankees (PLATE V)

While the use and wear to the fabric has removed or closed the signs of stitch application of the patch, I do believe that evidence of the patches’ one time presence still remains.  In examining the left sleeve of the jersey, I noticed the presence of a pointed fabric cuts in approximately the same locations as would have been the corresponding shape and fabric of a portions of the patch (PLATES VI-VII).  These fabric cuts by shape and location would be consistent with the removal of a 1939 World’s Fair patch from a 1938 New York Yankees road jersey.

 

Use and Wear: The use and wear to this jersey is categorized as heavy to excessive in places.  Professional quality conservation work has been performed on both sleeve areas.  The right sleeve in particular has one area 50mm by 30 mm that is affected in the that the flannel fabric has become completely worn through and is missing in places.  The buttons on the jersey are a bit of a mystery since out of the seven buttons present, there are four (4) different types.  From top to bottom:

#1:  Gray/Tan; Four Hole, 14mm, no raised lip. (Type 1)

#2:  Gray/Tan; Four Hole, 14mm, no raised lip. (Type 1)

#3:  Brown; Four Hole, 14mm, no raised lip. (Type 2)

#4:  Brown; Four Hole, 14mm, raised lip. (Type 3)

#5:  Brown; Four Hole, 14mm, raised lip. (Type 3)

#6: Brown; Four Hole, 15mm, raised lip. (Type 4)

#7: Brown; Four Hole, 15mm, raised lip. (Type 3)

(PLATE VIII)

 

By shape and size, the Type 1 button is consistent with those found on the on-hand 1938 Spalding professional grade pants mentioned earlier.  The problem with these top two buttons is that that the manner in which they are affixed to the jersey leads me to believe they are not original to the jersey.  I do not believe the brown buttons (#’s 3 through 7) are original to the jersey based on period still photographs and on color footage from 1938 that was reviewed (HBO, “When It Was Game” and Fox Sports Network “Baseball’s Golden Age”).  While these button replacements may have been period or vintage, I can’t consider any of the buttons as being original to the jersey at this time.

Provenance:  Although no provenance was offered with this jersey, we can at least trace its history and ownership back to Richard Wolfers 4 September 1991 Auction as lot # 53.  The jerseys feature the same buttons, same alignment of supplemental player identification with respect the manufacturers tag and the same fabric wear damage to the right sleeve.  In comparing images of the jersey from 1991 and those of today, it would appear that the manufacturers tag and the supplemental player identification have become slightly more worn.  This may have occurred at some point in time as part of the clearing/conservation effort.  (PLATES IX-X)

 

Evaluation Findings: Based on my physical examination of this jersey and supporting data, it is my opinion that this jersey posses all of the characteristics you would expect to find in a 1938 New York Yankees road uniform supplied by Spalding for use and wear by Lou Gehrig during this period.  I believe the 1939 World’s Fair patch was at one time applied to this jersey and that the buttons, while vintage, are not likely original to the jersey.

 

For Pre-1987 jerseys, the MEARS grading metric begins at base grade of 10 with five (5) major categories for consideration when looking to codify deductions.   I found these reasons to deduct points for this offered jersey. 

 

Category I:  -2 Replaced Buttons

Category II: -1 Missing Patch

Category V: -2 Excessive Use/Wear-Quality Conservation Work (Max deduction of 5 points)

 

As such, the final grade for this jersey with MEARS hologram number #309441 would be an A5.

  

Dave Grob

MEARS

 

Final Grade: MEARS A7.For this jersey, after being evaluated by two members of the MEARS staff, both opinions were submitted, and a weighted average grade of MEARS A7 was awarded the jersey.

END MEARS LETTER.

The following are the MEARS letter, worksheets, and illustration plates that we have been provided with to date (as with all images on this page, click to enlarge):

 

mears11.JPG      mears21.JPG      mears31.JPG

 

grob-gehrig.jpg     grob-gehrig-2.jpg    grob-gehrig-3.jpg

 

grob-gehrig-worksheet.jpg    grob-gehrig-worksheet-2.jpg

 gehrig-plate-i.jpg  gehrig-plate-ii-2.jpg  gehrig-plate-iii-2.jpg

gehrig-plate-iv-2.jpg  gehrig-plate-v.jpg  gehrig-plate-vi.jpg

gehrig-plate-vii.jpg  gehrig-plate-viii.jpg  gehrig-plate-viiimissing.JPG

gehrig-unnumbered-plate.jpg

END

The following is an article by Dave Grob was published on the MEARS website on March 22, 2011:

http://www.mearsonline.com/news/newsDetail.asp?id=790

REA responded as follows: 

http://blog.robertedwardauctions.com/?p=360&preview=true

With reference to the images that Dave Grob has used in his article as illustrations, REA provides the following notes:

Image #1 titled: “Getty Images 1929”:

38realg2.jpg

To REA’s eye, the #4 on the 1938 REA jersey and the #4 on the “Getty Images 1929” photo are different. In the “Getty Images 1929” photo, look at the relationship between the length of the stem of the “4” (the part below the 4’s “triangle”) and the portion of the “4” that sticks out to the right of the 4’s triangle. They are different. The stem of the “4” in the 1929 picture is clearly longer. We believe there are other differences as well. The images are here to review. 1000 times out of 1000 REA would identify these two number 4’s as different.

Image #2 titled:  “1932 World Series”:

38realg3.jpg

To REA’s eye, the #4 on the 1938 REA jersey and the #4 on the “1932 World Series” photo are different. In the “1932 World Series” photo, look at the relationship between the length of the stem of the “4” (the part below the 4’s “triangle”) and the horizontal length of the bottom of the “4” from the most far left point to the stem of the “4”. They are different. The stem of the “4” in the 1932 picture is clearly longer. We believe there are other differences as well. The images are here to review. 1000 times out of 1000 REA would identify these two number 4’s as different.

Image #3 titled: “Getty Images 1934”:

38realg4.jpg

To REA’s eye, the #4 on the 1938 REA jersey and the #4 on the “Getty Images 1934” photo are different. In the “Getty Images 1934”photo, look at the relationship between the thickness of the material (the “width” of the segments) that comprise the “4” compared to the area of the triangle of the “4”. Look at the same for the “4” on the 1938 REA jersey. They are different. The area of the interior triangle of the “Getty Images 1934” is much greater relative to the area of the surrounding “triangle-forming strips” than is the case on the 1938 REA jersey. The images are here to review. 1000 times out of 1000 REA would identify these two number 4’s as different.

Image #4 titled: “Page 26 Donald Honig The All-Star Game: A Pictorial History 1933-Present”:

38realg5.jpg

To REA’s eye, the #4 on the 1938 REA jersey and the #4 on the “Image #4 titled: “Page 26 Donald Honig The All-Star Game: A Pictorial History 1933-Present”photo are different. In the “Page 26…” photo, the horizontal strip of the “4” (that creates the bottom of the triangle of the “4”) is narrower in width than the angled strip (that forms an approximately 45 degree angle) comprising the angled side of the triangle of the “4”. On the 1938 REA jersey, it is the opposite: the angled strip is thicker than the adjacent horizontal strip forming the “4”. The same comparisons can be made based on the relative thickness of the bottom (horizontal strip) and stem (vertical strip) forming the “4” in each picture, yielding the same observation. They are different. The images are here to review. 1000 times out of 1000 REA would identify these two number 4’s as different; however, that said, of all the photos examined thus far, REA admits that this one is a little trickier simply due to the angle at which Gehrig is holding the jersey in the photo and the manner in which it is being held, which could possibly the appearance of the shape of the “4” on the “Page 26..” photo. But we think they are different and have explained exactly why. We could be wrong but we don’t think we are.

Image #5 titled: “Greatest Sports DVD NOT The 1938 World Series”:

38realg6.jpg

To REA’s eyes, this is such a poor quality photo, we just can’t make out enough to compare. We just can’t see enough of the “4” or even its outline.

Image #6 titled: “1 April 1939 Getty Images”:

38realg7.jpg

To REA’s eye, the #4 on the 1938 REA jersey and the #4 on the “1 April 1939 Getty Images” photo are the same. Look at the angle of the cut of the very bottom of the stem of the “4” on the “1 April 1939 Getty Images” photo. Look at the angle of the cut of the very bottom of the stem of the “4” on the 1938 REA jersey. They are identical. Look at the relationship between the length of the stem of the “4” (the part below the 4’s “triangle”) and the horizontal length of the bottom of the “4” from the most far left point to the stem of the “4” on both “4’s”. They are identical. Look at the relative thickness (or width) of every component comprising the “4” in the “1 April 1939 Getty Images” photo and the same for the #4 on the 1938 REA jersey. They are identical. The “1 April Getty Images” photo is a particularly ideal photo for comparison, as it has great detail and is taken at the ideal angle and with no movement occurring. They are the same “4’s”.  The images are here to review. 1000 times out of 1000 REA would identify these two number 4’s as one and the same. The fact that the “1 April 1939 Getty Images” photo is dated 1939 as opposed to 1938 is irrelevant to REA with reference to REA’s opinion. Based on the “4” and the “4” alone, REA thinks the image is clear enough to state that it is the same “4” and therefore the same jersey. Also, please note: If the date of the Getty Image is correct (and we realize that many Getty images including some of Lou Gehrig are clearly misdated), the April 1, 1939 date would not be inconsistent with Gehrig wearing a 1938 jersey.  The year 1939 is after 1938. It was a common practice for players to wear jerseys from late in the season in spring training of the following year. The April 1st, 1939 date falls during Yankees 1939 spring training.

Image #7 titled: “4 July 1939”:

38realg8.jpg

To REA’s eye, the #4 on the 1938 REA jersey and the #4 on the “4 July 1939” photo are different. This photo pictures Lou Gehrig giving his famous “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech. The quality of this particular image is not great, especially with reference to angle. We could work with it, but since we know exactly the day the image dates from, it makes more sense to use a higher quality image of the jersey Gehrig is wearing in this photo, as it is readily available. Here is another photo of the back of Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” jersey:

  gehrig-speech-jersey.jpg

The 4’s are close but they are different. To REA’s eye, the top of the “4” in the “4 July 1939” photo is angled at a slope to the left. To REA’s eye, the top of the “4” on 1938 REA jersey is straight across or possibly sloping a small fraction down to the right. On the “4 July 1939” photo, if one draws a horizontal line across the upper-most highest-point top edge of the bottom horizontal strip forming the triangle of the “4”, it intersects with the left-most edge of the “4” BELOW the connection between the angled strip and horizontal strip forming the “4”.   If this lower section were removed from the “4”, the perimeter would not form a perfect triangle because of the unique shape of the hand-cut “4”. There would be an extra small side to the left. On the 1938 REA jersey, if one draws the same line along the highest point of the top edge of the horizontal strip, it intersects at a level ABOVE the connection between the angled strip and horizontal strip forming the “4”. If this lower section were removed from the 1938 REA jersey “4”, the perimeter would form a perfect triangle. There are other differences as well. They are different. The images are here to review. 1000 times out of 1000 REA would identify these two number 4’s as different.

Image #8 titled: “NOT the 1938 World Series”: 

38realg9.jpg

To REA’s eyes, this is such a poor quality photo, we just can’t make out enough to even attempt to compare.

Image #9 titled: “Getty Images Incorrectly Dated to 1920”: 

38realg10.jpg

To REA’s eye, the “4” in this “Getty Images Incorrectly Dated to 1920” photo is a possible match to the “4” on the 1938 REA jersey. We would not be comfortable dismissing this #4 without better images. We think it’s a match, but to some extent of course are limited by the quality of the photo. This photo is obviously misdated. It cannot possibly be from 1920. If we learned that this was a 1938 photo or 1939 (as opposed to dating from an earlier year), our confidence level would be extremely high that Gehrig is wearing the 1938 REA jersey in this photo.

Image #10 titled: “Undated Newsreel”:

38realg11.jpg

To REA’s eye, the #4 on the 1938 REA jersey and the #4 on the “Undated Newsreel” photo are different. In the “Undated Newsreel” photo, look at the relationship between the length of the stem of the “4” (the part below the 4’s “triangle”) relative to the other components of the “4” compared to the same for the 1938 REA jersey. They are different. The stem of the “4” in the “Undated Newsreel” picture is clearly longer. We believe there are other differences as well. The images are here to review. 1000 times out of 1000 REA would identify these two number 4’s as different.

Image #11 titled: “Mitchell Ness Replica Jersey”:

38realg12.jpg

To REA’s eye, the #4 on the 1938 REA jersey and the #4 on the “Mitchell Ness Replica Jersey” photo are different. The #4 on the “Mitchell Ness Replica Jersey” is a perfect machine-cut #4 that is easily seen to be a totally different shape from the #4 on the 1938 REA jersey in every way. The images are here to review. 1000 times out of 1000 REA would identify these two number 4’s as different.

Please note that the REA quote in the eleven exhibits posted above was from an email exchange with Dave Grob. The line as printed in the REA catalog description reads slightly differently:

“The point of the exercise was not just to see if we could find an apparent match; in the alternative, the point was also to see if in our opinion we could find an image of the number “4″ on Gehrig’s jersey from a different year that could possibly be mistaken for the number “4″ on this 1938 jersey. We could not (with the exception of an undated photo, and a 1939 spring training photo).  The number “4″ on most if not all of the other many images was easily identified as cut differently and were clearly not a match.”

It’s just easier for us to leave this as is and to use these exhibits exactly as Dave Grob created them in his article.

The other quote does appear verbatim in the catalog description, and we have made painfully clear here that this is REA’s opinion:

“The cut of the number “4″ is unique to every Gehrig jersey. The number “4″ on this 1938 jersey is very distinctive.”

We apologize for the tedious nature of this addendum. REA fully recognizes that others may not see the same distinctions and nuances regarding the comparisons presented. That’s OK! And the best news of all: We are sparing you all the other comparisons we have made! They are no more or less exciting. Others may look at these “4’s” and see them all as the same and indistinguishable. Sometimes two or more people can look at the same thing and see things differently. Sometimes the mind can play tricks and one can see similarities or differences where there are none. We have used no fancy tools or measuring devices, only our eyes and common sense. We recognize the limitations of this fact. We have no doubt that studying these “4’s” utilizing advanced technologies and with measuring devices could provide additional and more valuable information.  If you are interested in this jersey, please know that REA thinks we have done justice to it in our printed catalog description, and we are providing this comprehensive addendum to be absolutely sure that we have not given anyone the wrong idea about any aspect of the jersey or its authentication process. REA believes this is an incredible 1938 Lou Gehrig game-worn jersey, and one of the very few known to exist.     

Added to addendum on 4/4/11:

Additional article by Dave Grob in which he thanks his close associate Peter J. Nash (the very same individual that REA is still trying to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars on an unsatisfied judgment and for the attorney’s fees and costs associated with collection as regards to his Consent Order and Stipulation for fraud, and who remains a fugitive from justice with an outstanding arrest warrant in connection with his fraud judgment):

http://www.mearsonline.com/news/newsDetail.asp?id=793



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