September 5th, 2009

What Makes a Throwback Jersey Authentic?

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Not a Tom Seaver Jersey

A couple of minutes ago, Bryan Berg, one of my Facebook friends, posted a link to the above jersey that’s for sale over at Jersey Mall.  Being a long-time New York Mets fan, it wasn’t hard to tell that this supposed "authentic" Mitchell and News throwback 1969 Tom Seaver home Mets jersey was an obvious fraud. 

The first alarm bell: the shoulder patch on this jersey was featured during the 1986 Mets season, Seaver’s last year in baseball when he split time between the White Sox and the Red Sox. By that time, the Mets had long switched to stitching player names on the reverse of the jersey, where this example only sports #41 on the reverse.

What’s funny is that Seaver did wear a jersey very similar to this one when he returned to the Mets in 1983 for a single season before getting snagged by the White Sox in the waiver draft in the following offseason. Of course, again, by that time, the Mets had long since started stitching player names on the reverse of all of their jerseys, something this fraud lacks.

So what did Seaver’s actual 1969 uniform look like?  Here’s an example from Dressed to the Nines:

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The actual 1969 New York Mets uniform.

As it turns out, you can actually buy a 1969 Tom Seaver throwback from Mitchell and Ness, and here it is.  But when you look closely, while it might be an official "throwback" that doesn’t make it authentic:

BSME69H41 W
A real Mitchell and Ness Tom Seaver throwback.

As you can see from this Sports Illustrated cover from 1969, the actual 1969 Mets jersey featured the MLB logo on the left sleeve, not the right, as shown above.  The team has generally featured the team’s alternate logo on its left sleeve more or less since the team’s inception in 1962, with a few exceptions (1964-65 and 1969).

So what’s the lesson?  Caveat emptor, my friend.  Caveat emptor.

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2 Responses to “What Makes a Throwback Jersey Authentic?”

  1. Jeff Cooper says:

    As a former Mitchell & Ness employee, I find this deeply embarrassing. I worked as a researcher while I was in graduate school and law school at Penn, and I used to fight with Peter Capolino (then the owner–I believe he sold a few years ago) over the difference in the angles on the 4s on the Mets’ home and road uniforms. He was concerned with that level of detail (although I sometimes drove him crazy). Back then, the M&N ‘69 home Mets jersey only had the anniversary patch. I know that a lot of Met fans back then complained about the absence of the Mets patch, but it was more important to get it right. The ‘86 Mets Seaver jersey is a disgrace to everything Peter was trying to do back then.

  2. Jeff Cooper says:

    Oh, and the anniversary patch on that ’86 jersey is much too high up the sleeve. So there.

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