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My Cooperstown Collection Baseball Shirts


spyboy1

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I wanted to share my collection of throwback baseball shirts with you. I don?t know if you are familiar with this line of shirts. They were made by Mirage and sold in department stores here in the Minneapolis area in the late 80?s or perhaps the early 90?s, as best as I can remember. The shirts were designed to look aged right from the start, as they are not white at all, but an aged, warm color to suggest some yellowing or fading I think the shirts retailed in the $40-$60 range and the jackets were more like $80. They also made matching shorts as well.

When they first came out the department stores carried what you might call the ?safe? teams like the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Senators. Perhaps the Senators were not as high profile as some of the other teams, but they were the predecessors to the Minnesota Twins and that might explain why they were carried here in the Twin Cities. All of these shirts had rather elaborate commemorative designs on the back memorializing a historic year in the history of the franchise, most often a World Series Championship team. These were really nice designs done in felt with embroidered edges, as were the team logos on the front, giving them a really nice vintage look and feel. This first group also has a small sleeve embroidery that reads ?Mirage First String? on the left sleeve.

After the first wave of the shirts came out, they started to be sold in specialty sporting apparel stores. This is the first time I saw shirts for the New York Giants, Oakland A?s, Milwaukee Braves and Cleveland Indians, among others. This is also when I started to see jackets, which are reversible with a design printed inside the back, as well.

Perhaps the lesser known teams were made from the start and just not carried by the department stores or maybe they were added to expand the product line after the success of the original group. There are differences in the collar tags and shirt fabrics of the ones that I know came later. The ?second wave? of shirts are brighter and the fabric is less coarse when compared to the first group, and they lack the ?First String? sleeve embroidery. Jerseys in my collection that fit this group are the Twins, Indians, Mets and Red Sox, while others like Milwaukee Braves and Oakland A?s have the ?first wave? tagging and materials, but were probably not as ?safe? to carry in the department stores as the New York and Chicago teams listed earlier.

Later I started to notice some of the jackets appearing in much more colorful versions. Instead of the standard ?aged white? colored jackets, I started to see black Pirates jackets with yellow sleeves, Cardinals jackets in red with aged sleeves and White Sox with black sleeves and even solid black jackets. I have also seen some reverse color shirt variations for the Cubs and Yankees with blue bodies and ?aged white? sleeves, as well as a 1906 Cubs jacket instead of the usual 1907 and a 1927 Yankees shirt in addition to the 1961 version.

I suppose in an effort to keep it fresh or cut costs, the jerseys started to arrive in the stores again, but the elaborate commemorative designs had given way to simple player numbers. I have seen variations with player?s names above the numbers also. I usually do not even consider one of this style unless I have never seen that particular team with the commemorative style back. I?ve seen with some of these later shirts that the pinstipe lines on the shirts are now made to look like stiching on a baseball.

A fourth group of shirts came later, lacking the history and detail of either the commemorative line or the famous player set. These had blank backs and can be easily identified by the American Flag patch on the sleeve. Later jackets changed from the commemorative design to a team logo style, as seen on my Cardinals jacket and spotted for other teams like Cleveland and Detroit.

When they first came out I could only afford so many and could only justify a limited number of what were essentially the same shirt. Later, through the magic of ebay, I have been able to add quite a number of them to my original group, which consisted of the White Sox, Cardinals, New York Giants and my Pittsburgh Pirates jacket, bought with the winnings of my fantasy baseball team, called the ?Pirates?.

I was kicking myself for a long time for not getting the Twins shirt when I had the chance, but at the time I discounted it for two reasons, the ?1965? design was only an American League Championship, not a World Series, so it felt like a stretch to justify making a Twins shirt of some sort by the manufacturer and I already had three shirts ?just like it? already.

Obviously my rationale for buying has changed over the years and I have now been buying other various teams when I come across them, but only for a fair price. Some people list the jackets on ebay for cheap and usually realize $20-$40 for them, and others consider them ?rare? or ?collectable? and list them for $60 to as much as $250 and never, ever sell any. Do you hear me ?corymoss??

Others that I have seen, but do not own, are a Cincinnati Reds with a blank back, a Kansas City Royals with a blank back, a Detroit Tigers jacket, a Detroit Tigers shirt with #6 for Al Kaline, a Texas Rangers shirt with #34 for Nolan Ryan and a Boston Red Sox design with the ?Pair of Socks? logo on the back, but that was in an auction with both a matching jacket and pair of shorts and went for more than I could justify, only really wanting the shirt.

I?ve never seen Astros, Padres or Angels shirts, but suspect they lacked any championship seasons vintage enough at the time to be included. I have also never seen either Los Angeles, or San Francisco shirts, but suspect that the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants versions might represent those franchises. The omissions that really surprise me are the lack of Philadelphia Phillies or Philadelphia Athletics shirts and the lack of a Detroit Tigers commemorative shirt. Perhaps they are out there and I have just not come across them yet.

These shirts have influenced and inspired me for years. I?ve looked up the facts behind the years commemorated on each shirt, learning about the thrilling 1967 American League pennant race that I was unfamiliar with, the long losing championship drought of the Cubs to explain why they had to go back so far to find a year to celebrate, Bobby Thompson?s ?Shot Heard Round the World? as well as other interesting stories behind the years represented. I have also made a series of my own t-shirt designs based on the same concept of memorializing notable years of a team?s franchise.

They?ve proven very popular when I wear them and generally get some comments from knowledgeable fans, but I also frequently get questions like, ?Is that shirt REALLY from 1934?? or ?Is that jacket REALLY from 1960??.

I?d still like to add a few of the shirts that I know of that I don?t have in my collection and my long term goal is to wear each shirt to a home game from that team. My Cardinals, Twins and Braves shirts have been to games in St. Louis, Minnesota and Milwaukee already and I?ve worn my Red Sox and Giants shirts when those teams have played here in Minnesota. I also wore my Washington Senators shirt to a Twins game here since that?s the team that moved here to become the Twins.

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Brings me back ... I remember one time I saw a beautiful old-fashioned-y Senators dugout jacket at Daytons. Early 1990s, probably '92 or '93. It was built like those great old satin warmup jackets, but with a thick, non-shiny cloth that felt like cotton flannel. Soft and supple; perfect jacket material. Had the texture of a good golf windshirt. My memory is playing tricks on me, in that I can't remember now whether it was red or navy. But I was a huge Twins fan, this was soon after the '91 championship season, and I'd just gone off to Washington for college, where I interned at the Senate. Made that Senators jacket a must-have, but I had some reason for not stopping to buy it right then. I made time a few days later, went back to Dayton's -- either Southdale or the downtown store, I forget -- and the jackets were gone. Sold completely out, never to be seen again.

Hmm, I'm thinking it must have been the downtown store. I tempted at a law firm in the Norwest Center one Christmas break, and I remember there was a skyway shortcut that involved cutting through the downtown Dayton's. Would explain how I saw the jacket but didn't have time to stop just then. Winter of 92-93, if I'm guessing right on that part of the story. Anyway, point is it was a beautiful Senators jacket, and I've never seen another one like it.

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I vaguely remember these. A lot of people forget that baseball throwbacks (especially Negro Leagues) had a small spike in popularity in the early 90's before they really blew up a decade later (peep Mary J. Blige's Real Love video to see what I'm sayin').

I vaguely remember these. Obviously the Mil. Braves one stand out to me the most, but I'm not sure that the Braves ever actually used that Milwaukee script. Although I'm sure the minor league Brewers used some version of it (which is why it looks like something the Braves would've used). The current Brew Crew revived it for the ball-in-glove era and were still using a version of it (with a droptail) when these jerseys were out.

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I actually have the "home" and "road" versions of the 1919 White Sox (shorts and jerseys). I also have the hat, but only the "home" cream color. Those hats were tough to find. I wish they still made something like those.

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I actually have the "home" and "road" versions of the 1919 White Sox (shorts and jerseys). I also have the hat, but only the "home" cream color. Those hats were tough to find. I wish they still made something like those.

I'm not sure I've ever seen the cream version of the Sox shirt and I've never even heard of any hats before, from any team. Any chance you could post a picture or two, especially the hat?

I've sure seen a lot of variations on the White Sox jacket though. Cream, cream with black sleeves, and solid black.

Jeff

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I'll post them as soon as I get them back (they're in storage at my Dad's place in Detroit), as well as a second post of some jerseys I've done the customizing on.

Those hats were really tough to find. I saw them in the booklet that came with the jerseys and shorts, but no one that stocked the suit had the hats (or even access to them apparently), some people even told me they were never made. What I found was they were subcontracted to American Needle (hence the limited and confused release), and the only one I ever saw was the cream version of the White Sox, and I ended up getting 2 of them. I remember the Cooperstown series came out in 1991, and the series with current logos was from 1992-93. I really wish they'd bring back some version of those, or at least find someone who can make blanks of them so I can do my own logos and lettering.

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By the way, I forgot to mention that the photos shown are also links to my new webshots page. If you click on any photo, it will take you to the larger version of that shirt or jacket, which will then allow you to navigate the entire album, showing the front and back of each item.

Here's a new "link" of the one picture that didn't show up properly in the first post, which was too bad because with all the blue shirts, it could have used a little variety.

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One last thing about them, the red was really a pain to wash, as it bled like crazy! Beware Cardinals fans...

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I've been looking for one of those cardinals ones for awhile, but just for the crest.

That's an awesome collection.

That was one of the first two I bought when they were first in the stores. The jacket was a later ebay purchase. The jackets seem to show up more than the shirts when it comes to the Cardinals. I've also seen the jacket with the 1934 logo on the back and in solid red too.

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(Can you guys tell I really love this webshots stuff? :grin: )

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  • 8 years later...

I have a Cincinnati Reds Shirt with a Label on the back of the neck reading Mirage First String saying Authentic Sportswear.

On the chest is a label saying Reds in red and white fuzzy material....Tan sleeves with small red striping...The back reading COOPERSTOWN COLLECTION...On the back also in big letters is CINCINNATI 1975 with a big C in the middle of the lettering...   Also on the sleeve it has MIRAGE FIRST STRING and on the bottom of the shirt it also has The Major League Cooperstown Collection....With a small picture of a player with a ball bat...Its in excellent shape. Was wondering what I could do with it...It is I am

assuming  47 years old with the date 1975 on it...Hope to hear back from you...

 

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1 minute ago, ashtrayblues@yahoo.com said:

fI have a Cincinnati Reds Shirt with a Label on the back of the neck reading Mirage First String saying Authentic Sportswear.

On the chest is a label saying Reds in red and white fuzzy material....Tan sleeves with small red striping...The back reading COOPERSTOWN COLLECTION...On the back also in big letters is CINCINNATI 1975 with a big C in the middle of the lettering...   Also on the sleeve it has MIRAGE FIRST STRING and on the bottom of the shirt it also has The Major League Cooperstown Collection....With a small picture of a player with a ball bat...Its in excellent shape. Was wondering what I could do with it...It is I am

assuming  47 years old with the date 1975 on it...Hope to hear back from you...

 

This thread is 9 years old. There was a long pause between posts in this thread. Much like how there are many unnecessary pauses in your post. 

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