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Lot # 1448 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1979 Doug Bird Philadelphia Phillies "Saturday Night Special" Complete Uniform (Jersey, Pants, and Cap) - MEARS A10

Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $3,555.00

Offered here is one of the rarest modern-era baseball uniforms extant: a Philadelphia Phillies "Saturday Night Special" jersey and cap worn by pitcher Doug Bird in a game against the Montreal Expos at Veteran's Stadium on May 19, 1979. (The jersey and hat are accompanied by a matching pair of pants that are tagged with a different uniform number.) Graded A10 by MEARS. The rarity of this uniform is predicated on the fact that it was only used by the Phillies for that one, single game in 1979 before being permanently retired. The Phillies had originally intended to wear these specially designed solid maroon uniforms (with white trim running down the sides of both the jersey and pants) only for Saturday night home games (hence their nickname, which was also slang for cheap handguns on the street at the time). However, the initial reaction by both the players and fans to the new design was, to say the least, less than enthusiastic. The fact that the team was trounced by the Expos 10-5 in the game did not help matters either, as most fans didn't know whether to laugh (at the sight of the Phillies in these garish uniforms) or cry (at the level of performance witnessed that night). The players, being superstitious as most players are, cited the ridiculous uniforms as the reason for the loss and vowed never to wear them again. Despite assurances from Phillies management that the uniforms would be worn the following Saturday as planned, public sentiment during the week was so overwhelmingly negative towards them that the team finally relented and packed them away, never to be used again. Today, examples are rarely seen, with the uniform considered a "holy grail" for many jersey collectors. The offered example is even more significant given the fact that Doug Bird actually appeared in the game. Bird entered the game in relief to start the seventh inning and gave up four hits and four earned runs in his two innings of work.

The maroon knit jersey, with zipper front, features the team's "P" logo on the left breast. The number "43" appears on the right breast and reverse. "Bird" is lettered upon a maroon nameplate on the reverse, directly above the number. All letters and numerals are appliquéd in white tackle twill. Located on the right front tail are a "Rawlings 42" label and two adjacent flag tags: one reading "Set 1" and the other "2 Inch Extra Length." The matching maroon pants feature a "Rawlings 32" label in the waistband, adjacent to which is a white strip tag noting the pant size, the inseam measurement, the year, the uniform number, and the set number ("32 23 79 18 1"), and a flag tag reading "Set 1." The maroon hat, featuring a white, embroidered "P" on the front features Bird's number "43" written on the underside of the brim in black marker. A "MLB" label and a size "7 1/8" tag appear in the sweatband. All of the garments are original as issued, with no alterations, and display light wear consistent with their single-game use.

It should be noted that with regard to the pants, both infielders John Vukovich and Rudi Meoli wore number "18" in 1979. However, Vuckovich, who was in camp with the Phillies all during spring training, began the season in the minors and did not return to Philadelphia's Major League roster until late in the season. Bird was with Kansas City during the spring and was traded to the Phillies on April 3rd, just three days prior to the start of the season. Rudy Meoli, actually played in the May 19th game, as did Bird. This is the first example of a 1979 Philadelphia Phillies "Saturday Night Special" jersey we have ever offered and the fact that it includes the hat and a matching pair of pants makes it one of the most complete garments from that infamous game that we have ever seen. These jerseys have always been highly prized by collectors, making a high-grade example such as this of special note. LOA from Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $4,000+.
SOLD FOR $3,555.00

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