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Lot # 956 (of 1389)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1971 Thurman Munson New York Yankees Game-Used Home Flannel Jersey - Earliest Known Example and One of Only Two Munson Flannels Extant

Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $9,600

New York Yankees home flannel jersey worn by catcher Thurman Munson during the 1971 season. This jersey is, to the best of our knowledge, the earliest Thurman Munson New York Yankees jersey extant. Furthermore, it is only the second flannel example ever to surface (the other, a complete 1972 home uniform, originating directly from the Munson family, sold for $100,266 in 2012). The reason for the rarity of Munson flannels is timing. Munson joined the Yankees in 1969, but in 1973 the Yankees, like most major league clubs, switched to double-knit uniforms. If we go under the general assumption that most players received only two sets of home and away jerseys each season, then, at the most, only eight home flannel jerseys were ever issued to Munson. This is one of those rare survivors, which is also notable for the fact that it is new to the organized hobby. It owes its survival to a former minor-league batboy and it has never before appeared at public auction.

Like most New York Yankees uniforms from the era, this jersey was later sent down for use by one of the club's farm teams. In this case Oneonta. As a result it, it has had both the original "NY" on the left breast and the original number "15" on the back removed. However, most important, it retains the original name tag in the collar that reads "Munson" chain-stitched in navy upon a white strip tag. The white pinstripe jersey also retains two additional original elements on the left front tail: a "Wilson 42" label and the year designation, "1971," which is chain-stitched in navy directly below the manufacturer's label. The letter "O" (for Oneonta) is lettered on the left breast, while the number "55" appears on the reverse, both of which are appliqu├ęd in navy tackle twill. It is important to note that although the lettering on the front and back has been changed, one can clearly see portions of the stitch patterns left by both the original "NY" on the front and the original number "15" on the reverse, leaving no doubt as to its having been worn by Munson. Equally important, the font style on the reverse "5" is consistent with that of the numerals used by the Yankees in 1971. Therefore, a collector would only require an original "NY" and original numeral "1" if he or she wishes to restore the jersey to its original state. With the exception of the logo change on the left breast and the number change on the reverse the jersey displays no other alterations and is original as issued. Moderate-to-heavy wear is exhibited throughout, including a number of light stains on the front and reverse. Munson batted .251 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI in 1971, which was his second full season with the Yankees. 1971 also marked his first of seven All-Star Game appearances.

Few modern jerseys can compete with the offered example in terms of both rarity and historical significance. Thurman Munson was one of the finest all-around catchers of his era and another in a long line of legendary Yankees players. A former Rookie of the Year, six-time All-Star selection and League MVP, Munson helped lead the Yankees to three pennants and two World Championships during his brief career. In addition to his remarkable offensive achievements (including three consecutive seasons of batting over .300 with 100 or more RBI) Munson was also awarded three Gold Glove Awards in recognition of his defensive skills. In 1976 he received possibly his highest honor when he was named the team's first captain since Lou Gehrig. Like Gehrig, Munson led by example and was modest by nature, happy to deflect the spotlight away from himself and onto his teammates. His tragic death in 1979 remains one of the darkest days in Yankees history and, not surprisingly, signaled the downfall of the team's 1970s dynasty. Today, Munson's number "15" has been retired along with those of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle, and his plaque hangs proudly alongside other Yankee immortals in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. In deference to his memory, Munson's locker remained empty in the Yankee clubhouse through 2008; a silent tribute to one of the greatest players in team history. In 2009, upon the opening of the new Yankee Stadium, the locker was moved to the Yankees Museum, where it could be safely housed for fans to view and pay their respects. LOA from Dave Bushing. SOLD FOR $9,600

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