2023 February Finest Auction

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John McGraw was the definition of a baseball lifer. From the moment he made his MLB debut for the Baltimore Orioles as an 18-year-old in 1891, he was destined to make an indelible impact on our National Pastime. His solid playing career would ultimately be overshadowed by his Hall of Fame managerial career with the New York Giants. He won 10 pennants and three World Series titles in nearly three decades of managing the Giants, amassing 2,763 wins along the way. According to baseball author Burt Solomon, McGraw “was hard on his players — that understated things — but he made them play their best. They wanted to play for him. For he cared about little but winning."

Offered is an extremely rare full New York Giants home uniform — jersey and pants — worn by McGraw during the team’s 1913-14 World Tour. As far as we know, this is the only surviving uniform from that World Tour. The Giants and Chicago White Sox began the tour on October 18, 1913, in Cincinnati and proceeded to play 30 games in 30 days. The tour took them across the United States with games in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, California, and Oregon. The teams then departed from Victoria, British Columbia, for Tokyo on the R.M.S. Empress of Japan. The overseas portion of the tour began on December 3, 1913, in Yokohama, Japan, and concluded on February 28, 1914, in Queenstown, Ireland. They returned home on the Lusitania on March 6, 1914, arriving in New York where they were given a royal reception.

As noted in the MEARS letter, this uniform was specially produced for the World Tour, and the unique style lettering of "Giants" on the front is easily confirmed in numerous photographs from the tour. The white pinstriped flannel jersey is lettered "Giants" across the front in blue felt letters. A Spalding factory label appears in the collar, along with the name "J. J. McGraw" chain-stitched in black. The matching pinstriped pants also feature a Spalding label in the waistband with "J. J. McGraw" chain-stitched in black directly below. Both garments remain all-original with no alterations. Moderate wear is displayed throughout, including a small tear in the right underarm and minor fabric loss to the lettering on the front.

One important note, which MEARS points out, is that during the 1913-1914 World Tour, the Giants and White Sox team members were provided with both a home and away uniform. However, because the White Sox home uniforms, from a distance, looked very similar to the Giants uniforms, the Giants wore their home uniforms for the majority of the games on the tour. Because of this, the offered jersey was worn by McGraw for most of the games played (approximately 49 games in total were played between the clubs). Full LOA from MEARS graded A9.5 (base grade of 10, with a half-point deduction for the slight tear to the underarm gussets and minor fabric loss to the lettering).

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