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Lot # 1066 (of 1411)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1979 Thurman Munson New York Yankees Last Pinstripes-Complete Home Uniform From Final Game At Yankee Stadium

Starting Bid - $5,000.00, Sold For - $31,900.00

Offered is one of the most significant postwar baseball uniforms in existence: the very last Yankees home uniform ever worn by Thurman Munson. When our consignor first contacted us regarding this uniform (jersey and pants), we were, understandably, somewhat skeptical. Thurman Munson New York Yankees uniforms are exceedingly rare, let alone the one purported to have been worn in his final home game. It wasn't that we doubted our consignor (a very advanced longtime collector), but we were well aware that MEARS had never before been presented with an authentic Thurman Munson uniform, and other than the consignor's testimony of which he had no doubt, there was no additional documentation identifying this uniform as Munson's final pinstripes. Naturally, the first step was to determine whether or not the uniform was authentic. Prior to sending it to MEARS we were forewarned by the company not to get our hopes up, as the many Munson home jerseys that had previously been submitted to them were all rejected. The company emphasized to us that they had yet to evaluate and grade an authentic Munson uniform from any year ever. To their surprise, the uniform (including both shirt and pants) was found to be perfect in all respects and merited a grade of A10, even before the question of whether or not it was worn by Munson in his final home game was addressed. This was a real Munson uniform. In 1979 Yankees players each were issued two home and two away uniforms (occasionally a third was supplied), suggesting a one-in-two (or three) chance for any Munson uniform (without reference to the fact that our consignor was told back in 1979, by what he believes was an ironclad reliable source, that this was specifically Munson's last pinstripe uniform). In attempting to identify it as Munson's last home uniform, it was first necessary to determine when Munson's final game in pinstripes occurred. Munson passed away tragically on August 2, 1979 when the plane he was flying crashed just short of the runway in Canton, Ohio. An experienced pilot, Munson often flew home to Canton to be with his family on off days, and it so it was on this occasion. The Yankees had just completed a six-game road trip at the time, losing the first three in Milwaukee and winning the last three in Chicago. Therefore, Munson played his final home game at Yankee Stadium a full week before his death. The final home series prior to that road trip took place from July 24th through July 26th against the California Angels. It was originally assumed that Munson's final home game took place in the last game of that series on July 26th. That assumption, however, proved to be false. Munson was injured in the first game of the series on July 24th (in his second at bat, to be specific) when a wild pitch resulted in his falling awkwardly and twisting his knee. The injury forced him from the game and was so severe that it also caused him to miss the final two games of the home stand. Therefore, Munson's last game in pinstripes at Yankee Stadium was on July 24, 1979. With the exact date having been determined, the next step was to find a photo of Munson from that game so that the uniform could be photo matched. Yankee jerseys can be properly identified by means of photo comparison due to the pinstripes. Those pinstripes are in many ways analogous to fingerprints in that even though the uniforms are mass produced, the exact placement of the pinstripes, especially relative to the seams, lettering, insignia and numbers, is always unique to each individual garment. No two Yankees home uniforms are exactly alike. A photo of Munson from that game was found in the July 25th issue of The New York Times, which pictured a full-length image of Munson during the at bat in which he injured himself. Both the jersey and pants are on full display. In its letter of authenticity MEARS notes that they would like to have more than one photo to be able to provide a conclusive photo match identification, because any 100% conclusive photo identification match would require additional photos showing the parts of Munson's uniform not visible in the one available photo. Their letter concludes that this is almost certainly Munson's last pinstripe uniform, and notes that the placement of the pinstripes on the jersey and the pants each match perfectly with all visible pinstripe points in the only photo currently available to them of Munson in his last game at Yankee Stadium. In addition, examination of the placement of the "NY" logo on the jersey shows a perfect match with the photo in all eight places of intersection with the pinstripes. The white knit pinstripe jersey features the club's distinctive "NY" logo on the left breast and the number "15" on the reverse. All letters and numerals are appliqu├ęd in navy tackle twill. Munson's name, along with the year and set number of the jersey ("Munson 79 1") are chain-stitched in blue upon a strip tag in the collar. A "Wilson 44" label is situated on the left front tail. The matching pants feature a "Wilson" label in the waistband. The size ("35-1/2") is chain-stitched in navy upon the Wilson label. Adjacent to the manufacturer's label is a white strip tag that features Munson's name, the year, the set number and the inseam measurement ("Munson 79 1 22") chain-stitched in navy. Both the jersey and pants are all original, with no alterations. The jersey displays moderate wear, while the pants display light wear. The jersey has been graded a perfect A10 by MEARS. 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 remains empty in the Yankee clubhouse; a silent tribute to one of the greatest players in team history. LOA from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000+. SOLD FOR $31,900.00

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