Saturday, August 22, 2009

Don't Forget Your Jacket

Ebbets Field Flannels has long been the only source for classic Milwaukee Brewers merchandise. The Brews have been one of what I would consider the second tier of EFF's offerings; they consistently have several items available, a respectable variety but not quite in Seattle Rainiers or San Francisco Seals territory.

In addition to the jerseys and t-shirts, for several years in the 1990s Ebbets Field offered a beautiful 1949 Brewers jacket. Since discontinued, it featured a navy wool body and sleeves, red leather trim on the pockets, red and white knit trim, and proud block "M" on the chest. Royal blue shoulder inserts gave it a dynamic look.

I picked this one up for $40 on eBay some years ago (almost ten years after Ebbets Field took it out of production), where it was advertised as a "Memphis Red Sox jacket." The jacket had been sightly altered, with a diamond-shaped "Negro Leagues" tag sewn in the collar (visible in the photo under the original EFF tag). I don't know when it acquired this tag, but somebody at some point obviously believed that Negro League merchandise was more marketable. Given how cheaply I was able to buy it, the assumption might not have been correct.

I had never seen a period photo of this jacket, but the always-reliable Paul Tenpenny came through again:

(Photo courtesy Paul Tenpenny)

The model is Virgil Jester, right-handed pitcher in the Braves' organization. He spent 1951 and part of the 1952 season with Milwaukee, pitching the remainder of the 1952 season for the Boston Braves, where he garnered a 3-5 record and 3.33 ERA in 19 games. He was also a member of the Braves' inaugural 1953 season in Milwaukee, albeit briefly - he gave up 5 earned runs in 2 innings and earned a ticket back to the minors, where he ended his career in 1959.

It's a gorgeous jacket, and a worthy addition to our understanding of the Brewers' uniform ├Žsthetic. I'm glad to finally own one, and hopefully we'll see its like again from Ebbets Field.

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