Football Trivia (General)/Baltimore Colts 1950 jersey
Do you havd any idea who made the game used jerseys for the Baltimore Colts from 1947-1950? Thank you
I am afraid I would need the resources of the PBS Show "History Detectives" to come up with an accurate answer to your question. Personally, I have read as many books on the AAFC that are available from the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore (the oldest free library in the USA) and I have no recollection of whom the league used as a uniform manufacturer.
So, let me ask you, what do you want this information for? I can provide direction for you but it depends on what you hope to accomplish.
• For example, if you are looking to buy a jersey as a wearable item, I have purchased AAFC tee shirts on eBay. They were printed without any legal authority, but I doubt if anyone got their feathers ruffled over the transgression.
• If you are looking for memorabilia, you would need to comb the sports auction houses. They occasionally come across such material.
• Finally, if you are doing some serious research, I can give you some suggestions.
Perhaps, the quick answer is to tell you that one of the big sports equipment suppliers, Spaulding or Rawlings from this era manufactured the jerseys. However, they did not license the garments. Chances are pretty good that they were purchased through a local sporting goods shop who would supply uniforms to local teams.
The biggest of these concerns was Bacharach Raisin, located on West Baltimore Street downtown. They were a wealthy company with owners who were well-connected in the Baltimore sports world throughout the 20th century. They finally closed their doors within the past 20 years.
The longer answer involves examining the reason why there is such a dearth of information. The two best areas to consider are:
• The AAFC was a league with considerable resources who was trying to force a league of old school owners to agree to a merger (the same intention and script was carried out by the AFL, in 1960). The NFL had just survived WWII and had no intention of divvying up the pool of money generated by professional football. This was a group of narrow-minded owners who were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as the league approached a profitable, secure position. The AAFC started up by throwing money and using charter airplanes to travel to the west coast. This was exotic for the times. Major League Baseball would not expand to the west coast for 8 more years. The NFL Rams moved to Los Angeles in 1946, but the teams commuted by train, which was a long and tedious trip. The AAFC came to an agreement with the NFL to cease operations and the NFL would add three of their franchises which suited the needs of the NFL. They did no want a second team in Los Angeles, so the Dons were finished. Cleveland was the best team in the AAFC, and would dominate the NFL for the next five seasons. San Francisco was the second franchise added since it gave the NFL a second team on the west coast. This made the league scheduler’s job easier. The best QB in the AAFC, Y.A. Tittle was sent to the 49ers from the Baltimore Colts franchise. At the last minute, for some inexplicit reason, the Baltimore Colts were invited to join the NFL. Despite the vociferous protests by George Preston Marshall of the Redskins, the Colts put together another ownership group at the last minute. This organization did not have “deep pockets” and a last placed team from the AAFC was thrown in the NFL as the 13th franchise, which made them a “swing team” for the 1950 season. Losing their star QB turned a bad team into a disaster. The owners quit with 2 games to go in the 1950 season, meaning the team had to be taken over by the NFL. They moved them to a rent free facility in Hershey PA. The team completed the season by playing their remaining games on the road. The NFL was more than happy to forget that the AAFC ever existed. The extensive and comprehensive records of the AAF C were offered to the NFL for posterity. The NFL turned down the offer. Despite the fact that the AAFC record and statistic keeping was more comprehensive than the NFL, who knows what was lost? The NFL denied that the records existed years later.
• The concern about uniforms and wearable’s did not discover a market until the late 70's, or perhaps the early 80's. Team merchandise sales had always been limited to tchotchkes, pennants and perhaps a team hat. The only time when wearing a jersey or a blouse (as they were referred to in baseball) would have occurred was at Halloween. It was a really big deal to get a bobble-head or a set of team monogrammed glassware at Christmas. Baltimore Colt ceramic ashtrays or steins with the headlines of the NFL Championship of 1958 or 1959 was a prized treasure. One would purchase them from the local department store. I have a memory of seeing them, proudly displayed on bars in a “club” basement decked out of knotty pine wood paneling and linoleum tile.
I suspect that each team was responsible for purchasing their own uniforms. Hence, the disparity in the extravagance between teams of the AAFC. The Los Angeles Dons promoted themselves as being the “most colorful team in the USA”. That's because they wore a combination of red and blue uniforms. The pants were made of satin. All of this was were pretty elaborate for a country that was just beginning to shed the "olive drab" hues of WWII. The AAFC played a lot of night games, which is why they employed fabrics like satin to improve the visuals of a game played at night under the crummy stadium lighting of the era.
The Colts had a different ownership group (or majority shareholder) for each of their three seasons in Baltimore, they were hardly a model of consistency where the Dons were flush with cash beings they had so many "movie" stars and wealthy stockholders.
I have one color photo of an authentic Colts jersey from the 1947-1950 era.
I will attach this to my answer.
If you want to discuss this further, I'll be happy to be of assistance.