Teddy Ballgame's jerseys regularly reach the auction block and have sold for as much as $175,000. But his BoSox warm-up jackets? Exponentially rarer. To our knowledge, only three other examples have ever surfaced publicly—all of which were inferior to this beauty. Here's why: Those predecessors may likewise have featured Williams' number "9", yet none carried his legendary name as this one does. How much more iron-clad can you get than that? Yes, inside the left pocket is the pièce de résistance: a 2-1/2" x 1" felt swatch that's actually chain-stitched "Williams." In the collar, meanwhile, you have a 3-1/2" x 2-3/4" swatch that's double-stamped with his immortal "9". What's more, the manufacturer (McAuliffe) and size (50) are spot on for Williams' 1950s era. Finally, the origin story is perfectly credible, as detailed in an accompanying 2005 LOA from the first buyer, whose Florida business was located 2 hours from Dobson's home, and who writes, "I purchased this jacket from former Boston Red Sox pitcher Joe Dobson around 1990."
Armed with all this evidence, expert authenticator Phil Wood has the confidence to conclude, "The provenance of this garment seems rock solid to me...I would consider this a museum quality piece, connected to one of the game's literal all time greats. It's the real thing." Earlier in his LOA, Wood addresses the Dobson angle: "Having had the opportunity to speak with several of Williams' former teammates over the years, a benefit of my career as a radio/TV sportscaster, it was not unusual for Ted to give a teammate a bat, or some other piece of his own equipment when they were traded elsewhere or retired. Dobson's stay with the BoSox in 1954 was brief and his career was over at that point. I can't state this as fact, but I suspect that Dobson was given this jacket on his way out the door. He sold the jacket to a collector in 1990, and died in 1994."
Need more proof? There's also the fact that Williams and Dobson had a long Fenway history together. In 1941, after two lackluster years in Cleveland, the 24-year-old righthander arrived in Boston and turned his career around thanks in part to the Kid's help. As SABR biographer Bill Nowlin recounts, "Equally important [to Dobson's success] may have been Ted Williams, who had hurt his foot and wanted to take some extra batting practice to help him come back. He asked Joe to throw to him and in the one-on-one pitching repeatedly to a .400 hitter, Joe may have become better able to harness his pitches and develop his control. Author Peter Golenbock added: 'They would pretend it was a real game, and Dobson would throw his best. By the time he returned to the Boston lineup as an everyday performer, Williams’ batting skills were honed and sharp.'" Little surprise, then, that after more than a decade as teammates and friends, Ted would impart such a special gift upon Joe's departure.
Excellent condition with a small repair on the left sleeve. LOAs from the Florida buyer and from Phil Wood.