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  • Marketing of jerseys, caps, etc. to fans

    My girlfriend and fellow baseball junkie posed an interesting question to me the other day, one I was unable to answer.

    When did teams begin marketing jerseys, caps, etc. to their fans? Who, or which team, if any specifically, pioneered this?

    Just talking an educated guess based off game footage I've seen, I would guess this happened, maybe in the early 70's?
    THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

    In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

  • #2
    When did "officially licensed merchandise" start? Is that the question?

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    • #3
      I grew up watching baseball around 1976. In the late 1970s-early 80s I do not remember any team jerseys being sold. The big thing for us kids back then was getting a fitted hat. We just thought those were so cool! We had to go the ballpark to get those. Another popular item were the cheap plastic batting helmets. But as kids we loved them.
      Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
        When did "officially licensed merchandise" start? Is that the question?
        Basically.

        It would be interesting to know who prompted the marketing move. I remember player jerseys in the stands in the 80's, though not as widely owned as they are today. I don't remember seeing anything like that in game films of the 60's.

        I would think that the marketing of these sorts of products would shortly follow the transition from formal to informal dress at the ballpark.
        THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

        In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

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        • #5
          Tidbit from Trademark Valuations by Gordon V. Smith:

          For most pf baseball's 150 year history, licensing was merely a sideline. In 1985 total retail sales was about $200 million. The merchandise involved jackets, hats, equipment, mugs, blankets and other paraphernalia that displayed logos and uniform reproductions of baseball teams.
          From the SABR Biography of Merle Harmon:

          In 1977, Merle undertook perhaps the greatest risk of his career by establishing the first retail store to sell officially licensed merchandise of professional and collegiate sports teams -- Merle Harmon's Fan Fair. The seed was planted in Merle's conscience over a decade earlier, when he broadcast for the New York Jets. After receiving a Jets' desk clock as a Christmas present one year, Merle received dozens of accolades from people asking where they could buy one for themselves. To their chagrin, the answer was 'nowhere.' Similarly, fans could purchase Brewers caps only at stadium concession stands. Even then, the caps were made from mesh as opposed to the wool hats worn by the players. Team executives were simply uninterested in the idea of allowing casual fans to wear official team property. Still, Merle knew that consumers were willing to purchase official Brewers caps or Jets desk clocks, and he sought to satisfy them. Following a family discussion, Merle's son Reid agreed to operate a "sports fan's gift shop" at a major shopping centre in Milwaukee. Three of the other Harmon children followed Reid into the business, and the fans responded. Virtually the entire Brewers team showed up to meet legions of fans as they waited two hours to enter the store. Meanwhile, the dairy across the aisle sold "every scoop of ice cream in the place." Although the store grossed only $300 that initial day -- "just enough to pay the electric bill" -- it marked one small step for an enterprise which would eventually mushroom into 140 franchises. For his achievements, Merle won the 1993 Graham McNamee Award as a broadcaster who excelled in a second endeavour.
          http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?...1642&pid=19120

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          • #6
            I remember seeing photos of kids in the stands from the 1950's with Yankee TShirts on, I have a 1952 Red Man Yogi Berra card that says if you send in a tab at the bottom of the card you get an official team ballcap. I have seen film of kids in brooklyn wearing keep the dodgers in brooklyn t-shirts. I know they had babe ruth uniforms for kids in the 20's. But I think in a large scale marketing is relativity new, like late 80's early 90's whenever wearing jerseys first became really popular as everyday fashion. I remember my dad new a guy who worked at Yankee stadium and could get the warm up jackets that the Yanks wore in like the early 80's (wish I still had one) and they where like gold because you couldn't get them anywhere then, but now you can get one at any mall and that wasn't that long ago realy.
            39 AL Pennants • 26 World Series titles
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            • #7
              Originally posted by digglahhh View Post
              I remember player jerseys in the stands in the 80's, though not as widely owned as they are today.
              I don't recall jerseys available until the 90s. Before that, there were T-shirts associated with players, but not really jerseys (at least not replica/player associated jerseys). This is just based on my memory.

              It also depends on what merch you are talking about. Player jerseys are relatively new, but team patches, pennants, cards, etc. have been around for awhile.

              Also, I'm not sure when the licensing control became swallowed up by the larger MLB organization. I'm guessing teams had licensing control at one point in time.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by dgarza View Post
                I don't recall jerseys available until the 90s. Before that, there were T-shirts associated with players, but not really jerseys (at least not replica/player associated jerseys). This is just based on my memory.

                It also depends on what merch you are talking about. Player jerseys are relatively new, but team patches, pennants, cards, etc. have been around for awhile.

                Also, I'm not sure when the licensing control became swallowed up by the larger MLB organization. I'm guessing teams had licensing control at one point in time.
                As a kid in the 80's I remember those pullover v-neck Jerseys some teams wore for sale, but they didn't have numbers or names on the back. I do think "Authentic" Jerseys are a relativly new thing.
                39 AL Pennants • 26 World Series titles
                2003 • 2001 • 2000 • 1999•1998 • 1996 •1981 • 1978 •1977 • 1976 • 1964 • 1963 •1962 • 1961 • 1960 •1958•1957 • 1956 • 1955 • 1953 • 1952 • 1951 • 1950 • 1949•1947 • 1943 • 1942 • 1941•1939 • 1938 • 1937 • 1936•1932 • 1928 • 1927 • 1926 •1923 • 1922 • 1921

                :bowdown:1•3•4•5•7•8•8•9•10•15•16•23•32•37•42•44•49 & soon 2•6•20•21•51•42

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                • #9
                  Great stuff guys. Thanks.

                  Keep any pertinent info coming!
                  THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

                  In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

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                  • #10
                    My First Sightings

                    I started going to AL games in 76 and there wasn't much that I recall being there as far as clothing. There were a lot of Brewers and Cubs satin jackets though. I can say that I was at Great America in 1976 and they were advertising the fact that they "had the new hats from the National League" as per the pamphlet we still have from there. They were selling the painter cap style that summer. I don't recall much more than that though through my game going into the mid 80s. By 1990 they seemed to be everywhere though.

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                    • #11
                      All I remember from the 80's at Bush, is people wearing too-tight light blue shirts with the old circular Redbird logo, non-fitted caps, and an occasional Card's jacket on cool nights. Some people I kow still wear those shirts to the park. It is great!
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                      • #12
                        [QUOTE=dgarza;1179040]I don't recall jerseys available until the 90s. Before that, there were T-shirts associated with players, but not really jerseys (at least not replica/player associated jerseys). This is just based on my memory.

                        I remember in 1981-82 wearing my Oakland A's Billy Martin #1 replica jersey to Tiger Stadium. There used to be a baseball memorabilia store near where I lived called "The Old Ball Park". They would sell blank jerseys that you could customize to whatever name you want.

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                        • #13
                          During the mid-80s, I had quite a few of the pullover fake jerseys. I had:

                          Yankees home
                          Dodgers road
                          Astros home
                          Expos road
                          Mariners BP

                          The Mariners catalogs I'd get offered official jerseys (i.e. stitched-on logo and everything) but the cost was between $100-200. Same thing with caps. Mesh caps were easy to find, but offical non-adjustable caps were very expensive.

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                          • #14
                            [QUOTE=EddieBrinkman'sGlove;1180894]
                            Originally posted by dgarza View Post
                            I don't recall jerseys available until the 90s. Before that, there were T-shirts associated with players, but not really jerseys (at least not replica/player associated jerseys). This is just based on my memory.

                            I remember in 1981-82 wearing my Oakland A's Billy Martin #1 replica jersey to Tiger Stadium. There used to be a baseball memorabilia store near where I lived called "The Old Ball Park". They would sell blank jerseys that you could customize to whatever name you want.
                            Originally posted by Food View Post
                            During the mid-80s, I had quite a few of the pullover fake jerseys. I had:

                            Yankees home
                            Dodgers road
                            Astros home
                            Expos road
                            Mariners BP

                            The Mariners catalogs I'd get offered official jerseys (i.e. stitched-on logo and everything) but the cost was between $100-200. Same thing with caps. Mesh caps were easy to find, but offical non-adjustable caps were very expensive.
                            These are all great bootlegs.
                            They were before licensing took over, and people cared and went more out of their way to be creative.

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