Inaugural season in Atlanta!1966 Hank Aaron Game Worn Atlanta Braves Jersey, MEARS A9. Though Atlanta had been labeled "The City Too Busy to Hate" during the restive 1960's for the relative peace of its racially integrated community, a relocation to the Deep South was not without peril for a man recognized as one of the top African-American stars in Major League Baseball. The most significant expansion of Major League Baseball since 1958, the Braves' new address marked the first permanent residence below the Mason-Dixon line, a historical turning point which supplies the offered garment with enormous collecting appeal even in the absence of its royal lineage.
Andrew Young, a close confidant of Martin Luther King, Jr. who would become the Mayor of Atlanta in 1981, spoke to the importance of the Braves' (and NFL Falcons') arrival in 1966: "People always talk about the marches and the protests, but what they don't talk about is how big a part sports played in the economic part of the movement, in changing the perception of what the South was. We had no professional sports teams, and the mayor, Ivan Allen, believed attracting pro sports and big pro events would be critical to proving to business leaders around the country that we did believe in a 'new South.' In places like Little Rock, they tried to desegregate from the bottom up, starting with the schools. In Atlanta, we took a top-down approach. It was the business leaders, Coca-Cola especially, that decided that it would have been to our political and economic disadvantage to fight civil rights with fire hoses and dogs and more segregation, the way they did in Birmingham. Birmingham was the symbol for our business community of what not to be."
And so Hank Aaron would become the Jackie Robinson of southern Major League Baseball, wasting no time in bulking up his Georgia fanbase as he matched his jersey digits in home runs to lead the National League, and likewise earned the top ranking for runs batted in with 127. While his stats are a matter of public record, the effect Aaron had upon the banishment of Jim Crow from southern sports fans' hearts and minds might be even more relevant while calculating the historic value of this home white flannel.
"Braves 44" is applied to the jersey chest in red and navy tackle twill, with the digits repeated in larger format on verso. Navy piping runs the perimeter of the collar and button path. Classic "Screaming Brave" sleeve patch remains affixed at left sleeve, with embroidered swatch at interior collar announcing "Aaron H, 66 set 2." Lower left front tail provides proper "Wilson [size] 40" manufacturer's label. A black sharpie signature on the chest rates 9/10.
The jersey remains in 100% original and unaltered condition, exhibiting heavy wear instilled during a full season in the Bigs and as many as two more in the minor league system. It was here, during a visit to the Richmond Braves in 1969, that the garment was acquired by hobby giant Bob Case, whose letter of provenance tells the tale. Uniform authentication experts MEARS deduct a half point for wear to the rear numeral, and another half point for wear to the body of the garment, the only factors restricting an otherwise perfect rating. Letter of provenance from Bob Case. LOA from MEARS, A9. Full LOA from PSA/DNA (autograph). Full LOA from James Spence Authentication (authograph).
1966 Hank Aaron Game Worn Atlanta Braves Jersey, MEARS A9.
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