The Colts successfully defend the Championship earned in "The Greatest Game Ever Played!"
1959 Johnny Unitas NFL Championship Game Worn Baltimore Colts
Jersey, MEARS A10 -- Photo Matched!
Selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the ninth round of the 1955 NFL draft, Johnny Unitas was remarkably deemed the worst of four quarterbacks competing for three roster spots and fell back upon construction work to make ends meet, playing quarterback on the weekends for a local semi-pro team paying him six dollars a game. But when a teammate urged him to tag along for a try-out with the Baltimore Colts, the young QB began an era of gridiron dominance unprecedented in the professional game.
This delectable blue durene jersey has been definitively matched to one of Johnny U's greatest days through photographs snapped at Baltimore Memorial Stadium on December 27, 1959 as Unitas led his Colts to a thirty-one to sixteen victory over the New York Giants, successfully defending the NFL crown earned a year earlier in a contest known to gridiron history as "The Greatest Game Ever Played." Down nine to seven at the start of the fourth quarter, the Colts would record twenty-four unanswered points in a dramatic late surge in this 1959 rematch. Unitas would finish the day with one rushing and two passing touchdowns, going eighteen-for-twenty-nine with 264 yards.
Those fans who grumble that today's NFL signal callers are overprotected prima donnas could submit this garment as Exhibit A, as the evidence of gridiron violence is readily apparent. The rear numeral "9" reveals two sizeable vintage team repairs, with another at the collar. A small spatter of blood stands out against the white twill of the front numeral "1." The shoulder numerals appear to have been tacked down by the team after having been loosened by bone-jarring hits. The tagging at lower left front tail is silky-soft from sweaty wear, reading, "MacGregor Size 46" with a secondary "L" flap tag to the right and a washing instructions label to the left.
Matching white pants, tagged, "Southern Athletic Co. Wynnbilt [size] 32," were sourced from Unitas at the same time of the jersey's presentation, though there is no physical attribution to Unitas or any other player, no name or number. The garment appears to be a practice model, as game pants were striped and this pair is solid white.
Unitas gifted the jersey and pants to a business acquaintance turned friend who owned a Sharp electronics distributorship in Baltimore that featured top Baltimore sports figures like Unitas, Brooks Robinson andJim Palmer as celebrity endorsers. The sales executive likewise frequented Unitas' Baltimore restaurant, "The Golden Arm." A letter of provenance from the son of the uniform's recipient is included, as well as a copy of a photograph of Unitas with our consignor, Johnny U holding our consignor's toddler son as the proud father looks on. A spectacular ensemble with rock-solid provenance, and one of the most significant football offerings that Heritage has introduced to the collecting hobby. LOA from MEARS, A10. LOA from Heritage Auctions. Letter of provenance from son of original recipient. LOA from Resolution Photomatching.
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