Buy A Gift Card
American Memorabilia Gift Cards are good for all auction and store payments.
Spectacular Heinie Groh 1919 Cincinnati Reds "World's Champions" Barnstorming Baseball Sweater
Extremely rare deadball era relic worn by a premier player of the times with a direct link to one of the most infamous events in the history of sport. Hall of Famer Heinie Groh was superstar of the era, spending his entire career with McGraw's New York Giants and of course, the Cincinnati Reds, which he captained to the 1919 National League pennant and eventual World Series victory, forever linking the team to the scandalous Black Sox. Often mistaken for a batboy, Groh stood just 5'8" and 150 pounds, but he was a terror with his strange bottle bat and a wizard with a glove -- his .983 fielding percentage in 1924 is still a NL record.
Offered is his personal 1919 "World's Champions" trophy baseball sweater, worn most notably by the Reds during a frigid 13-games-in-13-days barnstorming tour with Walter Johnson and his Washington Nationals team, after breaking camp in Florida and heading home to begin the 1920 regular season, details of which are recounted by Johnson in the biography "Big Train."
Remarkably well-preserved, this beautiful garment was originally purchased by an early hobby pioneer from Groh's daughter in 1969, a year in which she sold several serious mementos from his career. Nothing would surface again for over three decades, when her family offered his estate and memorabilia to the public for the first time. It should be noted all Groh's treasures were in wonderful original condition. This historic sweater is no exception -- its fire engine red cable-knit shell is bold and vibrant, displaying only minimal wear and only a few minor pulls here and there. Its style, construction and exaggerated neck, cuffs and waist are exactly true to the era. The "Jack Frost" tagging does indeed date to the late-teens, early-'20s, and its maker, Bender-Zimmer Co of Milwaukee, was indeed a thriving mill and manufacturer of such sweaters from 1908-1928, as documented in Congressional records, patent applications and hearings, as well as business registries of the era. The big black twill letters, proudly announcing the entrance of the barnstorming "WORLD'S CHAMPIONS" to ballparks, are sewn directly to the sweater -- still bold as depicted, but displaying age and subtle surface deterioration and light consistent overall fading. A brushed wool swatch, sewn in the neck, reveals the identity of the original owner, "H. . Groh", registered in white chainstitch. A tear in the material, likely from being hung on a coathook, has obliterated the center initial, undoubtedly a "K."
This is a thrilling find and rarity, significant on so many levels - Hall of Famer, World Series champions, barnstorming, Black Sox, etc - but it also marks the end of an era, as the ironfisted Judge Landis began restoring credibility to a damaged game, and outlawed the colorful, unrestricted major league barnstormers and the nefarious activities and characters around them. Suspensions loomed for those unwilling to comply - even the mighty Ruth backed down. This piece is emblematic of the change in 1920, and the last such season teams or players could exploit their fame without permission from above.
There's nothing subtle about this sweater, and with no other practical use beyond those 13 exhibitions, one can imagine Groh carefully putting this garment away with the other trophies from his stellar career, preserving them for his family as a tangible explanation of who he was. He would win another World Series with the Giants in '22, and three more pennants, but was forever linked to the 1919 Reds and that Series. As collectors, that suits us just fine. In a final bit of hobby poety, its current owner traded several pieces of Black Sox memorabilia, including a Chick Gandil bat, to acquire it. That was over ten years ago. This is first time this superb piece has ever been offered publicly, or for that matter, seen. Literally worthy of Cooperstown, it will make a tremendous addition to any caliber collection.
100% Authentic Team
You May Also Like...
What's It Worth?
We can help! We have examined well over 15,000 items.
Americanmemorabilia.com Auctions Stats:
From Our Fans
May 02 - 9:28 PM
You all do a Great Job! and are so helpful and knowledgeable in all the areas of interest in my life. Your Auction made such a difference to my collection as it helps m...
April 23 - 2:30 PM
I want to thank all of you for the wonderful reception you gave to us when we came to do the interview for the sale of the Yankee team bat and ball from 1934. I cannot t...
March 13 - 5:08 PM
To Victor, Best Wishes, Thanks for auctioning my ring and getting it back for me. Larry Grantham #60 Super Bowl III.
March 13 - 5:07 PM
To Vic, Best Wishes, Bob Engle NL Umpire 1965-1990. Bob Engle
March 13 - 5:05 PM
Thank you very much for your footage. We were able to find the shot we wanted and it worked out great. I have enclosed DVDs. Thanks Again. Best Regards, Kristen Snyder.
March 13 - 4:48 PM
I want to thank you for your donation towards the purchase of the Phil Hill racing helmet I bought from you. After I won the auction and you sent me the helmet, I set up ...
March 13 - 4:39 PM
Thank you for making me a happy camper regarding the Marino jersey I won a few months ago. Joe Dynlacht PH.D
March 13 - 4:36 PM
Dear Mr. Moreno, On behalf of the entire Chicago Bulls organization, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the asssistance you provided in helping us to re-a...
March 13 - 4:31 PM
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your staff for the informative service and pleasant attitude that was always available in the lead-up and auctionin...
January 15 - 9:33 AM
You were able to get me good money for my item and paid me quickly.
My Want List
What's Happening Right Now!