A terrific guest post…
Memorial Patches, Embroidery, Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy
By Nick DiSalvo
This year, the New York Mets are wearing a special memorial patch this year to honor legendary player and broadcaster Ralph Kiner. After a Hall of Fame career which featured 6 consecutive All-Star game appearances as well as 7 consecutive National League Home Run titles, Kiner retired to the booth, where he would broadcast (mostly Mets) baseball for a staggering 53 years. His memorial patch looks like this:
Based on what the Mets have worn on field in the past to pay tribute to their fallen icons, this one has the most character in my opinion. Here is a brief run through of the various memorial patches (as well as embroidery and black armbands) worn on Mets uniforms throughout the years…
- 1972: A black armband was worn all season for Gil Hodges
- 1976: A black armband was worn for both Joan Payson and Casey Stengel
- 1992: A patch was worn all season to honor Bill Shea
- 1996: Sleeve embroidery was worn for N.L. Umpire, John McSherry
- 2001: A patch was worn on opening day for Tommie Agee and Brian Cole
- 2004: “Ya Gotta Believe” embroidery was worn to honor Tug McGraw
- 2004: Bob Murphy’s name was later added to all jerseys in embroidery
- 2012: Gary Carter was honored with a home plate shaped patch with “Kid 8” inside
In looking at the complete list, the stand-out feature of the Kiner memorial patch is the microphone. One would think that this is the first time the Mets have ever worn the image of a microphone on their jerseys… but I know otherwise, and what good is it to have this kind of knowledge without being able to share it with the rest of the Mets collector community…
Let me take you back to August 2004, when Bob Murphy (part of the original Mets broadcasting trio) passed away. The Mets were wearing an assortment of uniforms that already were decorated with other unique patches and embroidery. For the entire season, they were paying tribute to the 40th Anniversary of Shea Stadium, with large orange and blue patches on the right sleeve that paid homage to their home for 4 decades. Beneath the Shea patch was memorial embroidery that honored All-Star closer and World Champion, Met Tug McGraw who passed away much earlier that year. Of course, the classic “skyline” patch decorated the left sleeve. So, when Murphy passed away, the Mets knew that they needed to add something to the jerseys to pay tribute to their legendary broadcaster.
What they did next was take two jerseys out of circulation; both were game jerseys that had been worn on field that entire season – one of Mets Hall of Fame captain, John Franco, and the other of Ace Pitcher, Al Leiter. They shipped both jerseys to their official stitcher, “Stitches of Whitestone,” whereby the Mets embroiderers went to work. They mocked up 2 different embroideries for Bob Murphy (one on each sleeve); hence, turning these 2 game used jerseys into working prototypes, and then sent both back to the Mets for a decision as to what the team wanted for their entire lot of uniforms.
The Mets then selected the arc-shaped “B O B M U R P H Y” that you’re all familiar with, which appears above the skyline patch on the left sleeve, as follows:
So, whatever happened to the 2nd design? Well, they covered it up! They couldn’t exactly remove embroidery from a jersey, but they certainly were able to place some black material over it so that it was not visible to the public. Well, fans, today is the day you get to see that original design. And based on my blatant foreshadowing, yes, it features a microphone.
Here is what the right sleeve of the prototype/game used jerseys looked like (full sleeve, and close-up of where the alternate embroidery exists):
And, without compromising the integrity of the jersey, I took a snapshot of the inside of the right sleeve, so that you can see just what the Murphy embroidery could have looked like has the Mets gone with the alternate “microphone” design:
Pretty cool, huh? I thought so! In fact, I had a long conversation with Russ and Eric at Stitches about the Murphy embroidery earlier this week, and it was great to hear the actual story behind the designs!
Finally, you might be wondering how I have this information, especially the photos? Well, I’m the proud owner of both the Franco and Leiter jerseys. As a matter of fact, the Franco jersey is hanging in the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum for the 2014 season, as this year’s theme is “Mets Captains.” Do come down and take a look for yourself!