One auction company says it has the Yankee uniform Yogi Berra wore while catching Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Grey Flannel Auctions is offering 1956 Yogi Berra uniform that it says has been photo-matched to one of the most famous games ever played--Don Larsen's no-hitter against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The #8 jersey and pants will be offered in Grey Flannel's next catalog auction, beginning in April.
The owner of the uniform, former New York Yankees prospect Ron Stevenot, was given the uniform at age 17, on the day he reported to Yankee Stadium to begin the most memorable year of his life.
“It was 1959, and I had just graduated from Port Jefferson High School in Long Island (N.Y.), where I had been the catcher on the school’s team,” Stevenot recalled. “Our team had won the county championship, and after graduation, the Yankees sent me a letter asking if I’d like to try out for the New York Yankees Rookie Team, which I did. When they selected me for the team, I felt like I was walking on air… Along with other promising high school prospects from the New York metro area who had been chosen, I reported to the Yankees locker room, where we were issued our uniforms.”
Each of the new prospects was given a uniform that had been worn by a Major League Yankee in a prior season. “I remember that I wanted Mickey Mantle’s uniform, but someone else had claimed it, so I took Yogi Berra’s old uniform. Those uniforms we were given were the ones we were going to wear for the whole summer as we toured New England.”
The year of issue is stitched into the tail of the jersey along with Berra's name. The #8 was intact on the back, which was a home white pinstripe model.
“I went home to try on the uniform, although if it didn’t fit, it didn’t matter to me,” Stevenot said. “My mother took in the pants a bit, but she didn’t cut them. The jersey wasn’t touched at all.”
Stevenot went on to sign a contract with the Yankees to play in the Minor Leagues and spent half a year with the team in St. Petersburg, Florida. Eventually he was released and went on to pursue a successful career as a land surveyor. But throughout his life, he kept the memories and the Berra uniform.
“My greatest memory is that I was allowed to work out with the Major League Yankee team at Yankee Stadium before their game against the White Sox,” Stevenot said. “They asked me if I wanted to give Yogi and Elston Howard a night off, and I got to be the catcher during batting practice that Mickey Mantle threw. It was the thrill of a lifetime to be able to play on the same field as all of those greats.”
Upon first glance, Grey Flannel Auctions' president Richard Russek thought it might be Berra's World Series jersey. To the naked eye, Russek felt it was clearly a match, but further verification was required. The uniform was taken to the company's offices where it was compared to DVD “stills” of the perfect game.
“Every Yankee pinstripe is like a fingerprint to when the jersey was worn,” Russek said. “We compared the way the pinstripes matched up to the ‘N’ and ‘Y’ on the front, how they matched up to the collar and the sleeves, and it was an exact match. It is the uniform Berra wore as catcher during the perfect game.”
The uniform will carry a $50,000 reserve in Grey Flannel’s Summer Games Auction, closing for bids on April 14. All forms of absentee bids will be accepted during the auction, including by phone and through Grey Flannel’s website. Printed catalogs are free to all registered bidders.