A trip to the locker room after the 1972 football season left Bill Laskey holding what turned out to be a Hall of Fame worthy pro football artifact. Now, Johnny Unitas’ last Baltimore Colts jersey is one of the premier items in Heritage Auctions’ fall catalog.
Laskey was in his second season as a linebacker for the Colts. After the legendary 1972 Miami Dolphins whipped his team 16-0 on their way to what remains the NFL’s only perfect season, Laskey and the Colts returned to Baltimore. Unitas was no longer the Colts’ starting quarterback but had played in the game, completing one of two passes.
“I returned to the locker room a couple days later to clean out my locker and pick up my personal things before moving back to my home state of Michigan,” he stated. “While I was there our game jerseys from the previous Sunday’s game had been returned to the locker room from the cleaners.
“I asked the locker room attendant if it was O.K. to take a couple jerseys along with my own. He said, ‘no problem,’ since we would be getting all new ones for the next season. I took my jersey along with Unitas’. I later was traded after the 1972 season to the Denver Broncos and John was traded to the San Diego Chargers. Not realizing it at the time, this was the last time John Unitas or myself would ever wear a Baltimore Colt uniform again.”
Laskey hung onto the blue durene jerseys, adding Unitas’ autograph to the blue durene #19 and even getting the Hall of Fame quarterback to sign a brief letter of authenticity.
Laskey’s #51 was consigned to Heritage Auctions last fall. The Unitas jersey is now on the block, with bidding expected to reach $60,000 or more before the close of bidding on October 18.
The size 46 jersey includes Sand Knit labeling and shows “moderate” wear according to Heritage. Unitas’ signature is written in black Sharpie on the front.
The note from Unitas is included along with an LOA from Laskey and a full LOA from SGC Authentic.
The jersey is one of hundreds of items in the Heritage Fall Auction, which concludes over a two-day period October 18-19.