Vintage Item Spotlight- 1931 Armour Institute of Technology Baseball Uniform

armour - Copy

This week on Vintage Item Spotlight, we will look at one of the rarer items in my baseball collection, a 1931 Armour Institute of Technology baseball uniform.

The story of Armour Institute of Technology is an interesting one, and it starts in 1890.  Frank Gunsaulus wanted to found a university where students from all backgrounds would be admitted. Meat packing magnate Philip Armour, Sr. supported the idea, and donated $1 million in 1890 to support this endeavor. Thus the Armour Institute of Technology was born. It ran until 1940, when due to finanical constraints was merged with the Lewis Institute. Thus the Illinois Institute of Technology was born.

Most colleges in the United States have sports, and Armour Tech was no exception. Baseball was the most popular sport in the United States and so Armour Tech had a baseball team. This is an example of the uniforms the Armour Tech players wore.armour

The collar has a vintage Spalding Brothers Company tag, and the remains of where a second tag was removed.armour-collar

The ARMOUR name is sewn in dark blue felt lettering into the heavy gray flannel. The dye from the felt lettering has stained some of the fabric aroun the lettering. The buttons are all present and in good condition.armour-logo armour-logo2

The bottom of the front of the jersey has some staining present.armour-wear3 armour-wear1 armour-wear2

In addition to a really nice cuff design, there is some light staining on the right sleeve.armour-rsleeve

Possibly from the lettering, the left sleeve has some blue stains present.armour-lsleeve

Since uniform numbers were not introduced in baseball until 1929, and did not catch on immediately, it makes sense that this uniform does not have a number.armourb

Turing to the pants. There are stains on the front of the legs, as well as the back seat area.    armourpant armourpantb armourpant-wear1

The cuffs show a lot of wear as well.armourpant-fcuff armourpant-bcuffs

The buttons are in good condition as well.armourpant-buttons

A vintage Spalding tag, with a 34 size indication is sewn into the waist. The name SOMMER is written in fountain pen next to the size tag. Using the TechNews archives, I was able to discover that Sommer, who’s first name I was never able to find, was a center fielder from 1931-1934, eventually becoming a captain in 1934.armourpant-tag

A pair of blue stirrups accompanies the uniform.armour-socks

MEARS has authenticated this uniform as authentic, and it is a very impressive vintage piece. In fact, it may be the only example of its kind in existence, not just in this form, but in ANY form.  This is a true example of a well-preserved vintage baseball uniform.

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2 Comments

  1. David,

    I am interested in learning more about how you came to have the Armour Institute Sommer uniform. Would you ever consider selling it?

    • I bought it on eBay a while back, and it has a MEARS LOA for it, and another uniform set, a mismatched pair of a jersey and a pair of pants, as well as socks and a glove. So I would be willing to sell the whole set for $250, but we can negotiate.


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