Stairs boosts interest in 1915 Phillies sweater

Mitchell & Ness receives inquiries about item after broadcaster wears it

Stairs boosts interest in 1915 Phillies sweater

PHILADELPHIA -- Maybe Phillies broadcaster Matt Stairs deserves a cameo in Zoolander 2?

He modeled a reproduction of the sweater worn by the 1915 National League champion Phillies during Thursday night's Phillies-Red Sox game at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies celebrated the 100th anniversary of their first pennant winner Thursday and immediately afterward Mitchell & Ness, the company that made the sweater, started receiving inquiries about it.

The company has not made those sweaters in more than a decade, but that could change.

"I would love to make these again," Mitchell & Ness head Jonathan Yuska said Friday. "It's such a legacy of baseball. They're just gorgeous."

"It's a historically accurate garment," said Mitchell & Ness founder Peter Capolino, who sold the Philadelphia-based company to adidas in 2007. "It's also a very fashionable garment. But the cost of making these sweaters in the U.S. and making them just the way they were historically made, the sweater is going to retail for around $850."

The company made the historically accurate sweaters for maybe 15-18 teams over the years, but they are not easy or cheap to produce. In the past, literally only one person made them for the company: 71-year-old Norma J. Reichert, who lives in Embden, Maine.

Reichert made about three-to-four sweaters per month. They were made on a manual flatbed knitting machine. Once the components were finished she linked them in a process known as full-fashioning.

"It's really craft knitting," Yuska said. "If you look at the quality of it, there's a lot of yarn in there, especially the way it's sewed in. It takes a ton of yarn. When I was looking at doing this last year, the amount of yarn we were using was like, 'Oh, my Lord.' But it's beautifully made."

Capolino said an authentic 1925 Yankees sweater just sold on the collector's market for $48,000.

So, hey, maybe $850 for an accurate reproduction isn't too bad?

"The one I have Norma make is so accurate you almost can't tell the difference," Capolino said.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.