Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Hockey Jersey Mystery

I loved me some Hardy Boys when I was a kid, despite the Boulder Public Library's refusal to stock the books (oddly enough, they did have "The Ghost of the Hardy Boys" -- the memoirs of Leslie Macfarlane, a frequent contributor to the Hardy legend -- but only in a secret back room where you had to ask nice). I think the library's refusal was based on literary quality, but I got my hands on 'em anyway and read them avidly. I even, at one point, tried my hand at writing my own. "The Hardy Boys and the Graveyard Mystery" (because I liked spooky stuff) and "The Hardy Boys and the Mystery of the Emerald Guitar" (because I liked emeralds and I liked guitars. And, for that matter, mysteries). "The Graveyard Mystery" was actually performed as a play at Heatherwood Elementary, providing the high point of my literary career so far.

Now, it might be time for my third, because I've got a puzzler suitable for Frank and Joe (and Chet and Biff): The Mystery of the Milwaukee Admirals Jersey That is Mysterious. Rapt? I thought you would be.

Ahh, the Admirals. One of the venerable minor league teams. I've been pretty proud to have this in my collection -- it's a very nice jersey, and the Ads are one of those staunch midwestern minor league teams (like the Komets and K-Wings) that have been gallantly plugging along for years. They're a proud franchise if you ignore this, and this has looked nice in my closet.

But I've got way too many jerseys in that closet, to the point where it's tough to store clothes I might actually work, so I'm getting set to clean some of them out. And this one was on the chopping block ... to the point where I put it up on eBay this morning.

It was only up there for about two hours, because of ... this.

(pauses for gasps of horror)

It got a lot of rapid interest -- including a note from a Milwaukee jersey expert, who asked a few questions and also pointed out that I had the year wrong (oops) and also that, as far as anyone can determine, Ladislav Tresl never wore #11 for the Admirals. He wore #33 all three seasons he spent in Milwaukee.

And he's right. I've checked around, and there are plenty of records of Laddy wearing #33, none of him wearing #11 with the Admirals. Here's a team photo from the season of this jersey; it's a bit hard to tell, but Mr. Tresl is wearing 33.

The plot thickens, though. Tresl -- a Czech player, it's probably unnecessary to point out -- wore #11 throughout his Czechoslovakian career (spent with Zetor Brno, the forerunner to PPA favorite Kometa Brno ... this is where Frank and Joe would get so puzzled that they'd call in their dad, Fenton). And one has to ask -- who would forge a minor league game-worn jersey? (I bought it from an as-far-as-I-know-reputable dealer five years or so ago)

So my best guess -- and I've sent off e-mails to Milwaukee in hopes of sorting this out -- is that it's a preseason/training camp jersey. The letters are screened onto a nameplate, not stitched. There's also a general lack of wear (a little but not much).

This has nothing to do with our investigation, but I just always liked the anchors on the old Admirals jerseys.

A bit about our guy: Tresl (generally known as "Laddy" on this side of the ocean) was born in Brno and starred for the city's team throughout the 1980s. The Nordiques drafted him in the late rounds of the 1987 draft; he immediately came over and bounced around the minors (Fredericton, Halifax, New Haven, Milwaukee, Memphis) for seven years, with some good seasons but without cracking the NHL. He went back to Brno for a few years, then crossed the Atlantic one more time and closed his career in Waco. And, surprisingly, he stayed in Texas. Last I checked, he was coaching high school hockey and living in West, Texas. Comma intentional -- it's the City of West. That webpage actually gives a clue about why a Czech might feel at home there. It doesn't, unfortunately, give us any more clues about the jersey mystery.


Brushback said...

Yeah, if the letters are iron-on then it's almost definitely a pre-season jersey. I own a couple of game-worn pre-season jerseys and they're both iron-on, with weird numbers that don't jive with the regular season roster numbers.

gsdgsd13 said...

Cool. That's kinda reassuring. I contacted the Admirals jersey collector and he gave me a bit more info that backs up the preseason idea -- so hopefully that solves it.

Brushback said...

I was rapt, by the way.

gsdgsd13 said...

Man, thank god someone was.

snaylor said...

I grew up in Halifax and used to love the AHL when we had Quebec's farm team, the Halifax Citadels. It was a great era as the maritimes had farm teams for The Oilers, Maple Leafs, Canadians, the Jets, and the Nordiques all at the same time. I spent years collecting jersey's and playing street hockey or ice hockey on the lake. My favourite jersey was always the Admiral's jersey. It really is a great design. It is too bad they changed it later to a less impressive jersey (in my opinion), and this great look seemed pretty much forgotten. I picked up an Autentic Citadels Jersey at the end of their last season (belonging to number #24 Niclas Andersson). This Sweede was my fave player and had one or two decent seasons with the Islanders I believe.
Anyway, nice to see the old Admirals jersey again. I may pick one up some day if there are still any to be found and purchased.
Oh, I bought by AHL official Jersey from some Jersey wearhouse that recieved all kinds of pro jerseys and sent out a catalogue once a year. Cheers.
Simon, Halifax, Nova Scotia