GREENSBORO — The gray road uniform jersey worn by Derek Jeter during his 1993 season with the Greensboro Hornets is for sale.
Robert Edward Auctions of New Jersey is selling the old jersey on consignment. All bidding is online through Aug. 18, with an opening bid set at $5,000.
The buyer gets the size-46 gray Wilson-made, button-up jersey with “Greensboro” in capital letters across the front and the numeral 31 on the back.
The lot also includes a 1993 game program with roster (yes, Jeter is listed as No. 31; more on that later), a Hornets team brochure, three ticket stubs from the ’93 season and a letter written on Greensboro Hornets letterhead authenticating the items signed by the seller.
The seller is anonymous.
“He did not want to be named,” auction manager Tom D'Alonzo of REA said Monday. “Obviously, if you win the auction and buy the jersey, you’ll know who he is because he signed the letter authenticating the item. But he didn’t want people hounding him for stuff, so he asked to be anonymous during the auction.”
People who remember that final Hornets team in 1993 could narrow it down. There were six investors who took over the Greensboro franchise that year. John Horshok was the executive director and chief operating officer of that group.
An excerpt of the seller’s letter explains where the jersey came from.
“I was the managing partner for the the New York Yankees affiliate in Greensboro beginning in 1993 through 2003,” he writes, “and was responsible for retiring all the Yankees uniforms and equipment using the Hornets nickname as we changed the name of the team in 1994 to The Greensboro Bats (to avoid media confusion with the Charlotte Hornets NBA team). …
“When we cleaned out the locker rooms, I separated jerseys from some of the players I thought would advance to MLB stature including Mariano Rivera, Matt Luke and several others that made the major leagues.”
Among those was Jeter, the Yankees’ first-round draft pick in 1992 and the Hornets’ 19-year-old shortstop in 1993. Jeter was a South Atlantic League All-Star that season, batting .295 with 30 extra-base hits, 71 RBIs, 85 runs scored and 18 stolen bases in 128 games.
He also set a dubious record that season, committing 56 errors, still the most ever in the Sally League.
“It was great playing here. It really was,” Jeter said in July 2018 during his first trip back to Greensboro since his playing days. “We had a lot of fan support at War Memorial Stadium. Every game attendance was great. They built that Grandstand bar in the left-field corner … and it was always packed. I have nothing but great memories about playing here. Well, except for those 56 errors.”
Jeter grinned at the memory.
“I loved the town, but I was the youngest one on the team, so I couldn’t really do much,” Jeter said. “I was 18 years old, so I was stuck in the apartment most nights after the games.
“But when you’re in the minor leagues, your mindset — at least my mindset — is all about making it to the next level. I struggled quite a bit here, especially defensively. Fifty-six errors. So I spent a lot of time at the ballpark trying to get better. A lot of early work. A lot of late work after the games. However you want to define it, it was work. I spent a lot of time at that ballpark.”
And he did, indeed, wear jersey No. 31.
His No. 2 Yankees jersey is iconic, but it was assigned to him on his arrival to the big leagues. In his youth at Kalamazoo High he wore No. 13, and he wanted No. 13 throughout his minor-league career.
“I always wore either 13 or 31 (in the minors),” Jeter said. “I always tried to get No. 13, because my dad wore 13 in college. So I always wanted 13, and if I couldn’t get it, I’d flip it to 31.”
Now the game-worn road version of that No. 31 Hornets jersey has surfaced.
“We were contacted by a gentleman who had the jersey,” D'Alonzo said. “He put a bunch of jerseys aside, figuring at least some of these would be valuable someday. And he was right. With Jeter coming up for the Hall of Fame ballot next year, this would be the right time to sell.”
REA sells on consignment and earns a commission on the final sale. The rest of the money goes to the seller.
The auction house sells sports and entertainment memorabilia — “vintage items of high value,” D’Alonzo said — but it specializes in baseball memorabilia. On average, items on the auction site sell for at least $1,000.
Jeter’s Hornets jersey is Lot No. 2120 of the 2,808 items in REA’s Summer 2019 catalog, a 720-page book.
“Any kind of a minor league jersey is rare,” D’Alonzo said. “You look at a place like Steiner Sports, for instance, and they have quite a few game-worn Yankees jerseys. Those are really valuable items. Great items. But to find stuff used in the minors is difficult. That’s what makes this one special.”