Business Celebrates 20 Years Since Opening First, Pioneer Square Storefront; Future Relies On Investors Who Want to Keep the Tradition Alive

SEATTLE, June 23, 2010 – Millions of children around the world grow up with a love for baseball but only one would someday have David Letterman say of him, “One day every man, woman and child in this great land of ours will wear Ebbets Field historic baseball apparel. God bless Jerry Cohen!”

Yes it’s true. Years later, that young boy, who grew up alongside a father who adored the Brooklyn Dodgers, began Ebbets Field Flannels; a business that brings pieces of history alive in the form of authentic, vintage sportswear, a business with more than 20 years of mind-blowing highs and the challenges that come with a dogged commitment to make authentic products in the USA …a business named after the field Cohen’s father loved.

Ebbets Field Flannels (EFF) boasts that they are classic and timeless, the Gold-Standard of vintage sportswear. The business emphasizes the creation of baseball jerseys from 1880-1970, beyond the major leagues, including Minor, Negro, and Latin American teams. Researching every intricate detail of the products from the stitching, to the fabric, to the logos, has taken Cohen to the US cities of his creations and to places such as Cuba and Japan for their teams.

“We like to think of ourselves as preservationists in a sense that we’re always uncovering and preserving history,” said Cohen. “Not only baseball history, but also the manufacturing techniques. We are bucking the trend of the decline of domestic apparel manufacturing. Baseball jersey and jackets are made one at a time, wool hats are made from lots of pieces. Stubbornly, for better or worse, we adhere to our principle mission of sticking to a timeless, historic product.”

Creations include the New York Knights 1939 authentic jacket from “The Natural,” the 1940 New York Cubans flannel, 1915 Chicago Whales cap, Atlanta Black Crackers 1940 home jersey from the Negro leagues and Seattle Rainiers 1961 home jersey, just to name a few.

EFF also created custom flannels for Muhammad Ali (a Cincinnati Tigers flannel) and Bill Cosby (a Homestead Grays flannel) for the Civil Rights Game in Cincinnati in 2009. They even created uniforms for 20 players of the Iraqi National Baseball Team after seeing a story on the Rachel Maddow Show about the needs of the team last year.

Customers near and far, from the famous to the boy next door, recognize what’s special. With a Seals 1933 and 1938 home jersey, 1940 and 1955 jacket, 1955 cap, utility shirt and undershirt, a Knights 1939 jacket, utility shirt and cap and an Oaks T-shirt, customer Dale Miller loves getting decked out.

“I discovered Ebbets Field Flannels from a 1990 Sports Illustrated article and immediately got in touch,” said Miller. “The quality of their jerseys and jackets is unsurpassed and the price is surprisingly fair. I can’t help it…I think I just look so cool in my EFF baseball attire it makes me smile.”

Cohen says that they’ve inspired customer loyalty because they stick to their mission despite the challenges. For example, at one time, the company was sold to a group who, without Cohen’s knowledge, ended up trying to turn it into a hip-hop brand.

“I never envisioned myself selling hip-hop clothing so I took the brand back,” said Cohen.

There have also been the cash challenges. Fabric must be custom made from woolen mills and supplying contractors with raw materials to make authentic garments means being perennially short on cash.

Yet, retaining his brand and image is just one thing longtime friend and founder of Mitchell & Ness, Peter Capolino, says is so special about Cohen.

“I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Jerry,” said Capolino. “For more than 20 years Jerry has always stayed true to his original mission of reproducing historic, athletic garments as they were actually worn. That dedication is a very important ingredient to the success of Ebbets Field Flannels.”

Capolino jokes that he tried to convince Jerry to get fashionable, “but he wouldn’t listen to me.” However, “heritage” and “authentic” are buzz words in the fashion industry today. As more and more retailers want an “Americana” look and feel to their lines, they’re reaching out to people like Cohen to partner with.

Ebbets has been making limited-edition, vintage hats for retailer J. Crew for six months now, and just struck a six-figure deal with American Eagle for a co-branded vintage hat too.

“There is a reason why we do this. We haven’t followed the fashion trends, but by sticking to what we do, the fashion world has come to us,” said Cohen.

It’s a nice little boost as Ebbets Field Flannels looks to gain strength again. They remain committed to Seattle’s Pioneer Square and all of their customers who cherish the specialty products. EFF is also currently re-creating the authentic jersey of the 1950 NY Yankees World Series team. Eight of the nine original, living team members will be honored at Yankee Stadium, July 2, 2010, wearing those jerseys.

However, the business is by no means in the clear. Twenty years after acquiring his first license to make the apparel, opening his first store and sending out his first color catalogue, Cohen needs capital in order to move forward and grow. He is seeking investors who share his passion; a business rooted in history that brings fathers and sons together, that honors former baseball heroes, their trials and tribulations, and unites people from different nations through the love of the game.

There is an original chair from the Ebbets Field grandstands in Cohen’s office; a fixture that encompasses his business and how it began. What other business allows its customers to invest in that story and own a piece of its precious history too?