Great Find: A Jersey Comes Home

By Martin Jacobs

Matt Hazeltine, who played linebacker for 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, has been one of my favorite 49ers players ever since he was drafted in 1955. He visited my pro shop (Sports Stop) in 1986 and told me he still had his 49ers uniform from 1959.

I was ecstatic when he pulled his jersey, pants and stirrups from a paper bag and gave it to me for my collection. He then inscribed the jersey to me. I cherished the uniform, but during an exhausting and costly divorce proceeding the following year, I ended up selling almost my entire collection, including Hazeltine’s uniform, which I sold for $500 – a fair price back then. Then in 1988, I read the news that Hazeltine had died of Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was only 53. So, for the next 26 years, I had always felt guilty that I had sold his uniform.

Then to my amazement, in the May 2012 Heritage sports auction catalog, my Hazeltine jersey was up for auction. As a rule, seldom do you get a second chance to buy back something in this crazy business. But with “lady luck” on my side, I outbid eight others, and I won it back for $6,500! With the sales tax and commissions, it came to $8,400.

I’m so happy that the jersey is coming back home, and it will stay here in San Francisco with the jerseys of other 49ers greats like Tittle, McElhenny, Perry and St. Clair!

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