The year was 1954 and nobody could have guessed that the skinny rookie wearing No. 5 for the Milwaukee Braves would go on to become one of the greatest players in baseball.
A jersey worn by Hank Aaron that year - and resewed the next year with his more familiar No. 44 - is up for auction in Texas this week and expected to fetch an estimated $200,000.
"It's a Hall of Fame-worthy piece and just a really neat item," said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas.
The consignor is New Jersey ophthalmologist Richard Angrist, who has been selling off some of his high-end collection as he concentrates on acquiring Yankees items for exhibit in the museum at Yankee Stadium.
Angrist, 55, said he bought the gray flannel road jersey privately from a West Coast man about five years ago. That collector had held it for many years.
"I believe there's a high probability Aaron hit his first home run in that jersey because he hit his first home run on the road," Angrist said.
That was on April 23, 1954, in a 14-inning Braves win at St. Louis. Aaron hit 754 more homers, a record that stood until Barry Bonds broke it in 2007, but under a cloud of steroid use allegations.
Referring to the year, a tag on the jersey says "Aaron 54" above the washing instructions. At some point before Angrist bought it, Aaron autographed the jersey for someone with: "Best Wishes, Hank Aaron."
Most Milwaukee fans probably don't remember that Aaron wore No. 5 during his first season in baseball. The jersey being auctioned bears the No. 44, but Ivy said a closer examination on a light table shows the stitching path where the 5 used to be on both the front and back.
There's uncertainty about exactly when Aaron wore the jersey during his second year with the Braves. It's possible he used it only during the preseason, but he may have worn it for regular season games, the Heritage catalog says.
Players from that era typically were given two home jerseys and two road jerseys so they had one to wear while the other was in the wash, Ivy said. If that's indeed the case with Aaron, then the odds he was wearing this particular jersey for his first home run are 50-50.
Ivy said he's unaware of any other Aaron rookie jerseys out there. When Aaron got fresh jerseys in 1955, Ivy said, this one and Aaron's other rookie jerseys probably were shipped to the minor leagues to be used by a player there. Worn-out uniforms were thrown away, but this jersey made its way into the public market at some point, and its value increased as Aaron's legacy grew.
I wanted to ask Aaron, 77, about this jersey, but I couldn't reach him Tuesday.
The catalog promotes the jersey as not only a piece of baseball history, but as a symbol of a time when African-American players excelled even as they fought against racial segregation and hatred throughout America.
So how do we know this jersey is legit?
"This particular piece has been looked at by some of the best authenticators in the hobby. They compare it to other flannels from the era and from the team," Ivy said.
They look at the stitching, tagging and distinctive features, including the now politically incorrect tomahawk across the front and Indian on the sleeve. They compare it to photos from the time.
Angrist said he has kept the jersey in a bank vault, but occasionally took it out to show to friends. He resisted any urge to try it on, calling it a relic. He said he thinks he paid about $175,000 for it.
Other baseball jerseys have sold for more. Ivy mentioned a Babe Ruth jersey from 1933 that went for nearly $700,000 in 2006, and a Lou Gehrig jersey from the fabulous 1927 Yankees that topped $700,000.
The top online bid for the Aaron jersey stood at $60,000 on Tuesday. Live bidding will be Friday and someone will take it home.
The jersey is considered the centerpiece of the sports auction, which also includes century-old baseball cards, numerous autographed baseballs, a wedge used by Jack Nicklaus, a swim cap worn by Michael Phelps as he won Olympic gold and a Cowboys helmet worn by Emmitt Smith. Angrist has consigned other items, including a bat used by Ted Williams during his 1947 triple crown season, and a jersey worn by Nolan Ryan while pitching his seventh and final no-hitter.
The entire uniform worn by Aaron when he broke Babe Ruth's home run record in 1974 was donated by Aaron in 1987 to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., along with artifacts from his youth in Mobile, Ala.
An Aaron jersey, glove and other items held at Miller Park were damaged a couple of years ago in a flood. They were restored but remain in storage.
Older fans will remember a display case of Aaron's stuff in the main concourse at County Stadium. Among the quirkier items were the slugger's shower shoes. I asked team spokesman Tyler Barnes what became of those relics. He consulted a former team historian and this was the report:
"When we opened that sealed glass 'tomb' for the first time in 15 years, those shower shoes literally disintegrated to the touch. They never made it to the new County Stadium display, let alone Miller Park."
Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org