National Clothesline
Preserving pinstripes for posterity
During a nearly life-long career in the industry, first as chief garment analyst for the National Cleaners Association and now as an independent analyst, Dan Eisen estimates he has worked on more than 400,000 garments and on other items ranging from red leather couches to silk wallpaper to pieces of art valued in six figures.
But a recent project posed an interesting challenge. A cleaner asked if he could restore two autographed New York Yankee jerseys damaged by mold, mildew and water. The trick? Restoring the jerseys without damaging the autographs. That’s right. Whatever you do, don’t remove that ink!
The entire team had signed the jerseys. Eisen isn’t sure which year they came from, but since the signatures included such Yankee luminaries as Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite and manager Joe Torre, they had to be from the 1999-2003 period, a span that saw the Yankees win two World Series, plus two American League championships and one division title. Numerous All-Stars and several sure-fire Hall of Famers played on those teams.
He spent more than eight hours cleaning the garments by hand, using a steam gun to target the stained areas with oxidizing agents, acids and dryside lubricants while avoiding the signatures. The mildew was located very near some of the signatures, making it tricky to get rid of the bad stuff while keeping the good — and very valuable — stuff.
Eisen brought out one his own inventions to work on the task, using a Spectralight, which he patented in 1996, to check for hidden stains and hard-to-see fabric damage. The Spectralight uses ultraviolet light to reveal trouble spots that might otherwise go undetected only to cause problems later.
It was work that takes a different type of skill, he said, and no care label would be of any help, adding that cleaners need to have the knowledge to be able to work on a garment without relying on a care label.
Although a native New Yorker, Eisen is no Yankee fan, so he wasn’t especially in awe of the autographs on the jersey. Baseball, he said, hasn’t meant much to him since the Brooklyn Dodgers decamped for the West Coast. Restoring damaged textiles to a like-new condition, however, has been a lifelong love.

John R. Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales consultant and business writer. He publishes a monthly eNewsletter, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales.” Contact him at johnrg31@me.com, (617) 774-9759 or johnrgraham.com.