In 1904, former tennis and wrestling champ, Frank P. Mitchell partners with Scottish
golfer Charles M. Ness to form a sporting goods store on Arch Street in Philadelphia,
PA. Mitchell & Ness Sporting Goods specialized in handcrafted tennis racquets, golf
clubs, and other equipment.
In 1917, a teenage boy named Sisto Capolino travels from Italy to Philadelphia in
need of work. At age 13, he begins working as a store clerk, sweeping floors, cleaning
up, and living above the Mitchell & Ness store. Along the way, he learns English
and becomes an apprentice—stringing tennis racquets and carving clubs.
By 1925, Mitchell & Ness begins designing and manufacturing uniforms for high school,
college, and semi-pro sports teams in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. In
1933, the company goes pro when the newly formed Philadelphia Eagles employ Mitchell
& Ness as their official on-field outfitter.
Mitchell & Ness’ success and reputation grows as the business expands to include
two local major league baseball clubs, the Philadelphia Athletics and Philadelphia
Phillies. At the same time, the Eagles begin to sport Mitchell & Ness apparel both
on-field and off-field in new sweaters and jackets. Sisto takes over ownership,
bringing his son Peter into the business.
In 1983, a man walks into Mitchell & Ness to have two game-worn baseball jerseys
repaired. In attempting to do so, Peter discovers thousands of yards of discarded
wool flannel, which inspires him to recreate vintage jerseys.
On July 6, 1987, Sports Illustrated features Mitchell & Ness in the article “Baseball
Flannels are Hot.” The article chronicles the growing popularity of sportswear as
fashion, as well as Peter’s research methods. In 1988, Major League Baseball creates
the Authentic Cooperstown Collection license—giving Mitchell & Ness exclusive permission
to make player number jerseys.
After the widespread success of the Cooperstown Collection, the NBA, NFL, and NHL
grant Mitchell & Ness licenses. The jerseys become increasingly popular among entertainers
and athletes, making frequent appearances in music videos and magazines.
While trends come and go, Mitchell & Ness jerseys remain popular among sports’ greatest
enthusiast: the true fan. In 2005, after numerous requests from collectors, Mitchell
& Ness acquires its most recent license, the CLC College Vault label. A year later,
Mitchell & Ness is granted the exclusive rights to reproduce Authentic Michael Jordan