Dayton Gems Apparel
Order Dayton Gems merchandise. Our Dayton Gems shirts, hoodies and apparel will help you celebrate this beloved three-time IHL champion in style. Keep the memory of this historic minor league hockey team alive by browsing our collection of Dayton Gems gear today!
Philadelphia Firebirds Jerseys
Our Seattle Ironmen jerseys are a custom design that is an homage to the sweaters of the original Ironmen, but is also unique in its own right. They have embroidered elements and fully cut and sewn seams for that old school jersey feel.
These jerseys feature embroidered "ironmen" logos sewn onto the chest of the jersey. The Ironmen usually only wore an "S" or the words "Seattle Ironmen" one their chest, so this is a customized chest logo.
The Ironmen did wear a white and dark color scheme with a mid-chest color split that we've captured here, along with a set of five stripes on both the arms and lower chest. All of these features are embroidered at the seams for that old school look and feel; nothing sublimated about it.
Further, we mimicked the two stars on each shoulder that the Ironmen wore to the best of out ability using modern production methods. Two stars are embroidered onto the jersey over each shoulder, including one red star for a pop of color.
Finally, the names and numbers. We do offer a blank option at a lower price point without names and numbers. If you'd like yours customized, we are keeping true to the Ironmen's original design with no numbers on the arms. On the back, we have an option for a stitched name bar with heatpress lettering and large heatpressed numbers across the back. Both the name and back numbers are red, to further add color to the Ironmen and bring what we believe to be their red, white and blue color scheme to the modern age.
How our jersey pre-orders work.
We're a small mom and pop shop and due to lack of well, everything, we are not able to customize our retro hockey jerseys on the fly. Instead, we need to send them out to get made in batches. To be able to offer customization, we open up individual jerseys for pre-orders when we debut them and again later on depending on demand for that particular jersey. So if you are interested in customization or an unusual size such as youth or goalie cuts, pre-order time is the time to buy! You never know when (or if) these jerseys might be available again.
All that said, we do plan to keep stock available continuously for blank jerseys in sizes small through 3XL for most teams. Please note that pre-order jerseys are expected to ship 2-3 months from the date the pre-order period ends and payment in full is required at the time of purchase. In stock blanks will ship on our normal timeframes and usually leave the warehouse within a couple of days. You can read our pre-order policy here.
Dayton Gems History
presented by Vintage Ice Hockey
The Triolgy of the Dayton Gems
The saga of the Dayton Gems is very reminiscent of a movie trilogy franchise. Their first run was successful, the sequel tanked, and the trilogy was ok, but definitely not as epic as the original. The intrigue to the original Dayton Gems lies in their accomplishments both on the ice and financially. Part of the reason the Gems found so much success in the ‘60s and ‘70s stems from the overall success Dayton, Ohio was experiencing as a community. The thriving economy trickled into all Dayton based sports including Dayton minor league hockey.
In 1960, Dayton’s population was at a record high: 260,000. It was considered an industrial powerhouse during the early-mid 1900s- especially during World War II. The economy nurtured many innovative entrepreneurs such as the Wright Brothers, Charles Kettering (inventor of the automobile self starter), and several Fortune 500 companies. Outside of Michigan, Dayton was also home to the largest concentration of General Motors (GM) employees. The city thrived during a time of traditional manufacturing, specifically assembly line work. With so many jobs available, the city’s population flourished- and so did Dayton Hockey.
The Beginning of Dayton Gems Hockey
The Gems were founded in 1964 and found a home on the ice at Hara Arena. They joined the International Hockey League (IHL). After their first season, the Gems made the playoffs every year until 1977. Quite an accomplishment! They also had 5 appearances in the finals and were Turner Cup Champs in 1969, 1970, and 1976. While their resume throughout their 14 years of play is impressive, another impressive feat was their ability to attract an average of 5,000 fans per game. That lasted for several years. With so many people flocking to the city for work on assembly lines, Dayton, Ohio hockey boomed with success. The core of every successful sports franchise is its ability to bring in money and the Gems had no trouble doing just that.
Unfortunately, Dayton’s industrial scene began to shift in the early 1970s. Larger companies in the area suffered with the economy and were forced to cut payrolls for manufacturing. The National Cash Register (NCR), for example, cut 15,000 jobs on its own. The domestic automobile market shifted as well when foreign manufactured vehicles began to outsell companies like GM. All of the major Fortune 500 companies that helped Dayton thrive have outsourced, downsized, or merged with other corporations to save their business. With so many people leaving Dayton, the Gems fanbase was bleeding away. Despite still seeing a successful record and winning the Turner Cup for the third time in 1976, the Dayton Gems went out of business in 1977.
Seeing an opportunity and an open arena, the Columbus Owls (renamed Dayton Owls) made an attempt to fill a gap in the minor league hockey scene after the Dayton Gems’ closure. This proved an act of futility, however, as the Owls played a few months in Hara Arena before trying to follow Dayton’s minor league hockey fanbase to Michigan as the Grand Rapids Owls.
The Dayton Gems: The Sequel
The sequel is rarely as good as the original, and the second run of the Dayton Gems was a prime example. The Gems returned to Hara in 1979. Their promotional slogan was “The Second Coming”. Fans were pumped with the anticipation of seeing their champion Gems return to the ice. Unfortunately, they were terrible. They had the worst record out of all 10 teams in the IHL and lost $200,000. By the end of the season, the team was so broke they were supposedly using promotional hockey pucks given to them by a TV station because they couldn’t afford to buy their own. Needless to say, the Gems took another exit from the hockey scene in the spring of 1980.
Thankfully, the Gems’ story didn’t end on an incredibly tragic note. In 2009, a minor league team revived the Gems logo and played three seasons at Hara Arena. Unfortunately, the leagues the new Gems found themselves in didn't last long. They played the 2009-10 season in the IHL, that was the last season of the second-coming of the IHL. The Gems would join the CHL and last two seasons there before folding. The CHL wouldn't be far behind, folding a year later.
The "trilogy" Gems team folded in 2012 and Hara Arena closed it doors in 2016 after 52 years of operation.
When looking through the history of minor league hockey teams during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, you’ll find a variety of reasons for a team to shut down. What makes the Gems story so hard to swallow, though, is that their reason for shut down had nothing to do with talent and everything to do with finances and fortunes of their surrounding area. For a team to have the success they did over the course of 14 years is pretty astounding. It speaks very highly of the OG Gems that no one could recreate the talent or booming fan base that they cultivated. The story of the original Gems is definitely one for the history books.
All of our products ship free within the USA!
Note: Pre-order products ship in 2-3 months