New ESPN column today here’s the link.
Meanwhile: I’ve written several times about this photo of Stan the Man modeling the Cards’ 1956 home uni and holding a prototype of what was supposed to be the road grays (a better view of the photo’s caption is here, and a blog entry about the photo is here). The team ended up not using the road design, and the whole episode has become one of history’s classic “What might have been” prototype stories.
So I was intrigued when reader Bruce Menard recently got in touch to alert me to this auction, which is for a prototype salesman sample jersey that appears to be very similar to the one Musial was holding in the photo. The biggest difference is that the jersey in the Musial photo was button-front, while the one up for auction is zip-front. Other distinctions: The Musial jersey had a Slugger Bird left-sleeve patch, while the auction jersey doesn’t, and the auction jersey has red piping around the collar (but not down the placket, oddly) and at the sleeve cuffs, while it looks like the Musial jersey was piping-free.
The kicker is that the Musial photo was taken in 1956, while the auction listing describes the zip-front jersey as “1940s.” Could it be that the Cards were considering this design a decade prior to the Musial photo?
My go-to guy for Cardinals questions is Brian Finch, who runs the Cardinals Hall of Fame in St. Looey, so I got in touch with him. Here’s his response:
The quick answer is that I think it’s a 1956 salesman sample. … I wouldn’t get too worked up over it being a zipper-front. 1955 was the final year of the zipper-front jerseys for the Cardinals, so it makes sense that a sample made at some point prior to the ’56 season could have had a zipper-front.
I’ve seen and held the jersey at auction and it’s in wonderful condition. In fact it’s so minty, I don’t think it was worn. The corners of the numbers are sharp, there was no visible wear or pilling whatsoever, and the colors of the fabric, embroidery, and tagging were bold. All of these point to this being a sample.
As to why the auction company says it’s a 1940s piece — that’s beyond me.
So there you have it. Whatever the jersey’s provenance, it serves as an useful reminder that there’s some amazing stuff floating around out there.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Good article here about Minnesota’s hockey equipment manager (with thanks to Frank Mercogliano). … Holy crap! … Brian Schneider, who’s had one of the more interesting mask designs among MLB backstops, will apparently be wearing this with the Mets. Can’t say I’m in love with it, but at least it appears to be completely free of black (with thanks to Marc Rabinowitz). … Seth Engelbrecht reports that Illinois will wear Butkus-era throwbacks on September 6th. Details here. … The Maple Leafs held an outdoor practice the other day. Details here, and additional pics here (with thanks to Will Leslie). … Dayton wore throwbacks last night (“although that didnit stop us from shitting the bed yet again,” laments Tim Bennett). … Awesome Cali Golden Seals historical video clip, including lots of uni-related commentary, here (Frank Mercogliano again, plus he also came up with a very short video that should be a big hit at Teebz‘s house). … “I was in the Towe Auto Museum (of all places) in Sacramento,” writes Larry Brunt, “and among all the cars they had a single display case of Sacramento-oriented uniforms. Included was this jersey, worn by the Muzio’s Bakery in the 1950s. As explained on this card, the uniforms were hand-me-downs from the 1940s Yankees. How cool to have worn one of those!” … Will Brinson reports that Steve Nash is wearing sneakers that are made entirely from recycled materials. … Well, that didn’t take long. … Best analysis so far of yesterday’s theatrics.