Always Prepared: Landing a WWII U.S. Coast Guard Baseball Uniform

The Chevrons and Diamonds Collection got its start with the acquisition of a wartime baseball flannel uniform in 2008 and since that time, the on-field togs from the game have been at the core of what we curate. Often colorful and eye-catching, the vintage wool flannel jerseys attract more visitors to our public exhibitions than anything else in our collection. 

The artifact that truly catapulted this endeavor a decade ago was the Inquisition of a 1943-vintage Marine Corps baseball uniform. The gray wool flannel, accented with red wool athletic felt lettering and the red rayon soutache stirred me to research and to investigate what else may be available. Throughout the past ten years, we have documented every uniform that we have encountered (some of that effort has resulted in articles and additions to the online uniform archive) regardless of our success in our attempts to acquire them. The resulting documentation is an invaluable resource for subsequent uniform analysis in dating uniforms along with providing data with which to gauge market trends.  

Two Coast Guard players, Doyle Lade and Jimmie Cooper of St. Augustine Coast Guards discuss the game with an officer. Lade pitched in 12 professional seasons – five with the Chicago Cubs (Chevrons and Diamonds Collection).

During a public display event in 2018, as guests enjoyed our selection of vintage jerseys and uniforms highlighting teams from the Army, Navy, Marines and Army Air Forces, two of the most frequent constant questions asked by our visitors were, “why isn’t the Coast Guard represented” or “what, no Coast Guard?” Our staff’s constant refrain to those inquiries was that in the many years spent researching and acquiring artifacts, we had yet to encounter a single baseball uniform item from that branch. The absence of one of these uniforms from the market continued well into 2019 when, not just one, but two vintage Coast Guard baseball pieces came to market on the same day in early June.  

The U.S. Coast Guard baseball militaria listings depicted two vastly different uniforms. The first one appeared to be a home white wool flannel uniform set consisting of jersey and trousers was considerably discolored likely due to heavy use and oxidation. The auction listing photos showed that both pieces were trimmed in what appeared to be a Kelly-green thin line of soutache. The jersey is adorned with color-matched athletic felt lettering and numerals. One might question the color scheme due to the USCG’s traditional blue and white, however it was not unusual during WWII as textiles were in high demand for the war-effort limiting material availability.  

The second listing had a more conventionally styled uniform set. The lightweight white cotton jersey was trimmed with a thin line of navy blue soutache with color-matched small, athletic felt block lettering spelling out C O A S T  G U A R D across the chest. On the back of the jersey is a single, large color-matched numeral. Unusual but not unprecedented, instead of matching the jersey, the accompanying trousers while constructed using the same base material were solid navy blue. Adorning the outseam of the trousers is a 3/4-inch band of white rayon soutache, contrasting the 1/8-inch navy blue soutache on the jersey’s button placket and sleeves. 

While both uniforms lacked provenance or documentation, only the white and blue set could be dated due to the presence of a manufacturer’s tag. Sewn into the jersey’s collar was the familiar GoldSmith Preferred Products tag that dates it between 1940 and 1945. Starting in 1946, the GoldSmith company began to transition toward the MacGregor brand, the name obtained from the prestigious sporting goods company, Crawford McGregor & Canby Co. which Goldsmith acquired in 1936. The other set bore no tags, leaving the approximate age to be determined purely by the pattern design and features of the uniform.  

This beautiful 1941-45 U.S. Coast Guard jersey was one of only two that have come to market in a decade (Chevrons and Diamonds Collection).

When we acquire artifacts through purchases, we consider a large array of factors before we commit our limited financial resources to a transaction. Aside from analyzing the artifact itself, we perform due diligence with the seller in order to avoid difficulties or challenges, especially surrounding valuation, and subsequent negotiations. 

Online auctions held on the most popular platform are a veritable minefield, rife with overused terminology and phrases incorporated into listings to justify inflated prices. Commonly appearing are two mutually synonymous words: rare and scarce, completely devoid of validity in their application and quite often paired with any number of amplifying adjectives. Often, multiple listings of the rare or scarce item are common and readily available on the same auction site. 

This tale of two uniforms is one of extremes within the realm of valuation as the listing prices were opposites in terms of pricing. The white and blue cotton uniform was the most realistically priced. Unfortunately. The white and green set, listed by a different seller, was nearly ten times the cost at almost $1,000.00. 

For obvious reasons, we turned our attention entirely towards the white and blue uniform as it aligned best with our collection and our budget. After completing the transaction, we were left with the hope that the uniform could complete the coast-to-coast transit in time for our planned public exhibition. Priority shipping ensured that we received the parcel with time to spare for proper cleaning and preparation for the show. 

Our 2019 Armed Forces Recognition Day public showing of the Chevrons and Diamonds collection (Chevrons and Diamonds Collection).

The 2019 Chevrons and Diamonds exhibition was a resounding success. With the U.S. Coast Guard uniform on display, we had each service branch represented at the military event. 

Along with the other baseball militaria artifacts, the Coast Guard jersey was prominently displayed and several USCG veterans were not only surprised to discover wartime baseball but that the Coast Guard fielded teams. With countless veterans and their families visiting the exhibit asking questions and taking photographs, it was clear that the exhibit was a resounding success. 

About VetCollector

I have been blogging about Militaria since 2010 when I was hired to write for the A&E/History Channel-funded Collectors Quest (CQ) site. It was strange for me to have been asked as I was not, by any means, an expert on militaria nor had I ever written on a recurring basis beyond my scholastic newspaper experience (many MANY decades ago). After nearly two years, CQ was shut down and I discovered that I was enjoying the work and I had learned a lot about my subject matter over that period of time. I served for a decade in the U.S. Navy and descend from a long line of veterans who helped to forge this nation from its infancy all the way through all of the major conflicts to present day and have done so in every branch of the armed forces (except the USMC). I began to take an interest in militaria when I inherited uniforms, uniform items, decorations from my relatives. I also inherited some militaria of the vanquished of WWII that my relatives brought home, furthering my interest. Before my love of militaria, I was interested in baseball history. Beyond vintage baseball cards (early 1970s and back) and some assorted game-used items and autographs, I had a nominal collecting focus until I connected my militaria collecting with baseball. Since then, I have been selectively growing in each area and these two blogs are the result, Chevrons and Diamonds ( The Veterans Collection (

Posted on July 18, 2019, in My Collection, Uniforms, WWII and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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