1945 US Navy Road Gray Uniform: Stan Musial

Stan Musial’s 1945 U.S. Navy team uniform in road gray wool flannel. This uniform sold in November of 2013 for nearly $17,000 (Image source: Heritage Auctions).

During the 1945 baseball season, the commissioner and league presidents made the decision to cancel the mid-summer classic, citing travel restrictions due to wartime fuel rationing as the principal reason. Another (likely) factor that led to the decision was the waning fan interest in watching an All-Star game that lacked the very thing that made it exciting; the stars of the game. While not wanting to denigrate those men who did not or could not serve in the armed forces as they either continued or rekindled their baseball careers to take advantage of the vacancies left by the game’s best and brightest who went off to war. Major League Baseball was anything but exciting by the last two years of the war as the eternally-hapless St. Louis Browns were the American League’s representative in the 1944 World Series (they lost to their crosstown rivals, the Cardinals, four games to two). Lacking the excitement of offensive power, at total of three homeruns (none by the Browns) were clouted through all six games. One of those round-trippers was hit by the young, four-year veteran and two-time all-star, Stan Musial.

By the end of the 1944 season, the War was calling and Stan “The Man” Musial was nearing his own time to join the fight. When Musial enlisted on January 23, 1945, the Japanese were being pushed back towards their homeland, A month later, the invasion of Iwo Jima (the bloodiest fight in the Pacific Theater) would begin and the victorious result of which would be elimination the direct threat against Saipan and Tinian-based B-29 missions over the Japanese mainland. After completing his training, Musial was transferred to Pearl Harbor (in June) and assigned to a tugboat crew that would assist escorting battle-damaged warships into the Navy’s repair facilities.

As a member of the U.S. Navy’s National League All-Stars, Stan Musial (hightligted) lines up for the pregame ceremonies during the September 26 through October 7, seven game series versus the U.S. Navy American League All-Stars (close-up of the National and American League All-Stars photo from Johnny Pesky’s collection).

Musial’s arrival to Hawaii “just happened” to coincide with the arrival of a few other major leaguers serving in the Navy and Marine Corps (a direct response to the Army’s congregating of their professional baseball talent in 1944 in the Hawaiian Islands. Throughout the summers of 1944 and ’45, the Central Pacific baseball leagues (consisting of armed forces and civilian support personnel teams) the competition was fierce. At the end of 1944, the Army and Navy gathered their All-Stars to compete in a 10-game series played on the Big Island, Maui and Oahu (the Navy crushed the Army). Similar to the 1944 Army versus Navy series, the Navy assembled the players from each league to compete in a seven-game All-Star series in the weeks following the Japanese surrender; September and October of 1945.

The uniform shown on this page was worn by Stan Musial in 1945 and most-likely is the same one he wore in the 1945 All-Star series games. It is a gray wool flannel uniform with simple navy blue block athletic felt lettering spelling out “N A V Y” in an arc across the upper chest. On the reverse are athletic felt numerals matching the font and color of the lettering on the chest. As Musial was a taller man (6′), the jersey is long and features seven gray plastic, four-hole concave buttons. The design of the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt tails is consistent with those of the 1940s. Both the jersey and trousers have manufacturer (Wilson Sporting Goods) and size tags which are correct for the period.

Due to this uniform possessing both provenance and sold directly from Musial’s estate, the auction price (through Heritage Auctions) realized was in excess of $16,000 in November of 2013 (Stan passed away at the age of 92 on January 19th of that year).

 

Uniform Features:

Jersey:

  • Buttons: The seven  buttons are gray-colored plastic, concave, four-hole.
  • Material: The base material is light-weight road gray wool-flannel.
  • Soutache: none.
  • Lettering: Lightweight blue athletic felt block lettering spelling out the team name in an arc across the chest, on both sides of the placket.
  • Numerals: Lightweight blue athletic felt block numerals showing “14” on the jersey’s back.
  • Sleeves: Four-five inches.
  • Other features: None
  • Tag:  “Wilson Sporting Goods” and size (“42”).

Trousers:

  • Buttons: Unknown.
  • Material: The base material is light-weight road gray wool-flannel.
  • Soutache: none.
  • Other features: None
  • Tag:  “Wilson Sporting Goods” and size (“36”).

  Archive of Navy Uniforms and Jerseys

 

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