There is a jersey at auction right now that I would just love to have. It is Lot #4538 and it’s a 1952 St. Louis Browns jersey. While I don’t think it can be considered a gamer for the reasons listed below, it is a rare style and the last of Brownie roads. For those who may not be nuanced in the history of the game, Bob “Sugar” Cain and the Browns have a storied connection beyond his two years with the club (1952-1953). If you look at Cain’s record as a player, you will note that he came over from the 1951 Detroit Tigers. What many folks may not realize is that Bob Cain was the on the mound in Detroit in 1951 pitching to Browns batter Eddie Gaedel in August of 1951.
Even the most casual fan will recognize the picture of Gaedel at the plate, but who threw those four straight pitches walking the dimmunitive Brown’s pitch hitter? Bob Cain. While this jersey has no connection to the famous Veeck promotional event, it does present a great story to be told with a wonderful connection bringing things back full circle to the St. Louis Browns.
These are some of my observations on this jersey:
1. The jersey features an irregular spatial relationship on the front of the jersey with respect to the lettering of St. Louis and the placement of the buttons. I have not been able to find a single image of jersey constructed in this manner. This includes other uniforms from 1952 as well as images specific to 1952. (PLATES IV-IX)
2. The jersey appears to be without any sort of supplemental player identification. Upon examination using a digital microscope, light table, and UV lighting, I am of the opinion that no such felt swatch for supplemental player identification was ever affixed to this jersey.
3. These are few things we do know about this jersey within the context of time as it relates to both the team and player in question. Bob Cain was acquired by the Browns on 14 February 1952. Spring training for the Browns did not begin until 1 February 1952. The earliest mention I can find of the Browns announcing the new uniforms for 1952 is 29 February 1952. Opening Day for the Browns was not until 15 April 1952 (PLATES I-III).
As such, I don’t attribute these irregularities to being a late order by the Browns. Tied to this is the fact that jersey shows no signs of use or wear. If you attribute irregularities to late order, then you would have to also assume it was ordered to fill a void and then be issued to and worn by Cain. This does not appear to be the case. The “Brownie” patch affixed to the left sleeve does appear to be a period appropriate original offering and it does appear to be original to the jersey. The lettering and numbering also appear to be original to the jersey. These were affixed to the jersey with straight stitch applique, and as such, the backing of the felt can be examined. I do not believe the lettering and numbering present on the jersey to be recent additions based on the light cracking and fading of the backing material. This appears to be consistent with the overall condition of the jersey.
Without being able to style match the fonts to any St. Louis Browns jersey from 1952 or the period for the style, 1952-1953, I am Unable to Authenticate it as 1952 St. Louis Browns road jersey issued for use and wear by Bob Cain.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this jersey, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com