Stan Musial 1942 jersey (William F. Henderson photo)
Regular readers of The Cardinal Nation may recall the story of an oddity from the 1940’s that was brought to my attention by a reader, and following considerable research, was chronicled here.
Years ago, a physician colleague – whose father had once been a St. Louis Cardinals minor league pitcher – gave St. Louis native Dr. Wolff Kirsch a Cardinals road uniform that allegedly had been worn by Hall of Famer Stan “The Man” Musial.
While a visual check of the jersey suggested it may have been legitimate, a major question was generated by the number on the back. Instead of “6”, it was “36”. Further, the “3” is a half-inch larger than the “6”.
There are no records that indicate Musial ever wore “36” (though I did prove he wore no. 19 that same spring).
After considerable research, the red stitching of “Stan Musial” on the tail and the wartime HEALTH shield patch on the sleeve led me to suspect 1942 was the correct year for the odd uniform. Not only was it Stan’s rookie season, but the Cardinals won the World Series.
This has now been professionally authenticated. However, the pants, while of a similar vintage, have no distinguishing marks that tie them to Musial. The fact they are a size 38 is not in support of the idea they could have been his.
Likely, once Musial was done with the uniform, the Cardinals recycled it by sending it to a minor league club. The until-now unproven theory was that the number had later been changed for its second life as a hand-me-down, a common practice in that era.
To get to the bottom of this question, Dr. Kirsch, a well-known Alzheimer’s disease researcher, engaged William F. Henderson, an author and professional authenticator of Major League Baseball-related items.
Through the use of a light table, Henderson was able to make out the clear outline of the original “6” in between the later “3” and “6” on the uniform back.
The right photo is enhanced to indicate the detail. Tell-tale signs include evidence of stitching around the outside of the number and the color having faded less underneath it.
“After a thorough examination, in my opinion this is Stan Musial’s 1942 ‘Rookie’ season road game jersey and was game worn in 1942. It has been reissued and had its numbers changed, but evidence of the original “6” is visible through the use of the light table and photographic techniques. The matching road game pants are clearly team issued and game worn, but cannot be definitely attributed to Musial.”
So, one of the most important questions has been answered. But it was not the only unresolved part of this story.
An unsolved mystery remains
Still unanswered is how the one-time minor leaguer, a war hero named Roland Chalifoux, came into possession of the uniform. He told his son, Dr. Roland Chalifoux, Jr., that Musial gave it to him. However, my research could find no connection between where the two men had been assigned during World War II and after.
My unproven theory is the Chalifoux “borrowed” or was given the re-purposed uniform while assigned to the Lynchburg (VA) Cardinals in 1948. However, to date, no numeric team roster has been found (but not for trying).
So if you have a lead, please share it. While this is a cold case, it isn’t frozen.
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