Spring Premier Auction 2013
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on:
With World War II wrapping up, and many of baseball's best stars still in the military the search for talent to fill Major League rosters was still a scramble. One of those player's given the chance to play in Majors was Browns outfielder Pete Gray. When he was six years old, Gray hopped on a farmer's provision wagon, fell off, and caught his right arm in the spokes. The arm was mangled, and amputated above the elbow. Despite his handicap, Gray was determined to play baseball. Originally right- handed, he learned to bat, and throw left-handed. He had a superb batting eye and was a fast runner. Gray managed to impress several people in tryouts, and became such a story of inspiration that the War Department made movies about him for US troops. The Browns decided to give him a shot in 1945 partially because of gate attraction Gray's story had. Gray played 61 games in the outfield and was sent up to pinch- hit a dozen times. He batted .218 with six doubles and two triples, while stealing five bases. With the war ending and the stars coming home, Gray's career lasted just his one season. Coming off a trip to the World Series, the Browns contend for the Pennant again in 1945, finishing in third place, six games out of first with a solid 81-70 record.
One of the most attractive home flannel ensembles from the era, this completely original 1945 St. Louis Browns home uniform was issued to journeyman Len Schulte, but was also possibly worn by Pete Gray. Both Schulte and Gray wore number 1 for part of the 1945 season, later switching to numbers 18 and 14 respectively. The white flannel jersey features ultra-wide brown and orange piping around the collar and button panel as well as along the shoulder lines and sleeve ends. The team name, "Browns," is lettered across the front and the number "1" is displayed on the reverse. All letters and numerals are appliqued in brown felt with off center orange felt trim, resulting in an attractive "3-D" effect. A patriotic shield patch (worn by every club in 1945) adorns the left sleeve. "Schulte" is chain-stitched in brown along the left front tail with the year, "45," stitched directly below. Both a "Rawlings" label and an adjacent "42" size tag are located in the collar. The matching pants are similarly tagged in the waistband including the name “Schulte” in brown chain stitching. Both pieces are in superb original condition with no alterations whatsoever. Gray appeared in 77 games for the Browns in 1945 and Schulte appeared in 119. Given the economic difficulties some Major League clubs experienced during the war years, and the high cost of producing such elaborate, high quality uniforms, it seems likely that a player who transferred his uniform to another player would relinquish his uniform to that player, assuming it was a fit. Schulte was listed at 5’10”, 160 pounds, while Gray was listed at 6’1”, 169 pounds. The jersey shows excellent wear with no notable structural faults. The pants show some areas of soiling, notably in the seat and knee areas, with a team repair on the right knee and one small unrepaired tear on each knee. All in all, a magnificent and rare War-era baseball artifact with dazzling display quality.