A photo of Verne Clemons, identified as being from 1921, shows him wearing a jersey that says Cardinals. The lettering is very similar to the St. Louis lettering found on the 1921 uniforms, but it was applied so large on the jersey, it had to be rendered in a radically large arch. Even still, the letters end up tucking under the sleeves of the uniform, being applied on the sides of the shirt.

While this is a nice photograph and a nice discovery, our main problem with this is the Cardinals wore St. Louis lettering on their uniforms in 1921. The other problem, this is the only photograph we have of this jersey, and we can not find any other information on it.

History Mysteries:
Is this an alternate jersey the Cardinals wore?
Was this jersey a prototype?
Why is there only one known photograph of this jersey?

3 thoughts on “1921 Alternate Jersey

  1. My guess: 1) it is a prototype; 2) from a minor league farm team (can’t say which one); 3) wild guess: from a theatrical production; 4) spring training, only (see comment #1)


    1. All four of those reasons are things we have observed throughout history and could certainly be true, but we just don’t have any other information or photographs to corroborate this jersey.

      We don’t think it was a minor league jersey for two reasons. Clemons was an established big leaguer and hadn’t played in the minors since 1917. Also all of Clemons minor league teams he played for, none of them were called the Cardinals. St Paul Saints, Louisville Colonels, Wichita Witches, Wichita Jobbers, Pueblo Indians.

      If it were from a theatrical production/film, where is that movie? Where are the additional photos from that? While we have seen some other film set jerseys, they typically are very bad reproductions of the originals. A few notables that come to mind… that Dizzy Dean movie in which the birds aren’t even close, i have a photo of that one. The other two i can’t find photos from, i believe there is one from The Natural and one from Field of Dreams, both of which if my memory is correct are not even close to reproductions. This Verne Clemons jersey looks very well done. The shirt is made in the exact style, the lettering and “font choice” is consistent with the St. Louis version.

      I think the best bet is prototype. Prototype has got to be the most likely reason for this. Rawlings or Spalding or whomever brought this out to Spring Training and they snapped a picture. But where is the jersey today? Where are the the other photographs of it? Where is the documentation about it?


      1. As always, you have done a ton of research! Yes, I would bet money on a prototype, brought to spring training and likely Clemons just happened to be the closest at hand to model it. It is professionally done, as you note. It was happenstance that a photo was taken and has survived, I think (to be shown to the owner?). Perhaps the manager and/or team official had suggested the style at one time and the mfg was only too happy to oblige! (Right about the movie “jerseys”: just terrible. Didn’t they have researchers?)

        Liked by 1 person

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