The only known and authenticated Joe DiMaggio jersey from the 1942 Wartime season hits the auction block in the Goldin Auctions 2015 Winter Auction scheduled for January 12, through February 7.
According to owner Ken Goldin, it would be the last jersey “The Yankee Clipper” would wear before he enlisted in the U.S Army from 1943-45 to serve his country during World War II. He says the jersey has been in a private collection for many years.
DiMaggio’s original number 5 has been stripped off. It was replaced with a ‘4’ sometime after the 1942 World Series when teams typically sent their jerseys to minor league clubs. The ‘5’ present on the jersey today is a replacement. The same can be said of the navy “NY” on the jersey’s front.
“We are thrilled to offer this new find to collectors for the first time,” said Goldin. “It’s not only incredible that this jersey is being offered for public sale for the first time ever after all of these years, but it’s a minor miracle that any jersey, let alone a DiMaggio jersey, survived from the 1942 season as Wartime rationing severely restricted sports supplies and uniforms were recycled even more frequently than during the depression years.”
In 1941 Joe DiMaggio was coming off the most historic season of his career, having won the Most Valuable Player award and hit in his record 56 consecutive games, capped off by a World Series victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers. He followed that up by hitting 21 home runs with 114 RBI in 1942, leading the Yankees to another World Series appearance. DiMaggio enlisted in February of 1943, missing three years of his career before making his return from the war in 1946.
The jersey has been authenticated by MEARS as one worn by DiMaggio during the 1942 season. Although it is rare to successfully photo match a jersey that is 70 years old due to the poor quality of photography available, MEARS did find 1942-dated photographs of DiMaggio and established that he wore two different home jerseys that summer, noted as “Jersey #1” and “Jersey #2”.
MEARS was able to state “there is a very high probability that the jersey identified as Jersey #2 could be the offered jersey”. They provided an illustrated worksheet documenting their findings.
The front of the jersey features the intertwined “NY” in navy felt. The buttons were deemed to be original and are still firmly affixed to the jersey. The Spalding label is sewn inside the collar along with a size “44” strip tag. “Joe DiMaggio” is chain stitched in black on a white strip tag sewn below the size. A faded “Joe DiMaggio” signature is just below that. The left sleeve features a patriotic shield patch with three stars on a navy blue field above the word “HEALTH”. This patch was worn during the 1942 season by all players as part of the nation-wide “Hale America” program to promote physical fitness. To further date the jersey, the year “42” is chain stitched in navy blue on the inside rear tail of the jersey. The back has DiMaggio’s famed number “5” in navy blue felt.
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