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1945 Intra-division Baseball League Uniform

     This jersey was an intriguing and unique piece of research but based upon my own findings and that of WWII baseball expert Shawn Hennessey, it appears as though this jersey almost certainly belonged to a T-Patcher participating in the summer intra-division baseball league during the occupation of Germany.

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     The first thing we looked at was the jersey itself, which in style and material, matches perfectly for a mid-1940s jersey and in particular is modeled very closely after a 1943-44 Goldsmith US-made jersey, a common type sent overseas that our troops used in the summer of 1945. Intriguingly that is where the US comparisons end. The soutache and letters/numbering are very uniquely German in their production, the latter for its use of a more silky material compared to the common wool used on almost every stateside and US-made uniform. The coloring also appears gray from a distance but up close, is almost a very very faint bluish tint

     Specifics to the manufacturer give it an even more likely attribution to use by a T-Patcher. The pants interestingly use a zipper fly, a trend that was not used in American baseball uniforms until the 1960s, and the zipper itself, however, is of mid-40s vintage from a German zipper company that made them during the war and in the immediate postwar period.

     The rest of the jersey and pants are marked with the tag of the primary manufacturer “Sport Munzinger, München Im Rathaus.” Besides being manufactured in Munich, a very close distance to the occupation area of the 36th Division in 1945, the company itself was a notable producer of sporting goods from 1908 until 2020. They were housed on the bottom floor of the Munich town hall, as is mentioned on the tag, and during occupation manufactured whatever they could to survive (so long as someone was willing to provide the material). The tag on this uniform matches several other 1940s examples from the company including some civilian sports clothing and even a Gebirgsjager winter smock the company made for the German army. I have contacted the company which purchased Sport Munzinger in 2018 but have yet to hear back if they retained the contracts from 1945.

The 142nd Infantry Regiment Team in the intra-division league
The 142nd Infantry Regiment Team in the intra-division league

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A list of teams in the league
A list of teams in the league

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A 1946 article about making sports equipment if you provided the material
A 1946 article about making sports equipment if you provided the material

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The 142nd Infantry Regiment Team in the intra-division league
The 142nd Infantry Regiment Team in the intra-division league

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     Looking for identification to the T-Patchers, the working assumption is that this uniform belonged to one of the teams participating in the intra-division softball or baseball league that went on during occupation. We have photos of the divisional team competing in the army-wide games, which used a distinct uniform, but evidence from division newspapers indicates there were sub-leagues within the 36th that saw the various regiments, battalions, and headquarters units fighting it out on the baseball diamond. While I only have a photo of the 142nd IR team in this league, scorecards show other units participating including the 111th engineers, division artillery HQ, the division artillery battalions, the 111th medical battalion, and more. While many wartime uniforms have colors that did not directly correlate to their branch or patch, my guess is that because these uniforms were specially made and likely used in an intra-division league, it could have belonged to the division artillery HQ or one of the divisional artillery battalions, maybe even the medical battalion. While I am still without photo evidence or documentation of this, it is a very plausible outcome given the location and time period of its origin, the nature of its manufacturing, and the fact that the 36th was the only unit with this name in the region at the time/place it was made.

 

In all, a super fascinating story that although not 100% confirmed, seems to point that we’ve found a potentially occupation-used 36th ID baseball uniform!

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