Team GB’s historical enthusiasts, and even the more casual fans, will be aware of – and will love to cite – the triumph of England over Team USA in a series of Tests in 1938 that represent the first official baseball world championship. (Among the stars of the England team was Ross Kendrick, who was one of the inaugural inductees into the British Baseball Hall of Fame back in 2009.) To acknowledge this unlikely story from baseball’s vaults, a replica Team GB shirt from 1938 has just gone on sale.
As people in the British baseball community will appreciate, there is a somewhat niched nature to the appeal that this item of clothing has, and the price tag necessitated by thisÂ means that it will not be an item for everyone’s jersey collection. However, it is a massive achievement in itself to get a replica made of this shirt, and it is wonderful just to have the item available. Two shops will stock it, Barneys New York and – closer to home – the Portobello-based Garbstore.
Behind the project are Nick Schonberger, an American history expert, andÂ Ian Paley, an enthusiast of mid-20th Century US sports. In order to guide their development of the replica, they conducted a search for different photos of the jersey being worn by the players, and also worked closely with jersey experts at Ebbets Field Flannels (the producers of the item) to create a shirt that is as accurate a reproduction of the original as possible.
For those who are not familiar with England/Great Britain’s most famous baseball triumph, here’s the story, which I put together (drawing on research by Josh Chetwynd)Â for the blurb to accompany the jersey:
In August 1938, a representative England baseball squad hosted a five-game international series against Team USA. Matches were played in Halifax, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, and Rochdale, and England took a commanding four-games-to-one victory. The host team, which consisted mainly of players competing in a domestic league in the north-west of the country (the Yorkshire-Lancashire league), had two shut-out victories over their opponents, including a 3âˆ’0 win in front of 10 000 spectators at Wavertree Stadium in Liverpool.
Team USA, who were preparing for the 1940 Olympics (which were planned for Tokyo but were canceled because of World War II), featured players picked at the National Amateur Baseball Trials in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The International Baseball Federation later designated the series as the first official Baseball World Cup. Since England subsequently came to compete as part of Great Britain, the record books show GB as the first world champions. Fittingly, the shirts that England wore were adorned with the British Union flag, rather than the English cross of St George.
Finally, for the sake of completeness, a photo of the actual USA team jersey (a replica does not exist) is available at the end of this PDF (thanks to Anthony Taylor for the tip-off about this document).