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Inside the Belt Ways

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New ESPN column today — here‘s the link.

Meanwhile, for the second time in three days, our topic topic du jour is belts. This time it’s because of events that took place in the 1st inning of yesterday’s Bosox/Royals game, where Esteban German dove for a ball and came up to find his belt had come undone, apparently because the buckle had broken. Someone was quickly dispatched from the dugout to take the old belt from German and give him a new one.

But whereas German’s original belt was leather, the new one was adjustable elastic with leather tips (like this and this), which occasioned the following bit of banter from Royals radio broadcasters Brian McRae and Ryan Lefebvre:

McRae: Those leather belts, the sweat gets on that leather and makes it kinda flimsy. They don’t last too long, the leather ones. They’re bringing [German] one of the ones that do last — not sure what you’d call that material, kinda like elastic. That’ll work.

Lefebvre: Let’s be honest — it’s a Little League belt! In the big leagues, you’re supposed to wear leather.

McRae: Leather belts look good, but they don’t last.

Lefebvre: But it’s all about looking good, though, isn’t it?

This Lefebvre guy sounds like he’s got his priorities straight.

Look through sporting goods listings these days and you’ll see almost nothing but the elastic belts, a distressing number of which are being used as vehicles for logo creep (both from the usual suspects and from more reputable companies that should really know better). But as Lefebvre suggested, most MLBers wear leather, as evidenced by the reflective shine on the belt’s rear section (note the logo creep on the socks, by the way). Every now and then, however, you’ll see the telltale adjusta-size buckle indicating that a player’s wearing an elastic model, which looks so totally pathetic.

At least MLB players never play with their belts undone, like some NFL players do. (For more on that phenomenon, look here.) But there’s at least one MLBer who has a distinctive belt style: Jon Lester, whose front belt tip is usually flapping to an unusual degree, as you can see here and here.

Early baseball belts were surprisingly decorative, although that style didn’t last. (For further details, scroll down to the second section of this page.) Nowadays all belts are solid-colored, but there’s some variation in belt loops or tunnels. The Braves have had piping on their belt tunnels for years, and this season the Rangers added piping as well. My favorite quirk: The Tigers have more belt loops than any other team.

(Big thanks to David Chisholm and Lee Leslie for tipping me wise to the Esteban German incident.)

Uni Watch News Ticker: Kudos to Mark Dagwell for pointing out this excellent site, devoted to the history of Australian rules football uniforms. … A few days ago I ran images of Rice’s new football uniforms (here, here, and here), but it wasn’t clear if they’d also have new helmets. Seth Harris reports that they will, and that they’ll look like this (here’s that same logo in color). … Reasonably decent rundown here of Pittsburgh Pirates uni history (with thanks to Terrence Adams). … Jim Tracy’s pants aren’t exactly setting a good example. … Andruw Jones needs some major remedial work too.

 

31 comments to Inside the Belt Ways

  • Miguel | July 20, 2006 at 11:39 am |

    I think Andruw Jones should wear his pants higher. As far as I know he’s the only player that wears a cleated version of the Air Jordan IV. He definitely needs to show off those babies!

  • Joe | July 20, 2006 at 11:40 am |

    Well, speaking of Australian Rules, this week is something called the “Heritage Round” where teams play in “throwback” uniforms. They’ve done this the past few years (as seen in the footyjumpers.com website) This year has a theme, the 1980’s where most of the clubs will wear designs the wore in the 1980s. (Port Adelaide actually refused to particiapte)

    Not only that, some of the clubs website, for this week, are using the 80’s logos.

    For more info, check here
    http://afl.com.au/de...

  • Tuffy | July 20, 2006 at 11:42 am |

    Royals commentator Ryan Lefebvre should know a little of proper MLB style. His father is longtime MLB player and manager Jim Lefebvre. Ryan was a standout player himself for the University of Minnesota and was drafted in the 1993 draft (27th round) by Cleveland. He gave up pro ball one year later to step into the broadcast booth.

  • Brett | July 20, 2006 at 12:09 pm |

    From the ESPN column…I love the fact that the player pictured in the White Sox Team Photo is wearing a Knee Brace. IN A TEAM PICTURE.
    Also, after seeing the Astros Rainbow Uniforms, I remember Craig Biggio saying once “You know you’ve been around awhile when you the ‘Throwback’ uniforms are the ones you wore your first couple of seasons with the team.”

  • nybatt | July 20, 2006 at 12:40 pm |

    each year I try to purchase leather belts for my high school team… first challenge is finding a distributor that carries them.. secondly is finding our team color navy blue… most dealers carry black only.. we’ve worn elastic every year I’ve coached.. and I hate it!!

    leather is the way to go…

  • Michael Toriello | July 20, 2006 at 12:42 pm |

    Excerpted from that Pirates link:

    For the nation’s bicentennial (or the National League’s centennial), several NL teams adopted a Chicago-style pillbox cap with horizontal stripes. The Pirates adopted their version for full time wear. The color scheme of the old gold crown cap of 1970 were retained, but the circular cap design and black horizontal stripes were added. Although the Cards, Phils, Reds, and Mets worn a similar cap in 1976 at least part of the time, they abandoned this style the following season. The Pillbox cap became a fixture in Pittsburgh for 11 seasons.

    I looked at the HOF site and saw the illustrations of the Phillies, Reds and Mets pillboxes. Anyone have any pictures? Apparently the Phils only wore theirs twice…

  • Kevin Z | July 20, 2006 at 12:45 pm |

    The Royals wore their blue jerseys with gray pants for all three games against the Red Sox this week. Have they been doing this often this season?

  • Andrew | July 20, 2006 at 12:58 pm |

    McRae’s comments about leather belts may reflect the attitude of a majority of players towards uniforms: form should follow function. Perhaps players are more comfortable in pajama-style baseball pants, so they don’t care that they look like shit.

    And to answer a question from the column: (What was it about the 1970’s that caused so many people to lose their minds?) my best guess would be LSD.

  • Matt | July 20, 2006 at 1:14 pm |

    [quote comment=”3054″]each year I try to purchase leather belts for my high school team… first challenge is finding a distributor that carries them.. secondly is finding our team color navy blue… most dealers carry black only.. we’ve worn elastic every year I’ve coached.. and I hate it!!

    leather is the way to go…[/quote]

    Bought my dark blue all leather belt here.

  • Nick | July 20, 2006 at 1:16 pm |

    Wow, that black leather belt looks terrible with the Angels uniform.

  • Brett | July 20, 2006 at 1:30 pm |

    [quote comment=”3054″]each year I try to purchase leather belts for my high school team… first challenge is finding a distributor that carries them.. secondly is finding our team color navy blue… most dealers carry black only.. we’ve worn elastic every year I’ve coached.. and I hate it!!

    leather is the way to go…[/quote]
    If your local sporting goods is selling All Star catcher’s equipment, they will be able to order navy blue leather belts for you.

  • Trent | July 20, 2006 at 2:08 pm |

    Anybody notice Roger Clemens with the nice bloused knickers style last night, vs the Cubs? Roy Oswalt actually has been doing it for his last three or four starts, but this is Clemens’ first time, at least in Houston. Pettitte has always done it, and now it looks like he’s rubbing off on the other two. Maybe this is the new version of the rally cap, and the whole team will pick it up. Taveras has always worn the style, and I believe #2 catcher Eric Munson has also, since he got to Houston, if not before.

  • Karl | July 20, 2006 at 2:39 pm |

    [quote comment=”3057″]The Royals wore their blue jerseys with gray pants for all three games against the Red Sox this week. Have they been doing this often this season?[/quote]

    Unfortunately, Kevin Z, the Royals have been wearing their blue jerseys quite a bit this season at home and on the road. More on the road, since they stopped wearing the alternate black uniforms after the first couple road trips. For whatever reason, it seems like the Royals (and possibly other teams and players) prefer wearing a colored “softball type” jersey as opposed to the more traditional and better looking gray and white jerseys. I would estimate that the Royals have worn a colored jersey as opposed to a white/gray one at at least a 60%-40% ratio this season. Very distressing.

  • Greg | July 20, 2006 at 3:06 pm |

    Finally, a redeeming version of the Bengals’ jersey. Yes, I’m talking about Chad Johnson, not the ladies. The striped shoulders look as they were intended.

    ..but the girls look pretty good too. Nice hoisery.

  • Tim B | July 20, 2006 at 3:18 pm |

    For any Browns fans out there, this was part of an email to season ticket holders today. It was lengthier but I chopped it down to only those parts really pertaining to the best uni in the NFL, which is getting even better…

    The Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Plain Dealer have reached an agreement to include “Browns Huddle”, the Browns’ official weekly publication, in editions of the Plain Dealer this season.

    The first of 26 issues, a special training camp edition, will be included in all newsstand and vending machine copies of the Plain Dealer TOMMORROW.

    The issue features:

    Browns: Back In Black…and Gray?: This season, the Browns will celebrate the 60 years of memories and moments that the team and city of Cleveland have experienced together since 1946. As part of that, the team has adopted several of the vintage uniform characteristics from decades gone by – which fans will see when the team takes the field for training camp next week. Get all the details tomorrow in “Browns Huddle”.

    And don’t forget to also visit http://www.cleveland... tomorrow for a unique historical look at Browns training camp, as well as more details and special video feature on the uniform changes.

  • Tim B | July 20, 2006 at 3:29 pm |

    I neglected to preface my post by saying that said Browns uniform/facemask changes were shown on the NFL Network’s “Six days until Sunday” when they featured the Browns last season.

  • Micah | July 20, 2006 at 3:30 pm |

    Miguel, that’s cause Andruw and Derek Jeter are the only two major league baseball players to be signed to Jordan Brand and they get exclusive P.E.’s of Air Jordans, attached with cleats to wear in games. Personally, the XIV cleat was my favorite.

  • nybatt | July 20, 2006 at 3:40 pm |

    thanks for the belt links fellas!!! ordered them today for next spring!!!

    some other baseball notables from this afternoon… GREAT to see THREE reds players showing red socks at once today in the red/met game.. this from a team that had few if any who wore high pants two weeks ago!!!

    secondly.. and I know its been mentioned here before… not only have the royals gone “softball” with their tops.. but so have the astros… when is the last time they wore full road-greys??? today’s matchup at wrigley features “north side high” versus “houston central high”…

    what a pity…

  • nybatt | July 20, 2006 at 3:46 pm |

    nice catch on the browns news going “public” tomorrow… I actually tuned in to the ridiculous “rookie showcase” on NFL network to catch a glimpse at the “new” browns changes… new striping looks great on the jerseys.. and the black cleats and grey facemasks are phenomenal…

    most excited I’ve been about a uni change since “my” giants went retro with their away unis last year!!!

    hopefully this isn’t just a one-year change to commemorate the 60th anniversary theme…

    I’ve been checking the browns website waiting to see something on the uni change.. looks like my wait is almost over…

  • Greg | July 20, 2006 at 4:13 pm |

    In the Mag today, there’s a picture of Carlos Rogers of the Redskins pushing LaDanian Tomlinson out of bounds. (pg. 79) I noticed during the season, but this picture reminded me that Rogers wore a pair of Nike’s Total 90 III soccer boot. I think more players should do this condidering their resemblance to some football cleats, only a little flashier and MUCH cooler.

    nybatt, I dig the Giants’ home unis but what’s with the road unis? Why have the stripes so obscured by the yoke? These were better. And this was just bad. Yet, another peice of evidence that Reebok needs to leave the NFL.

  • Matthew | July 20, 2006 at 4:13 pm |

    The Astros started wearing their road reds for a little over a month now. Not really sure why they started to, but since then they have only worn their road greys once (and that was because it was an early day game after a late night game back in mid or late June).

    I emailed Alyson Footer–the astros.com team correspondent–to ask her why the sudden change after years of following a strict protocol, but she hasn’t replied yet. Personally, I think it was to change up the bad karma the Astros have been hitting on the road this year. But I do wish they would go back to the greys.

  • Greg | July 20, 2006 at 4:17 pm |

    Sorry, that “road unis” link didn’t work like I intended. In that gallery, the picture of Shockey celebrating with Visanthe Shiancoe. Both of their stripes are obscured by the awkwardly shaped yoke on the shoulders. Booooo…

  • Lars | July 20, 2006 at 4:24 pm |

    60 years with the Browns? Funny, I thought it has only been 7.

    What a shame. This city holds on to a team and a name that moved to Baltimore and has not even garnered near the passion and affection they once had in this city. They try, but it isn’t the same and never will be agian.

    Baltimore should have the annniversary and we in Cleveland should get a new name and new colors for the new team we got after the Browns left.

  • LouUmp | July 20, 2006 at 4:42 pm |

    A column about the worst unis ever…without a reference to the Seattle Pilots???

  • Nick | July 20, 2006 at 5:51 pm |

    [quote comment=”3076″]A column about the worst unis ever…without a reference to the Seattle Pilots???[/quote]
    The home whites looked good, the cream color looks better than the fluorescent white we’re using today. And the scrambled eggs on the bill were a nice touch, but I must admit that the S was clunky.
    Hey, Paul, you left out the Mariners from your list out teams adopting teal in the wake of the Hornets. They no longer use the two-tone home caps, though.

  • Tim | July 20, 2006 at 9:22 pm |

    off topic guys…does anyone have a link to that japanese baseball book that was mentioned in the espn column a few months ago?

  • Mero | July 20, 2006 at 10:01 pm |

    Hey. Cool.
    Paul Lukas is wrapping up my site.

    It took 8 years to do the research for http://www.footyjump...
    And still I’m finding one or two things that need fixing, like jumpers that were recorded as being worn in 1904 were actually introduced in 1905.
    That sort of thing is hard to find photos for.

    Well, thanks for the mention.

  • Mark in Shiga | July 21, 2006 at 8:27 am |

    Tim, the book you’re looking for is Pro Yakyu Uniform Monogatari (プロ野球ユニフォーム物語; in English, Professional Baseball Uniform Story) and is available from Amazon.co.jp here:

    http://www.amazon.co...

    The author is Ritomo Tsunashima, who lives in Kanagawa (I think), is a big Yokohama Baystars fan, and manages his own red-uniform-clad team.

    The book costs Y7350 (over $60 US plus shipping!) but is well worth it, especially if you can read Japanese. I flip through my copy all the time.

  • Brian | July 21, 2006 at 10:55 pm |

    Paul, lay off the Ravens for the purple. I love how they pulled that reference from the second stanza of E.A. Poe’s poem for which the team is named

    And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
    Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “‘Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door —
    Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door; —
    This it is, and nothing more.”

    The rest are hideous, but I love that one.

  • Jack H. | July 21, 2006 at 10:56 pm |

    I just found our worst nightmare, remember them?:

    http://www.angelfire...

  • Byron | August 3, 2006 at 9:07 pm |

    The Braves still have the belt loop piping.