When you think of Sparky Anderson, you probably picture him being dressed one of two ways: as a Red or a Tiger. But Sparky wore lots of other uniforms prior to assuming the managerial chair. His one season as a big league infielder was spent with the Phillies, he played for lots of minor league teams (including the gorgeously attired Toronto Maple Leafs), and let’s not forget this uniform.
But if you grew up watching Sparky skipper the Reds, as I did, there’s one uniform — that of a certain division rival — that it’s simply impossible to picture him wearing. Or at least that’s what I thought until reader Richard Craig got in touch with me the other day. He attended the recent Dodgers/Bosox exhibition game at the L.A. Coliseum, where he picked up a scorecard that included this photo of the 1958 Dodgers (the franchise’s first squad in L.A. — 50th anniversary and all). I’ll let Richard pick up the story from there:
I didn’t look closely at this team photo until last night, and I noticed some very strange things about it. First, it wasn’t the team photo I’d seen before. … Furthermore, the uniforms seem to have no numbers on the front, unlike those in the [other] team photo or the previous one taken in Brooklyn.
I concluded this must have been some sort of spring training picture where they rounded up everyone they could find and posed them around a “Los Angeles” flag to make a point about the team’s move west.
That’s really interesting to me, though, is something I’d never seen before — what appears to be an image of Sparky Anderson in an L.A. Dodgers cap. He’s on the far right in the third row from the top. Here’s a close-up.
I knew Sparky had been a Brooklyn farmhand, but I also know that he never played for the Dodgers in the big leagues, and I’ve definitely never seen an image of him in an L.A. uniform. For those of us who grew up in the ’70s with the N.L. West being a battleground between the Dodgers and Sparky’s Cincinnati Reds, the sight of him in an L.A. hat is truly bizarre.
Indeed it is. But it turns out that Anderson had already worn an L.A. cap — although not an L.A. Dodgers cap — by the time that 1958 photo was taken. That’s because he had been a member of the minor league Los Angeles Angels. I’m not sure of the date of that photo, but note that the jersey features shoulder gussets, a style that the Angels wore in 1956 and ’57, so that narrows it down.
If you look again at the photo of Sparky as an Angel, you can sort of see in that the Angels’ “LA” cap lettering was white and red, not just white (plus there’s an extra serif at the top of the “A”). But in the ’58 spring training photo, Sparky does indeed appear to be wearing a white-lettered Dodgers cap — a stunner.
Philly Reminder: Uni Watch party tomorrow at Bob & Barbara’s Lounge, Philadelphia, 4:30pm. See you there.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Check out Mickey Mantle’s cuffed sleeve cuff. … Tytus Abrahmason notes that Vlad Guerrero was wearing his usual tar-gunked helmet in the 1st inning of Wednesday night’s Angels/Royals game but wore a clean, shiny helmet for the rest of the game. Vlad hit into a disputed double play in that 1st inning plate appearance and was pretty upset afterward, leading to Tytus to wonder, “Could it be that he bashed his helmet to pieces during a 1st inning tantrum in the dugout?” … Ohio State football note from Matthew Hager: “I was at the Buckeyes’ spring draft Wednesday afternoon and they mentioned they will be wearing a special helmet decal on Saturday. It will be the initals D.S., in honor of elementary school crossing guard Dianna Sharp, who was killed a week ago when she attempted to push an eight-year-old out of the road before a dump truck hit them both. The kid survived, she didn’t.” … Fascinating note from Jeffrey Soderberg, who writes: “On Wednesday night, when Melky Cabrera ended the 7th inning by being thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, the 2nd base umpire pulled out a stopwatch — I guess to time the TV break — but I had never seen it before and I wasn’t aware that they carried them.” Anyone know more about this? … Logos in public space have officially gotten Orwellian (disturbing find by Mike Cusack). … Here’s a slightly clearer view of those Yankees capes from Opening Day, 1933 (big thanks to Eric Hoey). … Great video clip here about a little kid who’s basically a minature version of Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff (with thanks to Mike McAllister). … Lots of Papal uni-watching currently floating around out there — looks here and here … Hmmm, Black Sox? … The latest installment of “Equipped with Joe Skiba,” featuring newly signed backup QB David Carr, is up on Giants.com, and it’s a doozy, with discussion of Carr’s facemask, sleeves, socks, and, of course, gloves. Recommended viewing. … Check out this amazing Sabres patch that Zac Neubauer found. … Remember the question of whether a pitcher who enters the game as a pinch-hitter would be allowed to wear a jacket on the bases? A source who prefers to remain nameless was so intrigued by that question that he posed it to someone in the MLB office, who responded thusly: “I believe that the pitcher would be permitted to wear a jacket on the bases regardless if he was actively pitching in the game at that point. The Major League Baseball Umpires Manual section 2.15 covers Jackets by stating that, ‘A pitcher may wear a jacket while a baserunner. A pitcher may not wear a jacket while batting. No other player is permitted to wear a jacket while a baserunner, a batter, a defensive player, or a coach on the baselines. If worn (by a pitcher on the bases), the jacket [shall] be buttoned.” … Check out Larry Doby in the striped cap — when did the Tribe wear that? … Chris Mycoskie reports that Louisiana-Lafayette wore 1930s throwbacks on Wednesday night (lots of additional pics here) The “S” dates back to the days when the school was called Southwestern Louisiana Institute, but Chris says the “Ragin Cajuns” lettering on the placket is inaccurate, since the school’s teams were called the Bulldogs until the 1960s. … Kenny Chesney threw out the first pitch in Baltimore last night, and wore a bottom-hemmed Cool Base jersey for the occasion (thanks, Bryan). … “A few weekends ago we went to a park here in Greensboro, North Carolina, where they were staging a reenactment from a Revolutionary War,” writes Jake Keys. “I thought you might enjoy this picture. The kid has style.” … Big surprise.