An early Uni Watch moment for me came in 1975 or so, when I was watching an NBC Saturday Game of the Week broadcast. Red Sox backup catcher Bob Montgomery was hitting, and one of the announcers (probably Joe Garagiola, but I don’t recall) mentioned that Monty was the last remaining player not to wear a batting helmet. Instead, he wore a plastic insert under his cap, as was his grandfather-claused right as a player already in the bigs when batting helmets became mandatory in 1971.
Montgomery, who retired after the ’79 season, has since become famous (well, at least on this site) as the last non-helmeted hitter. Two related issues have always bugged me, though: First, were there any other grandfathered players who wore the insert in the early 1970s? And more to the point, just what did these inserts look like? I’d never seen one.
Thanks to reader Brandon Davis, we now have our answer to the second question. He found this eBay auction for an insert that was purportedly used by the Cleveland Indians. As you can see, it’s open on top, which surprised me a little — flimsy protection is one thing, but flimsy partial protection is pushing it.
Not sure what’s up with that tape-wrapped section. Was it meant to repair a break in the front-top section, or was that section supposed to be broken/unattached/etc., to make the insert adjustable and one-size-fits-all? An inside view is inconclusive. Anyone know more about these doohickeys?
Inserts are apparently still in use, or they were until very recently. Last November, when MLB announced that base coaches would have to wear helmets in 2008, Larry Bowa said, “I prefer to wear an insert.” According to this story, Bowa “wore a cap lined on the inside with thin plastic” for the Dodgers’ spring training opener back in February. So does Bowa have his own personal insert that he takes with him from team to team? Or is someone still making these things?
Uni Watch News Ticker: Good game-used jersey site here (with thanks to Mike Verna). … Yowza! … Big Brown jockey Kent Desormeaux wore a Mets jersey — complete with NOB — to throw out the first pitch at Shea Stadium on Sunday night. The uni number matched the number he wore in the Kentucky Derby. … Amusing collection of Oriole Bird mascot video footage here (with thanks to Bryan Long). … Bizarre eBay find here (big thanks to our own Scott M.X. Turner). … Did you know that the player sliding into home plate on this baseball card is actually Willie Mays, not Hank Aaron? I didn’t, until James Yeh pointed me toward this really good rundown of error-laden baseball cards. … “The University of New Orleans baseball team had an interesting uniform this weekend in their Baton Rouge regional,” writes Chad Thompson. “On Friday night, their jerseys said ‘N’awlins,’ and then on Saturday they wore ‘NOLA,’ and on Sunday it was ‘Privateers.’ ” … “Thought you might be interested in these throwback uniforms worn last Saturday by the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox in Marysville, California,” writes John Saiz. “They’re modeled after the Hub City (also Yuba-Sutter) Merchants, who were the first baseball club to travel by airplane. Of added interest, they were playing the Redding Colt .45’s, who were wearing their home whites (the Gold Sox play only two of their 46 games on the road, so they switch between their whites, grays, and BP jerseys every homestand).” … It’s horribly written, and even more horribly narrated, but this video critique of softball uniforms is largely on the money (with thanks to Randy Swanson). … Decent story here about NHL playoff beards (with thanks to Alan Kreit). … Someone has decided that Alfonso Soriano has MLB’s tightest pants (courtesy of Kevin Walsh). … Creative NOB use here (with thanks to Doug Keklak). … RIP, Bo.