…the Phillies would wear the above jersey all year long. (Major props to Paul Soto for making that graphic for me!)
By Phil Hecken
Instead, they will wear this on Opening Night. Nice touch. I like it. Here’s a better look. They will be much like the current Phillies home jersey, only with “Phillies” outlined in gold, and with a special patch (“World Series Champions 2008”) on the right sleeve.
Of course, I wish it were the Mets wearing that special jersey and patch, but, of course, it would not surprise me to see them wearing black when they open this later this spring. And the Mets will have a special patch too. Yay!
But the concept of wearing “special” jerseys to commemorate a World Series victory isn’t new. In 2005, the Boston Red Sox played their home opener wearing a special gold outlined “Red Sox” jerseys with commemorative patch on their left sleeve. Fittingly, the scheduling gods had them playing the Yankees, and the Sox proudly received their world series rings in a ceremony held that day. (Interestingly enough, the Bosox were considering wearing silver outlines instead, but the gold showed up better.) Here’s a better look at the back of the jersey.
“A bit much?” you may ask. Maybe, especially by today’s standards. Whether it’s decidedly un-PC or bad luck or whatever, some teams display a bit of bravado upon winning the World Series, and rightly so. Unfortunately, they only seem do it for their home opener. Would anyone really have a problem if the Phils or the Sox or the Cards were to wear those gold-trimmed unis all season long? Probably. But I wouldn’t be one of them. Would it make them a “marked” team, the gold-emblazoned jersey serving as a full-fledged bullseye in opponents’ eyes? Most likely. It’s not, however, like teams playing last year’s champion are unaware of their status as defending champs. I guess you could say it’s a bit ballsy to preen like a peacock on opening day. But it wasn’t always that way, no sir. Let’s crank up the way back machine and meet three teams who won the World Series the previous year and decided they might just like to let the rest of the baseball world know it. And how.
1906 New York Giants: In 1905, the Giants destroyed the competition, winning 105 games and defeating the Philadelphia Athletics, four games to one, with all four of the wins being shutouts. While they had also won the National League title in 1904, New York manager John McGraw refused to have his team play the inferior American League in that year’s showcase (for a variety of reasons). However, in 1905, he acquiesced, and dominated the competition. Having now proved to the world that his men (“my Giants” he called them, earning them their nickname) were the supreme team in the world, he dressed them the following season in this unassuming uniform. Sadly, photographic evidence of this sartorial splendor is hard to come by, but I was able to track down this picture of the Giants donning their “World’s Champions” uniforms. (That’s catcher Frank Bowerman.) The other photograph is also of Frank Bowerman and Cubs first sacker Frank Chance (he of the famous ‘Tinkers to Evers to Chance’ double-play tandem of poetry). Whatever karma the Giants may have received from wearing the “World’s Champions” unis all year, it wasn’t good. They’d finish the 1906 season a distant second to those same Cubs by 20 games. Of course, the Cubs happened to win 116 games that year, which was a record or something. And the Cubs wouldn’t even be able to win it all, falling to the cross-town White Sox in the only all-Chicago World Series in history. Although the Giants would win the World Series again, in 1921, 1922, 1933 and 1954, they’d never again let the world know they had won it the previous year.
1921 Cleveland Indians: In 1920, the Cleveland Indians would win their first (and one of only two, the second coming in 1948) World Series, eking out the division by a mere two games over the Chicago White Sox, who finished with 96 wins to the Indians’ 98. The World Series itself would go the full seven games, with the Indians outlasting the Brooklyn Dodgers. A great writeup of the Indians 1920 season explains the trials and tribulations of that “overshadowed” team. So, entering 1921, one wouldn’t think the Indians would be so full of bravado as to pull a 1906 Giants, right? Wrong. They too decided on a special uniform to announce to the rest of civilization that they were “Worlds Champions.” Interestingly, whereas the 1906 Giants used an “apostrophe” (let’s not go there) to indicate they were champions of the world, the ’21 Indians were apparently the best of all Worlds. As with the 1906 Giants, photographic evidence is scarce of the 1921 Indians. Here is Hall of Famer Tris Speaker wearing the uni, and here is another shot of Speaker with Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Finally, here is a picture of Indians’ second baseman Bill Wambsganss sporting the duds. The Indians were unable to repeat as champs wearing their subtly-named threads, finishing four games behind the New York Yankees in 1921. Karma works in mysterious ways, of course, as the team to defeat the Yanks that season? The New York Giants, who won their first World Series since 1905.
1927 St. Louis Cardinals: The 1926 St. Louis Cardinals were also one of those teams on whom destiny seemed to shine, for they won the National League that year by a mere 2 games over the Cincinnati Reds (and won a total of only 89 games), advancing to the World Series to meet the powerhouse New York Yankees, led by a couple guys named Ruth and Gehrig. In a tremendous series going the entire seven games, the Cards won on one of the craziest plays in baseball history, by throwing out Babe Ruth attempting to steal second base in the 9th inning to preserve a 3-2 victory. Fresh off their victory, the Cardinals felt compelled to break out the “We Are The Champions” gear by donning these uniforms for the 1927 campaign. Shockingly, I have only been able to uncover one photo of this season, and it’s not even the actual uniform, but rather a jacket, worn by Pete Alexander (Grover Cleveland Alexander, for you kids). Not quite as brash as their two predecessors, this ‘display’ was relegated to just the left breast of the uniform, and at least featured the words “World Champions” surrounding the familiar bird-on-bat logo. Surely there must be more photographic proof of this in-your-face uniform out there. Be that as it may, the baseball gods frowned upon the Cardinals for having upset their sartorial sensitivities so, as the ’27 team fell a mere one and a half games shy of first, losing out to the Pirates. Finishing first that season didn’t exactly have it’s rewards however, as a certain team from New York was lying in wait. Yes. — those ’27 Yankees, probably only the greatest team ever, and the team who the Cards defeated in 1926.
I kind of like the idea of the “in-your-face” uniform, certainly a far cry from the much more restrained and modest acknowledgments the teams of the 2000’s are wearing. Maybe if the ’06 Giants, ’21 Indians or ’27 Cards had repeated, or at least made a return trip to the big dance, we might have seen more of this type of uniform. Perhaps it was just karma, or the baseball gods, or the alignment of the planets all conspiring against a repeat for those three teams. Whatever the cause, it’s highly doubtful we’d ever see such a show of bravado ever again. I don’t mind that the Phillies are going to be wearing the gold-outlined “Phillies” on opening night. They earned the right to do so, and good for them.
If anyone out there can point me in the direction of, or post additional picture showing, any of the above teams in their special uniforms, that would be most excellent.
Happy World Down Syndrome Day! I’d also like to wish everyone a very special Happy International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day as well as a very joyous first full day of spring! Huge events, all, to be sure, but today is of course a very special day in Uni Watch world, as it is the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Uni Watch founder Paul Lukas. Join with me in a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for the man as he turns the ripe young age of
64 45. Happy birthday, buddy! Thanks for lettin’ me steer your ship on the weekends.
So who else was born on Paul’s special day? Quite a list there. Seems like some pretty important stuff happened on the 21st day of March. Good times, good times. Steak and a hot dog are on me tonight, Paul.
I hate the word “Bracketology,” especially when it becomes an incessantly annoying part of the sports lexicon in the middle of March every year. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no ‘science’ in making your NC2A picks, other than never pick a 16 seed. Prolly not a smart bet to pick a 13-15 seed either (damn you to hell, Cleveland State!), unless your pool places a “premium” on getting one of those bad boys through. Nah. The real skill comes in getting the final 16 correct, and of course, every winner from there on in. For someone who’s not a fan of the college game, I didn’t spend much time making my pics, and I guess it’s showing. After the first round of action, I got 24 of 32 correct. Not bad, I guess, as it’s left me in a tie for 38th place in the “UniWatch2” bracket. We’ll see how that stands after the first weekend is complete, and at least I made sure to fill out my complete bracket (no small feat) and can make up for my early “lost picks” by having a winning pick from the same round advance (except for that damn Cleveland State & Wisconsin portion). Gotta admit, without the pool, I’d have zero interest in watching the early round games. How are you guys doing? There’s a lot of names in the pool I don’t recognize, and a bunch I do. Good luck to everyone, I know you’re all dying to win that broken watch and the Mexican Bimbo.
This and That: In one of my dumber picks in the NCAA pool, I went with Cornell over Mizzou — prolly because my Pop’s an alumnus — but c’mon, did the New York Times really have to call Big Red “a team that gave the appearance of an intramural squad in nice-looking uniforms”? … Paul’s discussed this before, but there was actually a time when a Baseball manager wore a suit and not a uni — here’s a quick primer on why … Looks like NWA will be getting new uniforms at the end of the month — that’s North West Airlines flight attendants, not the hip hop group … I know it’s hard to believe, but I have nothing but praise for Powers and Nike — and this article explains why … In case you haven’t been paying attention, Cuba’s loss in the WBC was a pretty big deal (I actually plan on doing a future post on the history of Cuban baseball, but that probably won’t be ready by tomorrow) … Deion Sanders likes young boys — wait, it’s not what you think — at least I hope it’s not … Damn this economy! Another sports memorabilia museum is closing it’s doors to the public … Damn that Obama, can’t he even fill out his bracket properly (with a little editorial on the Binghamton squad who made the dance) … Those Las Vegas Wranglers have done it again — from the team who brought you “Rod Blagojevich Prison Uniform Night,” they now bring you “Over 18 Night”, featuring strippers pole-dancing near the concession stands — I shit you not … and finally, SI brings us the Cheerleader of the Week and she’s wearing a green Ohio uni — why green? Well, it’s tOU, of course.
Enjoy the hoops and the WBC, and don’t forget to send
a shitload of presents and cash warm wishes to Mr. Lukas today!