By Phil Hecken
While searcing for something else, I came across the rather odd picture you see to your right. It turns out that the picture, and an accompanying article, came from the July 1932 edition of Modern Mechanics. Now, I believe that magazine is still in circulation — I never really got into it (I’m definitely not mechancially inclined), although I believe my dad was a monthly subscriber. I think I’d occasionally thumb thru some of the issues he received, amazed at what was inside, and thoroughly perplexed as to how things worked. But I digress.
Anyway, I came across that picture, which was featured in a short article entitled, “Camouflaged Bat Bewilders the Pitcher, but Gets Banned.” The accompanying text went on to say:
THERE’S an old saying about necessity, being the mother of invention. “Goose” Goslin, outfielder for the St. Louis Browns, was having a hard time hitting that old “apple” during the spring training so he adopted a black and white striped bat, shown at the right, and proceeded to pound his way out of the slump.
This was the first time in baseball history that a camouflaged bat was used. It was designed by Willis Johnson, club secretary, who planned to equip other players with bats decorated with cross-rings, blocks and triangles until the “higher ups” declared the use of the bat illegal.
Very interesting. I’d never heard of this story. I find it odd that a painted, “camouflaged” bat would be declared illegal (even back in the 1930’s). After all, isn’t a pitcher supposed to be staring at the catcher’s mitt for a target? How could this be distracting? Back then, the hitter was likely at even more of a decided disadvantage (no “batter’s eye” black background, I’m sure white caps were still in vogue, I doubt white undersleeves had been declared ‘illegal,’ etc.) So I’m shocked as to why the bat was banned.
Perhaps it was disorienting to the fielders? Did they complain they were unable to follow it as it crossed through the strike zone, possibly causing them to lose sight of the ball?
I’m wondering if this wasn’t just another publicity stunt. By 1932, the Browns were definitely the “second team” in St. Louis, and were sorely lagging behind the Cards in attendance. Perhaps Browns brass felt the novelty bat (and the magic powers it contained) would put some fannies in the seats.
Anyway, I did a little searching, and I found a really neat article on the “evolution of the bat,” and on which there was a short writeup on Goslin’s bat:
Goslin created quite a disturbance during the April 12, 1932 Opening Day game against the Chicago White Sox. He approached the plate with his zebra looking bat, only to have it thrown out by the umpires. William Harridge, President of the American League, ruled out the camouflage or zebra looking bat because it created a distraction.
The author did not hypothesize upon why the bat was tossed.
Any of you readers ever hear of this or have any information? Even if you don’t, anyone want to hazard a guess(es) as to why the bat was ruled out of order? Pretty wild stuff.
ESPN Column Update: Paul has a new ESPN column today.
Don’t forget Paul’s still on the lookout for new college football uniforms. If you spot any of those, please send him a note at this address.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Leading off today is a fantastic article on Wired featuring Michael Princip and his Bulwark Helmet concept, which was featured on UW. Says Mike, “Thank you guys for giving me the opportunity to showcase my helmet concept first at the Uniwatchblog.” … Benjamin Douthett believes this is a rare example of a team using lime green tastefully. Those are the Canberra Raiders of Australia’s National Rugby League. … Here is the official photo preview for the new Manchester United away jersey (thanks to James C. … Everybody’s favorite Yinzer, Douggie Keklak sent in an interesting shirt. It’s made by Reebok, so “I’m guessing it will be available leaguewide.” … Still more information on the purple Husky helmets: “The first game at which the Huskies wore purple jerseys was the 1972 season-opener against the University of the Pacific Tigers, which, interestingly, was also the first game at which UW wore purple helmets. Prior to that season, Washington wore gold helmets and the player who earned the 110 Percent Club award each week was honored with a purple helmet. In 1972, the honoree wore a purple helmet that was decorated with a large gold “W” on the front.” (thanks to Mark Tuben). … Scott Owen found three rare Bo Jackson pics he wanted to share. (1) 1984 pic of Bo in his Auburn Baseball Uni (light blue) with what looks like a Batting practice Mesh hat; (2) 1982 — for his Freshman picture, Bo wore a #41 jersey. He never wore #41 in a game; (3) Bo talking to the 2009 auburn team at practice. Notice the Under Armour logo has tape over it due to his contract with Nike. … DJ Butenschoen knows the Twins once played in the Metrodome. But no more. Says DJ, “Like a dumbass I work across the street from the Dome and watched them paint and delete all signs of the Twinks. I actually took pictures every day to show their progress with the idea to send them into you. But never sent them in so here you go.” … Alan Sias saw Tuesday’s column on Buck Showalter and followed up: “I’m sure I’m not the first Oriole fan to point out that Buck Showalter did not don his trademark pullover; instead, he settled on wearing his #26 jersey for his managerial debut Tuesday night.” I had been so pleased with Buck wearing stirrups, I completely neglected to notice he went sans-jacket. … News from AZ: Kenny Abbey found a whole lot of Arizona football uni related stuff, including pictures of all the players getting fitted with new gear, as well as the new white helmets. … From the “Long NOB” department comes this: Russell Goutierez recently attended a Rome Braves minor league game and this guy – first baseman Riann Spanjer-Furstenburg – has the longest name he’d ever seen on a jersey. It was a double-header so he saw his name on both the red alts and home whites. … More “logo theft” is reported by Jason Cimon where a Mississippi High School is using West Virginia logos. … Tom Adjemian found more “logo theft,” this time of MLB by the Japanese league. “In news that has probably already been brought to you a thousand times over by Jeremy Brahm, head of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Everything in General, here’s some logo theft that would draw the ire of some Reds fans. Most of us would see a great catch. A Uni Watcher sees something else. … Pretty neat stuff from Adam Zenou who is from Israel and informs us there is a an American football league there, and its been around for 3 years. Says Adam, “We have 8 teams, 10 soon, and its going great. I thought I would mention the website because we have some pretty sweet jerseys as well as nice logos and colorways. I play for the Tel Aviv Sabres. We won the Israel Bowl last season.” Cool. … One can never see enough old football pics of guys wearing Chuck Taylors. Jon Schwartz says, “check out the chucks on this pic of Marion Motley, one of 14 undrafted HOFers.” Oh yeah. … Bradley Blunt gets right to the point when he says “Great peek at specialty license plates on tap in Texas. How could they make one for the other UT (Tennessee)?” … Look what Boise St. started — Jamie Hall notes, “Check out this ugly crap.” That’s Eastern Washington, red turf. “YIKES.” Indeed. … I’m pretty sure this has been mentioned, but Kevin Clark, New Jersey Devils P.A. Announcer and Uni Watch member, doesn’t remember seeing this on Uni Watch yet, so “FYI, the Devils will be wearing their retro red, green and white uniforms on March 18th, 2011 vs the Washington Capitals.” … Jacob Pomrenke points out that the SABR Northwest Chapter website has added a photo gallery of images from the Dave Eskenazi Collection, whose outstanding photos have been featured many times on Uni Watch before. … The Flames are doing a “tribute” jersey for the Heritage Classic — an outdoor game between the Flames and Canadiens. Steve May says, “It’s horrible. It’s apparently a ‘tribute’ to the Calgary Tigers who played in the 1920’s — but done in Flames colours.” Chris Hernandez also sent along this information, but offered no opinion. I’m wondering where they really got their inspiration. … Here’s a rare sight: Peyton Manning in a tinted visor (thanks to Ben Nicholson). Is Peyton wearing his wedding band? … Interesting tidbits from Michael Harris, about Oklahoma State. The first is an extremely thorough walk-through of OSU’s football equipment operation. OSU recently renovated its facilities. The second bit of information is a picture that’s started floating earlier today. As you might remember, Oklahoma State wore black uniforms for the first time in more than a decade last year during a Thursday night game against Colorado. Those uniforms used the same template as OSU’s standard home and away sets, except that the main panels were black and the trim was white. This week, this Nike replica jersey appeared in a local sports shop, and as you can see, the body is black with orange trim.” … “Hey, I was waiting to get my hair cut, so I picked up an old ESPN magazine from January 2010,” writes Terry Duroncelet, “and found that some of the Ohio State players from the Rose Bowl cut some small parts in the back of their pants, which could explain the rising awfulness that is the biker short look in football. Maybe the Nike Pro Combat pant (when it’s a solid pattern) isn’t so bad after all.”
Life deals you a lot lessons. Some people learn from it, some people don’t. — Brett Favre