A few weeks ago I ran a piece about how the Dodgers used to have certain players wear letters instead of uni numbers during spring training. The letters we had identified as part of the alpha series were H, S, X, and possibly T.
We can now add a new letter to the Dodgers alphabet soup — take a look:
That shot was taken in 1960. It shows Preston Gomez, who was a Dodgers minor league manager at the time, talking with minor league catcher Bill Lofton. It’s interesting to see Gomez wearing a pinstriped Dodgers uni — I’ll get to that in a few minutes, but the real story is our first sighting of a B on the front of a Dodgers uni. Note that Lofton doesn’t have a cap logo, which jibes with what we’ve seen before — only minor leaguers with blank caps appear to have worn the letters.
But wait, it gets better — and more confusing (click on the photo to see a larger version):
That’s another shot from the spring of 1960. Lots of noteworthy bits here:
• We can now add A, C, and W to the mix (and probably could’ve added more if the photographer hadn’t told so many of the players to extend their arms across their knees).
• Again, mostly blank caps (and one blank helmet). We can’t see the chests of the three guys with cap logos, so we can’t be sure if they were wearing letters or numbers.
• Here’s the weirdest part: According to the guy who’s selling this photo on eBay, the image shows “young Los Angeles Dodgers fans with the a 1959 Dodgers World Champions banner.” Not minor leaguers — fans. But the guy wearing the B with Preston Gomez was Bill Lofton, definitely a minor league catcher. Wha..?
That didn’t add up, so I contacted the eBay seller. “I have reason to think those are minor leaguers,” I wrote. “Are you sure they’re ‘young fans’?” His response: “I’m not 100% sure. The info on the negative just says, ‘Dodgers’ and [the person who set up the listing for me] thought they were fans. It’s possible that they are actually minor league players.”
Okay, so forget the bit about them possibly being fans. But our Dodgers alphabet now stands at A, B, C, H, S, W, X, and possibly T. And we still don’t know exactly what these letters were for. But I’d like to think we’re getting closer.
Now then, about Preston Gomez wearing pinstripes in that first 1960 photo: We’ve seen that before for Dodgers minor league instructors (that image was linked in this entry from a few years back). Here’s another 1960 shot of Gomez, and here’s a shot of all the Dodgers’ 1960 minor league managers. On other teams, you earn your stripes; with the Dodgers, you apparently earned your lack of stripes as you moved up to the bigs.
(Doubleplusthanks to the increasingly indispensable Mike Hersh, who found most of the photos featured in this post.)
Birthday boy: Webmaster John Ekdahl turns 33 tomorrow. Please join me in wishing him the happiest of birthdays.
Like so many underappreciated behind-the-scenes types, John usually gets noticed only if something goes wrong. But he devotes a lot of time to the site — basic maintenance, troubleshooting, keeping up on software developments, and lots of other stuff I’m too tech-challenged to deal with. Plus he’s always coming up with new ideas, even though he knows I’ll shoot most of them down cuz I’m so old and set in my ways.
John is also the one who came up with the idea for this site in the first place. When he approached me in early 2006, my ESPN column appeared twice a week, but he saw an opportunity for daily uni coverage. Frankly, I wasn’t sure there was enough material or enough of an audience for that, but John believed, and he was right! Thanks, buddy — I literally couldn’t do this without you. Happy 33rd!
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Mets appear to be suffering from — among other things — a bobblehead curse. … Good article on tennis court colors. … Here’s a jersey for the ages although it’s waaaaaay too expensive (big thanks to Mike Hersh). … Here’s an apparent first for tennis: Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who’s reached the third round of the French Open, has been wearing eye black stickers. … Latest team to play G.I. Joe dress-up: the Gwinnett Braves. “I know this is weird to say, but it might be a wash compared to their regular home unis,” says Jonathon Binet. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: According to the fourth graf of this piece, Jordan Schafer’s S100 helmet — mentioned in yesterday’s Ticker — was actually borrowed from the batboy! … Bit of a kerfuffle in a Pennsylvania town, as people don’t like that the local high school has changed its football helmet logo (with thanks to Art Savokinas). … In a truly nauseating development, John Muir reports that Washington DC is planning to sell corporate naming rights for its public parks. Hey, why not change “DC” from District of Columbia to Diet Coke while you’re at it? Embarrassing. … The York Revolution wore “Mudville” jerseys on Wednesday night, to raise funds for the local library system, which you have to admit is a better idea than selling off the names of your public parks (with thanks to Jeremy Richardson). … Also from Jeremy: No photo, but the L.A. Galaxy wore blue at home on Wednesday for the first time in a few years. … Click on the photo-enlarge link of this auction to see how totally cool Joe D’s restaurant used to look. … Here’s the latest on the controversy over the dress code in women’s badminton. … According to the seventh graf of this story, the guy who’s about to buy a piece of the Mets “once dressed in a homemade Mets jersey for Halloween.” It’s not clear if he did this because he was unable to find a retail version without a black drop shadow. … Two bad tastes that taste even worse together: purple uniforms and camo undershirts. That’s Western Carolina (blame Britton Thomas). … Here’s our first on-field look at the Royals’ Paul Splittorff memorial patch. … Remember that Michigan throwback jersey that was circulating last week? Last graf of this item finds athletic director Dave Brandon saying that it isn’t legit (with thanks to Kevin Wos). … A DC-area high school girls’ track team has been wearing skorts (fun read from Bob Kohlmeyer). … Life.com has just released 18 never-before-seen photos of the Say Hey Kid (big thanks to Ben Fortney). … New away kit for Celtic FC (with thanks to JK Chaney). … New kits for Real Madrid, too (with thanks to Kenny Loo). … Wayne Koehler reports that the Sugar Land Skeeters are bringing back the classic bullpen buggie. … Casey Gross notes that Lebron James wore a Liverpool FC jacket for his postgame press conference last night. … Edwin Jackson of the White Sox went out on the field yesterday in the wrong jersey (screen shot by someone who didn’t give his or her name).
Holiday schedule: Phil will handle the weekend, as usual. I’ll be open for business on Monday, although maybe just for discussion. However you’re spending the holiday weekend, have a great time, and put an extra burger (or steak, or pork chop, or whatever) on the grill for me.