Remember Friday’s post about Dodgers minor leaguers wearing letters instead of numbers during spring training? That mystery has now been solved, as reader David Highhill has come up with a 1960 article from the Spokane Daily Chronicle that cracks the code.
A few thoughts and follow-ups on this:
• The highlighted paragraph covers all the letters we’ve seen on Dodgers uniforms (plus several we haven’t seen), with one exception: X. But we’ve only seen the X on that one jersey, not being worn by anyone, so it’s possible that the X had nothing to do with spring training minor leaguers and was used for something else.
• The alpha sequence sure is odd — why start with A, B, and C and then jump to E, H, and N? I’d love to know more about how the letter assignments for each team were chosen.
• Up until now, our only look at a “T” jersey was this, which might possibly have been a 7 (although that’s unlikely, the since the player was wearing a blank cap, and our other photos indicate that blank caps correlate strongly with lettered jerseys). But now reader Matt Malinoski has provided us with a look at a T jersey that leaves no room for doubt.
• I’ve grouped all of our lettered jersey photos into this set.
• Meanwhile, Steve Stern has come up with an image of the Dodgers wearing letters in a different format than we’ve seen before. No mystery on this one, though since those initials stand for Vero Beach.
Finally, although I don’t have visual evidence for this, my notes from a previous research project indicate that all of these Dodgers spring training jerseys had letters only on the front, with conventional numbers on the back. Which means the Dodgers were total pussies compared to the 1951 Kansas City Monarchs, who had the guts to take the alpha concept all the way. Is that amazing or what? My fellow SABR member Mark Aubrey sent me that shot over the weekend. Of course, the breaking of the MLB color barrier had sent the Negro Leagues into steep decline by 1951, so switching from numbers to letters may simply have been a desperate gimmick. Fascinating nonetheless, though.
Collector’s Corner, by Brinke Guthrie
Still recovering from the long holiday weekend? Here are some vintage items to get you back in the Uni Watch frame of mind:
• Here’s something different — a 1970s ABA Virginia Squires garment bag.
• Cool set of Expos/Canadiens/Montreal Olympics patches, eh?
• Nice-looking 1970s Patriots helmet. Pat is so much cooler than Elvis. [Attention Jeff Fedenko — it’s a clear shell! — PL]
• From reader Aaron Duncan, a cool (and pricey) California Golden Seals jersey.
• Here’s a terrific NY Giants helmet plaque with the rarely seen modern NY logo.
• This umpire ashtray from the ’50s will help you kick the habit in no time.
• Here’s something you don’t often see: an Eagles bobble in red.
Seen something on eBay that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Sigh. … On Friday I mentioned that David Einhorn — the guy who’s
saving Fred Wilpon’s sorry ass buying a piece of the Mets — had reportedly worn a homemade Mets jersey for Halloween when he was a kid. Now Alan Kreit has provided a photo of a young Einhorn dressed as Dave Kingman. The rat was presumably cropped out of the photo. … Speaking of Einhorn, he showed up in a private box for Saturday’s Mets/Phils game and wore a blue cap, which is just the sort of thing I like to see in a new owner. … If you’re stuck wearing a baseball jersey with stupid-ass side panels, it sure helps if you can accessorize the uni with feather-edged stirrups. That’s ECS High in Memphis. I like the block-shadow on the numbers, too (with thanks to Nick Armstrong). … Oh baby, look at this amazing Lou Gehrig uni from a tour of Japan. Click on the larger photos to see an even larger version, which reveals the magnificent chain-stitching on the chest patch (awesome find by Bruce Menard). … There are messy shoes, and then there are Messi’s shoes. … “Butt patches have long been a fixture in motocross and supercross,” says Sean Clancy. “Here’s a story about them.” … “Watching Game 7 of the Bruins/Lightning series, I noticed Dwayne Roloson had a shamrock on his backplate,” writes Brian Mazmanian. “I wondered if he was looking for a little luck from the leprechaun. Turns out it was for a much better reason.” … Latest ballplayering to join the stirrups revolution: Mike Leake. Insert obligatory “No word on whether he stole them” line here (with thanks to Derek Linn). … Here’s something you probably never expected to see: table tennis infographics (nice find, Kirsten). … Kaleb Stuckey reports that the Oklahoma softball team has added “12” to its batting helmets to honor OU linebacker Austin Box, who passed away last week. … Steve Uhlmann reports that Seton Hall baseball wore tequila sunrise-esque jerseys the other day. … Even better: a sunrise-ish uniform in Uni Watch-ish colors. That’s an American Legion uni from Evansville, Indiana (great find by Taylor McGillis). … And in yet more tequila sunrise news, look what’s being worn by the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s NPB for their interleague games (big thanks to Billy Lovotti). … Interested in old Russian hockey photos? Then you’ll definitely want to check out this site that Mike Raymer turned up. Maybe someone would like to comb through the pics and find some of the more uni-notable ones for us..? … Check out the NOB on the second guy from the right. That’s the Polish volleyball team in the FIVB World League (good find by Jeremy Brahm). … Kenny Crookston notes that Sudden Sam McDowell appeared to have an extra panel of fabric on the underarm area of his vest — maybe a stretch panel? — in this photo. … Stanley Cup Finals miscellany, Part 1: According to Matt Fedorka, this year’s Bruins/Canucks match-up marks the first final round since 1999 (Stars vs. Sabres) not to feature at least one team with a primarily red jersey, and is also the first since 1991 (Penguins vs. North Stars) not to feature at least one team with at least some red trim. … Stanley Cup Finals miscellany, Part 2: In a really surprising development, no goalie wearing No. 1 has won the Cup in well over three decades (with thanks to John Muir). … No visuals yet, but a small note toward the bottom of this page indicates that Ohio University will wear a helmet decal featuring “a black ‘6’ with the word ‘Deuce’ written behind in white” in memory of noseguard Marcellis Williamson, who recently passed away (with thanks to Mark Maxwell). … Here’s an unusual promotion: The minor league Tacoma Rainiers will be wearing U. of Washington-inspired jerseys in late July (with thanks to Kyle Hanks). … Chris Bruno notes that the typography on TCU baseball’s purple jersey appears to owe a bit of a stylistic debt to the Blue jays. … Speaking of TCU, they recently pulled off one of history’s ugliest “Think pink” promotions. … Here’s a really fascinating — and beautiful — set of old “swivel” cleats. Apparently the rear cleats rotated so that a player wouldn’t blow out his knee if his heel planted in the turf. … Here’s a look at the history of the Canucks’ uniform, plus a piece on how to design an NHL uni (both courtesy of Steve Strohl). … Science Hill High in Tennessee has some funny ideas about uni design. The player in those photos is Daniel Norris, who has a thing or two to learn about blousing (with thanks to Paul Friedlander). … Greg Trandel reports that Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard has been playing a guitar with a retro Mariners logo decal. … Here’s a Uni Watch rarity: a hurling item, courtesy of Paddy Fleming, who writes, “Ever since helmets were made mandatory in hurling a few years back, it has irked me that teams have not had all their players wear the same color helmet. However, in Sunday’s Cork vs. Tipperary match, the Cork players were all outfitted in red helmets (aside from one who was in blue, but only because the red one he was originally given didn’t fit properly). Apparently it was a decision made by the players themselves. What was funny was that the commentators were complaining that it was making it more difficult to identify the players. You can see highlights from the match here.” … That controversial dress code for women’s badminton has been scrapped. … Kenn Tomasch notes that Vanderbilt baseball wore red, white, and blue jerseys on Sunday. … Also from Kenn: New retro-themed alternate kit for the Minnesota Stars. … Lots of controversy over a New Zealand rugby team’s new kit. Details here and here (with thanks to Caleb Borchers). … Also from Caleb: “English rugby player Paul Sackey is in the middle of free agency negotiations (so to speak) and has yet to announce where he will play. This weekend, however, he played for the Barbarians invitational side. The BaaBaas somewhat famously wear black and white hoops, but each player wears his home club’s socks. Sackey wore the pink of Stade Francais, suggesting that he will sign shortly with them.” … Morris Levin’s latest “Talks Baseball” event will feature Peter Capolino discussing Mitchell & Ness’s role in the throwback jersey movement. Full details here.