I don’t mean to make light of a storm that killed 21 people and has left millions without power. But in my part of Brooklyn, thankfully, it was mostly a big nothing. I didn’t lose power, internet, or sleep. No downed trees on my block, and very few in my neighborhood. Hope all of Uni Watch’s eastern seaboard readers were as fortunate as I was.
Now then. As longtime readers are aware, I’m mildly obsessed with the history of the baseball earflap. Here’s a brief recap of what I’ve previously reported:
1940: White Sox second baseman Jackie Hayes suffers repeated beanings and fashions a primitive helmet that includes an earflap. (Over three decades later, Hayes is quoted in this article saying, “I was the first to wear a batting helmet.”)
1961: After Twins catcher Earl Battey is hit by a pitch that breaks his jaw, equipment manager Ray Crump helps to devise an improvised earflap for his helmet. Battey’s teammate Tony Oliva later wears a similar contraption, at least in batting practice, as does yet another Twin, Jimmie Hall, in the 1965 World Series.
1964: Tony Gonzalez of the Phillies is beaned and soon begins wearing a helmet with a pre-molded earflap. This appears to be the first helmet designed to include the flap.
Up until now, those have been the major dates on the earflap timeline. But we’re going to have to add a new chapter to the annals of flappery now that the increasingly indispensable Mike Hersh has found this:
That’s from the September 1920 issue of The American Hatter. The text is a little hard to read, so I’ve transcribed it for you:
The sad death of Ray Chapman, the Cleveland shortstop, from a blow on the head by a pitched ball, has inspired the designing of the protective helmet shown herewith. The helmet is like a football helmet, except that it has a visor, such as is on the regular baseball caps. Magistrate F.X. McQuade, treasurer of the Giants, states the club officials are considering adopting such a helmet as is shown. The idea of the headgear has been ridiculed but it is believed helmets will be adopted and used while at bat. It will be remembered that Roger Bresnahan was ridiculed when he appeared at the Polo Grounds fifteen years ago with chest protector and shin guards, but they are now taken as a matter of course, as are the heavy catcher’s mitts so scorned years ago.
A few points here:
• It’s not clear if this helmet was ever used on a big league diamond (or anywhere else but in that one photo shoot), but it’s fascinating to see that a Giants team official was willing to be associated with it.
• The reference to Roger Bresnahan is particularly interesting, since Hall of Fame curator Tom Shieber recently debunked the myth that Bresnahan was the first to wear shinguards. Apparently that myth had taken hold at a very early date.
• Whoever wrote “[I]t is believed helmets will be adopted and used while at bat” was exactly right — but was way ahead of his time.
Remember, kids: The past is what actually happened; history is how we document (and, inevitably, distort) what happened. So I have a feeling earflap history will probably be revised again, as new information becomes available.
What a busy, productive fella: Two new posts — at least one of which I think you’ll find particularly interesting — went up over the weekend at the Permanent Record blog.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The NFL is once again rolling out the pink gear throughout the month of October. … New football uniforms for Sacramento State. … Rudy Gutierrez was watching some footage from Todd Marinovich’s first start with the Raiders back in 1991 and noticed that Marinovich’s helmet decal appeared to have been customized with sunglasses and a mustache. Anyone know more about this? … The Packers will wear their throwbacks on Oct. 16. … Coupla new Brewers-themed shirts from Tararrel & Sons. Company honcho Z.B. Tararrel explains the “Heartbreakers” design thusly: “My favorite pregame moment at County Stadium was just before the national anthem at night games, when a small plane would often fly over, pulling a banner for a nearby strip club called Heartbreakers. As a kid, I learned of the existence of strip clubs by asking my dad what Heartbreakers was.” Ah, my Milwaukee. … Evan Snyder notes that West Virginia is another team that has some players wear helmet stripes in practice. Anyone know the specific protocol being employed? … Cool Phillies theme for this My Morning Jacket poster (from Tom Gabor). … In case you missed it over the weekend, here’s the Orioles’ Mike Flanagan memorial patch. … New third shirt for Everton. … Love the simplicity and elegance of the chest insignia on this basketball jersey. Check out the gorgeous tag, too. … Here’s the latest story about how NFL players don’t like to wear thigh and knee pads (thanks, Ricko). … Not often that you see the old English “D” on a football helmet. That’s Donaldsonville High School in Louisiana (from Chris Mycoskie). … Speaking of Louisiana high schools using other teams’ logos, a bayou school has gotten a cease-and-desist order from the University of Florida (from Ethan Allen). … According to an item in the middle of this column, “The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association endorsed a recommendation that its members honor former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel by wearing a necktie or sweater vest in season-opening games.” Sure, honoring a liar who resigned in disgrace, that sounds like a good idea (from Jason Hillyer). … Rugby World Cup note from Paddy Fleming, who writes: “Ireland’s shirt sponsor is the telecommunications company O2, with the O2 logo appearing on the front of the jerseys. I don’t like it, but I’ve learned to live with it. On Saturday, however, they decided to put that logo along with ‘Money’ (O2 now has a money card called ‘O2 Money’). They look like an amateur team being spnosored a local business. It’s too big, too low, and has completely crossed the douchebag threshold for jersey sponsorship.” … Oh great, the undershirt collar swoosh has migrated from MLB to the NFL. That’s Charles Woodson from Friday night, wearing one of those modified collars (other Packers were wearing it last year) that just happen to reveal a strategically placed undershirt logo (from Tim E. O’Brien). … Also from Tim: Five players on the Colts are trying a new prototype helmet. … One more from Tim: “Indiana’s practice jerseys have three little stripes at the base of the collar. They look like stitching but seem to serve no purpose. Since these are Adidas products, I have to assume that it’s logo creep. Even for a sports uniform manufacturer, this seems redundant and evil. These stripes appear to be, like, four inches from an Adidas logo.” … Coachie Ballgames Photoshopped a collage of horrifically bright MLS looks from the 1990s. … Friday’s post about Adam Walter’s Northern-striped tattoo prompted a note from Steve Sharp, who’s in the process of getting an argyle sock tattoo. “My tattoo artist was in the army and said that back in the day, guys would get all-black socks tattooed on their legs,” he says. “So if they were running late to line-up (is that what it is called?) and couldn’t find their socks or didn’t have time to put them on, it always looked like they had them on so they wouldn’t get into trouble.” … The hurricane led to an unusual NBA product placement (from Steve Russell). … Some of the best vintage jerseys on eBay are sold by an operation called In Vintage We Trust. Now the IVWT guys have started a blog that covers lots of Uni Watch-ish issues. Recommended. … Big congrats to Kirsten, who’s prominently featured in this article about neon signage. … Speaking of Kirsten, remember here collection of volvelles? Here’s her latest find. I’m totally jealous, natch. … Why would the Giants be using a Dodgers-branded bat weight for a home game? (Screen shot by Sean Robbins.) … The price has gotten out of hand, but I’ve had my eye on this spectacular flannel jersey, which was used in a movie back in the 1940s. … “The watermark on the back of the UConn men’s basketball jerseys contains several symbolisms recognizing the two championships the Huskies had won prior to this past season,” says Gregory Koch. “According to someone on the UConn fan message board, a team source has confirmed this will be changed to reflect the third championship, but it’s not clear if this will mean a completely new watermark design or just adding a third star.” … If you’re from Wisconsin (or if you just have a crush on Wisconsin, like I do), you probably know about the legend of the Hodag. So I laughed when I saw this jersey. … New football uniforms for Southern. Pretty nice, no? “The article mentions how EA NCAA Team Builder was used to help design the prototype,” says Prentice James. … New football uniforms for Western Carolina. … Marty Hick, whose devotion to proper croquet attire has previously been chronicled here, recently had a birthday, and his wife, Holly, marked the occasion by getting him this sensational card, originally printed 1942. Look closely and you’ll see that the gentleman’s mallet handle is actually a toothpick!
Let’s play two: Phil and I are attending today’s Mets/Marlins doubleheader at Shea (which is sort of like winning a contest where first prize is a week in North Dakota and second prize is two weeks). I’m heading out there a bit early, because I want to see if there was any storm damage to a particular something that’s located near the ballpark. Don’t wanna jinx it by spelling it out, but those of you who’ve followed my extracurricular projects can probably guess what I’m referring to. Keep your fingers crossed, think good thoughts, etc.