The Astros are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season. And as you may recall, last September they announced that they’d be marking the occasion by wearing an assortment of throwback uniforms from throughout their history — including Colt .45s uniforms — for Friday home games.
So far, so good. But apparently there’s been a slight revision to that plan. It hasn’t been publicly announced, but this MLBlogs.com entry, which went up on Monday morning, contains the following passage: “[T]he Astros will wear retro jerseys from past decades every Friday home game this year, starting with the Colt .45s (minus the pistol, which was deemed inappropriate to include on a uniform).”
Reader and ’Stros fan James Crabtree is the one who spotted that little tidbit. He’s so upset by the omission that he sent a letter to Bud Selig (good luck with that), plus he says he also sent letters to team owner Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow.
It probably won’t surprise most of you to learn that I do not own a gun, nor do I have any desire to own one. I’m generally supportive of most gun control initiatives, and I think the NRA has way too much influence over American political discourse.
All of that said, however, removing the pistol from a Colt .45s jersey is patently absurd. For starters, it’s the name of the team. Are you also gonna remove “.45” from the cap, because it refers to the pistol’s caliber?
Then there are the design considerations. What does a Colts jersey look like without the Colt? Like this (with thanks to Kirsten for the Photoshoppery; click to enlarge):
Now, that’s not an unattractive jersey, but it doesn’t have the balance or flair of the pistol-inclusive version. Moreover, what exactly is the point of having a letter formed by a whisp of gunsmoke if there’s no gun to produce the smoke? Makes no sense.
Finally, there’s the problem of trying to whitewash or sugarcoat history. Would a new team be able to call itself the Colt .45s and put a pistol on its jersey today? Nope. But things were different 50 years ago. That’s part of why we have throwback games — to serve as history lessons, to remind us, to show us, how things have changed. The Negro Leagues existed because of unforgivable racism, but we don’t pretend that none of that happened. Instead, we acknowledge that it took place and try to learn from it. I’m not trying to equate a pistol on a jersey with racial bigotry, mind you. I’m trying to say that revisionist history is always a sucker’s game.
I appreciate that kids who follow the Astros will only see about 374 references to guns on April 5, instead of 375. Viewed in a vacuum, that’s a good thing. But in the broader context, those kids will also be seeing a false depiction of the past, and that’s a bad thing. And for those of us old enough not to need to be shielded from the truth, we’ll be denied the chance to see one of baseball’s most interesting jerseys — a jersey most of us have never seen on the field before. And that’s a drag.
Whatever you think of all this, I have one request: I would like it very much if today’s comments managed to avoid the term “politically correct.” It was never a good term to begin with (avoiding sexist or racist language, for example, isn’t politically correct — it’s just correct), and it’s now been so overused and misapplied that it’s essentially become meaningless. So if you have the urge to invoke it in a comment, I ask that you please take a second to think a little bit harder and come up with something else. Thanks.
Update: The team has responded to James Crabtree, as follows (quoting from this page):
Thank you for your e-mail. We have every intention to honor our past in the best way possible. This includes the complete Colt .45s uniform that was used from 1962-1964. However, during our discussion with Major League Baseball, it was expressed to us that we could wear the uniform as long as the pistol was removed. We realize this changes the original design, but we still want to honor the Colt .45s. We are also under an obligation to follow Major League Baseball’s requests.
Personally I can see how in this time period any sports league (MLB, NFL, NBA, etc.) would not want a team logo associated with a weapon on their uniform that is broadcast to many people. In recent years the Washington Bullets were renamed the Wizards because of this very subject. The symbol of a warm gun with the “C” coming out as smoke is an image many of us have for the Colt .45s. The Wild West theme this franchise had in the early 1960s is symbolic of how times have changed in our society.
We have not changed any Colt .45s logos that are used in the ballpark, printed materials or any historical displays. This applies only to April 10th and 20th when we will wear this uniform. We hope to see you out this year as we celebrate our team’s heritage and history.
So this was based on a directive from MLB — interesting. I still think it’s wrong.
BP cap update: My thanks to the 100-plus of you (!) who responded to my “If you like BP caps, why do you like them?” query yesterday. A few patterns quickly became apparent:
• Those of you who like BP caps really like that they have a lower profile than MLB’s regular game caps, which many of you referred to as “too boxy.”
• You also like the flex-fit aspect of BP caps, especially because many of you think the game caps are sized very inconsistently (i.e., two game caps that are both supposedly 7-3/8 may not fit the same).
• You also like the breathability of BP caps, especially in hot weather (although many of you mistakenly believe that regular game caps are made of wool, which hasn’t been the case since 2006). In fact, so many of you said this that I’ve begun to wonder why MLB and New Era don’t just use the BP cap fabric for game caps, or at least offer it as an option.
• A slightly smaller but still substantial number of you also like that BP cap brims are curvier than the brims on game caps.
These four points kept coming up again and again. Some of you also like the look of BP caps, although even more of you said, “They look silly, but I’m willing to tolerate that because they fit better, feel better, etc.,” or words to that effect.
No more submissions on this topic, please — I now have more than enough for my research purposes. I’ll have more to say in an upcoming ESPN column.
One last reminder: Uni Watch party tomorrow, 6:30pm, at the Devil’s Den in Philly. And if you want to join me and Phil for some hot curling action, come on down to the USA Curling Nationals today and/or tomorrow, OK? OK.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Texans will be wearing a 10th-anniversary patch this fall (from Anthony Bales). … British soccer fans are upset because England has switched to a new kit after only eight games. Are they peeved because the constant changes cheapen the whole notion of a uniform? No — they’re upset because now they have to go out and buy another replica jersey. Personally, I have very little sympathy for that position. While it’s undoubtedly true that the endlessly accelerating uni-update cycle is a crass attempt to gouge fans, there’s a remarkably simple way to defeat this strategy: Don’t buy every bleeding jersey they foist upon you. It’s not like they have a gun to your head, forcing you to drop $200 on the latest polyester shirt. Tired of being played for a chump? Then stop being a chump. Simple. … Here’s a better reason for UK soccer fans to be upset. … This is pretty great: “Who’s on First” rescripted with modern MLB player names — including, of course, Chin-lung Hu (thanks, Kirsten). … Comerica Park is getting a new scoreboard. That Tigers script at the top drew Matt Talbot’s attention: “There has never been a ‘tail’ on it before. Can you verify if this is in the official style guide?” I checked, and the script in the style guide is tail-free, so maybe this is something they’re introducing strictly for the scoreboard, or maybe it’s part of the Photoshop mock-up but won’t be part of the finished product. … Speaking of unusual versions of team logos, check out Theo Epstein’s parking space. “Can’t recall ever seeing the ‘UBS’ in blue,” says Bob Gassel. … “I recently saw someone wearing this jacket at a Bengals bar in NYC,” says Travis Cuomo. “It’s either the greatest or the worst jacket I’ve ever seen. I still can’t decide.” … In what may qualify as the most unusual jersey unveiling ever, Chivas USA introduced their new kit aboard a commercial passenger flight. Gotta at least give them points for eccentricity (big thanks to Patrick Runge). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Here’s a completely bizarre story about a guy who dresses up in uniforms as a means of “stealing” piggyback rides from high school athletes. … Adam Walter was recently at Disneyland and noticed that the tram operator uniforms owe a large stylistic debt to the Florida Panthers. … New lacrosse helmets for Albany (from Max S). … For reasons that aren’t exactly clear to me, Indiana University is letting people vote to select the school’s official plaid (from Sam Riesen). … Yeserday I Ticker-linked to that guy with all the MLB mascot tattoos. Turns out his ink is a little more interesting than it appears at first glance: “There are a bunch of little quirks in the mascots that refer back to some of the teams’ histories,” says Mike Viola. “For example, Pirate Parrot has red eyes and stars around his head, referring to Dock Ellis’s LSD game, and the Oriole Bird’s bat has Billy Ripken’s ‘Fuck Face’ on the knob.” You can see a full gallery of the tats here. … A Florida man has been awarded $3.3 million because he was detained, handcuffed, and kicked in the head by police who mistakenly thought he was a bank robber. And why did they think that? Because bank tellers in the area had been told to watch for a robber wearing a Miami Heat cap, which happened to be what the poor fellow was wearing (from Christopher Falvey). … You all know how I feel about jersey sponsors, but I might have to make an exception for the Baltimore Bohemians, whose new kit features the Natty Boh guy. … Did you know that purple is the color of cancer survivors? I didn’t, but the Grand Rapids Griffins do (from Joe Hollomon). … You Have Got to Be Fucking Kidding Me Dept.: A school district in Texas, having already put ads to its schoolbuses and sold the naming rights to nearly every component of its football stadium (“including the entryway, the press box and the turf”), is now planning to sell ads on the roof of the school, because it’s underneath a flight path. At least the kids won’t see the rooftop ads, but it’s still a horrendous way to conduct public policy. Shame on everyone involved (from Robert Wheeler). … New lacrosse gear for Rutgers (from Ken Manyin). … Rangers goalie Martin Biron wore his old-school brown Winter Classic pads with the team’s retro third jersey last night. “I hope Henrik Lundqvist is watching,” says a very happy Luke Rosnick. … No photo, but a fun story from Gregory Koch: “I went to Spackenkill High School. Our cheerleading uniforms had ‘SHS’ on them. One day, we hosted Saugerties High School in a football game. Their cheerleaders came out wearing uniforms that also had ‘SHS’ on them. They saw our cheerleaders, got back on the bus, retrieved their alternate uniforms, and changed into new outfits that had ‘Sawyers’ (the school nickname). Kind of amusing. Plus, there were about three moments during the game when both cheerleading squads chanted, ‘SHS — we are the best!’ at the same time and then started yelling at each other.” Good story, but do cheerleading squads really have alternate uniforms? And bring them along to road games? … NC State wore black last night (from Britton Thomas). … With the Dodgers planning to wear a Dodger Stadium 50th-anniversary patch this season, Jerry Reuss has compiled a gallery of all the Dodger Stadium anniversary patches that the team has worn over the years. … Latest reason why Wisconsin is awesome: Its state flag has led to the most entertaining journalistic fuck-up I’ve seen in months. … Hofstra women’s hoops joined the pink parade last night. I rather like the color-on-color effect there (thanks, Phil) … Speaking of women’s hoops, Mississippi State went BFBS last night (from Blake Pass). … The excellent Marty Noble, who’s covered the Mets for something like 40 years, has written an extremely thoughtful and nuanced assessment of Gary Carter. Highly recommended.