By Phil Hecken
Yesterday afternoon/evening, the Seattle Mariners, playing as the Seattle “Turks” and the Chicago Cubs, playing as, well, the Chicago Cubs, put on a wonderful *historical* turn-back-the-clock game. Both teams were dressed in the fashion of the year one thousand nine hundred and nine. And the Mariners, er…Turks, really went all out with this one. (All images can be enlarged by clicking.)
But before I get into that, why 1909? Seems like an odd date to be throwing-back to — usually teams will celebrate 100 years or the anniversary of the opening of their stadium (Fenway, Chicago next year). And who, or what, are the Turks? Well, the 1909 Seattle Turks were a professional baseball team that played in the Class B Northwestern League, and in that magical year of 1909, that particular team won 109 games, losing only 58. An excellent article on this team can be found here.
In the comments yesterday, and also in the article, it was asked why “Turks” was the team’s nickname (not quite in the same league as the name of the Washington football club, but still, a term not likely to be used today). The article notes the “1909 club is generally referred to today as the Turks, Seattle newspapers of the time steadfastly avoided using the nickname in connection with the team in any of their game accounts.”
A reader who goes by “BvK1126” offered this assessment of the name:
Here’s another interesting bit of writing proposing an origin of the team’s name.
“Young players contributed to the team’s first-place finish with a handsome 109-58 mark. Local newspapers praised the team for “playing like Young Turks.” Capable and aggressive young men were known in this era as “Young Turks.” The “Young Turks” were a reformist, nationalist, revolutionary group in Turkey, comprised mostly of young men—some of whom were military school students—who demanded an end to the Ottoman Empire.”
From the book, Baseball Team Names: A Worldwide Dictionary, 1869-2011, by Richard Worth. (As a side note, this looks like it has the potential to be a fascinating book that would be of real interest to the Uni Watch community. I just stumbled across it myself trying to find more information about the Seattle Turks, and I have to say, my curiosity is piqued!)
This explanation make some sense to me as a history buff. Certainly, the term “Young Turks” has continued to have traction as a descriptive for members of various youth-oriented political and social reformist movements.
I’m having trouble reconciling the two different stories of the Seattle media’s reaction to the team’s name, however. Worth suggests that the name originated with the local press, while the SportsPressNW.com article I mentioned in my post above makes it sound like the media wouldn’t touch the name with a ten-foot pole. The two narratives aren’t necessarily contradictory, but I’d like to know the rest of the facts that would explain how both accounts are true.
Here’s another quick bit of research that muddies the waters about the Seattle Turks’ name and histocial reactions to it. Check out this headline and story from the Spokane Daily Chronicle’s June 30, 1910 edition: “Close Game to Seattle – Turks Win Out in Ninth Inning from Tacoma by a Score of 4 to 3.”
Granted, Spokane and Seattle are almost 300 miles apart. But why would the Spokane media of the day have no problem using the Turks nickname, whereas the Seattle media purportedly eschewed it? Moreover, according to Richard Worth and other sources, the Seattle team was known as the Giants in 1910. Strange.
Fascinating. Unfortunately, aside from the photo I posted above, there don’t appear to be any other historical photos from the 1909 season, so the Mariners based their uniforms from yesterday upon that (and whatever records and historical artifacts may exist). I was able to find two other photographs from around the same time period, the first of which shows a very similar uniform to that worn in 1909 (but the cap is different), while the second photo shows a different wordmark/font (but a very similar cap):
So…as a throwback…how did the Mariners (Turks) and Majestic do? You can judge for yourself, but I was pretty impressed with it. Of course, it’s about as simple a uniform as you can have — block front lettering on a white jersey, with white pants, a two-toned cap (in modern cut), with navy blue-and-white socks. Both teams went NNOB, but did make a modern concession to put on numbers, which would not have been present on the original uniforms:
The 1909 Cubs, on the other hand, were a professional Major League team, having won both the 1907 & 1908 World Series (and as most Cubs fans sadly know, that 1908 title was their last ever). What I love about that season, however, was that the Cubs wore a style which never took off in baseball, and which was prevalent for only a few seasons in the late 1900s and 1910s: the vertical name on front placket (VNOP?). In fact, one of my first ever columns on Uni Watch dealt with just this short-lived phenomenon. Either I didn’t have the research skills then I do now, or the Interwebs weren’t as forgiving with photo-research, but I wasn’t able to find a photo of the actual 1909 Cubs road uniforms. Well, I found plenty:
With so much visual evidence, it was fairly easy for Majestic to reproduce the uniform. Unfortunately, they didn’t do quite as well as I would have hoped — aside from the modern cut (which I cannot fault), and the uniform numbers, they made the throwback uniform’s pinstripes far too far apart — on the original uniforms, the pinstripes were much closer together. Other than that, however, I thought the uniforms looked divine! Obviously, no helmets were worn in 1909, so they attempted to retrofy those as well as they could. (Of course there was still the matter of the anachronistic blue cleats, but we’ll let that slide as well.)
What made the game all the more special, however, was how Seattle attempted to go out of its way to give the game a throwback feel. Little amenities like having a megaphone announcement, and dressing the singer of the national anthem and groundscrew in “period” garments.
Truly, truly, a great looking game. Well, I guess that depends on your perspective. The twittersphere had mixed thoughts:
These are horrible uniforms. And absolutely nobody cares about the 1909 Seattle Turks.
— Val Tsoutsouris (@ValTsports) June 29, 2013
— Brady Begin (@bradybegin) June 30, 2013
To each his own of course, but aside from the vertical city name on the placket, I love that the Cubs (and other teams back in the day) wore a matching cap — in the case of the Cubs it was gray & pinstriped. And while I am personally NOT a fan of pinstripes on road uniforms, if teams were to carry that look to their caps, I’d make a happy exception.
Readers? How did each team do? Is the Cubs look something you might wish to see some team today adopt (or adapt, as the case may be), or is that something best left in the past? You can see plenty more photos from the game here or here.
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
And so, lets begin:
Just one set today, and it’s from Matt Malinoski, who you will recall has been redesigning the uniforms of all 30 MLB teams, and who was recently featured in one of my recent Designing Minds series. Matt is back today with the National League East:
Here are my NL East concepts:
Probably the best baseball uniform ever made. I only had to change the cap logo for this one. 1946-51 Boston Braves uniform with the Atlanta “A” cap logo.
Has that great script, thick/thin strokes with bulb terminals. Much better than what they use now, especially that distorted “Atlanta” script. Zipper not only breaks up the lettering nicely, but allows the soutache to be spaced apart more, looks more balanced.
Black tomahawk looks great even though black is not a team color. I don’t like the red tomahawk. Love the Indian head patch on the sleeve. Really completes the jersey.
Completely redid theirs. Never liked any of their uniforms, except that I liked the marlin in their old primary logo.
The 1951 St. Louis Browns uniforms, and Miami’s Art Deco architecture were the inspiration behind these.
I used a font, Mostra Nuova, for the cap logo, jersey script and numbers. The zeroes are very large, so I don’t think a double-zero would be possible.
I used all of their current colors except for yellow.
New York Mets:
1962 uniforms with never-used stirrups with orange stripes. 1969 cap logo.
For the road uniform, I used the “MLB Block” numbers on the road jersey.
For the “NEW YORK” script I tried to recreate it in the McAuliffe-style lettering because I don’t like the Wilson tuscan lettering (compare the 1978 and 1979 Red Sox jerseys).
One of the best cap logos in baseball. I made some tweaks to the last concept I uploaded. I shrunk the “W” on the road jersey and fixed the connecting stroke between the “s” and “h”.
I made a patch out of the team logo, and changed its font for “Washington”. Also added stripes to the stirrups, whose pattern is based on the 1954 Athletics.
1950-70 set with two cap designs. One is based on logic (an upright cap logo) and the other is based on what I am used to seeing (an italic logo). I can’t make up my mind on this one.
Reworked old script into current logo. This is another jersey that I would love to buy, but replica and throwback manufacturers constantly get it wrong. The lowercase letters should have boxy terminals and the numbers on the back are heavy and the counters inside the numbers are more octagonal, not square.
Thanks Matt! Back with more concepts next time.
And that’s going to do it for this last posting of June, 2013. Big thanks to Matt (again) for his MLB (NL East) concepts.
Everyone have a wonderful Sunday, and I will catch you next month!
Follow me on twitter @PhilHecken.
“The Seattle Turks, because Native American nicknames aren’t enough.”