EXCLUSIVE: American League Had Stirrup Rule in 1967

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When I was 12 years old, in 1976, I read Jim Bouton’s seminal best-seller, Ball Four. I was already obsessed with stirrups by that point, so I was particularly intrigued by a passage in the book about Frank Robinson’s stirrups. I’ve quoted that passage many, many times during the 17 years that I’ve been writing about uniforms (most recently three Friday Flashbacks ago) — it’s an “old reliable” that I never tire of. If you’ve somehow missed it, here it is one more time:

It has become the fashion — I don’t know how it started, possibly with Frank Robinson — to have long, long stirrups with a lot of white showing. The higher your stirrups, the cooler you are. Your legs look long and cool instead of dumpy and hot. The way to make your stirrups longest, or what are called high-cuts, is to slice the stirrup and sew in some extra material.

Bouton wrote those words in April of 1969. I’ve always assumed he was the first one to publicly discuss Robinson’s stirrups, mainly because most of Ball Four consisted of topics that nobody had ever publicly discussed before (players being hung over on the field, players having lots of extra-marital sex during road trips, coaches being assholes, etc.).

But it turns out Robinson’s stirrups had been a hot topic of discussion two years earlier. Not only that, but his stirrups had led the American League to impose a rule regarding stirrups — a rule that I had been completely unaware of until now. It all adds up to a major lost chapter in MLB uniform history that’s now been recovered.

The person who deserves credit for this discovery is Uni Watch reader Will Shoken. He saw the Ball Four quote in that recent Friday Flashback column and was intrigued, so he contacted his brother, Fred Shoken, who has access to The Baltimore Sun’s archives. Fred did some digging and came up with several articles regarding Robinson’s stirrups, which were apparently a bit of an ongoing soap opera in the the spring of 1967. (Continue reading)

A Pair of Dodgers Who Modify Their Jerseys

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Back in April we ran a Ticker item about Dodgers first baseman Adrian González appearing to have a horizontal seam sewn into his jersey placket, a bit below the chest script (above left). Now his teammate Enrique Hernández is sporting the same little seam (above right).

. . . → Read More: A Pair of Dodgers Who Modify Their Jerseys

Tribe & Royals Throw Back; ChiSox & Tigers Throw WAY Back

Indians Royals 550

By Phil Hecken

Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians hosted the Kansas City Royals, and both teams threwback to the 1970s, with the Tribe wearing their blue “caveman” top and white pants, while the Royals wore full powder blue. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the game, but from the photos I did see, it looked dee-lightful.

As with most throwback games, I had some problems with the players wearing their uniforms in contemporary cuts, and of course, many a player sported pajama-style pants — an anachronism that my OCD finds off-putting. But aside from that, it was a beautiful looking game.

I spoke to Jimmer Vilk, who did see the game, and he thought both teams did a good job with the uniforms. Of course, if you read Uni Watch on Friday, you’ll note the Indians screwed up the jersey patch. But other than that — it was a game chock full of color, pullovers and sansabelts (and a few players even wore their pants hiked up, exposing some delicious hosiery. (Continue reading)

A Good Solution to the Camouflage Problem

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Good morning! Yesterday was Memorial Day. Amidst all the camouflage (which as you know I consider to be a toxic mix of bad design and bad civics, but we’ve already been through that enough times and don’t need to go over it again today), a handful of players showed that they Get It™. Three of them were in Texas, where outfielder Ian Desmond, outfielder Ryan Rua, and pitcher Alex Claudio went high cuffed with black socks.

Not camouflage, not stars and stripes, not some “bold” design from Stance — just black. A simple and effective memorial gesture, perfect for Memorial Day, and it really highlights how ridiculous the camouflage is. Imagine if every player went with the black socks — it would say so much more, and have so much more dignity, than MLB’s current approach to this holiday. Good for those Rangers players, and also for Phillies infielders Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez and outfielder Peter Bourjos, who did the same thing: (Continue reading)