The guy you see pictured at right is Ed Sudol, who umpired in the National League for 21 seasons. Up until now, the most notable line on his rÃ©sumÃ© was that he was working the plate for Jim Bunning’s perfect game in 1964. But Sudol is now destined to be known for something else, at least among uni watchers: He umpired part of a game in his T-shirt.
The date was July 12, 1969. Sudol was working the plate for a Phils/Cubs game at Wrigley (and it was a day game, natch — Wrigley didn’t yet have lights). He began the game wearing his jacket, but the umps working the bases had eschewed their jackets and were working in shirt sleeves — pretty standard for a warm day.
Sudol stuck with the jacket through the first five innings. But during the commercial break between the end of the fifth and the start of the sixth, he apparently removed his jacket and his shirt — or else he never had a shirt under his jacket to begin with — because he was suddenly wearing nothing but his chest protector over a T-shirt. He stayed that way for the rest of the game. We’ve seen plenty of instances where umps lost their luggage and had to wear makeshift gear, but this is the first time I’ve seen an umpire strip down to his tee.
Play-by-play man Curt Gowdy, working the game for NBC, took note of Sudol’s wardrobe change and quipped, “If you don’t think it’s hot out there”¦” But how hot was it? According to historical weather data, the high temperature that day was 91 degrees, with the humidity topping out at 93% — uncomfortable, for sure, but we’ve all dealt with hotter days than that. And this was 1969, which means the players were still wearing flannels — what if some of them had wanted to remove their jerseys? Would Sudol and his umpiring crew have allowed it?
Sudol died in 2004, so I can’t ask him that question. But I’m going to try to contact former Cubbie catcher Randy Hundley — as he crouched a few inches in front of Sudol while wearing a flannel uni under his tools of ignorance, what did he think of the ump getting to shed a few layers?
Meanwhile, here’s an interesting footnote: At several points during the game, Sudol was approached by someone dressed like an usher. Although you can’t see it in those screen shots, that guy was giving Sudol fresh baseballs — he was the ballboy. Never seen someone dressed like that for that task. Can anyone familiar with Wrigley history tell us more about this?
Finally, you’re probably wondering where I got all this material. It’s from this site. Scroll down a bit and click on “Baseball,” and then click on “1969 Chi. Cubs vs. Phila Phillies pt. 2” — that video clip begins with the first glimpse of Sudol’s T-shirt stylings.
(Major, major thanks to reader Chris Falvey, who brought all of this to my attention. Great find, Chris!)
Media convention reminder: On Monday afternoon I’m going to be a guest speaker at a convention for journalism and media students, and you’re welcome to attend. Details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Marcus Cousin of the Jazz, a last-minute call-up from the D-League, had to go NNOB on Wednesday. ”¦ In a related item, Nick Hanson reports that Red Sox prospect Jose Inglesias forgot his #76 jersey with his name on it for yesterday’s game against the Rays and had to wear a #95 NNOB jersey. No photo, alas. ”¦ Unbelievable: The Cubs wore special “10” caps in BP yesterday for Ron Santo, but they weren’t allowed to wear them for their Cactus League game against the Indians because the caps didn’t include the MLB logo. Thank god the sanctity of spring training headwear has been preserved (with thanks to Neil Berger). ”¦ George Deaton notes that the MLB uniform renderings on Wikipedia now feature the annoying Nike logo creep on the undershirt collars. ”¦ JetBlue CEO David Barger was recently presented with an unusual Red Sox jersey. Aside from the NOB appearing on a home jersey — scandalous! — what’s up with the “B6”? “It’s JetBlue’s airline code,” explains Alex Melendez. ”¦ Lots of truly sensational old roller derby photos here (big thanks to the Rev. NÃ¸rb). ”¦ If you want to see how Tommy Hilfiger would redesign a bunch of today’s uniforms, be my guest. ”¦ Tony Serio has reimagined all 32 NFL franchises as basketball teams. ”¦ Jonathan Cain notes that Florida Atlantic’s hockey team is wearing some ridiculously thick sleeve stripes. ”¦ Always a hoot to see Tom Glavine as a hockey player (with thanks to Jay Sullivan). ”¦ Here’s a fun look back at Notre Dame’s old shamrock hoops uni. ”¦ Someone else noticed that Andre wasn’t Breathing Ethier in his Photo Day mug shot (with thanks to Michael Smith). ”¦ Great stirrups story from Brian Fletcher, as follows: “On Wednesday some friends and I took a trip down to Port Charlotte to see the Rays and Blue Jays play. As with every Rays game I attend, I wore my wonderful Rays stirrups, which usually get a few comments, almost always positive. After the game, we headed back towards the interstate, but stopped at Target and ran into Ben Zobrist, shopping with his wife and son. I’m not one to bother athletes just to get an autograph, but we did walk by, and Zobrist walked up to us and said to me ‘Hey man, sick socks!’ Yeah, he called them socks, but at least he liked them. I joked that I was on a grass-roots campaign to get all Rays players to wear them. He told me that I’d never get all the guys but that he might start.” ”¦ Lots of chromatic confusion in el NBA last noche, as the Mavs and Heat both wore color at home. Is this the first time the Lakers have ever worn white on the road? ”¦ Current issue of ESPN Mag has a breakdown of which MLB caps are favored by which street gangs (big thanks to Terry Duroncelet). ”¦ The Mets have been bowling during spring training, and they’ve gotten themselves their own bowling shirts. But come on, no rear-view photos? ”¦ Some very cool old Indians program covers on display here.