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The Joy of Sox

1974 cap

By Phil Hecken

Two days ago, my buddy Mike Styczen put together a really neat post on the MLB panel cap phenomenon. It was a nice retrospective and Mike did a great job, but there was one image which piqued particular interest: Luis Tiant wearing a seldom-seen blue-red panel cap, which, according to Okkonen, was only worn during the 1974 season.

Mike didn’t remember the cap, I didn’t remember the cap (full disclosure: in 1974 I was 8 years old, watching almost exclusively NL baseball), and according to Mike’s research, he could only find ONE single photo (the Tiant shot) of the Red Sox actually wearing this cap. Mike asked, “Did they wear this for a special event, was it a failed experiment that Okkonen added to the book?” Was a new Uni Watch mystery born?

Not quite. Soon after that article appeared, a few readers stepped up to mention that cap — it definitely wasn’t a one-off, but accounts varied as to how often it was actually worn. One reader, Scott Merzbach, said “Check out the cover of the 1975 Red Sox yearbook, which has photos of Dwight Evans, Bill Lee, Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski and others wearing the cap with the red front panel.” Sure enough, there it is. Lots of shots (in fact, ALL the shots) of the Sox on that 1975 cover, including an action shot of the Spaceman, graced the cover. Yet, the Sox didn’t wear that particular cap at all in 1975 — they switched to the red crown/blue bill cap they’d wear through 1978. Is this the first (only?) example of a team wearing a cap on the cover of a yearbook they never wore for an entire season? Why would they put that cap (and only that cap) on the cover? Did they think that was the style they’d wear in 1975, and subsequently switched to the solid red crown just before the season started?

But, since there are so few photos of the 1974 cap (in fact, a search of Getty Images for 1974 yields exactly ZERO photos of the cap), how often was it actually worn? Some hypothesized it was worn on “Sunday’s only,” but Rick Pearson, our devout historian, says, “Bullshit. Well, it would seem to me, anyway. That’s someone (once again, sigh) applying current thinking and marketing approaches to 1974. A’s wearing their white jerseys at home on Sundays was about the only example of such thinking at the time. I clearly remember watching Twins-Red Sox night games from Fenway with the Sox in those hats.” Ricko went to the “Ricko Files” and found a nice black and white of Bernie Carbo wearing the red/blue. And, in a wonderful bonus, Ricko found his “old fashioned tracking” in the form of one of his sketches of the 1974 season — note the caption at the bottom of the home uniform: “Red Insert In Softcaps.”

Clearly these were worn more often than just home Sundays. But how often? Reader Joe Kuras said, “To answer [Mike’s] question, the Red Sox wore this hat on a regular basis during the 1974 season. It wasn’t a road hat or alternate hat. The next year, they switched to the all-red crown with blue visor cap.” I did some more digging on the Interwebs, and found this on the “Royal Rooters” Red Sox message board:

The alternate 1974 hat was actually one that the Sox ended up wearing every day at some point. The two front panels on the cap were red and the rest of the hat was traditional blue (side and back panels as well as the bill). A lot of teams started this trend. The Brewers had yellow as the front two panels and the Orioles had white. I actually fondly recall this cap as my favorite Sox cap. The following year they went with the complete red cap and blue bill and kept that style through 1978.

Interestingly, Baseball Digest also wrestled with this exact question a couple years ago. In an article which also featured the Tiant photo that piqued Mike’s interest, BD notes:

(T)his picture also helps to begin solving another mystery. I’ve wondered about those hats, and when exactly during the ’74 season the team wore them. This info does not seem to be available online, and news searches show no mention of them at all. But this pic shows that they were worn on a Sunday. Maybe it was a Sunday afternoon thing? Pictures of players in this hat are rare, but I did notice that on the cover of the ’75 yearbook, there are several small shots of guys wearing them. In Bill Lee’s picture, it looks like a Royal is visible in the background, and Bill did pitch against KC at home on Sunday, July 7th, 1974.

Perhaps this article is where the “Sunday Home” theory began?

Apparently, Bill Lee was no fan of the caps. I found a quote about him on him in a redirected search of BD wherein it was said, “When the Red Sox switched to a two-tone baseball cap, he [Bill Lee] protested by wearing a propeller atop his.” Of course, no photo of that exists, but that would surely be Uni Watch gold (Update: Ricko wonders if they’re speaking of this Sports Illustrated photo).

Finally, reader Brett Greenleaf added a bit more to the story (but unfortunately, no information on how often these caps were worn): “I can not find the Rico Petrocelli image right now,” he says. But Brett did have another black and white photo of Luis Tiant which he believes “is from the same game as the photo (which started this whole investigation).” However, that photo looks like it was from a night game, judging by the shadows on the mound. Brett also included a picture of himself, wearing the hat in St. Croix.

So — there you have it — one mystery “solved” but another unanswered. If only someone back then were tracking individual games so we could know when, and how often, these caps were worn. It would also be interesting to learn when the club decided to switch to the full red crown, since we can assume from the 1975 yearbook the team was planning on wearing the red panel cap for 1975.

Readers? This one isn’t quite the brown blue purplish Bronco or the Pirates wearing pinstripes on the road, or the Rangers wearing blue tops over white pants, or even the imposter at the 1977 All Star Game, but it’d still be nice to solve.


paul_lukas_uniwatchNEW 150x100

On the deuce today…

Paul has a new ESPN colum today…. He’s describing it as “the untold story behind the creation of an iconic NFL team logo” — check it out here.


Benchies Beginning logo

Benchies from the Beginning
By Rick Pearson

For nearly three years, “Benchies” has been appearing most weekends at Uni Watch. While Bench Coach Phil fills in for Paul Monday through Friday during August, we present a retrospective. New strips will continue to appear on weekends. For further background, here’s the “Benchies” backstory and bios on the regular Boys of “Benchies.” Enjoy.


And here is the full-size version.


ticker 2

Uni Watch News Ticker (compiled by John Ekdahl): The Tarpon Springs, Florida community is not too happy about a planned move to black football pants (Randy Miller). … This isn’t the first time this has been mentioned, but does anyone know why Ramon Hernandez is wearing number 22 knee savers when his uniform number is 55? Another unusual part of that screenshot is that the Mets appear to be winning. *Swish – Count it!* (Jason Long) … There’s been some discussion about what exactly happened to the Red Sox “Turn Ahead the Clock” promotional jerseys. Some say that the jerseys were delayed as a result of Hurricane Floyd and some say the Red Sox just backed out. Can we get to the bottom of this? … Here’s more information on the new NC State Wolfpack football unis. … “No Blue for You,” the NCAA WAC Mountain West tells the Boise Community College State Broncos. … The Atlanta Silverbacks are giving fans the opportunity to design the team’s uniforms. … The Jamestown Jammers (who?) will wear 1941 Falcons throwback uniforms this Friday. … Here’s one we may have missed: How the Reds beat the heat during the recent heatwave that encompassed most of the nation. … A victory for the evil empire? George Lucas loses battle to Stormtrooper helmet man, the guy who designed the Stormtrooper uniforms and helmets for Star Wars. … Even though the real uniforms won’t be announced until August 20, that hasn’t stopped the speculation over Georgia’s Pro Combat and the resulting Interwebs fakes. … “Baseball as it Should Be” – a letter to the New York Times’ editor. … This is a little old news now, but in case you missed it: the best pre-race NASCAR prayer of all time.


“The state of comics is in the terlet”¦but Benchies is a nice exception.” — Jim Vilk

Comments (165)

    My recollection is that the Red Sox switched to the red front panel after the 1974 all-star game. There were other uniform changes about which I am more vague.

    They wore that cap in spring training, but not during the 1975 season.

    I know the Red Sox’ pullover jerseys and elastic waistband pants debuted at or around the 1972 All-Star break, since the announcers specifically commented on them during the broadcast.

    Their greatest contribution to baseball was being the first team to revert to belts & buttons, in 1979. I’d like to see an article about that fairly bold move and what prompted it. I can’t help but feel Bucky Dent had something to do with it.

    The Red Sox’s Turn Ahead the Clock uniforms were definitely* delayed by the hurricane. They were going to play Detroit that day. Since I was a kid I was excited to see them wear the TATC unis but, alas… well, maybe it was for the best.

    *I’m going off memory exclusively, so I guess “definitely” should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Also, if you’re looking for another rare/forgotten Red Sox hat, check out the TWO alternate caps introduced for the 1997 season. I’ve wrote about them here before, but one was white with a blue rim and blue “B.” It was worn just once (I believe), on the day Wally the Green Monster was introduced, oddly enough. Everyone hated it and it was shelved. There are two pictures that I know of: one of Nomar and one of Tom Gordon pitching.

    The other was a red cap with a blue bill and a white “B.” I went out and bought that hat because I thought it was awesome, but sadly I lost it a long time ago. They wore the red one a few more times than the white one, but it didn’t last to 1998.

    The news stories at the time reported the TATC shipments were delayed by Tropical Storm Floyd, but there seemed to be sentiment that neither the Red Sox nor Tigers really wanted to wear those uniforms. Of course, it’s all just speculation and memory, but it would be good to find out whether the tropical storm was just cover for the teams.

    You can see all 1999 Atlantic link. Nothing so much as a tropical depression between July 3 and August 18. Only Floyd and Gert, both in September, could conceivably have caused logistical problems in New England.

    Graham, you are a frigging man of brilliance. The other day, I was talking to someone about having both the white and red caps when I was a kid, and I couldn’t remember what year the Sox wore them. For some reason I thought it was ’99, but there was no way I was rocking those at 12 years old.

    If you want the red one, the shop has two different versions as a snapback hat. I’ve got one on the way.

    Actually wait, I think the snapbacks are based on the ’70s caps with the Navy Bs.

    But I might still have mine buried in the basement somewhere.

    “Also, if you’re looking for another rare/forgotten Red Sox hat, …introduced for the 1997 season. I’ve wrote about them here before, but one was white with a blue rim and blue “B.” It was worn just once…”

    My friends and I affectionately called those the “Whitey Bulger memorial caps”, as one of pictures the media used of Whitey was him wearing that cap.

    We always joked after they were worn, somebody told the Sox of that and that’s why they never wore them again.

    I hope Boise State starts wearing mono-orange and still wins all of their home games. That’s just a BS ruling. If you can wear mono-green on a grass field, you should be able to wear mono-blue on a blue field. Competitive advantage, my foot. OK, maybe their defenders are a bit harder to see, but that’d be offset by their own WRs being harder to see when they’re on offense. If the advantage is the blue turf itself being disorienting (ok, I’d almost believe that, maybe) then you need to ban the turf, not the jerseys.

    I agree. This is a sour grapes move designed to pester the best team in the league. Blue on blue can’t be that big of an advantage, and if it is, so what?

    It’s not as bad as some of the shenanigans that football teams in the early days pulled. There was a team (20’s or 30’s I believe) that sewed football shaped “pads” onto the outside of the jersey. The idea, of course, is that the defense would never know who had the ball. They outlawed that right quick.

    Should the Ticker story regarding Boise St, say WAC, not NCAA. The conference won’t allow Boise St to wear all blue at home, because its hard to see the players on film. The NCAA could care less what Boise St wears.

    I agree ban turf not jersey. I would think playing on that bright blue surface would be disorienting. Best team in the league? who? Dat a joke Right?

    They were picked to win the conference by the media that covers those teams. So I presumed that they could be called the best team in the league…at least on paper I guess.

    I had a conversation several years ago with a guy who coached at the smaller high school level. The year his team made it to the state championship game they played a team that had monochrome “football brown” unis. They ran a crazy hybrid wing t triple option offense with a lot of misdirection. Needless to say the guy I was talking too didn’t win the game.

    I have no problem with anything the conference wants to stick on ’em. The blue field is gimmicky and ugly. It looks like something a 7 year old would think was cool, and nobody else.

    But considering their academic reputation, that’s fitting.

    Non-issue, coach. Your administration accepted the stipulation when BSU joined the conference. Why bring it up now?

    Also, I don’t think Hawai’i has consistently worn green/green at home. (they wore black for years) Nor has Colo State. (green/gold)

    He’s just mad because now they’ll actually have to play 3-4 decent teams in-league, rather than the 1-2 they’re used to in conference play.

    Agreed. If they wanted to keep wearing blue-over-blue, they could have easily turned down the Mountain West and stayed in the WAC.

    Except that everyone knew the WAC was going down when conference expansion was going on, so they really didn’t have much of a choice. It was a chicken rule the MWC snuck in when they asked Boise to join.

    I don’t like mono green on a grass field, either (just ask Eastern Michigan, who got zinged in an early 5&1), so I have no problem with this ruling.

    Spaceman Bill Lee with a propeller on that Red Sox red insert cap?
    Or were they just thinking of this photo?
    (see thumbnail pp. 58-59)

    The ads in that issue are so awesome. Love the vintage advertising!

    Isn’t Lee still doing public appearances and media interviews? He’s not a hermit or anything. Considering how much he allegedly hated those hats, maybe someone can try to get a hold of him and ask him if he remembers anything about them. Jerry Reuss has been a wealth of knowledge here about uniform items in the past, maybe Lee remembers something too.

    Tonight Bill Lee is going to be on the Planet Mikey Show on WEEI from 7-12 I believe. You can stream it online if you are so inclined.

    Maybe it’s just me, but the red hat in the photo appears to have been somehow touched up. It doesn’t seem to have the same grainy texture the rest of the photo does, whether you compare it to his red shoes or stirrups; it also seems to stand out funny against the propeller.

    Or maybe the beanie used for the photo didn’t have a “B” on it, and they decided to make it look like a Red Sox hat.

    “We’ll fix it in post.”

    That photo (or rather, a different photo from the same publicity shoot, apparently taken a fraction of a second earlier) was on the cover of the original edition of link, which my dad had as a review copy from when he interviewed Lee. Nothing about the link looked artificial or touched up. I’m pretty confident that Lee was wearing a red beanie with a navy B on it. The color on the linked photo may be doctored, but it’s not too far off the original image.

    Yup. On the book cover, the beanie had that sort of slightly washed-out, slightly-too-dark, hue that you see in color photos of the Red Sox’ and Twins’ red caps from that era. (Which points to good attention to detail in the art direction on the photo shoot, since that isn’t even an actual Red Sox cap!) The SI scan looks like the cap color was altered to match the vibrant, saturated red used for the headline.

    “”How about putting a little white propeller on the caps? Then we’ll really look neat.” That was the reaction of Pitcher Bill Lee to changes in the Red Sox uniform that made many recoil: red inserts in the caps, solid red socks instead of the traditional red, white and blue ones. ”

    Sports Illustrated, May 6,1974, link

    Great story this morning. I have been a Red Sox fan since 1976 but never really knew anything about these caps except from seeing the drawing in the uniform book, and I figured that was a brief failed experiment. I revere the red 1975-78 cap and the current cap, and am glad those are the two most identifiable Sox caps.

    My all-time favorite cap, though, is probably the Orioles orange-front cap of 1975-76.

    RE Carbo: there was a guy who called into WEEI yesterday morning saying he worked at Fenway in the 70s and Carbo and a releiver were wicked stoners.

    Can’t remember the reliever’s name right now, though.

    So uh, probably.

    First of all, Boise State’s blue ban is a “result of a concession school officials say they made last year as part of the team’s entrance into the Mountain West Conference”. In other words, this is an agreement between the school and the conference. The NCAA has nothing to do with it. Don’t blame them. And in fact, don’t blame the conference. It was an agreement.

    Second of all, I can understand the ban. Yes, there are teams that wear all green. But Boise has blue helmets, blue helmet logo, blue jersey, blue pants, and gray numbers. There is very little orange, and the gray blends into the blue. Plus their field has a shiny reflection. For my eyes, they are very hard to watch on tv.

    The idea of Boise State being hard to watch on tv is exactly why this move was done. Several coaches of the Mountain West complained about the difficulty of watching tape on Boise State while preparing for them. Nothing really about the on field advantage it may offer.

    The official explanation was that it was deemed a “competitive advantage”. It has nothing to do with TV. It has everything to do with the MWC refusing to believe that Boise State is actually that good at home.

    Someone will write that the Wilfs, seeking another jolt of magical old QB lightning in a bottle for the Vikings, apparently figured that a 5 must be an upgrade from a 4.

    Will be interesting to see if there’s a rush for those new #5 jerseys.

    Just had a thought. In the “Retread Quarterback Parade,” the Vikings have had…
    1 Warren Moon
    3 Jeff George
    4 Brett Favre
    5 Donovan McNabb (apparently)
    6 Bubby Brister
    7 Randall Cunningham
    9 Jim McMahon

    Obviously, a 2 and an 8 will be in purple eventually.

    Well, number 8 is their link, so we won’t see a #8 soon. Also, punter Chris Kluwe is using #5, so there’s no word if he’ll give his number to McNabb.

    Which, as an Eagles fan who never really liked McNabb, I hope he gets stuck wearing something like #15 (or if he’s really egotistical, #1).

    Oh, I know about Kluwe, of course, just couldn’t resist the Wilf joke.

    And, yeah, wonder if McNabb will take #1 or something.

    If he were to take #2 (a kind of upside down #5), which I think has been worn for the Vikings only by K Benny Ricardo, he could still find a place on that numerically correct “retread” list.

    Or maybe they’ll take Terrelle Pryor in the supplemental draft, and we can add him with an asterisk for “UNtread QB”.

    Whatever, will be interesting to see how well McNABB jerseys sell. The general reaction among the populace has been a sort of collective “Huh? Why?”

    Here’s the buzz about Kluwe’s requests of McNabb to take on #5–no money, but he wants him to mention his band in news conferences…


    wasn’t Archie Manning a purple 8 at the end of his career? And maybe – if Kluwe holds his ground – McNabb will be 2 (an upside-down 5 anyhow), and there ya go – 1-9 retread Viking QBs.

    Honestly, I think ‘Nabb will try to stay with a five (like 15) or if he can’t get 15 or 5, he’ll go with 1, because I think he has that big of an ego.

    Also, didn’t know Manning played for the Vikes.

    Yes, Manning and Dave Casper came to Vikings from the Oilers during the Steckel season (eyeroll). Just more horrible career luck for Archie. In one of his last games, the Bears sacked him, like, 10 times in Chicago.

    Punter Greg Coleman had #8 at the time.

    I thought it was ’83 when Manning was with the Vikes — I remember my 0-9 Bucs beat them… it was ’84 that Steckel led the Vikes to a 3-13 season (and Bud Grant came back in 1985)… or maybe I’m remembering the Bucs other win that year — against the Oilers (the Repus Bowl) was when they faced Manning

    Nah. Was during Steckel’s, um, regime.
    If I tell you why I remember for sure, someone will accuse me of trying to be a minor celebrity.
    So I’ll just link to this instead…

    The first of those speculative Georgia Pro Combat unis would make them look like South Carolina. Given that South Carolina’s program is on the rise while Georgia’s is on the decline, that could be intentional.

    It won’t be any of those concepts.

    The prevailing wisdom among the Bulldawg nation is that it will be the 1942 NC uniform (silver helmet adding the iconic “G”, red jersey, and silver britches).

    And I’ve mentioned this before, but it has been confirmed it will be a color vs color game.

    My recollection is the same as Joe Barrie’s. I was 13 yrs old in ’74 and distinctly remember the Sox switching to this cap at mid-season (can’t confirm it was exactly post ASG). From then on I’m certain they wore it for all home games. I do not believe they wore this cap on the road, (continued with the blue they wear today, I believe). As others have noted in ’75 they switched to the red cap w/blue bill and wore it for both home and road games.

    As you can see from my post below, the cap was worn as early as April 19, 1974. But this was several home games into the season for Boston. What DID debut at the All-Star game was the new uniforms, but that was during the 1972 season.

    A write-up in the April 20,1974 Lewiston (Maine) Daily Sun indicates that the Red Sox debuted their new caps the previous day in a game against the Indians: “Their new caps are red and blue and they wore red jerseys, instead of blue, under their uniform shirts”

    With regard to the Red Sox’ red and blue panel caps, they switched to them full-time halfway through the ’74 season. It was a ’70s uniform innovation, similar to their switching to doubleknit pullovers in ’72. At the time in ’74 I didn’t like the tinkering with the uniform because — as you’ll see from the picture of El Tiante — they went to red undershirt sleeves and *solid red* baseball stirrups (indeed, the sleeve and stirrup configuration they have today). The following year, the pennant-winning year of 1975, they went with all-red caps from the start and — pleasingly to me — returned to the blue sleeves and classic red-white-and-blue striped stirrups.

    Minor point not mentioned in the Red Sox red-panelled hat discussion…

    They wore red sleeves at home and navy sleeves on the road that season. And, as I recall anyway, the tri-color socks were still worn on the road, too (they don’t show on my sketches of Carbo because he pulled his stirrups up high).

    The 1975 Topps cards don’t help (usually they would) but all the Red Sox cards that year appear to be Florida photos from ’74 spring training, rather than taken somewhere like New York.

    From article: “The maroon, the white, the trademark “T” on the helmets – they’re all still there, but reinvented for a new age.”

    Is it just me or is that trademark T a trademark they stole from The University of Tennessee? I have little beef with them ripping off a logo, but for the article to make it seem as though the “power T” is uniquely theirs seems lazy and wrong.

    So far, we’ve got exactly link of the cap being worn in conditions other than bright sunshine at home. And that photo is ambiguous; it could be a night game, or it could be cloudy conditions, the late innings of an afternoon game, or the second game of a doubleheader. Any of which could be consistent with a Sunday. What else we got?

    First off, the batter. We’ve got three dark stripes at the sleeve ends, plus a light-dark-light three-stripe pattern down the pants. That says link to me.

    link indicates that he did pitch a Sunday home doubleheader in probably cloudy conditions on May 5, but that was against Texas. (Game 1 of the twin-bill, but game-time temp of only 58 degrees, which means it was probably cloudy, and since Tiant went 7 innings, there’s a good chance he’d have been pitching under lights by the end.) But I don’t think that’s a Ranger at bat.

    Tiant pitched against Oakland at home on June 10 and August 23 that season. That’s a Monday and a Friday game. Both were night games (an 8:27 and a 7:33 start, respectively). Tiant went the distance in both games.

    So if that is an Oakland uni in the batter’s box, then the B&W Tiant photo would definitely show a weeknight instance of the cap. Could be as early as June or as late as August.

    Then it’s a good thing “extant” appears in a comment, not in the blog itself.

    As to the Tiant photo, it’s the same link as in the body text above:

    Can someone post a viewable picture of that Tiant photo? I tried it in the lede above but could not view it.

    This is my favorite thing about Uni Watch, by the way — summer days unraveling uniform mysteries of childhood baseball summers past.

    Thanks, Ricko. Absolutely the A’s, no doubt.

    By the way, here’s something else — more proof that the Orioles wore only a white-front helmet in 1975-76 with the orange jerseys, even when they wore the orange-front caps.


    We did settle the O’s issue conclusively a few Julys ago. I simply wasn’t sure and someone produced enough evidence to settle it. I’m just piling on for the record now. :)

    Reminds me of a Joe Garagiolism of the time: at some point in his windup, Tiant and Rudi are standing with their backs facing each other.

    As to why use photos with the panel caps on Boston’s 1975 yearbook? Easy. Knowing that the team was going to wear distinctive new caps with red crowns and navy bills, but not having any photos of players wearing the new caps, which photos would you use if you were laying out the book: Red Sox players in caps with white front panels and navy brims, or in caps with red front panels and navy brims? Answer: The ones that look exactly like the new caps you don’t have any photos of, of course.

    Yup. And as I’ve mentioned many, many times, teams back then vitually never broke out their new duds until the season opener. They wore their previous gear for Spring Training. As Scott notes, it is fiendishly difficult to take photos of games you haven’t played yet.

    And, yeah, the night game photo of Tiant is against Oakland. No question about it. The A’s sleeve striping was a version of NW stripes, which those most definitely are. They were only team to wear that pattern, not to mention being the only AL team wearing white pants on the road in ’74.

    Also note that Okkonen shows the red front hat, red sleeves and solid stirrups only with the home uni. He shows the navy sleeves and tri-color stirrups on the road.

    As to my recollections, I distinctly remember the home Carbo sketch of mine being made during a Twins night game at Boston…because Carbo was about the only Red Sox player wearing adidas with the stripes showing and they stood out like crazy under the lights.

    So I’m corroborating everything you say as best I can, Scott.

    the difference is i never stated for a fact that they KNEW they’d be wearing a different cap in 1975

    you apparently do, since you say “As to why use photos with the panel caps on Boston’s 1975 yearbook? Easy. Knowing that the team was going to wear distinctive new caps with red crowns and navy bills, but not having any photos of players wearing the new caps, which photos would you use if you were laying out the book.”

    do you, in fact, know for sure that the sox knew, at the time that yearbook went to print, they would be wearing a different (though similar) cap for the 1975 season?

    perhaps they thought they were going to wear the panel cap (which is why it was featured)

    i know things were much different in the mid 70s, and turnaround time on things like that were much longer, so you may well be correct — i’m just saying that you can’t know that for sure

    all i know is IF i knew my team were wearing a completely different cap (although similar) to what was photographed, i’d try like hell to get a mockup made and players photographed (somehow) in it OR i’d pull a topps and paint the sides red

    not saying you’re wrong, but im just saying i don’t think you can know that for sure

    In the late ’70s, virtually all the Twins yearbook photos would be be color photos from spring training for the current season. Have no idea how they were handling it in 1987. Anyone got an ’87 Twins yearbook? Would be interesting to see if the photos how the new pins or the powder blues, etc., because I know they wore them for spring training.

    Note new “M” hat with old uni…

    Well, cover doesn’t tell us anything (other than showing new unis over old unis)…

    Then again, we have this photo from spring training, 1956 (yes, it was used a year later, and background has been airbrushed). Evidently the Redlegs had lots of leftover navy hats to use up, so they did it the other way around: wore the old hats with their new vested set (have several other photos showing this; but knew of this one online so wouldn’t have to mess with scanning)…

    Phil is right that I assumed both intention and knowledge not actually in evidence. Couple of points of clarification, though.

    First and most importantly, turnaround time for design & production of uni elements was actually much shorter then, not longer. Teams didn’t have to focus-group everything and then run it by the league in June the previous year for permission. Management could call the supplier in February, ask them to show some options, make a choice in March, and take the field with the new duds in April. Heck, we’ve seen from that era that teams were willing to introduce new uni elements weeks after the start of play!

    I know that in the publication world, turnaround times for most print products was significantly longer then than is the case today. A monthly magazine, for example, would typically be put to bed two to three months out, whereas today a monthly might close only ten days or less before hitting the street. But is a team’s yearbook more like a magazine, or more like an advertising piece, which would have had a much shorter production lead? Ricko’s experience suggests the latter. Plus, the book could be finished further in advance, but the cover kept open until the last minute.

    Given that the Red Sox wore the red panel cap in a minority of games in 1974, I think it’s safe to assume that the absence of white-panel caps from the 1975 yearbook cover is not an accident. (Unless the Red Sox wore only the red-panel caps in spring training in ’75, and the cover designer had access only to photos taken in spring training, in which case it reflects accident, not choice.) It reflects a choice to show caps with red on top and navy on the bill. And that suggests that the Red Sox front office knew of an intention to wear either the red-panel caps or the red-crown caps exclusively in 1975. Could the Red Sox have intended to wear the red-panel caps, but then either changed their minds or experienced a production issue that forced them to go with red-crown instead? Sure, that’s possible. But surely it’s the less likely of the two alternatives here. (Which doesn’t mean much; the less likely thing often happens. Baseball, after all, is itself a game based entirely on the less-likely outcome happening.)

    “First and most importantly, turnaround time for design & production of uni elements was actually much shorter then, not longer…”

    We say that a lot around here, but is it true for MLB? I’m thinking about the Rays last year – the Rays introduced plaid caps (plaid caps!) on a moments notice last year, as well as striped stirrups, both in the middle of the season.

    I have no doubt that what the Rays did would never fly in the NFL. But the same rules don’t seem to apply in MLB.

    If I had to guess–based on the way things happened in the mid-70’s–I’d say the Red Sox knew they were going to red crown hats when the season opened in ’75, and the PR department figured the player portraits in the red-panel hats either from the previous season or from ’75 spring training were “close enough.”

    Or, believe it or not teams actually thought like this, the red crowns were to be an Opening Day “surprise” for the fans, and first went on-sale that day.

    I suppose we could go to their 1975 website and see if they were selling the red crown hats prior to the season.

    No, wait… :)

    Mike raises a good question. I’d love to hear more from people involved in MLB’s uni process about timelines and requirements. But a couple of important minor points:

    1. MLB today has league-wide licensing/merchandising agreements for all teams with a single supplier. Back in the 1970s, each team equipped itself as it chose. There was therefore much greater freedom for a team’s front office to work directly with a supplier on shorter notice.

    2. The Rays plaid-bill thing was a one-off, effectively a promotional event, not a change in the team’s uniform. The awesomest cap-related promotional event ever, sure, but let’s not confuse a one-off event like that with a permanent uniform change.

    Great article. But why, oh why, would a team want to disassociate itself with this image?…


    Yes, I know it’s hyper detailed and perhaps difficult to reproduce for marketing purposes (really!?), but it is instantly recognizable, well-loved and full of charm and character. As I kid I struggled to draw it accurately in the notebook margins, but that was part of the challenge, the fun.

    Put Flying Elvis on the letterhead of a bank or insurance company and bring back Pat.

    From an art-direction standpoint, Pat was all kinds of nightmare. Aside from the obvious issues with non-scaling and cross-media reproduction (seriously, you try to figure out how to embroider Pat on a polo shirt), there’s the problem of maintaining the original art itself. It’s got so much fine detail, all of it slightly flawed, that even with computerized graphics it would be difficult to maintain good original art for reproduction. Without computers? Fuhgeddaboudit. You’d have maybe three “holy grail” glossy original prints of it; anything happens to those, and you’d be relying on a second-generation reproduction. Lose track of that, and you’re onto copy-of-a-copy, and that’s for your original art of which everything else is a further generation or two of copy & detail loss away.

    Pat looks like comic book art, and all that detail is lost from any distance. It’s just a sorta A-shaped blob on the helmet.

    Pat’s good for stuff like game programs and posters. He was never a very good helmet logo.

    Like the Kansas Jayhawk.

    When they added him to the helmet during the Sayers era it took me a while to figure out what the hell that was on the their helmets.

    Wasn’t a lot of Kansas football footage or photos available to ID it (outside of Kansas, that is). And virtually nothing in color.

    Great article!

    I just wanted to throw in one thought – it looks to me like the original 1960 Pingree design, the tricornered hat, was designed to fit around and highlight the exaggerated ear on a 1950s style helmet.


    I wonder if the number was added to the design later, with the logo looking sort of lost without the ear bump on the 1960s helmets.

    As near I can tell, the numbers were added under the tri-corner hat in time for the regular season in 1960, or certainly very early-on.

    That probably was more about bothering with it for those who actually made the team than anything to do with the physical configuration of the helmet itself. (I know the Broncos helmets were numberless for the 1960 preseason).

    I’m sure TimmyB can tell us exactly when numbers first appeared on the Pats’ hats.

    Pats 1960 reseason (no shoulder loops, no helmet numbers, only two pant stripes)…
    First ever AFL game. Hard to see, but Pats have helmet numbers..and a third stripe on the pants…
    Broncos 1960 training camp…

    I have a larger, sharper version of that Gene Mingo photo from that first AFL game. Plus, there’s another post-game photo of players walking off the field in THE OTHER LEAGUE. Just don’t have time to scan either of them now. The Pats’ helmet numbers and more ornate pants stripes definitely are there.

    Side thought on Pats choosing red.

    Has anyone ever thought that maybe, just maybe, they were okay with ending up having to wear red…seeing as Boston College wore burgundy and gold and Boston University wore red and white? Lot of that kind of thinking back then.

    Vikings’ purple and gold, for example, clearly was seen around here as a “bend” on the Gophers’ maroon and gold because they were just as clearly the hotter football ticket in town at the time.

    Likewise, the Chargers choosing blue and gold in a town were UCLA and the Rams already played football in the those colors.

    Or the Falcons’ red and black.

    And the Dolphins are a “bend” on both Florida and Miami.

    As I said, lotta that kind of thinking back then.

    Vikings’ purple and gold, for example, clearly was seen around here as a “bend” on the Gophers’ maroon and gold because they were just as clearly the hotter football ticket in town at the time.

    Quaint: The Gophers being considered the “hotter football ticket” in Minneapolis.

    Quainter: Any football team in Minneapolis being considered a “hot ticket” at all.

    Gophers were almost perennial contenders for national title at the time. Shared it with Alabama one year, held it alone in another, I think.

    Had first black All-America QB (Sandy Stephens), and played in first game nationally televised in color (Rose Bowl vs. UCLA).

    Being in high school at the time, I could buy Viking tickets in the end zone upper deick for $1 a game (except the Packer game; had to pay the full $5 for that one).

    Gophers were a MUCH tougher ticket.

    In other words, was a lonnnnnnnnngggggg time ago.

    And even WITH McNabb in town the standing line will remain that the best QB on a Minnesota team is catching and sometimes playing first base for the Twins.

    R Scott (and I’m responding to this comment ’cause your previous one had no Reply icon on it), I remember clearly, well before today’s technology, that Pat Patriot was reproduced–quite perfectly–on all kinds of things: caps, t-shirts, posters, stickers, pajamas, waste baskets, replica helmets, gum ball helmets, football cards, bedsheets, etc., etc., so I don’t buy the argument that it couldn’t be easily reproduced because of its fine detail (“flawed”?? I don’t see what’s flawed about the guy). One would think that as technology progresses it would be even easier to reproduce the logo.

    And The Jeff, I never had difficulty recognizing Pat on the helmet from a distance. I knew it was him on that helmet, and so did everyone else who was watching the game. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    In general, I favor the minimalist, clean designs. But for every rule there is an exception or two. Pat is certainly one.

    Agreed. I always knew it was the Patriots on t.v. Pat works just fine as a helmet logo. And if the big issue is too much detail, why didn’t it ever occur to anyone to try and streamline him a bit instead of jumping to the disembodied Elvis head? Not that I think he needs streamlining, mind you – the hand drawn/cartoonish features are what makes it so charming and unique.

    I guess Beltran will wear #15 for the Giants? I quick search of the 40-man shows no one with that #.

    Although from what I have read, this guy is so good, we should give him #24.

    “this guy is so good”



    thanks brinke, i needed the laugh

    although, he sure played well against the giants, so maybe that’s why you’re getting a warped impression

    /good riddance

    Phil, he’s one of the best players to ever put on the Mets uniform. That is an empirical fact. He’ll be missed, but hopefully will help SF keep the Phils from the pennant.

    ever since he looked at strike 3 in game 7 of 2006…

    he’s never been worth the money

    prior to that AB? maybe

    and “one of the best players ever to put on the Mets uniform”? based on what, stats alone?

    he’s never been a leader and he’s rarely been clutch…two of the more important traits i attribute to “best players”

    was he good? yes

    above average? for a time, yes

    “best”? no

    “one of the best”? not in my book

    I’m sure you have plenty of fact based assessments to back up “anti-clutch” and “not-a-leader.”

    Without Beltran they never even get to Game 7 in 2006. Not even Ted Williams was going to hit that curve.

    I’m not a sabr guy, but according to link Beltran was actually worth more (!) than what they paid him.

    “Without Beltran they never even get to Game 7 in 2006. Not even Ted Williams was going to hit that curve.”


    where did i say he wasn’t responsible for them getting to game 7? i said SINCE he looked at that strike…

    meaning 2007-11 in toto

    is it his fault he got hurt? maybe not, but it didn’t help his value in my eyes

    should he have told the mets about the surgery he himself decided to have in 2010? i donno, but generally if i’m going to miss work for an extended period of time, i tell my employer…

    should he have gone to walter reed hospital in 2010, like everyone on the team EXCEPT for those other two bastions of met lore, luis castillo & oliver perez? maybe, maybe not–it wasn’t “mandatory” but everyone else but those three seemed ok with it

    i never said he wasn’t good, i even said he was sometimes above average

    what im saynig is for the past 4-5 years, he hasn’t been particularly great, and certainly not worth what he was being paid — the writer of that article you linked conveniently leaves out the “bad” things associated with beltran and points only to some stats that aren’t necessarily even relevant

    so he’s the fifth best met in something? that only says there haven’t been very many good mets, not that he’s up with ruth & aaron

    if you told me he was the fifth best YANKEE? then yeah, maybe he’d be worth 9 figures

    sorry…i don’t hate beltran and i hope he does well in his new home

    but im not sorry to see him go either

    his numbers suggest he’s pretty good. .282 lifetime BA, 300 hrs, 1100 rb’s. I’ll take him. for the little sisters of the poor lineup we have…i’ll take anyone.

    More pix of the 1974 Red Sox panel caps can be found _inside_ the 75 Yearbook, including shots of a pregame father-son/daughter event. One interesting twist: some shots show players wearing the new uniform (white jersey & pants with solid red sleeves & stirrups) but with the old (solid blue) caps. Some scans are here & hope they shed some light on this Fenway mystery — link

    Well, we know they began the season with the traditional hats at home. Wore them long enough for them to appear in the team photo (’75 card; has to be a ’74 photo cuz of the red sleeves and stirrups)…

    From the April 20, 1974 Boston Globe: “The Red Sox unveiled their new caps and red sweat shirts yesterday, which will be worn for the remaining home games. Reaction ranged from “Wow!” to “Awful!”

    Awesome follow-up today everyone.

    It wasn’t my intention to create a bunch of work for everyone – to write a throwaway about Luis Tiant and then vanish. But I was writing a piece on hats across the league and I just didn’t have time to track down one team’s oddity any further. Thanks to everyone and especially Phil for running this down.

    I know you didn’t want to get into helmets, but the Seattle Mariners had a white-front helmet (though not cap) in the 1980s.

    Thanks – the Mariners helmet was mentioned in the comments on Monday (I can’t remember whose comment it was) – I certainly wasn’t aware of it.

    I forwarded a bunch of photos to Phil afterwards, including a rarely seen Mariners alternate helmet design


    And just because:


    As long as we are on the Red Sox, my favorite team, I wish they would go back to the grey road uniforms that won two World Series.

    I do prefer the navy blue sleeves over red.

    The stirrups/socks can have stripes or not, but they of course need to be red and visible.

    You can dump the red jersey (or make it the BP one), but I do like the navy blue one as a home or road alternate.

    And only one cap, please.

    I’m a Sox fan since ’67, and was a big fan of logos and uniforms even back in 1971 or so (when I was 10). I followed the Sox religiously, and I was very up-to-date on the “mod” double-knits being worn by the A’s and other early adopters and wished my Sox would get far out and groovy, just like the Swingin’ A’s and Greg Brady. I remember thinking at the time how my Sox were so old-fashioned, and I remember very distinctly thinking that the reason for the red-panel 1974 cap was because the management was afraid to alienate the fans by going so “mod” with RED (!) caps all in one change. The 1972 double-knit pullovers were such a huge change already.

    My recollection is that the Red Sox wore the red panel cap for the entire 1974 season. It was simply the “1974 model”. The notion of home caps and away caps didn’t exist. I don’t think the concept of “alternate” caps existed yet. While it’s possible that they may have worn the classic navy cap at the beginning of 1974 (as Okonnen says), that’s not how I remember it. In my recollection, the red panel cap was worn for all 162 games. I’m willing to concede that maybe they wore the navy cap for a few April games, but there is zero doubt in my mind that they wore the red-panel cap 100% of the time after April. There just simply wasn’t any concept at all of having more than one cap at that time.

    So they went from most of 1974 through 1978 without their classic blue cap — five seasons. Three caps in six years. Interesting. They have a more checkered uniform history than the Yankees or Dodgers for sure.

    I did not like it when the Sox went back to the classic uniforms in 1979, because I thought as a kid that they were old-fashioned, but of course eventually grew to love the home uniform. Never loved the road uniform until they changed it up to more closely match the home version.

    Still seems to me they wore the traditional cap on the road in ’74. That note on my “Carbo card” road about the “red inserts” is an error, I think, based on an assumption I made that later was refuted.

    Wish I could say I was 100% positive. Only about 95%.

    I have such a strong recollection that their hats, sleeves and socks were different, home and road. Because it was pretty unique at the time, and was hard to overlook.

    What were their helmets that year??? Very important question! (Just read the Monday comments and found them very interesting.)

    im 99.99% positive their helmets that year were dark blue, home and road

    and i’m pretty sure (looking at a LOT of TOPPS ’75 cards the past day or so) the sawks wore blue caps on the road in 1974…i think okkonen has that correct (and ricko too) — i think the red panel cap was ONLY worn at home (although now it seems like it was worn quite frequently after the first month of the season)

    funny how few photos of it there are

    Think was even earlier. Maybe arrived with the first powder blue roads, or during that season at any rate.

    It’s referenced (with photos) in that weekend piece I did about the Twins’ sansabelt era a while back.

    Oops. Memory is a fickle mistress. Here’s an article about the Sox in the August 23, 1974 Sports Illustrated, with a full-page photo of Rick Burleson wearing the NAVY cap AT HOME on Saturday, August 17 vs the Twins (with the added bonus that the Twin player sliding into 2nd base is wearing the tri-color helmet).

    Boston Globe – Apr 20, 1974
    The Red Sox unveiled their new caps and red sweat shirts yesterday, which will be worn for the remaining home games. Reaction ranged from “Wow!” to “Awful!

    So if Boise State decides to wear white jerseys on its home turf (since it’s not allowed to wear an all blue uniform), is there a sister rule that disallows the Air Force Academy from showing up for a road game in Boise wearing all blue?

    Gallery of new Oklahoma State football unis…I actually like these. Okie State’s needed to go back to a black helmet for a long time….and I’m a diehard Sooner fan!


    Could have done without the silver helmet and uniforms. Is the sleeve stripe design supposed to symbolize anything?

    Not sure about the stripe. That was my question too.

    As for the silver/gray…seems like that’s Nike’s new thing, and I’m not a big fan either.

    No kidding! Shouldn’t an unveiling make it easy on the fan to see what the uniforms look like? The smoke and darkness was bad enough, now we get shadows and out of focus angles.

    “The Star Wars films are set in an imaginary, science-fiction world of the future”.

    Hey isn’t it “…A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”

    Watching the MLB network and I noticed that Carlos Beltran is still wearing his Mets cleats. Bottom of the shoes are all blue and orange.

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