Back when I was doing the weekly columns over the summer, I had put out the call for reader requests and submissions, and I did receive a few that I wasn’t able to get to during that time. Today we have an excellent submission from Randy Alleman, who had pitched to me an article about those marks we often see on pitchers’ caps. After a few fits and starts and some rewritings, I’m pleased to present that article to you today.
That’ll Leave a Mark
By Randy Allemann
If you are a baseball pitcher, you need to control the ball, right? And in order to control the ball, you need to get a good grip on it. Pitchers will use a wide variety of substances to help them obtain a good grip. They will use rosin, sweat, saliva, water, baby powder, lotion, sunscreen, and/or pine tar. (As far as whether or not any of these substances should be considered legal or illegal, that is a debate for another time and place.) The only issue with this is that these substances will rub off of their hand/fingers once they touch their cap, and will often leave behind a distinct marking.
I became fascinated by this phenomenon a few years ago while watching Craig Kimbrel pitch. Over the past few years, I have noticed a few other pitchers with similar markings, and always thought it would be a perfect topic for a Uni Watch article. I was able to find quite a few good examples of this, although I am sure there are plenty more that I haven’t discovered yet. Shall we begin?
Lets begin with Craig Kimbrel. He has a very distinct dark smudge on the bill of his cap. This is clearly visible on his home cap, but it is a little less obvious on the road due to the darker bill.
This left me with so many questions. What causes this marking? What substance is it? Is it put there intentionally? Or does it accidentally rub off his fingers when he touches his cap? I learned to stop trying to figure everything out, since it is almost impossible to know all the details. All I know is that the marking is there, and that’s what I care about.
Lets move on to Grant Balfour. As you can see, he has a very similar dark spot on his bill as well. The marking appears during his time with the A’s as well.
I love how you can make out two distinct finger marks on the dark-billed caps. There is also some discoloration on the underside of his bill at times.
Another example of this is Lance Lynn, although his smudge may be more of an isolated incident. His smudge doesn’t always appear, and his road cap shows only a light dusting of rosin at times.
Joe Blanton is another player who has this dark spot on his cap at times. His appears on at least three different teams.
Here are a few other “offenders” I have found, including Bronson Arroyo, Garrett Richards, C.J. Wilson, and Danny Farquhar.
Now that we have taken a look at some darker colored markings, lets flip the tables and look at some lighter markings. A great majority, if not all, of these examples are from the use of rosin. There are plenty of pitchers who use the rosin bag frequently, so it’s no surprise that more than a few leave a distinct marking on their caps. Lets jump right into it.
If Craig Kimbrel is the poster child of the dark smudge, then Cliff Lee is the poster child for the light colored marking. He has had this marking throughout his entire career, and it is usually hard to miss. I have done my best to document every cap he has worn, but I may have missed one or two. Check it out:
Cleveland Indians (2002-2009)
Philadelphia Phillies (2009)
Seattle Mariners (2010)
Texas Rangers (2010)
Philadelphia Phillies (2011-2014)
The discoloration is naturally less apparent on the lesser worn caps, like alternates and holiday specials. But still, even on a one-time cap, the discoloration is still there. And if that wasn’t enough, he also smears rosin on the back of his cap.
Mike Leake has a heavy dose of rosin visible on the right side of his bill. The rosin will sometimes creep up onto the crown as well. His marking is visible on various alternate/holiday caps as well. He also has a slight marking on the back of his cap at times. (Huge thanks to Uni Watch reader Joanna Zwiep for pointing this example out to me.)
Jarred Cosart has some highly unusual markings on his cap. He has two white smudges of rosin on the underside of the bill. There are no markings on the top of his bill, so I’m not sure what to make of this. How can he get rosin on only the underside of his bill? And how does it get on both the left and right sides of the bill? Maybe it is just a superstition/good luck thing. Who knows? Interestingly, he does not show these markings as a member of the Marlins.
Jake Peavy had only a slight discoloration on his bill during his time in San Diego. But after leaving the Padres, he started to display a light dusting of rosin. As his career progressed (through Chicago, Boston, and now San Francisco), the rosin has only gotten heavier.
Chad Qualls displays his rosin markings on the sides of his cap. He has showed this throughout his career, although some markings are rather light.
David Price has an obvious white spot on the underside of his bill, which he has shown with both the Rays and Tigers. He will also smear rosin onto the top of his bill at times.
During the 2013 postseason, Jon Lester had a light brown mark on the top of his bill. Surprisingly, I wasn’t able to find any photos showing this marking during any other point in his career.
This is a game-used cap from Joaquin Benoit. He showed this marking during his time with the Tigers, but I haven’t found any evidence from his time with the Rangers, Rays, or Padres.
Chris Sale has shown a variety of markings on his cap. He also has a discoloration on the underside of his bill.
At certain times during his career, Julian Tavarez had a heavy rosin residue on the right side on his cap. This only appeared while he was with the Cardinals and Red Sox.
I was able to find a number of other examples as well. There really isn’t anything noteworthy about these markings. Some are easier to see than others, and some of them may only be isolated incidents. These examples include Carl Pavano, Chris Perez, Matt Moore, and Greg Holland, Max Scherzer, Rafael Betancourt, and Todd Jones.
Of course, a pitcher doesn’t have to specifically touch his cap to leave some distinct markings. Just sweating will inevitably leave its mark. This happens to many pitchers, but Eric Gagne is easily the most memorable example.
Some other examples of pitchers with distinct sweat stains are Derek Holland, Matt Cain, Kerry Wood, and Jeff Samardzija, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, and Roy Hallday. (Some of these are probably isolated incidents.)
Well, there you have it. After quite a bit of research, those are the names that I was able to find. I am sure there are other examples, but I don’t know of any other major examples where the marking is very obvious. Do you know of any? If you do, feel free to leave it in the comments below. I would love to find out more.
Thanks for your time everybody. Thanks to Joanna Zwiep for her helpful suggestion. And a big thanks to Phil for letting me do this and for helping put everything together. It wouldn’t have been possible without you.
Thank you, Randy! Obviously there was quite a bit of research involved there, and as you say, there are probably other examples. Readers, if you know of any, you know what to do!
Classic Ballpark Scoreboards
I’m pleased to continue with a new weekend feature here at Uni Watch, “Classic Ballpark Scoreboards,” which are created by Gary Chanko. You probably know Gary best for his wonderful colorizations, but he has been a solid contributor for many years, and this is his new project. This segment will appear every Saturday on Uni Watch.
Here’s Gary (click on images to enlarge):
Classic Ballpark Scoreboards – Second in a Series
by Gary Chanko
This week in the series we focus on two more historic ballparks – Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium and Connie Mack Stadium (originally Shibe Park) in Philadelphia.
Home of: Baltimore Orioles
Last baseball game:October 6, 1991; Demolished:2001
In the sixties I was fortunate enough to attend a few games in Memorial Stadium. Scoreboard archeology wasn’t on my mind at the time, but I can recall the vast openness of the stadium and its pleasant neighborhood setting.
Throughout its long history Memorial Stadium underwent several expansions and numerous scoreboard changes. The original Gunther Beer sponsored scoreboard from the late fifties provides the basis for the graphic illustration.
A Few Things to Know
• When built in 1954 the Orioles new “electric” scoreboard was the largest in the world, 40 feet high and 80 feet wide with 40 miles of wiring. The cost was $172,000, about $1.5 million in today’s dollars. Find out today’s largest scoreboard here.
• Here’s a glimpse inside the scoreboard operation!
• The original scoreboard was designed by Lon Keller, a well known sports illustrator in the forties, fifties and beyond. In addition to designing scoreboards for Yankee Stadium, and several other ballparks, Keller was a prolific designer of sports programs. Still he is best remembered for designing the iconic Yankees top hat logo.
• Initially sponsored by the Gunther Brewing Company, the scoreboard and its successors hosted a parade of beer sponsors. By 1960, Hamm’s had acquired Gunther and replaced the advertisement on the scoreboard with their brand. After the 1969 season the original scoreboard was changed for a new digital scoreboard in left center and yet another new beer sponsor. The scoreboard evolution and beer sponsorship history is well documented here.
• After the American League expansion in 1961 a small adjacent scoreboard was added. My guess is the existing scoreboard configuration couldn’t be adapted to include the scores for the expanded ten team league. In 1969 a pitch clock was mounted on the top of this new scoreboard to monitor the 20 second rule between pitches. Was it used in games? I don’t know the answer.
Connie Mack Stadium
Home of:Philadelphia Athletics (1909-1954) and Philadelphia Phillies (1938-1970)
Last baseball game:October 1, 1970; Demolished:1976
I saw my first baseball game (and many more) in Connie Mack Stadium and still remember all that green grass and the monster scoreboard in right field. The scoreboard was known for the Ballentine Beer ad spread across the top and that provides the subject for the illustration.
A Few Things to Know
• The Phillies first ever electronic scoreboard was installed for the 1956 season. The $175,000 (1956 dollars), 75 feet high (top of Longines clock) by 75 feet wide scoreboard was then the largest in baseball.
• The myth persists surrounding the Phillies supposed purchase of the scoreboard from the Yankees. However it seems that was never true. Reportedly the scoreboard was purchased from All American Scoreboards, the same company that supplied the Yankees scoreboard in the early fifties.
• Ballentine Beer, a sponsor during the fifties and sixties, was a conspicuous scoreboard fixture until the Phillies moved on to the Vet and Schmidt’s Beer acquired the broadcast rights.
• Beer and baseball have a long intertwined history written about in this interesting article.
Next week the series continues with more classic scoreboards from Ebbets Field and Royals Stadium.
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Back with colorizer-extraordinaire George Chilvers, who has just one today, but it’s a great one!:
Click on any image to enlarge:
This appeared on “There’s No Service Like Wire Service” a week or so back, and even Paul asked for it to be colourised. I’ve been away and have just got back so here you are…
Thanks George. Tremendous stuff, as always. Please keep them coming!
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: Yesterday’s ticker contained an item that said Detroit firefighters gave Tigers reliever Joe Nathan a fire helmet emblazoned with the Tigers’ logo, but we had no photo. Now we do (big thanks to Jeffrey Sak). … Reader Jonathan Daniel was “Doing some research on Joe Altobelli (why wouldn’t I?) and found this minor league uni channeling the Indians all-red ensemble.” … After having an off-day yesterday, the Blue Jays wore their 9/11 caps last night. The Astros also had 9/11 off, so they got flag caps too. In fact, I’m pretty sure that every team who had Thursday as an off-day had the flag caps. … The Mets wore their orange “Los Mets” jerseys last night. … Check out these old logos kept on a standings board by a reddit user (thanks to Alex Bending). Guessing the upside down pennants are teams who’ve been eliminated from contention? … David Feigenbaum ate at Mike Shannon’s restaurant in downtown St Louis. On the main floor is a showcase displaying the jerseys of the retired Cardinals’ numbers. “I think you can see the Brock jersey and the incorrect font of the 2. I mentioned it to the restaurant manager, he was very surprised. The other photo is of another Brock jersey, this one displayed in the private room our group dined in. This one is correct.”
NFL News: In a non-‘skins Watch-related story, the Washington Football Club has “gone suffix crazy,” (thanks to Tommy Turner). … Just what we need: more minimalist NFL logos (thanks to Christopher C. LaHaye). … Some Dolphins fans are lamenting the loss of the orange alternate on the Miami Dolphins reddit page. One reader came up with an interesting alternative (from Michael Clay). … There was a uni-related Billboard argument on profootballmock, a parody site (thanks to Will Hughes). … You probably know this, but just in case: the Bills will be throwing back with their standing buffalo & white jerseys this weekend against Miami.
College Football News: Here’s a really good New York Times piece on the partnership between Under Armour and Notre Dame (thanks, Paul). … Hope for
the visually impaired anyone with eyes? Marshall University athletic director Mike Hamrick said Thursday on the H-D Radio program that the Thundering Herd is doing all it can to get numerals on football home jerseys altered for better visibility. … Today, Mizzou will be wearing black/black/gold (h/t Nick Bianchi). … Also today, Vandy will be going black/gold/black (h/t Lee Wilds). … Duke will be going all blue today vs. Kansas. … The Arkansas Razorbacks will be wearing “icy whites” to combat the Texas Tech “blackout” (T-Tech is wearing throwbacks). … “When your tackle checks in as a tight end” (from Jake Nevill). … Miami will be wearing white/green/green today (h/t @CaneCoop). … Missouri football has a new logo on their helmets this fall for the University’s 175th anniversary (h/t @Mizzou). … Here’s a pretty cool set of Arkansas Razorback helmets (from Jake Nevill). … The Arizona Wildcats will wear red/red/white today (h/t @AZJoshM). … The Marshall Thundering Herd will be going with green jerseys, green pants & black socks (via @HerdEquipent). … Franklin College (a DIII team) is honoring former team captain, Nickolaus Schultz, killed in line of duty (via @BoatsAndHOdgES). Andrean High School (NW-IN) is also showing support for Off. Schultz (from David Ziemba); here’s a closeup of the helmet sticker. … For those of you who can’t get enough of the Maryland “Star Spangled Banner” unis, here are some high resolution close up shots (big thanks to Alex Aguiar for the heads-up). … Here’s a nice closeup of the Army white jersey, with player name on front [PNOF?]. H/T to Coleman Mullins for that. … Joining the mono-white crowd this weekend will be Virginia Tech vs. ECU (h/t Leland Privott).
Soccer News: This may end well: Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao will wear ‘nationalist’ uniforms this weekend (here’s Barca’s strip and here’s Athletic’s kit). … Anti-Uni Watch: A player was assaulted by hooligans and stripped of his shirt and shorts during a match in an Argentine lower-tier club match (w/video). … “Arsenal’s reserve team played (Thurs)day’s game against Aston Villa in their home jerseys, but away shorts and socks,” writes Stephen Boyd. “I’m sure there’s a story there, but I don’t know what it is.”
Grab Bag: “Too much gold in this game, in my opinion,” writes Jason Johnson. That’s Valley HS vs. Cibola HS in Albuquerque. … “Gold Rush Days”: Every July, a group of ball players suits up in vintage wool uniforms for a four team 1890’s rules baseball tournament in an old Gold Mining ghost town called South Pass City, Wyoming (more here — with thanks to Greg Nilsen). This is kinda cool: Josh Arcurio created these tennis court wallpapers for the Grand Slam tournaments (and the Miami Open). … Back in 1981 the Australian Army Reserve sponsored the Ford Falcon touring car driven by Pete Geoghegan and Barry Muir, so it was only natural that the car featured a “camo” color scheme (from Graham Clayton). … WHOA! Check out the socks in this women’s softball game in DiMatina Park, Brooklyn (big thanks to JL Thompson). … “Nike vs. Under Armour: It’s War” (thanks, Brinke).
And that will do it for this fine Saturday. Big thanks to Randy, Gary and George for their contributions, and of course all the ticker submitters and those who tweet at me. Hoping there might be some good news out of the NFL today and tomorrow, but I’m not going to bet on it. At least the unis should be good.
Back tomorrow with the full Sunday Morning Uni Watch crew — enjoy your college football games (and whatever else may be on your uniform watching agenda) today. Don’t forget — tweet at me any college football surprises/rips/tears, etc. and don’t forget to E-mail Catherine at UW5and1@gmail.com with any good or bad NCAA football matchups today. OK? OK!
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“‘As you can imagine, nobody wants to fight the government of France.’
Well, except the Germans.”