Skip to content

The Strangest Baseball Uniforms I’ve Ever Seen

Click to enlarge

Paul here, pinch-hitting again for Phil, who’s still working on another project (although he’ll be back with his regular weekend crew tomorrow). The photo you see above, which is from about 1900, originally ran on the website It’s a Long Season and was sent my way yesterday by reader David Cline. There are two very interesting things about it, beginning with the manager (back row, center), who’s holding a pistol and a sword! Man — put that in your camouflage pipe and smoke it, eh? But even more interesting, at least to me, are the players’ uniforms: They’re overalls.

I’ve never seen a baseball team of any era wearing overalls. I checked with my go-to guys for this type of thing — Baseball Hall of Fame senior curator Tom Shieber and uni designer/historian Todd Radom — and they’d never seen an overalls-clad team either. Breaking new ground!

The vertically arched “MWA” chest insignia stands for Modern Woodmen of America, a fraternal organization that still exists today. The “TR” initials stand for Two Rivers, Wisconsin (home to a highly regarded wood type museum, incidentally). So this was the team for the Modern Woodmen chapter in Two Rivers.

The Modern Woodmen’s headquarters are in Rock Island, Illinois — part of the Quad Cities. The baseball stadium there, home to the Single-A Quad Cities River Bandits, is called Modern Woodmen Park. Put it all together and all signs point toward an obvious promotion: The River Bandits should wear overall thowbacks!

Please make it so.

•  •  •  •  •

Another cross to bear: Knoxville West High School in Tennessee wore small yellow crosses on their helmets in last night’s state championship game. “It was to honor two students and a student aide who died in a bus accident this week,” says reader Andy Bartsch.

Knoxville West is a public school, which means they could end up in the same type of kerfuffle that developed back in September at Arkansas State, which added a memorial cross for a fallen player and team staffer, then had to remove it after a complaint about church/state issues, and finally decided to let the each player decide for himself whether to wear the cross. It’s not clear whether the Knoxville players were given this same option or if the crosses were added by the team’s staff, although I suppose the point is somewhat moot given that their season is now over.

• • • • •

Today’s Uni Watch Birthday
By Douglas Ford

[Each day this month, Douglas Ford is selecting an athlete who’s celebrating his or her birthday and presenting some uni-notable photos of that athlete. Here’s today’s installment.]

He’s a former Minnesota Golden Gophers running back who played in the NFL for seven seasons, splitting time with the Cowboys and the Bears. He also looks great as an action figurine and in an illustration (where he almost appears to be surfing!) — happy birthday, Marion Barber!

• • • • •


Membership update: Oh man, look at the crazy inlining on those numerals. And the Cyrillic NOB! That’s Kary Klismet’s new membership card, which is based on an old Soviet Red Army hockey jersey. Gorgeous, right?

That’s one of eight new cards that have been added to the membership card gallery. The printed/laminated versions of those cards should mail out early next week.

As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed membership card here, you can order a gift membership for a lucky recipient here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and you can see how we produce the cards here.

• • • • •

Baseball News: Pretty awful new look for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Here’s a better look at the caps. Let’s hope the new uniforms include striped socks like the ones the bear is wearing. ”¦ More impressive debunking by Peter Nash, who’s shown that a Willie Mays uniform featured on Pawn Stars and sold at auction for $20K was bogus. ”¦ Typical Mets: They make a big fuss about how they got Majestic to make lowercase NOB letters for Jacob deGrom, Travis d’Arnaud, and Matt den Dekker, and then their store sells jerseys with all-caps. Idiots (although probably not as idiotic as the people plunking down hundreds of dollars for those polyester shirts). ”¦ Newly announced Rays skipper Kevin Cash has a uni-notable quirk from his playing days: He was among the first catchers to wear his helmet with the brim facing forward.

NFL News: Who’s that campaigning with RFK in 1968? None other than members of the Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome”: Lamar Lundy, Deacon Jones, and Rosey Grier (great find by Douglas Ford). ”¦ This is fascinating: In 1953, a team of American rugby all-stars toured Australia, New Zealand, and France and wore American football uniforms, complerte with helmets! How bizarre is that?! (Awesome contribution from Graham Clayton.)

College Football News: Arizona State’s athletics dept. is reportedly on the verge of switching from Nike to Adidas. Further analysis here, and bonus points to Erik Tellef for getting into a Twitter pissing match with Adidas Football exec Mark Daniels. “Obviously, I wasn’t expecting him to say,’You’re right, our product substandard,’ but I did find it intersting that he would go on Twitter and start a dialogue before the deal was consummated,” says Erik. “Odd tactic while still in negotiations.” ”¦ New Wisconsin cleats for the B1G championship game. ”¦ Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: SEC fans don’t wear team T-shirts when attending a game. ”¦ Here’s the patch that Northern Illinois and Bowling Green wore last night for the MAC championship game.

Hockey News: The Canadiens’ memorial for Jean Bevileau has shifted from the helmet to the jersey (Matt Larsen). ”¦ Here’s a gallery of the best goalie masks in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. You can vote for favorite by “liking” it (from Justin Aniba).

Basketball News: The United States Postal Service is issuing a sheet of Wilt Chamberlain stamps — the first such designs for an NBA player. ”¦ The Bulls are auctioning off the center court team logo from their Chicago Stadium practice court. … Excellent article about how leggings are increasingly popular in the NBA in general and on the Jazz in particular (from Brett Crane). ”¦ Why did Rick Barry wear No. 24? In an interview with Tim McCarver, he said it was because he was a big Willie Mays fan. You can hear the audio of this exchange here (big thanks to Ferdinand Cesarano). … New GFGS unis last night for UConn.

Grab Bag: If you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to pinkwashing, think again. The last word on this topic can be found in this hilarious video report from The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee. Highly recommended viewing. ”¦ Some annoying digital marketing website has posted one of those meaningless “What’s In, What’s Out” lists for the upcoming year. Note that last “In” item — membership programs. Uni Watch was eight years ahead of that curve! ”¦ In the wake of Aussie cricketer Phil Hughes’s death, cricket helmet sales have spiked. ”¦ New uniforms for American Airlines. ”¦ Here are some thoughts on New York City police uniforms. ”¦ The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving a license plate design that includes the Confederate flag. ”¦ A new line of men’s clothing is aiming to “to make patriotism fashionable with a subtle, not-in-your-face message.” ”¦ Good article on how sports teams are phasing out hard-copy tickets (from Jamie Uthe). … New logo for next year’s NJCAA soccer championship.

Comments (69)

    When RFK was assassinated Rosey Grier helped wrestle Sirhan Sirhan to the ground, along with Olympic decathlete Rafer Johnson and writer George Plimpton.

    Sadly, in the film of the RFK assassination, you can hear someone scream, “Get the gun Rosey, get the gun!”

    Unlike many modern arenas, Chicago Stadium didn’t have a practice facility on the premises. In those days, the Bulls practiced at the Multiplex, a health club in the northern suburb of Deerfield. The Bulls then built their own place in Deerfield, named the Berto Center after Jerry Reinsdorf’s executive assistant. Just this season, they moved into a brand new practice facility across the street from the United Center.

    The membership card with the Russian NOB says “KPISMET” not “KLISMET”. In Cyrillic, the P and L characters look very similar except for a little curve on the left part of the L character. So it should read КЛИСМЕТ. Whoops!

    it should read КЛИСМЕТ.

    That’s what he asked for. We apparently got it wrong — but it’s not too late to fix it. Thanks!

    Nice catch, Marko! Thanks! The card still looks great, though. I can’t wait to get the final version in the mail. Thanks, Paul!

    Yes. CSKA (which is a Russian acronym, so whenever fools like Rob Stone insist on spelling it out instead of pronouncing it “SESS-ka,” it drives me nuts) has blue as a secondary color. I remember seeing Tretiak play for CSKA; red uniform, with blue and white stripes.

    Hmph. That’s news to me. I have NEVER heard ANYONE call them “sesska” ever. So if Rob Stone is a fool, then there must be a ton of fools out there as well. Like me, for instance.

    Pretty generalized (and wrong) statement about what SEC fans wear to games. More people wear team-branded gear, including women. A certain subset may wear clothes in the manner described in the story.

    Love the RFK campaigning picture. The suspension on that Chrysler was being put to the test and the air in the back ground serves as a reminder of what leaded gasoline did for the environment.

    Holy shit those Pawtucket uniforms are horrible!! Whomever in the Sawx organization thought those were a good idea needs to be kicked in the groin. Repeatedly.

    Brandiose continues to come up with terrible designs for minor league teams and yet they keep getting work.

    some of them are decent. But at the Triple A level it looks like trash. I’m of the opinion, the AAA clubs should look relatively similar to the bigs. Pawtucket looked pretty solid for years.

    How many times do teams actually wear Brandiose’s designs anyway? Twice a season? Seems as if every minor league game is a Cause du jour/Star Wars/Ugly Sweater/Ethnic Heritage/Throwback/Superhero game.

    Agree. I always thought that they looked best when they mirrored the classic unis of the parent club. “Pawtucket” on the front of the road greys is timeless; “Pawsox” not so much.

    Since I’m a Rhode Islander by birth, many summer nights were spent at McCoy stadium (pre-retrofitting) and seeing Ben Mondor patrolling the concession area. He always said hello after seeing my friends and I after a few consecutive nights there. He was always a gentleman.

    When the unis were unveiled yesterday one of the friends that I went to games called me and said “They are killing our childhood Ted” My only response was that “Ben is rolling over in his grave”

    I agree, classic is always the best. Home unis with Red Sox on them looked fantastic.

    Needless to say this link went right on the Christmas list yesterday.

    After decades of hearing PAW and SOX, I never thought of a logo featuring animal paws in socks. That part is very clever. All else, meh.

    Actually I like most of it. I’d tone down on the ferociousness of the bear, though, and I wouldn’t pair the powder/navy cap with the red-lettered home jersey.

    In fact, get rid of the powder/navy cap altogether (I could see the Rays in that, however) and ditch the fourth (BFBS or navy?) uniform. Wear the navy/red cap with the white and gray uniforms, and keep the navy/powder cap and powder jersey. Fixed.

    Minor nitpick, unless you’re a pilot: in the Grab Bag, you state United Airlines. The link with all the grey uniforms is actually American.

    that adidas football prez is hilarious, but if I was paid by them, I guess I’d defend the product…or just not get into the pissing contest. BTW, I can’t believe the Wilt stamps didn’t include one of him on his bed with a 10,000 banner hanging on the wall.

    I don’t know if it has been released or mention yet, but new reds batting practice caps are live on mlb shop. Home and road same as last year colors but new logo on hat.


    That article on NYPD uniforms was interesting, especially in the wake of the recent link article on the subject in general. There’s evidence to suggest that the nature of police uniforms can influence the actions of officers as well as how the community reacts to them.

    Pretty sure I took a photo of a vintage base ball team who wore overalls. If I come across it later I’ll share. I know it’s not the same, but I figured they were inspired by some old team who wore them.

    Even in 1900, that pistol would have been an archaic relic. It’s a muzzle-loading flintlock, the sort of thing you see gentlemen in wigs and stockings use in duels in costume-drama movies. Makes me wonder if there’s supposed to be either a pirate or a patriot theme going on. In 1900, I doubt that anyone would mistake that pistol for anything that a Civil War soldier or officer would have used, so I don’t think it’s a reference to Wisconsin’s proud history of fighting for the Union.

    West Knoxville has a lower-case yellow “t” on the back of the helmets for “tennessee” – it’s not upper case because they are high school, not college.

    I don’t see anything wrong with that logic. Let them wear ’em.

    Are you saying that they’ve always had it there, and that the person who told me it’s a memorial cross that was added this week was incorrect?

    No. I’m saying if there is any action taken against the school, that could be their defense.

    You can put a cross on anything if it looks like it could be something else. A sword pointing down. A telephone pole. One of these new light sabers.

    I’m saying if there is any action taken against the school, that could be their defense.

    In other words, you’re suggesting that they lie. Well, that’s very Christian of you.

    Why would anyone lie about a memorial gesture? Makes no sense. Dishonors the people it’s meant to honor.

    Whether the gesture is Constitutional is another issue, but why sully its sincerity by lying about it?

    If the gesture is, let’s intentionally do something we’re aren’t supposed to do and start a shitstorm, the solution is to honor them with a non-Christian symbol.

    Speaking as someone who went to a DI school in the south, I would guess that 90% of the people at college football games wearing ties and cocktail dresses are members of the greek system. That’s why in one picture you will see 30 or 40 people wearing jackets and ties, yet in a wide shot of the stands everyone is wearing team colors. The first is a shot of the student section with a bunch of fraternity members sitting together, the other is a shot of the general public.

    the solution is to honor them with a non-Christian symbol.

    …which is what they should have done in the first place. It really isn’t that hard to not use religious symbols to mourn/honor the dead. A piece of black tape on the helmet or every player wearing a black wristband would have been just as effective of a gesture, without running the risk of causing any sort of controversy.

    without running the risk of causing any sort of controversy. violating the United States Constitution.

    Fixed that for ya. It’s important to remember that this is not an issue of “controversy” or “shitstorm”; it’s an issue of legality as determined by our nation’s supreme legal document and long-established legal precedent.

    I agree that it’s not that hard to not use religious symbols to mourn/honor the dead, but it seems that it’s being made increasing difficult TO use them (especially Christian symbols)for that purpose…anywhere.
    Crosses placed on the helmets were put there by choice; if the gov’t had mandated that they be put there, then it might be unconstitutional.

    “In the wake of Aussie cricketer Phil Hughes’s death, cricket helmet sales have spiked.”

    Seems a bit silly since the helmet had nothing to do with Hughes’ death. My understanding is that it hit him under the helmet (left/back of the neck). Unless he was wearing an old diving bell helmet, nothing could have prevented the tragedy because it’s impractical, if not literally impossible, in sports with helmets to wear one that protects the portion of your neck that needs to be unencumbered for head movement.

    “The 25-year-old…he collapsed after he was hit on the lower back of the neck by a bouncer.”


    You’re missing the point.

    The issue isn’t that a certain helmet would have prevented Hughes’s death. The issue is that his death has made people more safety-conscious. And there’s nothing “silly” about that.

    I understood the point, Paul. I agree that they’re buying piece of mind, actually. This would not keep their kids from dying like Hughes.

    It took a tragedy to wake these people up for their sake or the sake of their kids. And that’s good. They get more protection in the pitch. That’s the point of helmets.

    But, I personally find things like that a bit silly. Irresponsible, in today’s society.

    Why did someone have to die for people to start wanting to buy them? You’d think wanting to keep you or your child’s noggin safe when someone is throwing a hard spheroid with some velocity in that general direction would be enough motivation to get yourself or your child a helmet.

    It took a death, which would not have been prevented by a helmet, to increase the sales of helmets that help keep your head safe. “Irony” is a good word here, too.

    To my way of thinking, I would still say it’s also a silly motivation. It’s much, much more likely for a batsman to be hit in the head than die from arterial collapse caused by a ball, and that’s true in any sport. I would say if someone or their child is playing baseball or cricket without a helmet then those are some irresponsible people.

    THAT should be the motivation to buy a helmet, IMHO. And I can’t say much for parents who are just now buying a cricket helmet for their kids if this was their motivation to finally make sure their child didn’t get a cracked skull (which is many times more likely to happen than having an artery crushed by a ball in an area that a helmet won’t protect). And it doesn’t matter if they already had one and just bought a “safer” or “newer” helmet; it’s still the same in principal since the helmet wouldn’t have prevented this tragedy. It still took an unfortunate death to get them to think on that level, and care enough to think that deeply about the safety of themselves or their children.

    “Silly” was just me being nice. I’ll stop here so I don’t start spouting the words I’m really thinking about these people and their motivation to keep themselves or their kids safer, yet still not safe enough to prevent what woke them up.

    Even more simply put:

    The end result is safety. I get that.

    The motivation is “silly”. It’s irresponsible parenting to let your kid bat in the pitch without one in the first place (even in a backyard “pickup” game).

    One parent in the article even said:

    “Maybe I’m just being an overprotective mum, but his helmet’s been wobbling around,” Ms Sullivan said as her nine-year-old son Cooper got additional padding fitted into his helmet.

    “I’ve been thinking about getting it fixed for around six weeks…”

    Why wasn’t her child’s head a higher priority before Hughes’ death (for which there are no helmets offering that kind of protection)?

    I guess it’s a good thing he died to reduce the risk of her child getting a cracked skull?!

    IDK, I guess I expect parents to use common sense for their children’s safety, but it doesn’t seem to happen much.


    I’d think it would be hard to find a problem with someone putting more emphasis on safety, no matter how belatedly or due to what impetus.

    Yet somehow you managed. Well done.

    I’ve actually been to the Hamilton Linotype Museum in Two Rivers, WI. The old machines on display are amazing. I snapped a few photos of some old wooden type blocks used for printing election cool.

    “… The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving a license plate design that includes the Confederate flag. …”

    An impromptu cross on the back of a high school helmet to memorialize the death of a friend or teammate strikes me as not worthy of a brouhaha, and yes, I know the relevant Supreme Court decisions. Sometimes, though, imo, it’s just a good idea to leave something be, especially within a cultural context in which the cross has been the standard way of memorializing the dead. I don’t buy the slippery slope argument in this particular instance.

    On the other hand, my blood boils at any state enabling of the Confederate flag. Just because many of the Confeds were valiant and well-intentioned doesn’t mean that taxes should support the display of a symbol of a rebellion on behalf of the proposition that the national government did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in new territories. That subsequent history links that flag to racist law and racist sentiment makes it all the more odious.

    Just to clarify: Texas is NOT enabling a Confederate flag. They’re *denying* the application to include a Confederate flag on a license plate. The Confederate group is appealing on free speech grounds.

    Everton and Manchester City are going blue v. blue today. I couldn’t remember what they’d done in the past, so I did a quick Google image search. It shows that, at least in each the previous two seasons, Everton has worn blue in every game against City, but City has worn a change shirt in its road matches.

    Looked a little closer, and that trend goes back at least a couple more years, to 2010-11.

    Do we know if those overalls are a baseball uniform, or just what the Woodmen were wearing and an impromptu photo of a practice or game was taken? Interestingly, according to Wikipedia:

    “those employed in a long list of professions were also prohibited from joining: railway brakemen, railway engineers, railway firemen, railway switchmen, miners employed underground, pit bosses, “professional rider and driver in races”, employee in a gunpowder factory, wholesaler or manufacturer of liqueur, saloon keeper, saloon barkeeper, “aeronaut”, sailor on the lakes or seas, plough polisher, brass finisher, professional baseball player, professional firemen, submarine operator or soldier in the regular army in a time of war.”

    Maybe they relaxed the restrictions over time. Wikipedia goes on to add:

    “One of the most visible elements of the organization was its drill teams. These groups came to be known as Modern Woodmen Foresters and became well known in America. The first drill team was organized in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1894;[9] these groups became nationally known for events held from 1890 to the late 1930s.[16] The Foresters were even honored by Herbert Hoover at the White House. “Rainbow Parades” were hosted by cities across the United States and included 10,000 units of Foresters, with more than 160,000 men participating.[9] Each group was differentiated by a different style and color of uniform.”

    The interested scholar can do more research, but those uniforms may not have been meant solely as a baseball uniform.

    Fans who buy 2015 White Sox season tickets will get … the option to buy postseason games, …

    Wishful thinking?

    SMU – UConn: the broadcast team was referring to a ‘Gatorade’ bath, even though the cooler on SMU’s sideline was Powerade

    9 of the top 10 and 18 of the top 25 in the NCAA FB playoff rankings are Nike sponsored. If the adidas exec thinks uniforms, cleats, etc. are the dominant factor in performance, his company is losing.

    The 1953 US All-Stars got rid of their American football uniforms shortly after starting their tour of Australia. Here is a photo of the team prior to playing France in December, wearing long-sleeved jumpers, shorts, long socks, and no helmets!


    Its a good thing teams like the Mets sell crappy authentics at full price; otherwise, I might try to sell it to Pawn Stars with some grass stains…

    The only thing sillier than paying $300 for a polyester shirt is thinking everybody will buy one and accept the variances because of game used counterfeiting.

    When the leagues, the FBI/DHS, and the man-panty sniffers sort this out, I’ll return as a customer to buy something game-ready that doesn’t smell like B.O. By the time this happens, they’ll raise the price to $400 and I won’t be interested anymore.

Comments are closed.