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So Many Details from One 1915 Baseball Scoreboard Photo

Click to enlarge

I recently came across this old photo. It was taken on April 10, 1915, which was Opening Day at Washington Park, home of the Federal League’s Brooklyn Tip-Tops, who were hosting the Buffalo Blues. This ballpark, which no longer stands, was situated just a few blocks from Uni Watch HQ’s 2000-2018 location.

This is a fascinating photo on several levels, mainly because of the scoreboard. Let’s take a closer look at that (click to enlarge):

So many interesting details here. Let’s go one at a time:

1. The scoreboard includes a line for each of the eight Federal League teams, based on the games that were being played that day. For example, the first two teams listed are Brooklyn and Buffalo, who were playing there at Washington Park; the next two teams, Kansas City and Pittsburgh, were also playing each other that day; and so on. But in each case, the home team is listed first! Obviously, that runs counter to the format we’re used to seeing today.

2. Note that there are also lines for two of New York’s other teams — the Dodgers and Yankees. Oddly, there’s no line for the Giants, even though they were hosting the Dodgers that day. (The Yankees were not playing that day.)

3. It’s not surprising to see that there’s a column showing the pitcher for each team — many scoreboards still do that today. But this scoreboard also includes a line for each team’s catcher — interesting!

4. Under “Batter,” would they spell out the batter’s name? Seems like a lot of letter placards to be swapping out as each new batter stepped up to the plate. Also, what if a batter’s name was longer than eight letters? (The box score shows that two of the Brooklyn players that day had nine-letter surnames.)

5a. Note that the scoreboard has windows for just two umpires — one who worked the plate and one for the bases. This was common for pro baseball at this time (including the American and National Leagues, not just the Federal League). Four-man umpiring crews didn’t become the big-league norm until 1952.

5b. Speaking of the umps, they didn’t yet have uni numbers in 1915, so what would they put in the windows? Would they just put 1, 2, or whatever, and those numbers would correspond to a list in the scorecard?

6. I’m fascinated by the slot on the scoreboard for “Winning Numbers.” Did this refer to some sort of raffle at the ballpark? A local daily lottery? A promotion involving the Tip-Tops’ namesake, Tip-Top Bread (which was owned by the same guy who owned the team)? Something else?

7. In the full photo (the one shown at the top of this blog page), you can see a few players from each team milling around in front of the scoreboard. Here’s a closer look at their uniforms (click to enlarge):

8. Since it was Opening Day, a marching band was on hand. I wish we could get a better look at their uniforms (click to enlarge):

9. Finally, let’s take a closer look at that ad plastered on the outfield wall:

That underwear brand, B.V.D., still exists today! In fact, the term “BVD” even has an entry in the Urban Dictionary. (Ironically, the Urban Dictionary example refers to “tight BVDs,” while the outfield wall ad refers to the brand being “loose fitting,” but I guess a lot can change over the course of a century.)


Man, that’s a lot of mileage out of one photo! Fascinating stuff. Hope you enjoyed deconstructing the details as much as I did.

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Photo by Keith Birmingham; click to enlarge

Yikes: Plate ump Nate Tomlinson had to leave last night’s Angels/Dodgers game in L.A. after a piece of Mike Trout’s broken bat flew in between the bars of his mask and cut him around the nose and eye.

That’s definitely a situation I’ve never seen before. Here’s some video:

Scary stuff!

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Tank-topping: Hmmm, what kind of jersey is Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove wearing in the photo shown above? Details from this article:

Almost every day for the past week, Padres starting pitchers have taken part in pregame workouts while wearing white, brown, and gold basketball jerseys with their name and number on the back. They were a gift from [pitcher Joe] Musgrove.

“It’s something that’s fun,” Musgrove said. “And I think they’re sick jerseys.”

Musgrove ordered them from a company called Freestyle Cut & Stitch, and it is the latest of many efforts he has made to bring members of the rotation closer.

Interesting. Here’s another photo, this time of Padres pitcher Sean Manaea:

(My thanks to Russ Havens for this one.)

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Too good for the Ticker: Bob Sullivan, who prints our membership cards, recently visited the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe and spotted this 1899 photo of a baseball team comprised of Black U.S. Cavalry infantrymen. Here’s the accompanying placard:

As I’ve been saying for well over a decade now, if MLB teams insist on wearing uniforms to “honor the military,” they should wear throwbacks based on uniforms like these instead of the boilerplate camouflage. Tell a baseball story, not just a military story, and teach us all some history while you’re at it.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: The Orioles wore their black jerseys with their regular road caps last night. They usually wear their black jerseys with their alternate caps (from Andrew Cosentino). … Phillies OF Kyle Schwarber is the latest MLBer to have his jersey sewn shut (from Christian Berumen). … The Frontier League’s Sussex County Miners will wear Hulk-themed jerseys on Saturday. … Giants OF Joc Pedersen and Reds OF Tommy Pham have been at each other’s throats lately over a fantasy football league they were both in. Pedersen seemed to escalate the situation when he and other teammates wore T-shirts in Giants colors saying, “Stashing players on the IR isn’t cheating” (from our own Brinke Guthrie). … D-backs P Mark Melancon came into last night’s game against the Reds wearing the wrong cap (thanks to all who shared).

Hockey News: The arena in Kennewick, Wash., home of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, is tearing up its old seats to make way for new ones (from Wade Heidt).

Basketball News: Fun fact: The NBA hires a firm to go to each team’s arena twice a year, including during the playoffs, to check things such as hoop heights, backboard verticality, and rim tightness (from Mike Chamernik). … New court for Western Michigan (from Brandon Weir). … Here’s one blog’s ranking of the three best uniforms in Pacers history (from Kary Klismet).

Soccer News: Barcelona will wear the logo of the UN refugee agency on the back of their shirts for the next four seasons (from our own Phil Hecken). … New kit for Scottish side Motherwell (from Ed Zelaski). … New alternates for Sacramento Republic of the USL Championship. … New kits for Swiss side FC Lugano (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: Fifth-tier English side York City FC has a new alternate kit inspired by York’s chocolate-making history. … The next few items are from Kary Klismet: New shirts for Atletico Madrid. … New away and alternate shirts for Turkish side Kayserispor. … New home shirts for Cambridge United of England’s League One. … New home and goalkeeper shirts for Aldershot Town of England’s fifth-tier National League. … New away kits for Sardinia.

Grab Bag: New 16th-anniversary logo for Brazilian men’s club volleyball team Sada Cruzeiro (from Jeremy Brahm). … A fan gave Nebraska volleyball head coach John Cook some custom leather chaps — complete with an Adidas maker’s mark (from Shane Straka). … USA Rugby has switched outfitters to Castore (from Tim Dunn). … The Jayhawker Podcast, which is about sports at the University of Kansas, has released an episode about the school’s uniforms (from Jay Wright). … The next few items are from Kary KlismetNew athletics logos for Dalton State College. … A writer ranked all the uniforms in the Star Trek franchise. … Here’s the logo evolution of BMW.

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What Paul did yesterday: I’ve been a big fan of the indie-rock band Superchunk since way back in 1989, and it was a kick to see them play an acoustic set at a Manhattan record store yesterday afternoon. A Uni Watch reader (whose name I now forget, ugh) even recognized me and said hi, which was nice!

Comments (38)

    Did the Orioles actually wear their road caps rather than their alternate caps, or just their road batting helmets? The linked clip just shows their batting helmets.

    The O’s do not have an alternate batting helmet so they wear either their default home or road one when wearing the black jersey.

    Watched the game, can confirm they wore their regular road caps. They’ve done it a handful of times now since Brandon Hyde took over as manager a few years ago. Not a ton, but enough that it’s been noticeable.

    Pre-Hyde, both the black jersey and alternate cap were Friday-only, with only one exception I can think of. It appears now, especially this season, that the black jersey is being used as an infrequent road alternate IN ADDITION to be used on all Fridays, home and road. The alternate cap, however, has remained as a Friday-only piece.

    Using a video of the Orioles at bat is probably not the best choice. Fortunately, the team’s Twitter feed also posted a video of the Birds in the field, here: link

    Regarding the scoreboard from 1915 – Phil ran a photo of Shibe Park’s scoreboard on 6/11 that also had “P” and a “C” columns. As for the home team being listed first, until sometime around the mid century, the home team actually had the right to decide whether they would bat first or not. This was also the era when fielder’s mitts were allowed to be left on the field.

    Came here to say the same. link Thing is, all of the catcher entries are empty. It’s indeed a mystery.

    Loving the Federal League photos today.
    Also, what a great idea regarding wearing old military team uniforms in the MLB. I can only assume difficulty in securing the rights to sell them as merchandise is what keeps MLB from doing it.

    This is a brilliant idea. Army and Navy do it right for their annual football game; the MLB tributes could take a page from them.

    Totally agree. Honor the military by replicas of old regiment team uniforms and auction them for a good cause (like a charity for veterans) after the game. Plus free entrance for veterans, every single game. And get rid of all that camo junk, it is a disgrace.

    Regarding merchandising rights, two objections: 1) Plenty of special-event uniforms are not tied to any retail merchandise at all. MLB could just wear the uniforms and not sell them, which is something MLB actually does all the time. 2) The question is a trademark issue, not copyright, and it’s trivially easy to determine whether anyone currently has a registered trademark to a thing. If we’re talking 70- or 100- or 123-year-old amateur baseball uniforms worn by members of the armed forces on active duty, the answer is obviously “no” but also it would take a legal assistant less than an hour of billable time to verify the answer, and then MLB would be in the clear to sell as much merch as the market can absorb.

    Not disagreeing with your points, but curious if you could give examples of MLB special event gear that isn’t tied to merch? Best I can tell they sell the city connect, the players day, or whatever that nonsense was called a couple of years ago, the Father’s and Mother’s Day gear, the Flag / Camo gear from Memorial Day / Armed Forces Day / Independence Day…
    Off the top of my head I can’t think of special uniform they don’t sell.
    Regarding getting the rights, I’m certainly not a copyright or IP lawyer, but I just doubt it is that simple when you are dealing with anything worn by military personnel, even if it was their rec league uniforms from a century ago. There is going to be some objection to the MLB making money off of military gear, whether that objection is legally justified or not.

    There are lots of one-off throwbacks that are not merchandized. In fact, that’s more the rule than the exception for throwbacks.

    Most throwbacks have not been overtly tied to retail merch, especially throwbacks to non-MLB or franchise-precursor teams like Negro Leagues. That’s what I’m thinking of. I know that’s changing, and throwback gear is increasingly sold, but that used to be the rare exception. And maybe the era of not selling throwback-related merch is fully over and I just haven’t noticed by dint of mostly listening to baseball on the radio rather than attending in person the last few years.

    Amateur sports uniforms worn by military personnel is not some special class of intellectual property. It is possible for a government agency to exert trademark over uniforms; see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for good example. The Department of War certainly did not register a trademark on those 7 Troop uniforms in 1899, and certainly neither the successor Departments of the Army or Defense have done so since. And imagine the politics of, say, the Arizona Diamondbacks announcing plans to honor the Buffalo Soldiers by wearing 7 Troop uniforms and being sent a spurious, unenforceable cease-and-desist order by the Pentagon. No way would the Pentagon try to assert fictitious trademark rights over hundred-year-old rec sports uniforms. And that assumes that the uniforms were designed or issued by the Army, rather than assembled by the players themselves, in which case the Department of War might not have had the right to trademark the uniforms. Like, if a bunch of sailors work together on their off-duty hours to build a canoe, the U.S. Navy doesn’t own the canoe. That’s their canoe, not the Navy’s. Even if the sailors paint the canoe to look like the Navy ship they serve aboard. (Trying to craft a real property analogy as close as possible to the intellectual property of the 7 Troop uniform design.)

    1. The Phillies’ social media team started listing the Phillies first on their game recaps, irrespective of where the game was played. And it is annoying. Home-team-second is a North American thing though; most soccer leagues list the home side first.
    2. Superchunk is awesome!! Saw them live (along with a lot of other amazing bands) when I was in Chapel Hill. If you’ve never seen a show at the Cat’s Cradle, put it on your bucket list.

    It’s taken me years of active soccer watching to wrap my head around the home team being listed first, the baseball format is so ingrained for me.

    I was going to say the same thing…about the Star Trek uniform rankings!

    It’s without a doubt TWOK’s…everything else (with a few exceptions) is pajamas.

    Looks like Manaea’s tattoos were the inspiration for the design on the letters/numbers and side panels of those Padres jerseys.

    For the 1915 scoreboard, detail #4 – under Batter I imagine they would put player numbers in those slots in the batting order, then you’d see 8 batters followed by the pitcher. One row for home, one for away.

    But if you notice from the pictures neither team actually has uniform numbers. Numbers weren’t really used until 1929. So they must have had placards with player’s names. Also it was customary at that time to announce the expected starting pitcher and catcher for the game. They were thought of as more of a tandem then they are now.

    Perhaps the numbers corresponded to the scorecard position? So if the center fielder leads off, the first number would be “8”. Then if the second baseman was next, the number would be “4”. Just a guess on my part.

    Do you think the 8-character “Batter” section is supposed to be like a lineup with player numbers? There are 2 rows for it that match with the home and away teams’ box lines. The pitcher would already be marked in the other column to bring it to a full 9 players, but then again, so would the catcher… hmm… Still a head-scratcher.

    The BVD ad reminds me of how I always read the Borussia Dortmund logo as an underwear ad

    Re: the scoreboard; I assume the Giants line would be in the slot where the scoreboard people were peering out, but that’s just me speculating.

    Hey Paul – it’s always fun spotting you out-and-about in our little town! Seeing Superchunk at Rough Trade was a treat – since I had tickets for the (cancelled) March show and couldn’t go last night.
    Belle & Sebastian Thursday night?

    Thanks for saying hi yesterday, Dave! Always amazes me when people spot me in the wild.

    (Nope, have other plans for tomorrow. But if you’re going to B&S, enjoy!)

    “….when people spot me in the wild.”

    I IMMEDIATELY hear David Attenborough narrating you two meeting :-)

    With respect to the Brooklyn uniforms from 1915, look at that circular patch on the sleeve: is that the first-ever documented case of corporate advertising on a top-level pro sports team (for Tip Top bread)? Or does it avoid that dubious distinction by reading “Tip Tops” and thus be viewed otherwise?

    The rabbit hole opens…

    Even as late as the 1960s at Crosley Field, I remember the pitchers on the out of town scoreboard were not shown by their uniform number, but by 1, 2, 3, etc. with the correspondence key for each team shown in the scorecard.

    I had trouble with Kyle Schwarber’s jersey. So does he have the bottom half of his jersey sewn shut in the front, with only a few buttons at the top?

    Yes, I can see it. I wasn’t sure if that was it or not. Thank you, Paul.

    BVDs are also somewhat well known in the modern era from being name checked by adrock in a (subpar) Beastie Boys track

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