Rare NEW clip- 1963 Kansas City A’s breaking out Charlie Finley’s flashy yellow and green threads for the first time- features Norm Siebern, with his “first name” on his shirt and two little Lumpe’s. pic.twitter.com/yuJb4XuqZ7
— Flagstaff Films (@flagstafffilms) March 2, 2023
Last year was the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. But this year is the 60th anniversary of Charlie Finley breaking a different kind of baseball color barrier, because 1963 was when Finley — then the owner of the Kansas City Athletics — began dressing his team in the then-outrageous color combo of green and gold.
Now some 1963 video footage has surfaced, showing A’s players wearing the new Technicolor-esque uniforms — purportedly for the very first time (although I have my doubts about that, as I’ll explain shortly). It’s only a minute and a half long, but it has some great visual details. Let’s start with this: We’ve long known that first baseman Norm Siebern was among the many KC players who wore either FiNOBs or nickNOBs in ’63, thanks to this group photo. But the newly posted video gives us a nice, unobstructed view of his first name in living color:
(As a uni-related aside aside, Siebern made the American League All-Star team that year but didn’t get into the game because AL skipper Ralph Houk thought KC’s uniform would embarrass the league.)
From our contemporary perspective, it’s striking to see an MLBer — in this case, coach Gus Niarhos — wearing No. 42:
(As another uni-related aside, the roster listing on this page indicates that KC’s three coaches in 1963 wore consecutive uni numbers: Jimmy Dykes, No. 40; Mel McGaha, No. 41; and Niarhos, No. 42. At first I thought this might be another of Charlie Finley’s “innovations,” but it appears to have been more of a coincidence, because the coaches in ’62, ’64, and ’65 were not consecutively numbered, although they were almost always in the 40s.)
Later in the video, there are some priceless shots of second baseman Jerry Lumpe’s two kids, both dressed in miniature A’s uniforms — including stirrups! — and wearing Dad’s No. 11 (but not his “Lump” nickNOB):
I was also intrigued by this shot, which suggests that Kanasas City’s Municipal Stadium used a striped tarp:
Speaking of the ballpark, the lower “field level” seats were really at field level:
Obviously, this video is pure (green and) gold! But does it really show the A’s wearing these uniforms “for the first time,” as stated in the tweet at the top of the page?
I don’t think so. For starters, as we’ve covered before here on Uni Watch, the A’s did not wear the FiNOBs and nickNOBs from the outset of the 1963 season. According to an AP item that ran in many newspapers on June 5 of that year, they planned to add the names for their June 7 game against the White Sox:
This Kansas City Times article, also dated June 5, tells the same story:
So if Norm Siebern was wearing “Norm,” there’s no way this footage could have been from the beginning of the ’63 season. In fact, here’s a shot from June 2 of that year, showing him going NNOB:
So when was the footage shot? I’m pretty sure it is from 1963, because Siebern didn’t play for the A’s in ’64. But can we narrow down the date? One clue comes from a glimpse of the scoreboard, which shows the A’s hosting the Washington Senators:
The A’s had three homestands against the Senators that year: May 31-June 2 (the NNOB photo of Siebern is from the final game of that series), June 25-27, and Aug. 20-22. So I’d say there are two possibilities:
- The footage is from either the second or third A’s/Sens series, or…
- The scoreboard footage was shot on a completely different day than the player footage (as was common for home movie footage of that era), in which case we’ll never know when the player footage was shot, but we know it’s from June 7 at the earliest.
I got in touch with George Roy, the guy who posted the video, to see if he knew more (and to let him know that the footage doesn’t show the uniforms being worn “for the first time” after all). He said, “I wish I could be more helpful on this, but I do not know an exact date (other than sometime in 1963) or who happened to film these scenes.” So that’s the end of this very enjoyable rabbit hole, at least for now.
(Huge thanks to longtime reader Kenn Tomasch for bringing this video to my attention.)
Interesting stuff as always. Question: could you clarify why you said “June 7th at the earliest?” I’m not sure what stands out about that date. Assuming this is from the second Senators series, wouldn’t the earliest possible date be June 25? Apologies if I’m just not awake enough.
June 7 was the first day of the NOBs appearing on the jerseys. So the player footage could have been shot on that day, and the scoreboard could have been from a later date.
Gotcha; that makes sense. This is why you’re the detective and not me. Thanks again!
Great film! Love the backyard coda. Always love this thread of inquiry.
I kind of remember my mom having an Elkay peas item of home decor – an old box or a poster or something. Looks really familiar.
There’s something so cool about seats directly at field level with a chain link fence the only thing between the game and fans. I’m not the biggest baseball follower, but I can’t imagine there’s anything like that anymore is there?
Dodger Stadium between the dugouts. The backstop goes all the way to the ground (eg no padding)
There are a few places in a few ballparks. American Family Field in Milwaukee has a “picnic area” behind the right field fence that is chain link-ish and is at field level (I sat in that area once for a game… the game is almost impossible to follow from that view in that location).
Milwaukee County Stadium used to have that same field view all the way around the park. Frankly, I like to see fans in my camera shots more than I like seeing a half dozen ads behind home plate (the evolution to that point is its own blog entry).
“From the land of sky-blue waters/From the land of pines, lofty balsams/Comes the beer refreshing/Hamm’s, the beer refreshing,”
Hamm’s Beer, the scoreboard advertiser in the video, was brewed in Minnesota and they had a catchy jingle that played on TV and radio mostly in the Midwest.
Here’s an interesting article about Hamm’s Brewery and it references the jingle. link
Hamm’s was a sponsor of both the Cubs and White Sox in the 1960s. I heard the jingle on WGN-TV and Radio.
That lefty kid at the end!!! He may have a future, that’s a sweet swing! Sign him up!!
I don’t have any insight as to when the awesome home-movie footage was shot. But my curiosity was piqued as to whether the Athletics started the season in green and gold.
Joe Trimble’s lede for his Daily News coverage of the Athletics’ April 9 AL opener at Yankee Stadium makes it plain: “The Athletics looked dazzling in their new Kelly green and Tulane gold uniforms …”
I wonder if “Tulane gold” was a color name Charlie O. coined, since the New Orleans school’s colors have (to my knowledge) always been blue and green, or as the school website identifies them, “Tulane blue” and “Tulane green.”
The scoreboard picture would have to be from the June 25 – 27 series. The game listed under it, Cleveland and Boston, was the only time they played on the same dates. The game on the 26th was rained out, so would either be the 25th or 27th of June, 1963.
I just checked on Retrosheet, and I’m pretty sure the scoreboard’s from June 27. The other games appear to be Detroit @ Minnesota and New York @ Chicago. Those, plus WSH/KC and CLE/BOS, were the only AL games that day, which could explain why that block under New York @ Chicago is blank.
The yellow uniforms remind me a little of the light blue that a few teams have worn, like the current KC. The A’s might consider this look in place of their road grays. By the way, my newphew’s son is on an A’s league team that has yellow hats, and they look really good.
And you gotta love the numbers on BOTH sleeves!
GTGFTU and GTGFTS on a weekday?!
I have nothing to help solve this mystery…not for a lack of looking.
Could that tarp be a holdover from the pre-green and yellow colors for the A’s, which were close to that red/blue?
Possibly. In any case, *any* striping on a tarp seems notable. Would love to see it unfurled on the field!
Hey, I happen to like peas, myself! Of course, I can’t think of peas without thinking of Orson Welles, especially thanks to Maurice LaMarche’s parody of Welles on The Critic. But anyway, that is a nice-looking can.