[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from longtime reader/researcher Ferdinand Cesarano, who’s uncovered something very interesting about how the A’s used to handle their spring training uniforms. Enjoy! — PL]
By Ferdinand Cesarano
Back in the day, when an MLB team changed its uniforms, the team often used the old/outgoing design in spring training and didn’t debut the new uni until the start of the regular season. But the Oakland A’s did something more unusual: In spring training, they used uniforms from several prior seasons — even when they weren’t making a change for the new season!
The image shown above, for example, is a shot from 1974 spring training, showing newly appointed manager Alvin Dark flanked by players Reggie Jackson and Deron Johnson, and they are all dressed in uniforms that had last been used in the regular season in either 1969 (if that’s the grey road uniform, as it appears to be) or 1971 (in case it’s the white home uniform). This, even though the A’s made no changes to their uniforms between 1973 and 1974!
I recently discovered that the team was not consistent about which old uniforms it pulled out for spring training. At the beginning of spring training in 1972, for instance, the A’s acquired pitcher Denny McLain, who wore a variety of old uniforms. Here we see him pictured in the grey road uniform, last used in 1969:
Next we see him wearing the 1971 home uniform (which makes sense, as the A’s were about to debut new uniforms for the 1972 season):
Next up is the 1968 home uniform:
And we round things out with a shot of McLain pitching in a spring training game while wearing the 1971 road design:
1972 was McLain’s only spring training with the A’s, so we know that all of these photos came from the same spring camp. That’s a lot of different uniforms to have in circulation!
Even more surprising, the team did not always dress all of its players in the same old uniform on any given day! Here we see McLain, dressed in the 1968 home uniform, alongside Reggie Jackson, dressed in the 1971 home uniform:
Personally, I find that very surprising. I know it’s only spring training, but it still goes against the whole idea of a uniform!
Paul here. Really interesting stuff! Big thanks to Ferdinand for sharing this material with us.
I wanted to know more, so I emailed all the photos to former A’s equipment manager Steve Vucinich, who was an assistant with the team at that time. Here’s what he wrote back:
Great pictures! The equipment manager at the time didn’t have a good system at all. In those years we wore the previous season’s unis in spring training. But [team owner Charles] Finley loved having pics of guys with “Oakland,” even if we didn’t wear that jersey beyond the photo op.Also, McLain was a spring training acquisition, and with very little inventory in those days, we probably didn’t have a correct-size jersey — hence the different ones in these photos, till a proper one could be made for him.
So that helps solve the mystery. A fun rabbit hole, for sure!