Uni Watch proofreader Jerry Wolper is a serious Pittsburgh sports historian, and he recently came across some interesting uni-related items, beginning with the “Little Bits of Baseball” column shown above, which ran on May 1, 1910, in The Pittsburg Press. (They didn’t use an “h” in those days.) The paragraph I’ve bordered in orange reads as follows:
The Cubs [who’d opened a series against the Pirates the previous day] are the most slovenly looking aggregation that has appeared here this season. They are wearing last year’s uniforms, and they have evidently not been near a laundry tub recently.
Two days later, on May 3, the Press published an article about the third game in that Cubs/Pirates series (which was attended by President William Howard Taft!). Here’s the article, again with a key paragraph highlighted:
And here’s an easier-to-read version of that paragraph:
The Press sent its staff photographer to Forbes Field yesterday to take pictures. The World’s Champions [i.e., the Pirates, who had won the 1909 World Series] permitted themselves to be snapped, but when the camera man approached the Chicago players, they demanded to know on what paper he was employed. When they learned that it was The Press, there was nothing doing in the picture line. They weren’t gentlemanly about it, but cursed the paper and the writer to Gehenna and back, simply because attention had been called through these columns to the fact that the Cubs’ traveling uniforms were not as bright and clean as they might be.
That’s all pretty funny. And incidentally, the initial “Bits of Baseball” item may not have been accurate when stating that the Cubbies were wearing “last year’s uniforms” on the road in 1910. According to Dressed to the Nines (which isn’t always 100% accurate but is the best resource we have), the Cubs changed their placket design from 1909 to 1910. Here are Marc Okkonen’s mock-ups for those years:
Of course, it’s possible that the Cubs hadn’t yet received their 1910 uniforms when they played that early-season road series against the Pirates.
But there’s more! It turns out that The Pittsburg Press’s interest in baseball uniforms in 1910 went beyond the Cubs. On March 30 of that year, they announced a contest in which they were giving away 600 baseball unis, along with 50 bats and “thousands” of baseballs, to local boys (sorry, this is too long for me to transcribe, so you’ll have to read the original article):
As explained in that article, this promotion was essentially a popularity contest based on the number of ballots that were submitted for each kid. Here’s one of the ballots — note that the instrux called for it to be sent to the newspaper’s “Uniform Editor”:
Assuming that the Press held up its end of the bargain, 600 baseball uniforms were distributed to the region’s youth. What did those uniforms look like? When (if at all) did the youth wear them? Do any of them still exist? Did any other newspapers run similar promotions in the early 1900s? I would love to know the answers to any or all of those questions!
(All my ballots go to Jerry Wolper for coming up with these outstanding newspaper clippings. Thanks, Jerry!)