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1910 Cubs Feuded With Pittsburgh Newspaper Over Uni Critique

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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!)



One Last NBA Season Preview Reminder

The NBA regular season tips off tonight, and there’s no better way to prepare for it than by checking out the 2023 Uni Watch NBA Season Preview, your go-to guide to all of this season’s new uniforms, logos, court designs, and more. And it’s now been updated with lots of late-breaking items (including all the City Edition jerseys that leaked yesterday)!

You can read the first part of the Season Preview here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paying subscriber to my Substack (which will also give you full access to my Substack archives).

As always, please accept my thanks for your support and consideration.



Can of the Day

A can on a can on a can — great example of the Droste effect, and a swell-looking design to boot!

Comments (11)

    When I was a kid, it was a euphemism that adults would use around kids in the same way that they used “bull feathers.” Life was different in the 1960’s.

    It’s actually the second time in under 12 hours I came across that name. The first was in a video game I was playing last night.

    A couple of other notes about the uniform contest:

    Coupons that ran in the (more expensive) Sunday paper were worth ten votes.

    When the contest ended, the May 15 Press listed the names of all the winners. “Each suit is being made to order to fit each little winner, and you will surely look nifty in these neat gray suits, and remember that each winner of a uniform gets a pair of stockings as an extra present from THE PRESS to show our appreciation of how hard you worked in this contest.”

    The top 50 vote-getters won a uniform, bat and ball, the next 550 won a uniform and ball, and everyone else with more than 500 votes won “a good baseball that he can be proud to throw out to his fellow players.”

    Once the uniform contest ended, a “vacation contest” started, which would provide cash “if you are a woman or girl wage earner” who collected the most ballots.

    “They say this cat Taft is a bad motha…”
    “Shut yo’ mouth!”
    “But I’m just talkin’ ’bout Taft.”
    “Then we can dig it.”

    Never knew until today that “Honus” Wagner was a nickname. Learn something new every day on this site!

    I’m just as intrigued as to why the President was in Pittsburgh that day. It wasn’t an election year so he wasn’t campaigning for anything or anyone. I love that he just showed up at a random baseball game!

    Did some googling:

    Turns out that Taft attended a Pirates-Cubs game in Chicago in 1909. It was the first time a President had attended an MLB game outside of DC. Taft’s brother was part-owner of the Cubs at the time and Taft bet him a cigar the Pirates would win (brotherly love right there!).

    Flash forward to 1910 and Taft was traveling from his hometown of Cincinnati to New York but stopped in Pittsburgh to open the Carnegie International Art Show. While in town he caught another Cubs-Pirates game but it is unsure if his brother was in attendance with him or if another cigar was on the line.

    The Carnegie Institute (not to be confused with the nearby Carnegie Institute of Technology, which is now CMU) included the main branch of the Carnegie Library, the Music Hall, and a museum that included art and dinosaur bones. (The Museum of Natural History and the art gallery are now separated in the same complex.) Forbes Field was built across a plaza from the Institute.

    Apparently, there was an annual celebration of Founder’s Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a parade and a program of speakers. So they got President Taft as a speaker in 1910 and Taft asked about fitting in a ballgame. According to a story in the May 1 Press, May 2 was originally an open date. But when the Pirates were informed that the president wanted to attend a game that day, they and the Cubs agreed to move up the game originally scheduled for the 3rd. In those days, as long as the two teams agreed, they didn’t need to involve the league office.

    And that’s why President Taft was at the Pirates-Cubs game.

    Can you imagine a newspaper or website accusing a visiting team of wearing dirty unifroms in 2023? Oh wait, I acutally can…opinions are everywhere in this era.

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