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Critiquing the Cardinals (Stars) NLB Throwbacks for the “MLB at Rickwood Field” Game

As you’re all likely aware, MLB finally released the uniforms to be worn by the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals for next Thursday’s “MLB at Rickwood Field” game. Both squads will be honoring Negro League teams by wearing NLB throwbacks.

As you’re also probably aware, Oliver Kodner, Cardinals Historian and proprietor of the fantastic Cardinals Uniforms and Logos database/blog, has been a stickler for throwback accuracy, and today he penned an article on his site taking a look at the uniform the Cardinals will wear for the game. Oliver has graciously allowed me to “reprint” that article here. And now, let me turn it over to him…

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Rickwood Field Uniforms Unveiled
by Oliver Kodner

Back in March I wrote a post that pointed to a Cardinals Instagram post that showed what likely would be the Negro League throwback uniforms to be worn for the Rickwood Field Game. Now it appears that Instagram post has been confirmed as MLB has officially unveiled what is going to be worn.

We thought, because the series will start in Alabama and conclude in St. Louis, that the Cardinals would be the home team. However, based on my previous article from March showing the road uniforms, and now seeing the official unveiling, it seems the Cardinals will be the away team in Alabama.

Here are the photos from the Cardinals Instagram back in March.

And here’s a picture of what was recently posted comparing Masyn Winn wearing the modern throwback next to Cool Papa Bell back in 1928.

Sigh. yawn. The contrivance throwbacks are here again. I think it’s extraordinary that they would post these two photos next to each other as if it was an accurate comparison.

1. The caps are completely different. The STL emblem is 100% a contrivance, never used by the Stars.

2. The piping on the jersey is incorrect. The real Stars jersey utilizes the triple stripe on the neck line.

3. The lettering is incorrect. The S shapes are different, and the outline is contrived.

4. We don’t know if the photo of Cool Papa Bell on the right is a home or away jersey.

5. The modern throwback does not have pinstripes, while the jersey on the right clearly does.

See below, on the left is the throwbacks the Cardinals have worn in the past. The 2024 throwback will be the same design and same jersey as these previous iterations. The uniform on the right is drawn directly from the Cool Papa Bell photo.

It’s just lazy in my opinion. This will the sixth time in the past 20 years that the Cardinals have worn this throwback design. And while we don’t know what the socks look like yet, I wouldn’t put it past them to come up with another contrived sock design for this game. My biggest gripe as always, this throwback design bears no resemblance to any historical photography that we currently have.

What I think they are basing this uniform off of is the alleged Cool Papa Bell jersey that is at the BBHoF in Cooperstown, see image below. I use the word alleged for two main reasons.

1. Why is this jersey in such good condition? For a man with lightning-fast speed and a great base stealer, you’d think Cool Papa Bell would have a dirty and torn-up uniform, but this uniform looks like it was very seldom worn. That, or the BBHoF has done an absurdly amazing job in cleaning, restoring, and maintaining its beauty.

2. Where are the photographs of Cool Papa Bell wearing this uniform? We have a handful of photos of Cool Papa Bell, but none in which he is wearing this particular jersey. Again, I’m not doubting how good this jersey looks, I’m doubting it because we have no sources to corroborate its authenticity.

Is it a beautiful jersey? Yes! Does it represent something similar to the Stars? Yes! Did Cool Papa Bell actually wear that jersey? Maybe, maybe not. Do we have any photographs that match that jersey? Nope!

When they’re ready to roll out some authentic throwbacks, they know where to find me.

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Thanks, Oliver! Clearly Oliver is one of us, and his dedication to “getting it right” is seemingly sorely lacking when it comes to MLB creating accurate throwbacks. So if anyone from MLB is reading this — you know where to find Oliver.

Getting historical throwbacks correct, particularly early ones — and even moreso early Negro League uniforms — isn’t always easy. But it’s not impossible. Having folks like Oliver out there who are uniform historians and willing to help is great. MLB should take his offer to heart.

Comments (10)

    I had this same reaction when those photos were posted yesterday. It’s at best a faux-back. It really doesn’t resemble any known version of the Stars uniform. It looks perfectly fine, but how spectacular would, say, a more accurate version of the ’25 Stars unis look…the lighter blue, the pinstripes, the more accurate font, the pinstripe hat…come on, St. Louis. We could do SOOO much better with these.


    That, or the BBHoF has done an absurdly amazing job in cleaning, restoring, and maintaining its beauty.

    Of course they have. Would you want to go to Cooperstown and see something on display that looks like a rag? Regular Uni Watch readers know about the work that Bill Henderson does: link, and I’m sure the Hall is as careful.

    What’s crazy to me is that the uniform in the HOF looks SO MUCH BETTER than the one Masyn Winn is wearing. Why couldn’t they at least get the colors right?

    It seems to be too much of a hassle to create an accurate throwback for one or two games. And most fans are not really that much into team or uniform history so MLB thinks: we can get away with this. And they will, as most fans will shrug and say: it looks good enough to me.
    Inaccurate as it is, I love this STL hat, by the way. I would wear it. Looks better than the CC STL hat. But I totally agree with Oliver’s analysis: MLB and the Cards could and should have done a better job.

    Where is the additional hassle? Creating a new uniform is roughly the same amount of work whether or not it’s accurate, when we’re talking about things like colors and typefaces and whether or not you include something like pinstripes.

    I think that’s the whole point of the post – it took as much effort to create something that’s only sort of accurate historically as it would have to just do it accurately from the jump.

    The comment about bearing no resemblance is quite a bit of hyperbole.

    It’s clearly inspired by the original jerseys. It’s certainly not perfectly historical accurate, but to say it bears no resemblance is a bit far.

    Excellent use of the word “contrivance.”

    Contrivance – a device, especially in literary or artistic composition, which gives a sense of artificiality.

    There is no better way to say it.

    The St Louis jersey looks like the Astros grey road jersey, swapping out orange for red. There is so much more that could have been done, very disappointing.

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