Uni-Watch explains how to sew your own old-timey baseball jersey. If that’s how you’re looking to spend your free time.
Who Cares About Baseball Stirrups?
I do, for one. So does Paul Lukas, of the amazing sports uniform blog Uni-Watch. So we enlisted the help of the brilliant Roman Mars, who runs the design and architecture podcast 99% Invisible, and told the story of the stirrup, and why it matters.
I just listened to the finished piece, and it’s a wonderful deep dive into a strange subject about which baseball fans have incredibly strong opinions. You can read, listen and learn more here.
Seriously: I can’t recommend 99% Invisible or Uni-Watch more highly. I’m honored to have worked with them on this.
I really enjoyed reading on Uni-Watch about Cleveland Indians diehards who’ve removed the ethnic caricature Chief Wahoo from their Indians gear. Some remove it perfectly, some leave the evidence of the removal behind - a sort of ghost. It reminds me of the silhouettes of slave life incorporated into the now-closed National Slavery Museum. Just as folks who acknowledge the legacy of slavery don’t love their homes any less, these folks still love their team, even if they don’t love this grotesque symbol.
Certainly a lesson about the power of clothing.
Here’s our first Put This On ballcap spotted in the wild. As you can see, this model has a shallower, early-20th-century fit and a soft crown. Looking great, Ben!
The caps are starting to run low and won’t be restocked, so if you want one, there’s more information and an ordering link here.
The Put This On Ballcap Returns
Some months ago, we debuted the first iteration of the Put This On ballcap, designed to be simple, handsome and wearable. Now we’re back with two brand-new designs. As with our last cap, these are made in the US of A of premium materials, with fitted leather bands and satin-taped seams.
The gray and blue is a traditional mid-century style, with a slightly lower than modern crown and a six-panel format. We think the P stands for Put This On, but you can claim it stands for whatever you like. We are not naughty by nature, and are not down with other people’s P.
Our forest green cap features a vintage gold stag. This one’s an 8-panel model with a low crown, closer to what you’d find on a ballplayer of the 1930s.
Quantities are very limited, caps are $49 each. Shipping is $6 per cap, with a ten-dollar additional charge for international.
Update: these are about half gone, with some sizes starting to sell out. They won’t be restocked, so if you want one for Christmas or what-have-you, grab it now.
Ebbets Field Flannels Sweater Jackets
Ebbets Field Flannels just announced these stunning sweater-jackets. They’re based on a vintage model from the 1930s found in a thrift shop, and they’re totally amazing. Ebbets only made six of each size, and my hometown team (the San Francisco Seals) is already completely sold out. Above is the New York Black Yankees. Find what’s left here.
Chief Wahoo, Indians and Rooting For Outfits
Remember the old Seinfeld bit? When you pick a favorite sports team, the players change, the ownership changes… ultimately you’re just rooting for outfits. I’m a sports fan, and I of course care a lot about outfits, so I find myself thinking about sports uniforms a lot. Ask me about baseball stirrups sometime. You’ll get an earful.
Lately, the big news in the sports uniform world has been the controversy over Native American-themed mascots, team names and logos. There’s been a lot of bad news coming out of Washington, where the team name is an outmoded term that in 2013 can only be considered a slur. In Cleveland, though, there’s some good news.
For decades, there’s been debate in Cleveland, in the Cleveland Indians organization and in the larger sports world over the team’s “Chief Wahoo” logo. I won’t link to it here, but you probably know it - it’s a cartoon drawn in 1951 of a grinning Indian brave, with bright red skin and a fat, bulbous nose. It looks like an animated image of Hirohito from WWII or a black person in some 1930s cartoon short. Outside of its familiar context, it’s really pretty shocking. But after sixty years of using it in one form or another, many Indians fans are understandably attached to it.
The team removed the image from its caps in stages over the last few years, and as SportsLogos.net is reporting, they seem to be in the final stages of eliminating it from their identity completely. It’s something I wish had happened a few decades ago, but I nonetheless tip my (Chief Wahoo-less) cap to the team for handling a situation that frankly needed to be handled. Doing it without fanfare is entirely reasonable and genuinely decent.
Should the team change its name completely? I think that’s a thornier issue. Unlike “Redskin,” Indian (and particularly American Indian) is a term chosen by many in the Native American community. Members of the American Indian Movement have fought and died for it. There are millions of people who claim Native identity in the US, and their preferred name is a spectrum - many prefer to be identified by their nation, for example - but we can probably stipulate that Indian isn’t a slur. Whether it’s an appropriate name for a sports team? That’s a very reasonable question.
Here is some important context: American Indians aren’t a historical peoples, and they’re not mythical, either. They live here in America with us, any reasonable measure shows they’ve got it tougher than almost any other demographic group.
The overwhelming majority of mascots are mythical or historical (49ers, Wizards) animals (Hawks), or more abstract (Sonics). Do you think a real group of people is comparable to, say, Bobcats? Do you think it’s fair for a group of people historically stereotyped as savage and violent to object to being admired solely for their courage in battle? Powerful people who aren’t Indians have defined the idea of Indian-ness in the American consciousness for hundreds of years. That’s a tough spot to be in if you’re the one being defined.
Let me say this: I’m sure that the folks who say Indian nicknames are intended to be positive are sincere. It’s just that that’s not the whole issue. One of the great fights American Indians face in contemporary America is defining themselves as a living people, rather than historical-mythical characters. Being a mascot is essentially the opposite of being human. It’s about creating a narrow, broad-strokes identity. That’s the whole point of a team identity. It’s pretty much either fun or badass.
Are there ways to genuinely honor people through sports teams? One would hope that teams with Native-inspired names would at the bare minimum actively engage Native communities, so those communities have a real voice in they way they’re represented and can take real pride in the teams. Florida State, whose team is called the Seminoles, has taken steps in this direction. There’s also another alternative: just pick a name that won’t be hurtful to a real and significant group of people. That’d work, too.
But anyway, back to uniforms, because uniform-wise, there’s great news for Cleveland fans. The new caps, which have a few variations, are handsome as all hell. They’ll need to be integrated better into the uniform identity system, which is very “Baseball Script” heavy, but if you’re looking for a cap to wear out and about, you could really do a lot worse. One of the best new cap styles in recent years. And truly: I tip it in the direction of Cleveland.
The Put This On Ballcap: Buy Yours Now
I’ve always been jealous of Yankees fans. Not only do they seem to buy their way into the World Series every year, but their hat goes with almost anything. Us Giants fans get a raw deal - orange and black goes with almost nothing, unless you happen to be a witch. Quite the quandary.
I created the Put This On ballcap to solve that problem. A simple icon and a classic color scheme; easy to wear every weekend. And it’s a collaboration with Cooperstown Ballcap, who make the finest caps in the world. That means gorgeous wool flannel and a durable, fitted leather sweatband. No plastic snapbacks or nylon mesh in our caps. And they’re made right here in the USA.
Quantities are very limited on this one, so if you want it, order now. Mine’s already seen some slow-pitch action, as you can see above.
Coming soon: Put This On x Cooperstown Ballcap.
The good folks at Cooperstown Ballcap are putting the finishing touches on our first round of Put This On baseball caps. Here’s my sample after a hard-fought game.
We’ll have a very limited number available, most likely later this month. They will of course be announced and sold exclusively at Put This On. We’re proud to be working with Cooperstown Ballcap on this project - we consider them to be the finest capmakers in the world. Soft, 1950s-style all-wool flannel construction, with fitted leather sweatband. $49.
Regular Put This On readers know that I have a special place in my heart for the baseball cap. It’s rare that you’ll find me outdoors on weekends without one, and my favorite manufacturer, by far, is Cooperstown Ballcap Co.
Sadly, Cooperstown Ballcap lost its license to produce replica MLB caps, which was the core of their business. These days, they make 19th-century and international baseball hats, among other products, as Ideal Cap Co.
I’ve been corresponding with Cooperstown Ballcap’s owner, and we’re going to be making a very special product this spring: the PTO cap. My favorite ballclub is the San Francisco Giants, and their orange-and-black cap goes with almost nothing, so I’ve been looking for a high-quality, simple cap to wear for a decade or so. I finally decided to design one myself.
Our hats, which we’ll be offering in a very limited quantity this spring, feature a very simple design in a very wearable colorway. They have soft crowns, like the hats of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and their made of premium wool flannel with a leather sweatband. No snapback here. They’re the absolute best ballcap you can buy.
Look for our collaboration with Cooperstown Ballcap early in the baseball season… then wear it all summer.