The New Havens made a key decision for the upcoming National Association campaign – they decided on their new uniform. “[The uniform] will consist of white flannel cap, shirt, and knee breeches, with blue stockings and trimmings, and the name of the club on the breast of the shirt in English letters,” according to our friend at the Daily Palladium.
The paper would be more expliciting in its description of the uniform in a later story: “The uniforms of the Hartford, New Haven, and Athletic club are very nearly alike,” the Palladium reported on March 15, 1875.
This is helpful to us at the remove of over 130 years – the Elm City club left no photographs behind to show us what the team looked like on the field. The Hartford Dark Blues did leave contemporary photos.
I believe that the letters spelling out New Haven on the front of the uniforms looked generally like this:
Or, perhaps the name on the front of the white uniform looked like lettering on the belts of these Brooklyn Excelsiors uniforms.
The last vestige of the Old English lettering found on the front of the Elm City uniform is in the current home jersey of the Detroit Tigers.
Often times the 19th century uniforms featured components that we might consider a bit uncomfortable while playing a ball game, such as neckties. Here are the 1874 Philadelphia Athletics.
Non sequitur. For a few years, back in the mid-Oughts, I played slow pitch softball with a team called Midwood Electric. We played on Sunday evenings thoughout the summer. I shouldn’t say we played – they played, I kept the scorebook and hit a very light .400 as a part-time designated hitter, although I did win one of the two games I pitched. Makes me 2-0 in my life. The first year the team was together, we wore a simple green t-shirt and frankly, the team looked like garbage on the field.
The second year, we got really nice gray sleeveless shirts with blue trim and a yellow Michigan M on the chest. I wore my number 56 in homage to Pilots pitcher and Ball Four author Jim Bouton. Other popular numbers – 2 (Derek Jeter), 23 (Don Mattingly), 69 (well, you know), and 99 (Charlie Sheen in the movie Major League). One guy on the team wore the number he had as a minor leaguer in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. We looked good and we weren’t too bad, if I remember correctly.
(Update: here it is. Nice take on the 1984 Topps card)
Given what would happen in the next several months, I wonder if my slow-pitch team couldn’t have beaten the Elm Citys?
The Baseball Hall of Fame has a fine website devoted to the evolution of the baseball uniform.