Monday, November 14, 2011

White Sox “shorts” aren’t even ugliest thing worn by team, let alone baseball

The Miami Marlins have a new stadium, a new manager (our very own Ozzie Guilen) and now new uniforms, whose use of teal, orange and black seems to be offending some baseball fans.
New uniforms for Miami. How do they rank on the "tacky" scale? Photograph provided by Miami Marlins.
There are a lot of people who are complaining that these outfits for next year are downright ugly. Personally, they don’t move me one way or another.

BUT THIS HAS caused several sportswriters (most of whom wouldn’t have a clue about fashion) to decide to write about the ugliest uniforms ever worn by ball clubs.

And invariably, everybody is picking  the same getup as THE ugliest outfit ever – those uniforms worn for three games late in the 1976 season by the Chicago White Sox.

You know, when Bill Veeck decided to have his cellar-dwelling ballclub (which struggled to avoid losing 100 games) wear shorts along with their pullover jerseys and the white socks.

U-G-L-Y! Garish! Disrespectful to the game of baseball! And how did those guys manage to slide into second base without scraping up their thighs something fierce?

ALL OF WHICH strikes me as a whole lot of nonsense talk. That particular variation on the team uniform from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s wasn’t the tackiest thing that was worn by a ballclub during that decade (the Cleveland Indians all-red outfit and any of those gold-and-brown combo worn by the San Diego Padres fight it out for my vote).
Are those Hall of Fame knobby knees hiding?

It certainly isn’t the ugliest outfit that the White Sox themselves have ever worn (my nomination goes to the uniforms that replaced them back in the 1980s – the ones with the big stripe across the chest that read “SOX” and uniform numbers on the pants).

Perhaps my real point is that I am weary of pieces that make more of the shorts than they’re personally worth. For they truly were nothing more than a Bill Veeck stunt.

Something that we were supposed to see and get a chuckle from. It was something different from a day at the old ballpark. Which usually was the point of a Bill Veeck stunt – to create an atmosphere where no one really knew what to expect, and where something bizarre could occur on any given day.
Ugh!!!!! (Outfit, not ballplayer)

WHICH WOULD BECOME the motivation to go out to a game.

Personally, the best photograph I ever have seen of the White Sox in those uniforms was one showing outfielder Chet Lemon at first base, with coach Minnie Miñoso standing nearby.

But because of the angle, we only get to see Lemon’s knobby knees – and only a sliver of Minnie’s aging bones. How much you want to bet some clown brings up this moment as “evidence” of why Miñoso doesn’t belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame (he’s up for consideration this year, along with Ron Santo of the Cubs).

But they truly were a stunt. Not a regular uniform. So to claim they were the ugliest uniform? No way.

AND AS FOR those who want to argue that the jerseys worn with the shorts were tacky, I’d disagree.
Preserving the shorts for posterity

I always liked the old-style lettering spelling out “Chicago,” plus the fact that these uniforms had the White Sox wearing white socks (which they haven’t done so in decades). And I always liked the idea that the color scheme (dark blue and white) and general look were meant to copy the original uniforms that the White Sox wore back when they were created in 1901.

A 1970s touch to the turn-of-the-century fashion. It certainly was more intriguing than those efforts to get garish color schemes into the game. The Oakland A’s and Houston Astros succeeded in doing so. But other ball clubs were just downright tacky.
The ugliest Chicago baseball outfit?

I know I’m not the first person to comment on the sight of one-time rotund slugger Boog Powell in the all-red getup of the Indians being a hideous one. But it didn’t do any more for Jackie Brown, or any of his Indians teammates.

IT’S JUST TOO garish, too much of one color – which is also why I am bothered by those multiple shades of brown used by the Padres way back when. Way too overdone. They both make anything the White Sox have ever worn look downright subdued.

Although perhaps it gets topped by those mid-1970s uniforms worn by the Chicago Cubs on the road – the light-blue with white pinstripes. That is the ultimate “ugh” in my mind! Then again, maybe it was just the sight of pitchers Rick and Paul Reuschel wearing them that creeped me out!

Besides, those uniforms with shorts got their own immortalization from Topps Chewing Gum, which when putting out its set of baseball cards for the following season used a White Sox team shot that showed an entire ballclub in short pants. When will you ever see such a sight again?

Which may well mean that Veeck’s stunt must still be considered a success – people are still talking about those otherwise-completely forgettable ballgames from 35 seasons ago?


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