"for the road [the mgr] chose an adventurous lavender and blue combo."
October 31, 2019 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Threads Of Our Game is a visual almanac of 19th-century baseball uniforms, hand-drawn (based on historical images and research) by Craig Brown.

Lots of baseball factoids including:

- The first team to have a graphic on their cap was the 1894 Baltimore Orioles.
- The first team to show exposed stockings" was the 1867 Cincinnati Red Stockings
- First team to have secondary "bad weather uniforms" 1882 St. Louis Brown Stockings
posted by jessamyn (9 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I found this resource while trying to track down old Washington Senators players for Wikipedia, quite happy I did.
posted by jessamyn at 8:08 PM on October 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh this is outstanding, thank you for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:48 PM on October 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Outstanding, yes, and also adorable:
Diggers Wanted
If you send us information we can use, you will be credited as a “digger” in association with that particular uniform. Our hope is that we will discover several baseball historians in each city who are committed to our cause and who can send us new discoveries or volunteer research time. There’s a lot of information buried out there—we just need to dig.

We’re also looking for historians with other interests, too, such as 19th-century fashion, garment manufacturing and period typography. We want this database to be as accurate as possible and this can only be accomplished with some heavy hitters!

U.S. states and regions, NYC separate from NYS, and a section for Canada.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:51 PM on October 31, 2019

Heh. Hardcore baseball fans are nothing if not obsessive about detailing everything associated with the game throughout it's history. That's basically what attracted me to the sport, or rather the history of the sport since I don't actually get much chance to watch games. That's the beauty of baseball though, you don't have to watch games to appreciate it, in ways that aren't quite the same for the other major sports. Because of how static the game is and how it has both a wealth of statistics, which, if looked at closely enough, can almost bring games to life as they were played even one hundred years past, especially when viewed in conjunction with the reporting that accompanied the sport for much of its existence, with some exceptional writers covering "the National Pastime".

Organizations like SABR, the Society for Advanced Baseball Research, have vast groups of dedicated amateurs who dig up any information they can on the game, its players, and all the associated paraphernalia and locations at which it was played. SABR has, as an on-going project, a biographical record that they hope will someday cover everyone who ever played the game, giving their full life histories, even if they only had a single at bat or threw one pitch in the major leagues and eventually as much of the minor league players as they can get info on as well.

Here, for example, is an interesting bio on the short life and tragic life of Win Mercer, who has a photo in Jessamyn's comment link.

Only nineteen when he arrived in Washington, young and handsome with piercing dark eyes, and an outgoing personality fans found him easy to like. According to sportswriter Fred Lieb "Mercer was one of the most handsome players in the game" (Lieb, 51-52). Women, especially, liked him, and Mercer "loved the ladies" (Nash and Zullo, 129). The team's owners liked to pitch Mercer on Tuesdays and Fridays, days designated as Ladies Days, because he attracted a crowd. According to Nash and Zullo a 1897 Ladies Day game ended in shambles when women rioted after Umpire Bill Carpenter ejected Mercer. As they described the incident: "an army of angry females poured out of the stands. They surrounded Carpenter, shoved him to the ground and ripped his clothing….Finally police brought the situation under control" (Nash and Zullo, 129).

The desire to get precise info on all the uniforms worn by players fits snugly into that same desire to make baseball history vivid so it can be "replayed" in one's mind as if one were actually there to see it. It's a fascinating match of fandom to sport.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:30 AM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oops, the acronym SABR should be the Society of American Baseball research. I didn't proof read.

And since I had to correct that error, I also should mention that baseball fandom also shares a history of fan fiction of a sort, where many fans, as kids or even into adulthood, played tabletop games that use statistics to allow players to recreate games or play teams of players against others that they wouldn't have had a chance to face in real baseball, like, say, the 1927 Yankees against the 1975 Cincinnati Reds or play whole seasons with all sorts of combinations of players from history put into new teams and leagues. It's sorta like a combination of D&D with fanfic, since, as anyone who'd played would tell you, providing fake commentary on the players and their personalities/histories was a significant part of the pleasure.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:37 AM on November 1, 2019

Someone page YoungAmerican aka Jesse Thorn
posted by midmarch snowman at 5:54 AM on November 1, 2019

The Uni-firsts section is a magnificent assemblage of trivia.
posted by zamboni at 6:30 AM on November 1, 2019

This is great. The world needs more hand-drawn reference resources!
Also: Obligatory link to relevant 99% Invisible episode.
posted by D.Billy at 7:00 AM on November 1, 2019

Obligatory link to relevant 99% Invisible episode.

Yes! I listened to that and spent a good deal of the World Series looking at the different players' socks. I really like how the commentators for the Series would fill in the dead spots with trivia (more interesting than usual), and the fact that the photography studio with all the public domain photos was in DC meant that there are a lot of Washington Senators represented there.

It's been a fun set of mini-mysteries trying to figure out who some of them are since there's little data along with the photos, often just a uniform, a date range and maybe a last name. I even found out that Al Krumm, who is pictured in a Senators outfit, was with the team for spring training, played an exhibition game for them, but never played with the actual team (basically based on this Twitter exchange and a note someone left in an internet forum. There's a real split between people who were just playing baseball as one small part of their larger life (Krumm was a steelworker and eventually left the game to go move to CA with his seamstress wife) and who went on to become well=-known players and even managers and owners.
posted by jessamyn at 8:29 AM on November 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

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