Since this is my first post, I thought I’d start at the top. No, no, I mean bottom. I’ll start with the bottoms. Pants that is.
Baseball pants have a rich and storied tradition, most of which I don’t have time to write about here. Anyone who has ever seen a game has to have wondered where the idea came from to wear the pant legs up around the knee. In fact, showing some sock is almost as old as organized baseball itself. The Cincinnati Red Stockings introduced knickers instead of long pants in 1868 because they were more comfortable. Since then, teams have been naming themselves after their uniforms. The Cubs used to be the White Stockings, the Cardinals were the Brown Stockings and the White Sox and Red Sox still exist.
It was in the early 1950s that long pants began their comeback, spurred on by none other than the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams. According to Jerry Nason in a 1953 Baseball Digest article, umpire Bill Stewart objected to the newfangled long pants, citing the inability to see the strike zone as the reason. His rationale was apparently that the end of the pant leg and the start of the sock was the clear bottom of the strike zone and without that distinctive mark, he couldn’t do his job. We won’t hold it against old Bill. After all, he did lead the Chicago Blackhawks to the 1938 Stanley Cup championship as coach. (Now there’s an interesting guy deserving of his own blog post. Some day…)
Anyway, no discussion about baseball pants would be complete without mentioning the great Pants Rowland, manager of the Chicago White Sox’ 1917 World Series team. Clarence Henry Rowland received his nickname for wearing his father’s trousers during little league games (or the 1888 equivalent of little league, anyway). The Pants Man – I just coined that! – managed the Sox for 4 seasons including the 100 win 1917 squad, and was fortunately booted late in 1918, just missing out on the ignominy of the Black Sox scandal. He went on to become an influential minor league manager and executive and is now in the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.
I had to get all this legging stuff off my chest, but soon this blog will hopefully become interesting. For what it’s worth, I like the knickered look. Manny Ramirez disagrees.