Sunday, October 31, 2010

The First World Series Home Run in Franchise History

When Mitch Moreland went deep in the second inning of yesterday's game it was more than just the Rangers' first home run in this World Series. In fact, it was the first home run in World Series history for the Rangers franchise. On a team with plenty of established sluggers who could've hit it, it ended up being the unheralded rookie who's plugged the Rangers' first base hole admirably since late July.

I got to wondering: who hit the first World Series homer for each franchise? To Baseball Reference I went for the answers, and here they are:

Some of you might not like George McQuinn of the Browns being listed for the Orioles or Goose Goslin of the Senators being listed for the Twins, but hey, they are the same franchises. If you consider a team in a new city with a new name completely separate from its ancestor though, the first "Twins" homer was hit by Don Mincher off Don Drysdale in 1965, and the first "Orioles" homer was hit by Frank Robinson off Drysdale the very next year.

As long as we're here though, I thought it'd be fun to classify each of these batters by how "fitting" he was for the part. For instance, Babe Ruth seems perfect as the first guy who homered for the Yankees in World Series play. What about guys like Craig Counsell? In some ways, it's cooler to see one of the "little guys" earn the distinction. I think the best method here would be to sort them in tiers, from most to least likely.

First up is the Franchise Stars. These are power hitters who were best remembered as core members of the franchises they homered for. Not all of them were big threats in the years they hit that homer, but their memorable associations with the club made it poetic that they got to hit it.

Joe Tinker
Danny Murphy
Larry Doyle
Fred Luderus
Happy Felsch
Babe Ruth
Goose Goslin
George McQuinn
Amos Otis
Joe Carter
Troy Glaus
Matt Holliday
Carl Crawford

Perhaps it's only right that this is the most populated group of them all. I suppose Happy Felsch is more famous as a member of the "Black Sox" than as the power threat he was, but he never played for any other team in his brief career. Amos Otis and Carl Crawford both had down years homer-wise, but both had established their power in previous seasons. Babe Ruth holds an interesting distinction: He's the only player who both allowed and hit a franchise's first World Series homer.

Next up is the Power Stars. These are guys who were among their teams' most homer-prone hitters, but who didn't have the longtime associations with the franchise that the above group did.

Elmer Smith
Billy Southworth
Donn Clendenon
Ted Simmons
Moises Alou
Mitch Moreland

As you can see, I put Mitch Moreland here for now. If he goes on to have a long career with the Rangers replete with round-trippers, he may be moved up to the "Franchise Stars" tier. I realize Billy Southworth is closely associated with the Cardinals, but I'm only looking at playing careers, not managerial ones.

This next group I simply call the Good Players. These are the guys I couldn't really place in any of the other groups. Essentially they're solid players who were neither stars nor big-time home run hitters.

Jimmy Sebring
Patsy Dougherty
Hi Myers

Sebring was a journeyman whose four homers were fifth on the team, only three behind the leader, but his .383 slugging average doesn't suggest he was much of a power threat. Dougherty was actually second on his team in OPS+, but he was far behind the team lead in homers, and he spent only two and a half seasons with the club. Myers could be considered a longtime core member of his franchise, but the fact that he wasn't much of a slugger (except for a brief period in the middle of his career), keeps him out of the "Franchise Stars." I guess I could sum up this group as the guys who were fairly unlikely to be the first, though not completely out of the question.

Next is the Postseason Heroes. These guys weren't great power hitters or franchise icons, but they came up notably better than usual in October.

Hank Gowdy
Jimmy Ripple
Kurt Bevacqua
Craig Counsell
Mike Lamb

So many great stories here. Gowdy unquestionably would've been World Series MVP in 1914 had the award existed at the time. Ripple had a career OPS of .738, but in three career World Series it was .913. Bevacqua batted .412 with two homers in the World Series after hitting .200 with one homer in the regular season. Counsell didn't have a great World Series, but he was fresh off being named NLCS MVP when he hit that homer. Lamb homered in all three rounds of the playoffs for the Astros in 2005, despite hitting only 12 during the regular season.

Finally, I call this last one-man tier Completely Unexpected.

Davy Jones

I suppose there should be a semi-disclaimer here. Back in the Deadball Era, as most of us know, home runs were almost a random occurrence. In fact, there were several World Series back then where neither team homered. Still, if you were to predict the first player to homer from the 1909 Tigers, I highly doubt you'd pick Davy Jones, who hadn't hit one all season.

The beauty of October is that players of every caliber have the opportunity to go down in history, from the Davy Joneses to the Babe Ruths. The Kurt Bevacquas and Mike Lambs of this world may not be stars, but they hold distinctions no one can ever take away.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Pre-Pennant Bobby Cox

Every so often I'm inspired to examine some random item from baseball's past, and today I became curious about Bobby Cox's tenure as Atlanta GM. If you know the history, Cox resigned as Blue Jay manager after the 1985 season in order to take control of the Braves' player personnel. He held the GM position for four and a half seasons before assuming his familiar dugout role in June of 1990. Since he had come over from Toronto, I wondered how frequently he traded with his former club. It's fairly common for general managers to deal extensively with organizations that previously employed them, and off the top of my head I could think of a few trades the two teams made during that era. Might Cox have been particularly notable for trading with the Jays?

Thanks to Baseball Reference, I learned that the answer is yes. Check out these transactions:

July 6, 1986: Traded Duane Ward to the Toronto Blue Jays for Doyle Alexander.

July 6, 1986: Traded Joe Johnson to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jim Acker.

(Yep, they made two one-for-one swaps of right-handed pitchers on the same day.)

February 2, 1987: Traded Craig McMurtry to the Toronto Blue Jays for Damaso Garcia and Luis Leal.

(If ever there were a trade where both sides ended up with nothing, this was it. All three players were veteran Major Leaguers, though Leal hadn't played in the bigs in over a year. McMurtry got injured in Spring Training, spent the season in the minors rehabbing and never pitched a game for Toronto. Former All-Star Garcia also got injured and only made it into one minor league game that season. His total output for Atlanta was 21 games in 1988, where his OPS+ was a dreadful -3. Leal was returned to Toronto before the season began, and he never made it back to the Majors.)

December 5, 1988: Drafted Geronimo Berroa from the Toronto Blue Jays in the rule 5 draft.

December 5, 1988: Drafted Matt Stark from the Toronto Blue Jays in the rule 5 draft.

March 29, 1989: Purchased Mark Eichhorn from the Toronto Blue Jays.

August 24, 1989: Traded Jim Acker to the Toronto Blue Jays for Francisco Cabrera and Tony Castillo.

(Just three years after trading for Acker he sent him back, and in return he got a player who'd deliver one of the most memorable hits in postseason history. Not a bad deal.)

November 20, 1989: Purchased Alexis Infante from the Toronto Blue Jays.

December 17, 1989: Traded Ricky Trlicek to the Toronto Blue Jays for Kevin Batiste and Ernie Whitt.

Each of these players acquired from Toronto was in the organization while Cox was manager, though some were only in the minors at the time. It's clear though, that Cox' familiarity with the Blue Jays' system and front office shaped his decision-making.

For more on the subject of Cox the GM, I'd recommend this excellent piece. It not only demonstrates how much bigger a role Cox had in building the Braves than most people realize, it challenges the commonly-accepted truism that John Schuerholz was one of the greatest GM's of all time. Did you know that Schuerholz was reviled in Kansas City before he came to Atlanta? I certainly didn't.

Of course, Schuerholz wasn't the only one whose reputation was rehabilitated by the Braves' turnaround in 1991; the other was Cox himself. In 1990 the Braves were still a losing team, and as far as fans were concerned, he wasn't getting the job done. It's funny to think about it today, but when Cox took over as manager many people saw him as a placeholder. In August 1990 Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Terence Moore suggested that the Braves hire Joe Morgan as their new manager (the Hall of Fame second baseman, not the guy managing the Red Sox). In response to that suggestion a fan wrote this amusing letter to the editor (which is actually what inspired me to write this piece):

Hiring Joe Morgan to run the Braves would be about a [sic] big a mistake as hiring Bobby Cox or trading Dale Murphy. If one were to listen to Morgan announce on ESPN, he or she would realize Morgan's level of knowledge of the game. Just because a person has the God-given talent to play doesn't mean he has the ability to manage. Look at our Henry Aaron.

Chris Small, Atlanta

Amazing, isn't it? 20 years later, Cox has a future in the Hall of Fame, the Murphy trade is recognized as the right move (yep, Cox managed Dale Murphy in Atlanta) and fans are still annoyed by Morgan's announcing. Long-term positives can enhance our view of an unpopular situation, but some things never change.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bigger Isn't Best For Baseball

I was originally going to include this little rant as part of my last post, but I decided it was important enough that it deserved a post of its own. Last time I discussed a breed of fan which is unfortunately all-too-common in today's sporting culture that I dubbed the "bigger is better" fan (henceforth abbreviated as BIB). This type is fascinated more by powerhouse teams, star players and glamorous franchises than a good underdog story. The media usually have the BIB's eating out of their hands, and it's a source of unending annoyance for those of us on the other end of the spectrum.

What I'd like to address is the ridiculous yet prevalent idea (usually parroted by the BIB's) that low TV ratings for the World Series are somehow "bad for baseball," and that the National Pastime's very survival depends on whether the big-ticket franchises are playing in the Fall Classic. First, let's take a little ride in Doc Brown's DeLorean. Anyone remember the 2008 World Series? It was the lowest-rated to date, perhaps in part because before it even began the matchup was dismissed as "boring" by many a casual fan. Which two teams were playing again? Let's see...the Rays and...the Phillies. Wait, the Phillies? The same Phillies baseball so desperately needed in the World Series this year because of the audience they brought? Those Phillies? Yep, the very same! But wait a minute! How is it that no one wanted the Phillies in the Series two years ago but today everybody does? Welcome to the world of the BIB, where all interest is dictated by the hype of the day.

If you recall, the matchup being touted during the League Championship Series in 2008 was Dodgers vs. Red Sox. Why, it was a ratings dream! Two franchises with national followings, and hey! You'd also have the storyline of Manny Ramirez facing his old teammates! After all, who doesn't love that dreadlocked lout? You know, I'll bet a World Series like that would be enough to resurrect the dying sport of baseball! It was such an exciting prospect but...doggone it, those spoilsports from Tampa Bay and Philly had to ruin everyone's fun by winning their respective LCSes. Rats!

While the BIB's were busy grousing about that snoozer of a matchup, the Phillies were beating the favored Rays and establishing themselves as a power in the National League. The next year they returned to the World Series, and before anyone even realized it, the Phillies were one of baseball's marquee teams! And to think, it all started when no one was watching!

Some "fans" might not watch this year's Series because they're unable to see past the fact that the Rangers and Giants aren't considered the most talented teams in their respective leagues, but what happens if this is the beginning of a multi-year championship-level run for one of them? You can bet that that team will be generating more interest and ratings down the road than it is now. They'll develop an aura of greatness, and within a year or two the BIB's will be complaining when they get upset in the playoffs by an underdog that most of us "humanist" fans are pulling for. They can't get to that level though, until they get a foot in the door.

What's the point of going through that growth process though? We already have sure-fire ratings-grabbers like the Yankees, don't we? Wouldn't it be best if a team like the Yankees were in the World Series every year? More fans would be interested and baseball wouldn't decline into irrelevance!

First of all, baseball is most certainly not declining into irrelevance. Just because it no longer rules the sporting roost like it once did doesn't mean it isn't wildly successful. Just three years ago baseball set an attendance record, and while the figure has seen a slight decrease since the recession, baseball is still the clear #2 sport in the U.S., and nothing else looks to supplant it anytime soon. Despite that fact, the ratings for the World Series have been on a downward trend over the past 15 years. That should be a sign that TV ratings are no longer a good gauge of a sport's relevance. In this era of the internet and smartphones, people don't have to have the TV on anymore to follow the game, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise that fewer people are watching the broadcasts in question.

Second, long-term dominance by one team kills interest in the game. What? No way! Big-ticket teams bring increased interest! Yes, in the short term. In the long term, fans in other cities lose hope and stop caring about baseball, and the only ones left are the big dogs' fanbases. Don't believe me? Let's hop in the DeLorean again, and this time set the time circuits to 2002. Back then the Yankees had won five of the last six AL pennants, and four of the last six World Series. Boy, baseball must've been at the top of its game then, right? Not quite. Attendance took a significant dip that year, to its lowest point in five years. There was also a work stoppage looming and contraction was being discussed by the higher-ups. Fortunately, they avoided both of those calamitous possibilities, and since then, what's happened? Well, the Yankees have declined to a mere playoff regular, rather than World Series regular, and we've had an era of parity. The World Series has featured new and exciting teams almost every year, and fanbases all over the country now have cherished memories they could only dream of ten years ago. Not surprisingly, interest and attendance have gone up throughout baseball. Oh, and by the way, have you heard any serious talk of contraction lately?

So I have a message for all you BIB's: Stop complaining and enjoy Game 1 of the World Series tonight. Are the two best teams in baseball playing? Perhaps not. On the other hand, perhaps they are and it just isn't readily apparent. Will the TV ratings be huge? Probably not, but who cares? When it's all over you're going to see a huge moment in the history of one of these franchises, and that is without question good for baseball. If you can't find that worth tuning in for, you're probably not cut out to be a fan of this great game.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Now That's What I Call a World Series Matchup

I'm going to be totally honest here: I didn't really like the 2009 baseball season. Mark Buehrle's perfect game and the Twins-Tigers tiebreaker were pretty cool, but that's about it. The regular season (and hence the playoff picture) was dominated by teams I either didn't like or was simply tired of seeing. In the American League you had the Angels (boring old playoff standby), Red Sox (obnoxious) and Yankees (evil). In the National League you had the Cardinals (hate 'em), Phillies (last year's champs) and Dodgers (enough historical success that they don't interest me). Oh sure, you had the Rockies and Twins in there too, but neither one was a serious contender, and they both proved it by folding in the first round.

To top it off, the last team standing was the Yankees, who got there mainly because they'd signed two potential Hall of Famers in their primes during the offseason. Anytime the Yankees win it, their story plays out with all the drama of a trip to the grocery store. Who wants to get emotionally invested in that?

2010 though, was a season of redemption. We saw some great pennant races and ended up with a pretty exciting playoff picture. In the National League you had the Giants (fun core of players in a city without a World Series title), Reds (new blood) and Braves (Bobby Cox's last season). In the American League you had the Rangers (oft-overlooked franchise having a magical year), Twins (overcame key injuries and still looking for their first title under Ron Gardenhire) and Rays (small-payroll team keeping pace with the big dogs).

But Wait...

Like 2009, each league had one certifiable exception to the rule, in this case the Phillies and Yankees. Neither team had any story to speak of. The Yankees were the same old rich bullies they'd been the year before, and the Phillies were shooting for their third pennant in a row. True, the Phillies had brought several ringless veterans into the fold since 2008 (Raul Ibanez, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Placido Polanco, Mike Sweeney), but with many of the same core players in place they could hardly be considered a team with something to prove. Any of those other teams winning the World Series was fine, but the Yankees or Phillies? That would be a waste.

The first round results were bittersweet. On the bitter side, both the Phillies and the Yankees advanced. On the sweet side, the two teams I most wanted to see in the World Series also advanced. This left me with a few possibilities:

1. Both teams I'm rooting for face off in the World Series and I have a matchup I can sit back and enjoy.

2. Only one of the two makes it, meaning I have someone to pull for, as well as the constant stress of knowing that a team I don't like could take the title.

3. Neither one makes it and the 2010 season goes down in history as a sick joke.

Obviously I wanted #1, but the pessimist in me feared it would be #3. Hey, it's a rough life being a sports fan when you feel vicariously represented by every underdog. In spite of my doubts, we got #1, a Texas-San Fran World Series!

The Storylines Abound

If you're a hardcore baseball fan you probably know all the great storylines surrounding these teams. Heck, you can skip these next two paragraphs if you've heard them rehashed enough times already. First, the Giants. They haven't won a World Series since 1954, and never since moving to San Francisco in 1958. They're a collection of castoffs from other teams, including their NLCS MVP, who was picked up on waivers in August. They traded catcher Bengie Molina to make room for top prospect Buster Posey, who responded by making a strong case for Rookie of the Year. Their slogan for the season has been "Torture," due to their habit of winnin' games while cuttin' 'em close.

The Rangers have their own compelling story to tell. They have a potential MVP in Josh Hamilton, who worked his way back to baseball stardom after nearly destroying his life with drugs and alcohol. They advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and beat the Yankees, the team they'd lost to in each of their previous postseason appearances, in the ALCS. Owner Tom Hicks filed for bankruptcy in May and sold the team to a group led by Chuck Greenberg and former Ranger ace Nolan Ryan in August. During Spring Training manager Ron Washington was revealed to have tested positive for cocaine last year, and he's looking for redemption. They've adopted hand signals such as "the claw" and "the antlers" in a show of camaraderie. They've gotten this far with one of the league's lowest payrolls. Oh yeah, they're also the team that picked up Bengie Molina from the Giants.

Who To Root For?

Whichever team wins this thing, it's sure to be one of our more memorable World Series champions. The only question I have is who I should throw my support behind. Let's try to analyze this thing:

Championship drought by franchise:

Giants: 56 years
Rangers: 50 years (since inception)

Championship drought by city:

Giants: 53 years
Rangers: 39 years

Well, it seems to be favoring the Giants so far. Then again, there are other factors that come into play. For instance, how likely is each of these teams to return to the World Series in the near future? Let's look at their situations:


Pros: Decent-sized payroll, play in the weaker league, good core of young pitchers

Cons: Seem to have caught lightning in a bottle with some of these players, GM doesn't always spend wisely


Pros: New ownership, massive new television deal which will allow them to expand payroll and possibly grow their fanbase, front office has a good reputation

Cons: Might lose Cliff Lee this offseason, have to compete with big spenders like the Yankees and Red Sox for the pennant

Hmmmmmmmm. My gut says the Giants are in a better position to return to the World Series next year than the Rangers. Of course, back in 2008 I also thought the Rays were in a better position to return than the Phillies, so what do I know?

The biggest factor of them all though, is the emotional side. The sight of which team hoisting the World Series Trophy would warm my heart more? I have to say...sorry, Giants. You're a fun collection of personalities, but the Rangers have affected me more emotionally. When I see them flashing their signals and tumbling over each other in victory celebrations, I see an esprit de corps that's truly special. Heck, I'll even admit that when Josh Hamilton was named ALCS MVP I teared up a little. Also, the Giants have several guys who have won it already (Pat Burrell, Juan Uribe, Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria, Javier Lopez), while the Rangers only have Molina. I'd be totally happy with a Giant victory, but if I had to choose a side I'd pick the Rangers.

All I Really Want

Since one of these teams unfortunately has to lose, my biggest hope for this World Series is that it goes seven games. I would love nothing more than a super-close one that gets remembered alongside 1991. The 1991 World Series isn't best remembered for the Twins winning it, it's remembered for the epic battle with the Braves that came down to the tenth inning of Game 7. When it's that tight, the team that loses almost seems like a co-winner. And hey, the Braves went back to the World Series the next year and became the National League's team of the 1990's, so everybody won in the end.

The worst thing would be a series that goes less than six games, because then the "bigger is better" types* would use it to justify their complaints about two non-marquee teams participating ("See? The Yankees weren't in it and it was completely boring and one-sided!"). We're already hearing some of them say what a "ratings disaster" this series going to be, as if any real baseball fan should care about such things. This matchup may not appeal to casual fans, but for us true baseball fans, this is heaven.

*I recently discovered a blog whose author coined a term I strongly identify with: baseball humanist. This term refers to us fans who love baseball for the human stories it provides. We view the season as a narrative, and the action on the field as a chapter in the story of each team and player. As such, when playoff time rolls around we tend to root for the teams that have something to prove. When a franchise has a championship drought or a great player is searching for his first ring, every game is potentially part of a defining postseason. Few things are more exciting than history in the making.

I asked myself what the flipside to the baseball humanist was, and I came up with the "bigger is better" fan. You know the type. They don't care about stories or people, they just want to see the biggest stars and the most glamorous teams. That outlook seems rather shallow, in my opinion, but to each his own.

Final Words

Anyway, I don't have a real prediction for you, since my predictions are usually wrong, and it's such a close match that it could go either way. If you care though, my hunch says the Giants are going to win. If it goes seven close games (and the "Torturous" Giants could very well make it happen), I'll be able to look back on the 2010 season with the utmost satisfaction.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hey, You Want Some Eggs?

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers on advancing to the first ALCS in franchise history! It's been a special year down in Texas, and if they can exorcise the demons of playoffs past by beating the Yankees, would raise their season to storybook levels.

Unfortunately, sometimes a likable team has to lose in order for a likable team to win. In this case, that losing team was the Tampa Bay Rays. They too had a great season, but this won't be the year where they take home their first title. On the bright side, I've discovered a way to commit one of their players' faces to memory. Tonight I noticed that Ben Zobrist, versatile infielder-outfielder, bears a striking resemblance to the most loathsome character ever created in the universe of LOST, Martin Keamy:

As long as Zobrist doesn't bare too many teeth I'm afraid he's going to take someone's daughter hostage.

(Thanks to Getty Images and Lostpedia for the photos.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Oldest Ringless Players: 2010

The ring. It's the thing every ballplayer strives for, a symbol of solidarity with a group that's been to the top. Every year there are several players who get their first one, sometimes veterans who've been waiting for a long time. With today being the first day of the Playoffs (I'm watching Texas-Tampa Bay as I write this) I thought it was time to figure out each team's oldest player in line for his first piece of championship jewelry.

I'm not sure what the exact criteria for receiving a ring are (I've heard they differ from team to team), but I think it's a safe assumption that a guy who's on the 40-Man Roster at the end of the season and has played at the Major League level for the organization is going to get one. Using those standards, here are the oldest players on each team without a World Series ring (birth date in parentheses):

Atlanta Braves: Takashi Saito (February 14, 1970)
Cincinnati Reds: Arthur Rhodes (October 24, 1969)
Minnesota Twins: Jim Thome (August 27, 1970)
New York Yankees: Lance Berkman (February 10, 1976)
Philadelphia Phillies: Raul Ibanez (June 2, 1972)
San Francisco Giants: Guillermo Mota (July 25, 1973)
Tampa Bay Rays: Joaquin Benoit (July 26, 1977)
Texas Rangers: Darren Oliver (October 6, 1970)

  • Saito won a Japan Series in 1998. If you think he shouldn't count, the second-oldest ringless player on the Braves is Billy Wagner, who's about a year younger.
  • The Reds' Russ Springer is older than Rhodes and has never played in a World Series for the winning side, but I counted him as having a ring because he was on the 2001 Diamondbacks' injured list.
  • Darren Oliver's 40th birthday is today! His Rangers are currently up 5-1, so perhaps his gift will be a playoff win.
  • The Yankees and Rays both have an O.R.P. under 35, which I'd call a strike against both their backabilities this postseason. Of course, there are so many more strikes against the Yankees' backability that I don't have time to list them all here.
  • Five of these guys are relief pitchers.

Knowing that one of these eight will join the Adorned Finger Club this year is pretty cool. Whoever wins the World Series, this list gives you a good idea of which guy you can be happiest for.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Waist Band

When we look back on the uniforms of the 1970's and 80's the word that comes to mind is "dated." The pullover-shirt-and-elastic-waistband look clearly belongs to a bygone era, but unlike the classic flannel look it comes across as a cheesy fad rather than an icon of baseball's glory years. Nevertheless, their mere association with the National Pastime gives those Bowie Kuhn-era threads a certain nostalgic value.

The waistbands have always been more interesting to me than the shirts. They seem so...un-baseball when you consider that belts were standard in the century that preceded their introduction and in the two decades or so since they've gone out of style. However, only five teams never had elastic waistbands at any point: the Expos, Phillies, Mets, Dodgers and Yankees. The Tigers are also notable in that they had one on their road uniform for a while, but never on their home.

I recently got to wondering what those ever-belted teams would look like if they'd adopted waistbands back in the day. The best way I could think of to do it was to edit some old photos in order to approximate the look. Of course, given that I'm not a graphic designer and that the only photo editing program I have is MS Paint, it should go without saying that my doctored photos would never be mistaken for the real thing. I do think though, that I got the colors close enough that it doesn't require much imagination to see the intent behind each edit. Therefore, share them I shall.

New York Yankees

For some reason when I think of the "Bronx Zoo"-era Yankees the player that comes to my mind is Graig Nettles. That's why I chose him to model both the home and road uniforms for the new waistbanded Bombers.

I won't lie, I'm much happier with the way the home uniform came out than the road. The home is based on the Cubs' basic home design from 1972-89, and I think it works pretty well.

(Thanks to and for the photos.)

Detroit Tigers

Who better to represent the Tigers of the 1970's than Mark "The Bird" Fidrych?

This was a unique case where I took out the buttons and piping on the top to make it a pullover. It looks like something they realistically might have worn back then, and it'd certainly match their road uniform.

(Thanks to for the photo.)

Montreal Expos

I ended up with Rusty Staub for the home and Ellis Valentine for the road. That Staub photo was probably from his original stint with Montreal, 1969-71, as the background setting looks a lot more like Jarry Park than Olympic Stadium. It's a bit earlier than my preferred timeframe, but it'll do.

Though the Astros did it for a while, uniforms with waistbands generally don't have piping on the shoulders and sides of the shirt. The Expos added that stuff to their uniforms in 1980, so I had to look for some Expo photos from before then. The pre-piping road uniform was much easier to find than the home. I can only presume it's because Canadian photographers don't get their photos as widely distributed as their American counterparts do.

(Thanks to Flickr and Random Forgotten Player of the Day for the photos.)

New York Mets

Here we have John Stearns for the home and Tim Foli for the road.

The Mets adopted a pullover in 1978 and added piping in 1982, so I figured editing the uniforms they had from 1978-81 would give the most authentic look for a waistbander. I'm fairly pleased with the way they turned out.

(A big thanks to centerfield maz for the photos. Mets photos from that era are surprisingly hard to find.)

Philadelphia Phillies

Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, the Phillies' two greatest players from the waistband era, were perfect for this exercise.

The home was pretty simple, since the collar was obscured. With single-color piping and pinstripes, a solid maroon waistband seemed to be the right choice. For the road one I had to add an elastic collar and make the waistband multi-colored. I originally tried a white-maroon-white pattern to match the piping, but it didn't look right, so I reversed the colors. It looks much better, I think.

(Thanks to Pine Crest Baseball and Defending Broad Street for the photos.)

Los Angeles Dodgers

Steve Garvey is probably the best-known Dodger of the 1970's, so he was my choice here.

I like the way this one turned out too. It kind of reminds me of the Reds' home uniform from that era. I originally tried to add piping to the pants, but it didn't look right, so I abandoned it. Since the Dodgers' home and road uniforms were nearly identical I didn't bother to do one for both.

(Thanks to iOffer for the photo.)

Once again, I apologize for the crudity of my editing, but I'm sure it gave you a good idea of what these uniforms would've looked like had their teams followed the vestiary trends of the day. We can only wonder what the current uniform landscape would look like if each of these designs had been implemented. Perhaps if it hadn't been for these traditionalist holdouts the waistband would be alive and well today.