Baseball From the Knee Down

From SABR member Paul Lukas at Vintage Magazine on May 9:

If you watch a big league baseball game today, you’ll see most of the players wearing their pants down to their shoetops. A handful of players hike their pant cuffs up near their kneecaps, but they’re outliers, eccentrics. For the most part, today’s low-cuffed ballplayers look like they’re wearing footie pajamas. If you’re under 30, that probably looks fine to you; if you’re older, it probably seems, well, not the way baseball is supposed to look.

Either way, it’s a far cry from the situation that held sway in baseball from roughly 1870 through 1980, when players routinely wore their pant legs short enough to expose their colorful stockings. During that 110-year span, a team’s socks were part of its visual identity, every bit as important a component of the uniform as the cap or the jersey insignia. That’s how we got teams with names like the White Sox, the Red Sox, and the Reds (who were originally called the Red Stockings).

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Originally published: May 9, 2011. Last Updated: May 9, 2011.