Red-Letter Day at Dodgers Spring Training Revisited

From SABR member Paul Lukas at Uni Watch on May 27:

A few weeks ago I ran a piece about how the Dodgers used to have certain players wear letters instead of uni numbers during spring training. The letters we had identified as part of the alpha series were H, S, X, and possibly T.

We can now add a new letter to the Dodgers alphabet soup.


That shot was taken in 1960. It shows Preston Gomez, who was a Dodgers minor league manager at the time, talking with minor league catcher Bill Lofton. It’s interesting to see Gomez wearing a pinstriped Dodgers uni — I’ll get to that in a few minutes, but the real story is our first sighting of a B on the front of a Dodgers uni. Note that Lofton doesn’t have a cap logo, which jibes with what we’ve seen before — only minor leaguers with blank caps appear to have worn the letters.


That’s another shot from the spring of 1960. Lots of noteworthy bits here:

• We can now add A, C, and W to the mix (and probably could’ve added more if the photographer hadn’t told so many of the players to extend their arms across their knees).

• Again, mostly blank caps (and one blank helmet). We can’t see the chests of the three guys with cap logos, so we can’t be sure if they were wearing letters or numbers.

• Here’s the weirdest part: According to the guy who’s selling this photo on eBay, the image shows “young Los Angeles Dodgers fans with the a 1959 Dodgers World Champions banner.” Not minor leaguers — fans. But the guy wearing the B with Preston Gomez was Bill Lofton, definitely a minor league catcher. Wha..?

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Originally published: May 27, 2011. Last Updated: May 27, 2011.