Monday, April 28, 2014

Haberdashery Horrors of the 1970s

The baseball cap is a pretty unique American institution. Not only do baseball players wear them, but so do baseball fans … and farmers and fishermen and golfers and long-distance truckers. Pretty much anybody who wants to keep the sun out of their eyes without looking like a dork. That said, they’re also popular with frat boys, actors (and actresses), newly drafted NBA rookies, girls with ponytails, and ironic Brooklyn hipsters.  

In fact, ball caps have pretty much taken on the same American cultural icon status as blue jeans and t-shirts. Don’t believe me? Do a quick Google Images search. I was able to find pictures of Stephen Spielberg, George W. Bush, Charlize Theron, Barrack Obama, Hilary Clinton, author Mario Vargas Llosa, billionaire Carlos Slim, Prince William, and even Robert Mugabe and Pope Benedict XVII.

Wear ‘em proudly, folks!

Careful, Jerry.  That brim could hurt somebody.

Jerry Reuss was a pretty decent pitcher. He had a 22-year career, and actually played in four decades (1969-1980). Only 28 other major leaguers have ever done that (and with nine of them making it to Cooperstown).

Overall, Jerry finished 220-191, with a 3.64 ERA, and 1,900 strikeouts. He also threw a no hitter, was a two-time All Star, and once came in second in Cy Young voting.

More questionable sartorial decisions from Mr. Reuss right here.

That’s a big hat ya got there, Mike.

Mike Hedlund was something of a poor man’s Jerry Reuss. Over six years, he finished 25-24, with a 3.56 ERA and 211 Ks. But I’ll bet you Jerry (unlike Mike) never:
  • Made his major-league debut at age 18
  • Played for the Tiburones de La Guaira and the Navegantes del Magallanes
  • Got traded for Ozzie Osborn (that’s correct – no “e”)
  • Went by the nickname of “Booger Red”

Oversize hats must have been all the rage back in 1970.

Mike Kilkenny was more of a Mike Hedlund than a Jerry Reuss. And, like Hedlund, Kilkenny also had his fair share of unusual experiences:
  • Giving up Frank Robinson’s 500th homer
  • Playing for four different MLB teams in one year
  • Becoming a golf pro after retiring from baseball
  • Being Canadian!


And no one was as quite fashion-forward as Bill McCool.

Bill (AKA Billy) McCool has been here before, where I made fun of his ‘do.  I also shared some of his (somewhat respectable) stats, but somehow failed to mention that:
  • His Dad was named Carl, and his mom was named Dolores
  • He went to Lawrenceburg (IN) High School
  • The first batter he faced was Jesus Alou (Jesus singled)
  • His mom passed away in 1999
  • He’s retired and living in Summerfield FL now 
  • Summerfield is an unincorporated community in Monroe County

Hey, thanks, Wikipedia author!

Looks like this fashion statement had legs – all the way into 1971 at least ...

I always get this guy mixed up with Floyd Bobby. You know, the race car driver? 

Bobby Floyd’s picture is in the dictionary next to the definition for “late-inning defensive replacement.” Yup, it was definitely all glove and no bat for our Bobby. I’m talking seven years, 400 at bats, a .219 average, and no homers. 

That said, Bobby still somehow managed to get a 3,000-word bio on SABR. It sounds, though, like the author – one Nelson “Chip” Green – might specialize in the obscure. His other articles are on guys like Ted Beard, Butch Schmidt, Costen Shockley, Archie Shimmel, and Clyde Vollmer.


Maybe this one was just Frank's big brother’s.

Frank Baker went by the nickname of “Home Run,” though he actually hit less than 100 of them. He did, however, finish his career with a .307 average and just short of 1,000 RBIs. I guess that’s what got him into the Hall of Fame.

Wait a minute … I think I got the wrong guy. Our Frank Baker was a weak-hitting outfielder: two years, 350 at bats, a .232 average, and four homers. Well, maybe you could him “Home Run” if you were comparing him to Bobby Floyd.

It had to be XXL to fit all that ‘fro.

Hey, it’s the Sarge! Alright! Wait... No... That was Elliot Maddox, right?  What, no?!?

Garry Maddox was an outfielder ... who played for the Phillies … and the Giants … and had a big afro … and … Well, no wonder I got the two confused. 

They also played for almost the same number of years, at roughly the same time, and with just a few points difference in their batting average. Matthews, though, had a little more pop, while Maddox had a little more speed. Also, Matthews was an on-base machine, while Maddox was a Gold Glove machine. 

Elliott Maddox? He wasn’t even in the same league.

Zut alors, Don!  You look so French wiz zat cap.

Don Bryant was a backup catcher. His numbers were even worse than Monsieur Floyd’s: three years, 109 at bats, and a .220 average. He did, however, manage to hit one homer somehow or other.

Some interesting things about Don:
  • His nickname was “Bear” (oh, wait a minute – that's actually pretty lame)
  • He was quite tall for a catcher – 6’5”
  • He was a bullpen coach for the Red Sox and Mariners after retiring
  • He spoke fluent French (just kidding about that last one)

Ah, the old baseball bonnet. The baseball bonnet is something you see occasionally when Topps isn’t quite sure where a player will be playing next year. Alternatives include no hat or painting over an existing one (vide Don Bryant). I’m not sure what exactly the bonnet had going for it, but it was indeed a very popular choice back then.

As for Matty Alou, well, he’s been here before, where I made fun of his ears. I also shared some stats and the fact that he had two brothers play in the bigs at the same time. But  I’ll bet you didn’t know that Matty:
  • Was only 5’9” and 160 lbs.
  • Pitched two  innings in ’65, striking out Willie Stargell twice
  • Set a then record for at bats, with 698 in 1969
  • Played in Japan
  • Is in the Hispanic Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Speaks fluent Japanese (not!)

Painter’s caps were all the rage in the 1970s.

Another Pirate! Jose Pagan played for the Bucs for eight years during their glory days, though he also donned a Giant and Phillie uniform as well. Overall, he played in three decades – 1959 through 1973. A starter for the Giants, he was a backup infielder for Pittsburgh. He was a Pirate coach as well.

Another baseball bonnet. I’m thinking that jersey definitely gives it away though. That is definitely not an Expo ensemble!

Cesar Gutierrez was another iffy middle infielder. He had one year as a starter, with a desperate Detroit giving him over 400 at bats in 1970. It’s the only time he got over 100 at bats in his four-year career. The final result: four years, 500-some at bats, a .235 average, and no homers.

Oh, almost forgot ... Cesar was able to distinguish himself  at least one time. He went 7-for-7 in a single game, the first player ever to do that. Now, why it was Cesar, and not Ty Cobb, or Pete Rose, or – heck – even Matty Alou, is completely beyond me.

Oh, and yes, avocado green is my favorite color.  And I do find it goes best with orange and yellow.

Joe isn’t wearing that cap so much as just allowing it to perch on his head for the moment.

Like most of the guys in this post, Joe Foy was up for only a few years. He was, however, able to do something with the limited time afforded him in the bigs. Over six years, Joe managed to get not quite 2,500 at bats, hit a few dingers (15 in one season, 16 in another), steal 99 bases, and post decent run and RBI totals (including 97 runs in his rookie season). 

Push … it … down

It’s Mad Dog! Man, there are sure a lot of Pirates in this post.

Bill “Mad Dog” Madlock was a fiery player (18 ejections), but he was also an excellent hitter as well. In fact, he won no less than four batting titles. He finished his 15-year career with just over 2,000 hits and an average just over .300. Madlock was also a three-time All Star, winning the MVP award for the 1975 contest. 

Push it down, push it down, w-a-y down.

Cecil Cooper was another pretty darn good player. Over 17 years, he finished with a .298 average, 241 home runs, 1125 RBIs, and not quite 2200 hits. He led the league in RBIs twice, was a five-time All Star, won the Silver Slugger Award three times, was a two-time Gold Glover, and also won the Roberto Clemente Award.

“Coop” also managed. He was at the helm of the Astros for two years and some change, finishing one game above .500, with a record of  171-170.

I know it’s an ’86, and Jim Leyland happens to be one of my favorite managers ever, but this has to be the worst excuse for a baseball cap I’ve ever seen in my life. Yup, it’s the famous “beekeeper card.” What – I ask you, what – could anyone even remotely involved with this card possibly have been thinking?

* - author has this card

More horrors - from the '50s and '60s.

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