View Full Version : 1917 Jersey Question

11-07-2005, 10:54 PM
I know they didn't have numbers, but did they have names? I think the answer is no - but I don't know for sure.

11-07-2005, 11:02 PM
I know they didn't have numbers, but did they have names? I think the answer is no - but I don't know for sure.
No. Nothing was on the back. The White Sox were the first to put names on their jerseys. Bill Veeck thought it would help people recognize the players better, and that in turn would build fan base.


The first attempt to identify individual players with numbers affixed to their uniforms occurred with the Cleveland club in 1916. In this early experiment, the numbers were attached to the sleeve, not the back. For reasons unknown, the idea faded away and was not seen again (except briefly by the Cardinals in 1923) until 1929 when the New York Yankees (possibly inspired by earlier trials in the Minor Leagues) boldly took the field with large numbers on their backs, an idea that initially did not escape ridicule. Since teams and batting orders were relatively stable and not likely to change (especially the infamous "murderers row”), the first number sets reflected their position in the batting order — hence, Ruth (http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=ruthba01) #3, Gehrig (http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=gehrilo01) #4, etc. Obviously, if the numbering system were to presevere, this system was eventually incompatible with roster changes in ensuing seasons. In any case, the new system met approval by the fans and this time it was here to stay. By 1932, all major league teams were “numbered”. In 1952, the Brooklyn Dodgers repeated the numbers on the FRONT of their home jersey and many other teams soon copied this idea. The sixties saw numbers appearing on the sleeves and by the seventies, even the trousers could not escape number identification by some clubs.

Another feature which was probably inspired by increasing TV coverage, was the display of the player’s last name on the back of the uniform. The Chicago White Sox were the pioneers of this idea in 1960. Acceptance was not instantaneous, partly because of the fear of lost revenues from lower scorecard sales, but the fans liked it and almost every team today has adopted the practice. The most notable holdout being the traditionbound New York Yankees (ironically, the same Yankees who introduced numbers on the back in 1929).

Link to Article on Baseball Almanac (http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/uniforms.shtml)