The things you learn

I wrote an article on baseball uniforms yesterday and to do that, I studied the official uniform rules of Major League Baseball, Little League, and another youth baseball organization called USSSA Baseball.

Little League bases its rules on the rules of Major League Baseball. As a result, both groups require in their Rules 1.11 that “all players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs.” Little League omits the number size and requires an official Little League patch on the left arm or, in sleeveless uniforms, on the left breast.

Both forbid ragged, frayed, or slit sleeves, and detail that sleeve length may vary between team members but that each player must sport two sleeves of the same length. If a player wears an undershirt visible beneath his uniform top, it needs to be a solid color and all teammates must wear the same color. No player may wear a white, long-sleeved undershirt although any other color is allowed. No part of a uniform can resemble a baseball.

Aside from some rules on jewelry, shoes, and pitchers not distracting batters, that’s about it. Notice anything missing?

That’s right: pants. And caps. There is nothing in the rules that requires a team to wear pants. While there is a rule that says all members of a team must wear identical uniforms, an entire team can go without pants and remain within the rules. The same goes for caps. If the entire team goes hatless or all wear berets, it’s within official uniform rules.

This explains the monstrous shorts the White Sox wore for three games in 1976. Note also in the photo the shirts, which were uniformly worn untucked.

Now, don’t try this in USSSA leagues. The USSSA specifically mandates that players wear pants and caps. Spoilsports.

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