Many Baseball America readers might not even remember Keith Olbermann's stint as a BA columnist. He started his column at the beginning of the 1997 season, but his run lasted only into early 1998.
By Keith Olbermann
It was a murky Friday night in 1967. My "Baseball Guide" tells me it was Sept. 29. Dad had gotten us the french fries from the deli next to Yankee Stadium.
These were the fries that could stay warm in the bag well into the second game of a twinight doubleheader, that could stave off the cold that even and 8-year-old could feel, that could somehow by their warmth and aroma delay for him the onset of the offseason that for the Yankees was just three days away.
But even the magic fries from 161st Street and River Avenue couldn't cut through the late September dankness. It seemed as if all the smokers in the sparse crowd were dangling nothing but unlit cigarettes and cigars. Their smoke was immediately absorbed into the evening gloom.
Yet one thing was visible throughout the night. Shining like a garish beacon, as impossible to miss as a lighthouse, virtually vibrating through the fog.
The Kansas City Athletics were wearing the silliest green and gold uniforms you ever saw.
My fascination with what baseball teams wear was probably forn that night. I'd seen the Yankees in their subtle pinstripes for all of that, my first season of fandom. The visiting teams of 1967 all wore modest variations on the plain gray shirts of the time.
But what the hell were these Athletics wearing
This nostalgic foray was born again for me early this season. I saw the Angels on my monitor at the office and my shock was born anew. Hadn't we buried the fashion faux pas of the 1970s?
Weren't the Braves' softball shirts of 1972 all hidden in the stashes of slightly embarrassed collectors? Hadn't the Astros' color bands--"I was not on LSD when I designed them," I always imagined someone insisting--been burned or dumped in the ocean? Hadn't even the A's finally given up on the glow-in-the-dark shirts that followed on those retrospectively modest 1967 attempts?
The Angels' uniforms are what we sports fashion professionals call "busy." Pinstripes. Colored sleeves. Big logos. A patch on each tricep. Everything but the phrase "When In Orlando Be Sure To Visit The Hall Of Presidents."
None of those elements is by itself fatal. But the effect of all of them together is rather like donning a three-piece suit. And suspenders. And a sweater. And a cummerbund.
The Angels aren't the only culprits, though most of this season's other style disasters seem to be limited to the infamous "Alternate Uniforms." Most notable are the searing red shirts the Twins are sometimes wearing.
I can't explain why they have reminded me of one particular retail outfit. Nor can I explain why many of my colleagues to whom I have mentioned this unfathomable analogy have said, "That's exactly what I thought."
But I see the Twins in red shirts and I think two words: Dairy Queen.
And what of those special plain Mets uniforms? What effect do they have but to make fans wonder if someone simply stripped the pinstripes off the home uniforms or bleached the road grays?
What of the Mariners' poor imitation of Angels garb? Why did the Padres decide to duplicate the Indians' special Sunday Blues and then not wear them on Sunday?
If baseball must follow the other sports into Martin Mull's apocryphal "City of Merchandise," can't there just be a few rules?
As an example, someone must push for anti-light-cap legislation. Over the last few seasons, the Orioles and Royals both tried them on the road, learning quickly that the cap could never match the precise shade of gray of their away uniforms. It thus gave their players the same look I had when I tried to dress up in college and realized that the brown jacket I had was not the same brown as the brown pants I had.
We all make sartorial mistakes. But when a ballclub does, it's stuck with it and so are we.
This isn't just wearing the wrong tie with the right shirt. This is wearing the same wrong tie with the same right shirt for 300 consecutive days.
In "Ball Four," Jim Bouton quoted a teammate saying that if you look like a clown, you must be playing like a clown. And seeing those Angels in shirts that would embarrass a small-town bowling league, I can't help but wonder if Bouton was right.
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