Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sock Up

Ever wonder about the origin of the stirrup socks that baseball players wear? The background is revealed in a WSJ story on how Stirrups Hang On in Minor Leagues:

On July 4, 1905, the Boston Globe dropped a hint of its origins, reporting that Napoleon Lajoie, of the Cleveland Napoleons, was down with "blood poisoning" after being spiked by a shortstop named O'Leary. The Globe said, "some of the dye in his stocking got into the wound and affected it." The next December, the Washington Post reported that Cleveland players "will hereafter wear pure white stockings to avoid the possibility of blood poisoning."

Before long, players were wearing two socks on each foot, one to show team colors, and a "sanitary" sock to guard against poison dye. Two socks in one shoe made for a tight fit, so somebody cut out the toes and heels of the team socks, and the stirrup was invented.

Sock dye didn't, in fact, cause blood poisoning or any other infection. Germs did. "It had nothing to do with the dye," says Tom Shieber, curator of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. "The point is they thought it had to do with the dye."

The stirrup is definitely a classy look, one that I wish more big leaguers would try today. The whole pants over the shoe thing makes is more fitting for the softball field. Don't even get me started on the uni-color practice jersey top that some MLB teams still insist on wearing.

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