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Sunday, August 15, 2010
Atlanta Braves Uniform and Team History
Please click on the evolution of the Braves uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.
The Atlanta Braves franchise was one of the original National League franchises from the National League’s first year - 1876. The franchise was then located in Boston, and the team was originally nicknamed the Red Caps. Then in 1883 the team becomes known as the “Beaneaters”, and keeps that name to the end of the 1906. The team was then known as the Doves from 1907 until 1910, and the Rustlers for a year after that. They finally became the Braves after the 1911 season.
Below please find the when and why re the origin of the Braves name. The year, 1912, is easy. The origin of the “Braves” nickname takes a bit longer to tell.
The Braves franchise, which started in 1876, finally became the Braves prior to the 1912 season. The team had been purchased by James E. Gaffney (March 7, 1868 - August 17, 1932) from the estate of William Hepburn Russell in 1911. Gaffney, a New Yorker, owned the franchise for only four seasons, during which time he built Braves Field in Boston, before selling the franchise to Percy Haughton in 1915.
Gaffney was born in New York City to Irish immigrants. In 1890, he married Essie Smith, whose family held numerous valuable properties in Manhattan. Gaffney was a New York City alderman and construction company owner, and perhaps most importantly, was most associated with “Tammany Hall”.
Tammany Hall was a building built in 1830 on East 14th Street in New York City that was home to the Tammany Society, a political organization that played a major role in controlling New York City politics and helping immigrants (especially Irish) rise up in American politics from the 1790’s right through to the 1930’s and even into the 1950’s before disbanding in the 1960’s. The Tammany Society generally controlled Democratic Party nominations and patronage in Manhattan from the mayoral victory of Fernando Wood in 1854 through the election of John P. O'Brien in 1932. The term "Tammany" and “Tammany Hall” have since became synonymous with machine politics, graft, corruption, and other abuses in city politics.
The Tammany Society was founded in May 1789 as the Tammany Society, and was also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order. It was named for Tamanend, a late 17th century Native American leader of the Lenape nation and the society based its rites and ceremonies on pseudo-Indian forms. Thus to be a member of the Tammany Society and a part of Tammany Hall was to be a “Tammany Hall Brave”, and that was the name first suggested by team president and former player and Hall-Of-Famer John Montgomery Ward when Gaffney bought the team in time for the 1912 season.
The Braves played at Braves Field in Boston from 1915 until 1952 when then owner Lou Perini moved the team to Milwaukee.
This 1901 uniform is a Beaneaters’ home uniform. It was remarkably similar to the American League Boston Red Sox’ uniform of the time, and actually caused some confusion among fans as to which team was which - and the confusion lasted for several more years until the Red Sox changed their uniform design to differentiate themselves from the Braves. Notice the laced up collar on this jersey, something we associate more with hockey jerseys than baseball jerseys.
This is a road uniform featuring red pinstripes on a gray uniform – an unusual combination. The Indian head on the left sleeve first appeared on the Braves 1912 uniform, the first year they were called ‘The Braves’.
The 1914 Braves were sometimes called “The Miracle Braves” because they rose from the ashes to win the National League Pennant. Although their team was stocked with “rejects”, they took the World Series in 4 straight games against Philadelphia’s “$100,000 Infield” of Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Collins, Jack Barry and “Home Run” Baker. The Braves’ had numerous heroes in the World Series - Hank Gowdy hit .545, Johnny Evers hit .438, pitcher Dick Rudolph won 2 of the 4 games with a 0.50 ERA and “Seattle Bill” James won the other two with a perfect 0.00 ERA.
The was to be the Braves first and only World Series victory in Boston - their next World Series victory was in 1957 by which time they had moved to Milwaukee and were known as the Milwaukee Braves. The Boston Braves only other World Series appearance was in 1948 when they lost to Bob Feller and the powerful Cleveland Indians.
This is a simple white home uniform with the Indian logo on the left breast. The Braves wore this style uniform from 1915 to 1920. This is a pullover style jersey, with a center belt loop, which allowed the belt buckle to be positioned off to one side. The players would wear their belts this way to prevent injury when sliding into a base.
Notice the blue piping around the collar and down the front of this home jersey. The patch on the left sleeve celebrates the National Leagues 50th anniversary and features the words “Golden Jubilee”. There are belt tunnels instead of belt loops on the trousers. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the expression “belt tunnel”, it functions the same way as a belt loop, but it’s thicker, at least 4-6 inches long vs. a belt loop which might only be ½” wide.
This beautiful home uniform is highly unusual in that the team logo of an Indian head interrupts the team name on the front of the jersey. Notice also how the team colors went from red, white and blue to yellow and red.
Notice that the belt tunnels and belt loops on this home uniform are red, a somewhat unusual look. The patch on the left sleeve celebrates the “Centennial of Baseball” and was worn by all major league teams in 1939. The invention of baseball in 1839 by Abner Doubleday is a highly mythical story involving a farmer’s field in Cooperstown New York, and yet the myth still gets repeated even today. For more on this subject, please visit www.mrbaseball.com/history/doubleday.htm .
This is a departure from earlier Braves’ road uniforms. There are no logos, just the name of the city. If we could see the left shoulder we would see a “Health” patch.
During the Second World War, the question is raised, should able-bodied athletes of baseball be fighting for their country rather than playing baseball? Baseball Commissioner Landis asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt what to do - here is part of Roosevelt’s reply:
“I honestly feel it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before… Here is another way of looking at it - if 300 teams use 5,000 or 6,000 players, these players are a definite recreational asset to at least 20,000,000 of their fellow citizens - and that in my judgment is thoroughly worthwhile.”
Wartime sleeve patches were worn by all levels of professional baseball teams between 1942 and 1945. A “Health” patch was worn during the 1942 season (and on this jersey), part of a war-time health and fitness awareness campaign, and from 1943-1945 a “Stars and Stripes” was worn.
This home jersey is remarkably similar to the jersey worn by the current Braves ball club. The “Braves” script and tomahawk, jersey piping and as the piping around the belt tunnels, remain pretty much the same today as in 1948.
This is a zippered jersey, a trend that took the world of professional baseball by storm. During the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s many teams used zippered jerseys instead of the more traditional button front jerseys, while a handful of teams wore them well into the 70’s and even the 80’s. The Reds, Yankees and A’s were one of three pre-1977 major league teams that never wore zippers. The 1937 Cubs were the first team to wear a zippered jersey, and as far we can tell the 1988 Phillies were the last to wear one.
The 1948 Braves made it all the way to the World Series, and won the first game of the series, but ended up losing to the Cleveland Indians 4 games to 2. The Braves had only 2 reliable starting pitchers, Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, which lead to the saying “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain” as a reference to the fact that ideally the Braves could make do with just the two pitchers if they could squeeze in a rain day. But there were only clear skies over the World Series, and the Braves were defeated 4 games to 2. This was the Boston Braves’ only World Series appearance other than in 1914 when they won it all.
This home jersey still features a zippered front. There is a new Indian head on the sleeve, a style that was worn from 1957 to1971. The Braves had abandoned Boston and had been playing in Milwaukee for 5 years at this point. The Braves left Boston for Milwaukee because of poor attendance in Boston, in large part due to the competition with the more popular American League Red Sox.
In 1957 the Milwaukee Braves faced the powerful Yankees in the World Series and won it 4 games to 3, winning the deciding game 5-0 right in Yankee Stadium. Pitching was the key to the Braves’ victory. Lew Burdette posted 3 victories and Warren Spahn, who started with the Braves in 1942, pitched a winner in game 4. Henry Aaron led all hitters in the 1957 World Series, going 11 for 28 for a sparkling .393 average. Aaron broke in with the Braves in 1954 when the team was already in Milwaukee, and stayed with the Braves franchise through the end of the 1974 season.
The following year, 1958, the Braves met the Yankees once again in the World Series, but the tables were reversed this time and the Braves lost 4 games to 3, with the deciding game being played in Milwaukee. This would be the Braves’ last appearance in the World Series until the 90’s, by which time they had long been in Atlanta.
Please note: Some versions of this poster do not have a jersey number on the front of the 1957 jersey - this was an oversight on our part and has been corrected in later versions of the poster. We’re sorry for the error.
There’s still the “yelling brave” on the left sleeve of this road jersey, a logo that made its first appearance in 1957 and remained until 1971. This jersey is a more traditional style jersey, having abandoned the zippered front for the classic button front. 1966 was the Braves’ first year in their new home in Atlanta, after having been in Milwaukee for 13 seasons from 1953 - 1965.
This home uniform is a radical departure from any Braves uniform we’ve seen previously. This is the double knit era of the 70’s and early 80’s that overwhelmed the world of baseball. The Braves retained some of their dignity, though, by not sacrificing the traditional belt for the “Sans-A-Belt” style of trousers worn by almost every other team. Notice the heavily stylized arrowhead on the sleeves of the jersey.
This season, 1974, Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s all time Home Run record by hitting his 715th round-tripper. This would be Aaron’s 21st, and last, season with the Braves. The next two seasons he would move to the American League Milwaukee Brewers, and when all was said and done he had slugged a remarkable 755 home runs in his tremendous 23 year career.
We’re finally out of the double knit era, thank goodness! This road uniform is remarkably similar to Braves’ uniforms from the late 40’s when the team was still in Boston, let alone Milwaukee. It’s wonderful to see the respect for the past - the piping, the cuffs, and the belt tunnels – even the style of script and underlying tomahawk are quite similar.
There are two patches on this home jersey, one on each sleeve. On the right is a World Series patch, honoring the Braves’ appearance in the 1995 World Series against the Cleveland Indians - teams started wearing “World Series” patches in the early 90’s. On the left is an Atlanta Braves’ 30th anniversary patch celebrating the franchises’ 30 years in Atlanta.
1995 saw the Atlanta Braves win the World Series over the Indians 4 games to 2 for the franchise’s 3rd ever World Series Championship – and their first in Atlanta. The 1st was in 1914 when the team was in Boston, the 2nd in Milwaukee in 1957. The Braves won the 1995 World Series in Atlanta, 1-0 in game 6 on the strength of eight innings of one hit pitching by Tom Glavine.
The 90’s has been a remarkable decade of baseball for the Braves – making World Series appearances 5 times - 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, and 1999 – and winning it all in 1995.
The patch on the left sleeve of this road uniform is the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record – the “715” refers to the record-breaking home run (Aaron went on to hit a total of 755 home runs before he was done). On the right sleeve is a World Series patch, a new tradition that began in the early 90’s to celebrate World Series appearances.
The Braves faced the Yankees in the 1999 World Series, but were overcome once again as the Yankees downed the Braves in 4 straight games to repeat as World Series Champs. But the 90’s have been a remarkable decade for the Braves with 5 trips to the World Series - 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, and 1999 - a fantastic record in an era of rampant free agency.
In fact, it should be noted that the 1997-99 Braves have to be considered on of the best baseball teams in history - they are one of only 4 teams ever to win 100 games three years in a row. In 1997 they went 101-61; in 1998 they went 106-56; and in 1999 they also went 103-59. The three other teams to win 100 games three years running were the 1929-31 Philadelphia A’s, the 1942-44 Cardinals and the 1969-71 Orioles.
This striking home red jersey is from the 2005 season. The 2005 Braves won the NL East for the remarkable 11th time in a row, or 14th divisional title in a row if you take into account the fact that no-one won the division in the strike shortened 1994 season (the streak would not continue in 2006 as the Braves finished 3rd behind the Mets and Phillies). The Braves’ won the 2005 NL East by two games over the Phillies as the Braves finished the season with a 90-72 record. The Braves went on to play the Astros in the NL Division Series but lost 3 games to 1.
Celebrate the Braves' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Atlanta Braves and the history of the Braves franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 15 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 15 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.
These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)
If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Atlanta Braves YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DVI9jQrMzU or go directly to the artwork website www.heritagesportsart.com/Atlanta-Braves-c136/ where you can see and purchase the artwork.
And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at www.heritagesportsart.com (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/user/ssillcox
And please search my blog archive http://heritagejerseys.blogspot.com/ for other blogs on the history of the Braves.
This text was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 14, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at email@example.com !