Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Work-in-Progress: ECL Negro Leagues World Series Sweater

(Note: In my descriptions of this piece, you will see me use the terms "negro" and "colored." These are part of the historically-correct proper names "Negro Leagues" and "Eastern Colored League," and in no way do they reflect my personal views.)

This WIP is particularly special. The original is the oldest item of clothing associated with the Negro Leagues. It is currently on display at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City--one of my all-time favorite museums and not to be missed if you are within 100 miles of it. The sweater was donated by John Moores, former owner of the Padres. (In a bizarre coincidence, John happens to be an acquaintance of mine and was delighted to discover I was making a replica. :)

The accompanying plaque reads as follows:


The Eastern Colored League Hilldale Club of Philadelphia played the Kansas City Monarchs. The Hilldale team had special navy sweaters made to wear for the series with large ECL letters sewn across the chest that proudly indicated their Eastern League membership. This sweater is the oldest known clothing item from the Negro Leagues."

(Updated photo courtesy of @BSmile)
Alongside the display is a photograph of the Hilldale Club, in which one of the trainers, William "Doc" Lambert, can be seen wearing an ECL sweater. [Updated info courtesy of Tom Shieber.]

I was honored when Bob Kendrick, President of the NLBM, contacted me about producing a replica. Considering how few pieces have survived to the present day, it is truly a privilege to be given the opportunity to preserve a part of the Negro Leagues' legacy. 

If you are unfamiliar with the Negro Leagues, I encourage you to learn more about them. Not only did they play excellent baseball and produce some of the greatest and best-loved ballplayers of all time--Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Roy Campanella, Hank Aaron, and Jackie Robinson, to name a few--but they had teams with female owners and, in some cases, female players. (Interesting factoid: when Hank Aaron was acquired by the Milwaukee Braves, his replacement with the Indianapolis Clowns was second baseman--second basewoman?--Toni Stone.) As a woman in baseball myself, you can see why that level of integration is especially meaningful to me.

The NLBM is a small museum and worthy of support. If you would care to provide a donation (either memorabilia or monetary), more information can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. Terrific post! I purchased a Hilldale Giants t-shirt from the Charlie Hustle website this past summer. I'm dying to visit the NLBM in KC. Your blog is fascinating. A friend in Toronto tipped me off to it yesterday.