Bill Veeck was always trying to come up with something new, anything to divert attention from some of the horrible teams he owned. From exploding scoreboards to exploding disco records, Veeck was the master of baseball promotions.
Thirty-nine years ago this weekend, the White Sox owner sent put his team on the field in the first game of a doubleheader at Comiskey Park in shorts, something no team had ever done.
From a terrific piece by Rolling Stone last year:
But Veeck’s redesign of the White Sox uniforms was perhaps his most radical act. The team’s new duds were unveiled in March 1976 at a bizarre fashion show held at Chicago’s Tremont Hotel, which starred grizzled former White Sox players as runway models. The new unis featured collared V-neck pullovers that looked like a cross between 1870s baseball tunic and a 1970s leisure suit, and which – boldly flouting baseball sartorial tradition – were meant to be worn un-tucked. They also included three below-the-waist options: Clamdiggers, pants which came down to just above the ankle; Knickerbockers, which were worn tucked into knee-high socks; and Hollywood shorts (so named because they were reminiscent of the Bermuda shorts worn by the 1950 Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League), which left the players’ knees completely exposed.
Veeck didn’t see why people were so shocked about the wardrobe change.
He told Bob Verdi of the Chicago Tribune:
Players should not worry about their vanity, but their comfort. If it’s 95 degrees out, an athlete should be glad to put on short pants and forget his bony knees. Hell, I’ve got a worse looking knee than any of my players. It’s solid wood.
The White Sox played two more games in shorts that season before hanging them up.
For more great anecdotes and pictures, go here.