Tag Archives: Bill Harbridge

Alternate Uniforms, Circa 1879

14 Feb

On the eve of the 1879 season The Chicago Times endorsed an innovation about to be introduced by the Chicago White Stockings:

“The management of the Chicago Club has very wisely decided that the skinny white uniform with tips of blue, in which it has dressed its men from time immemorial, is not the best of its kind; that good taste dictates higher colors for the field, something that will bring out, instead of dwarfing the muscular development of its wearer.  The result of the consultations over the matter has been the adoption of something which has merit of novelty about it, at least, and, at the first blush, there seems to be no reason why it should not produce a pretty effect on the field.”

The Times noted that three years earlier, the White Stockings had worn individually colored caps in order to make it either for fans to identify the players.  The move “for some unknown reason was discarded” at the end of the 1876 season.

“The present change is in the same line, except that it goes further and applies the principle to the entire uniform.  The customary white flannel will be used for the body of the dress.  In this respect they will all be alike; but each man will be furnished with an individual color to finish it with, including cap, neck-tie, belt and a band some three inches wide around the thickest part of the calf.  The colors have been selected, and Spalding Bros. are now at work upon the uniforms.”

The 1879 Chicago roster by color:

Silver Flint:  Blue

Terry Larkin: Brown

“Cap” Anson: Grey

Joe Quest: Black and yellow

John Peters: Green

Frank Hankinson: Scarlet

Abner Dalrymple: White

George “Orator” Shafer: Red and black

George Gore: Blue and white

Bill Harbridge: Red and white

Frank Hankinson--wore scarlet in 1879

Frank Hankinson–wore scarlet in 1879

The move was taunted in at least one National League city–The Syracuse Courier derisively referred to the team as the “Chicago Rainbows.”

The Times said “Cap” Anson was in favor of the new uniforms and “says there’s luck in it.”

The paper agreed with Anson’s assessment:

“The individual caps won in 1876.  Since then they have been discarded, and Chicago hasn’t been able to win anything.”

Anson’s “luck” didn’t hold in 1879.  The White Stockings were in first place from Opening Day until August 1, then Anson became ill in July and eventually left the team which went 5-12  the rest of the season under Silver Flint, and finished in fourth place.

The uniforms disappeared and Anson returned for the 1880 season. When the team took the field for the opener The Chicago Tribune said:

“The Chicagos appeared for the first time in their regular League uniform for this year, with all-white stockings that are a marked improvement over the many-colored rings of last year.”

The 1880 White Stockings

The 1880 White Stockings “with all-white stockings”