Saturday, 18 August 2018


I'm a big fan of the work that Paul Lukas does when it comes to uniforms and the aesthetic appreciation involved with uniforms. He and Phil Hecken, who does a lot of the weekend work, are a couple of great guys who really know uniforms, and they really got me into the uniform craze a number of years ago. Thanks to them, seeing this young lady from the U16 Canadian Women's Fastpitch Championship wearing proper stirrups brought me great joy as the host Smitty's Terminators were the only team of the twenty at the tournament to wear proper stirrups with their uniforms. To be honest, the stirrups looked great on the diamond, so it warmed my somewhat-cold heart to see these young ladies wearing proper hosiery with their softball uniforms!

Stirrups were quite common amongst old-time ball players, and some teams even got their names from the colours of their hosiery: Red Sox, Black Sox who became the White Sox, and Redlegs which was shortened to Reds as examples. Legends like Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and Nolan Ryan all wore stirrups as part of their uniforms thanks to their knickerbocker pants which often ended below the knee. Stirrups were worn traditionally over white sanitary socks, "sanis", as it was thought the dyes in the stirrups could pose health issues for those wearing them.

Stirrups went out of baseball fashion in the 1990s as long pants took over to the point where players around the turn of the century were looping the hem of the pants underneath their cleats, creating a virtual spat like football players wear on their cleats. Honestly, it looks awful, so the return to high pants and socks was a welcome sight as we made our way into the new millennium. But high socks are meant for soccer, not baseball, and the stirrups have been slow in their pick-up when it comes to major league teams. The Tampa Bay Rays have been using them at times and there are specific players who have began to don the stirrups more often, but it's a piece of the baseball uniform that needs to return. It just feels like a baseball uniform when you see the white sani peeking out from the shoe below the stirrup's colour.

In saying all this, there are certain things that I just need to see to make said uniform feel complete. Stirrups in baseball is one of those things, but hockey has its own set of nuances. There are specifics that made the old sweaters worn by hockey teams look distinctive when it came to that "hockey look". Things like proper hem stripes and shoulder yokes that actually fit the shoulders are key to making a hockey jersey look like a timeless classic.

I get that we all have different likes. Some people are fond of the lace-up collar. Some people enjoy seeing jerseys with minimal striping. There are those who want to see less black on jerseys and more colour. There are those who prefer white at home. I understand that we all have our differences when it comes to jerseys and what we like, so perhaps there should be a template to appease all.

In your mind, what is the one thing that has to be on a jersey to make it a hockey jersey? Throw your suggestions in the comments. I'm curious to see what has to be on a jersey for it to feel like a hockey jersey for you. If there are enough responses, I'll see if I can come up with a template. Who knows - maybe there will be an HBIC jersey one day!

What I do know is that whoever is running the Smitty's Terminators team in Winnipeg is teaching the young women about the finer points of the uniform. That's an important aspect in sports!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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