Thursday, August 4, 2016

TBT - Boston Red Sox Edition

On the MLB's "Turn Back the Clock" day, the Red Sox wore the uniforms of their pennant winning season, 1975.  There was much discussion about the choice of sleeve patch on Twitter. It is a Massachusetts Bicentennial patch. Did they wear it in 1975 or 1976? How come it is not on any 1976 Topps cards? Not even the World Series card?  
After a bit of "internet investigation" the answers are: yes and yes, just Topps being Topps, and because they didn't wear them during the World Series. When looking for pictures that showed the patch, I found these two press photos: The first shows Harmon Killebrew in a Royals uniform breaking up a double play. Rick Burleson appears to have the patch on his left sleeve. 
In the next picture we see Carlton Fisk sliding into home against Brian Downing of the White Sox. Downing is wearing the Sox's new for 1976 pajamas uniforms. Fisk also has that patch on his left sleeve. So we can determine this is from 1976 and since Killebrew only played in KC in 1975, we know these patches were worn both years.
As for why the patches are absent from the 1976 set, the best explanation has been repeated many time by fellow blogger, Jim from Downington, its "just Topps being Topps". Which is also why this 1978 Rick Wise card shows the patch two years after they stopped wearing them. There are plenty of photos from the 1975 World Series on the interwebs but none show the patch. So that explains its absence on the World Series card.
One final puzzle regarding the sleeve patch, Every card I have looked at has the patch on the left sleeve. Every card except for the 1977 Tom House card. So how did Tom House managed to have this patch on his right sleeve while everybody else's were on the left? The only explanation I can come up with is that he is a left hand pitcher. I found another left-handed pitcher wearing it on his right sleeve: "The Spaceman" Bill Lee.  

Additionally, Starmarket, a local supermarket chain, put out a team set of photos in 1976. These were studio shots of the players in their home jerseys without hats. Other than the wonderful collection of 1976 hair styles, you can see patches in most (not all) of the photos. Again the only two with the patches on the right sleeve were the two lefties, Lee and House. Although the patch is barely in view, you can see the edges of it on the right sleeve and its absence on the left.  It is clearly present on the left sleeve of Rico Petrocelli.

Before this turned into an investigation about which year and which arm this bicentennial patch was from, It was supposed to compare the look of Drew Pomeranz and Fergie Jenkins. The 1977 card has a nice view of the uniform and the offending patch on his left sleeve. I chose to compare these two because Pomeranz wears Fergie's old number 31. Fergie's number 31 is retired by the Cubs. He wore that number for the Rangers and the Red Sox after leaving Chicago but neither team has retired it.

The new uniforms look right but the proportions seem off. The chest lettering seems a bit smaller on the reproductions. Also given that Pomeranz is a lefty, shouldn't he have worn the patch on his right sleeve? Other than that, they look very good, one of my favorites this year.

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