And now for my second Tom Seaver reference in an hour.
Mark Armour is a fabulous baseball researcher. He’s the man in charge of the Society for American Baseball Research’s indispensable Baseball Biography project. He also just finished what stands to become the definitive book on Joe Cronin, one of the major figures in baseball history. It’s coming out on April 1st, and you should probably order it.
But he has decided to add “pain in my butt” to his resume, as he sent me an email reminding me that yesterday was the 44th anniversary of the Braves ill-fated signing of Tom Seaver:
Seaver grabbed the attention of big league scouts after going 10-2 as a
sophomore at the University of Southern California in 1965. He was
drafted in the 10th round of the very first Major League Baseball June
Amateur Draft that year by the Dodgers, but could not come to an
agreement with the team.
Less than a year later, on Feb. 24,
1966, Seaver signed a $40,000 contract with the Braves. But just six
days after Seaver signed, Commissioner William “Spike” Eckert ruled
that the Braves’ contract was void because USC’s baseball season was
still in progress. Suddenly, Seaver was a man without a team.
It would probably only appeal to Mets fans and some Braves deadenders like me, but someone should write an alternate history describing what would have happened to the respective franchises if Seaver had been allowed to join the Braves.
Ah, forget it. Ted Turner probably would have just traded him for a warm bucket of spit and some Montana ranch land in 1976. Better that the Mets did it in 1977.
Everyone talks about getting rid of Chief Wahoo but nobody does anything about it.
Well, that’s not totally true. As we’ve noted, Major League Baseball and the Indians are slowly doing something about it. But the thing they’re doing — a slow phase-out of Wahoo, hopefully in a manner no one really notices — is likely going to anger just as many as it pleases. Such is the nature of a compromise. Such is the nature of trying to do the right thing but being afraid to state the reason why they’re doing it.
A bold move would be a lot more interesting. Not just getting rid of the logo, but totally rebranding the Indians in a cool and exciting way that would inspire people to buy in to the new team identity as opposed to merely lament or accept the abandonment of the old one. To that end, a man named Nick Kendall came up with a super fun and super great-looking redesign and rebranding of the Indians over the weekend.
Kendall, who is not really a big baseball fan but who has spent a lot of time thinking about uniforms and design, went back to 1871 and Cleveland’s first professional baseball team, the Forest Citys (yes, that’s how it was spelled). He took their logo — an interlocked F and C — and built an entire set of uniforms out of it and some aesthetic choices of his own. The new color scheme is a dark green and white. He even includes two alternate, solid-jersey designs. All of it is done in a great looking mockup. Really, go check it out and tell me that’s not cool.
I like it for a couple of reasons. Mostly because the uniforms just look fantastic. I love the design and would love to see a team with that kind of look in the game. We have too many reds and blues. Green is woefully underused in Major League Baseball and it’d be good to see some more green around.
Also, as Kendall notes, and as soccer shows us, the “[city] [mascot]” name construction isn’t the only way to approach team names, and so the name — Forest Citys, or some derivation of it — would be unique in baseball. Maybe it’s be “The Cleveland Forest Citys/Cities.” Maybe “Forest City B.C.” would be a way to go? Maybe, as so often happened with baseball teams in the past — the Indians included — the nickname could develop over time. It’s certainly preferable to the option a lot of people point to — The Cleveland Spiders — which (a) evokes the worst baseball team in history’ and (b) sounds like something a 1990s NBA marketing team would come up with.
If the Indians are going to get rid of Chief Wahoo — and they are — why not do something fun and new and exciting?