Old School Spring Training

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If you look at only one photo archive today with pictures of Walter O’Malley at Dodgertown playing cards with his shirt off, Stan Musial doing pushups, and Pee Wee Reese on the ground wrestling with a shirtless guy, make it this photo archive, highlighted today by lar at Wezen-Ball.

True story: In 1973, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn mandated that shirts be worn at all times during spring training as a result of the Oakland A’s bold decision to break baseball’s lamentable “gentleman’s agreement” which, until that point, had prevented teams from signing players with body hair.

The new rule was grandfathered in, of course, with Charlie Hough and Goose Gossage being allowed to go shirtless until their retirements following the 1994 season.  Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre still have the right, but they have chosen not to exercise it for both personal and professional reasons. Today George Steinbrenner, ever-the-maverick, is the only baseball figure routinely seen cavorting topless around a spring training facility.