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MAILBAG: Why do baseball coaches wear uniforms?

Mark Brooky • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:49 AM
mbrooky@grandhaventribune.com 616-842-6400 ext. 243

Basketball coaches wear suits and ties, as do hockey coaches. Football coaches wear casual clothes. All of them would look silly wearing the uniforms their players wear."

ANSWER:

Philip added that the tradition of baseball managers and coaches in uniform seems to be "a nonsense holdover from the olden days." Is he right about that?

I asked the Detroit Tigers organization about it, and they referred me the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"In the early days of baseball, the field manager or captain was also a leading player on the team," responded Freddy Berowski, the Hall of Fame's reference librarian. "The manager then was simply a business manager who wore a suit. Since the field manager — shortened to manager — was also a player on the team, he needed to be in uniform. It wasn't until the late 1800s that we started to see field managers who were simply strategists and were not also playing on the team."

Berowski said the managers have since remained in uniform for games out of tradition to this day.

There have been some exceptions to the rule, most notably Connie Mack (1862-1956). He was first a player, then the longest-serving manager in Major League Baseball history (the Philadelphia A's manager for its first 50 years, starting in 1901, and retiring at age 87 after the 1950 season) and at least a part-owner of the A's from 1901-54.

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