#Hot Corner

The Dodgers' red numbers and Mike Francesa wins Tuesday

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever wondered how the Dodgers got the red numbers on their jerseys?

I haven't, actually. But I'm not as curious about some things as I should be. Apparently it's been an open question among livery aficionados for some years, and finally we've got some background. From The Sporting News in 1952:

The brand-new uniforms that the Dodgers unveiled on opening day carried five-inch identifying numbers on the left side of the shirt, below the team name, in addition to the regulation numbers on the back. This is another idea of Walter O’Malley, president of the club, and is of particular benefit to television fans who often obtain only a front view of a player before he passes out of the camera range. The stunt is one of good will to the public, and while we would like to be able to report that this is an innovation from 1952, actually the story is the result of an unhappy ending. These uniforms were made for the Dodgers to wear in the ’51 Series!

I saw that on Uni Watch, which saw it in Todd Radom's blog. Both have other notes of interest about the red numbers, all of which are interesting. I just needed someone to make me curious, I guess.

Also via UniWatch ... a reason to like Mike Francesa!

WFAN radio talker Mike Francesa usually wants no part of any discussion about team names, logos, and uniforms (he usually derides such subject matter as silly and pointless),so I was surprised when he devoted a fair amount of time to the ’Skins controversy yesterday. He has some history with this issue, because he’s an alum of St. John’s, whose teams used to be called the Redmen before they changed it to Red Storm in the mid-1990s. His basic position on the ’Skins (I typed this while he was talking, so I may have gotten a word or two wrong): “It’s clearly an offensive term, and if some people are offended by it, why wouldn’t you change it? I don’t think the name is meant with malice, but if you were starting the team today, would you use that name? Of course not. Because it’s wrong. I’m Italian and Irish — are you gonna have the New York Dagos or the New York Micks? Of course not. And besides that, you’re in the nation’s capital and you’re defending a name that insults the people that you stole the country from!”

For me, this comes back to the Fundamental Question: If we weren't doing this already, is this how we would do it?

And in the case of the Redskins, the answer is clearly no. Same with Chief Wahoo. Yes, tradition counts for something too. But at this point, it's just a matter of time in both cases. So why not get out in front of things, and control the process in a positive way, instead of raging against the insidious trend toward racial sensitivity.

I mean, I get it. I really do. It bothers me that political correctness has essentially removed the word "niggardly" from our modern dictionaries. We take political correctness too far sometimes. But fighting for the survival of a name like Redskins or a physical caricature like Chief Wahoo is neither heroic nor racist. It's just damn stubborn, and history will not treat their defenders kindly.

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