OK, that last post was so heavy and depressing, I feel the need to lighten the mood by mentioning another story from the WSJ’s front page, this one about “stirrups” in baseball.
You know, the leggings — the socks you wore over your socks, the colorful ones with the heel and toe cut out.
This piece was about how the major leagues have abandoned the stirrups, mainly because the players don’t want to wear them — you may have noticed that in MLB, they wear their pants right down to their shoes, which means they don’t look like ballplayers any more — and the players are such big shots and make so much money that nobody can tell them what to do. But in the minors, discipline still reins, so the players still wear them.
Some points of interest from the story:
- It leads and ends with a game in Myrtle Beach. You know, Myrtle Beach has a minor league team and Columbia doesn’t, in case you haven’t noticed.
- The sole remaining source is a funky, homey little factory just up the road in North Carolina.
- The fashion started because, starting in about 1905, there was an urban legend in baseball that held that some players had suffered blood poisoning from the dye in their socks getting into abrasions on their feet. This led players to wear white socks under their colored team socks, and that was bulky, so somebody came up with the idea of cutting the heel and toe out of the oversock. (The infections did NOT come from the dye, by the way, but from plain old germs, it was later determined.)
A story such as this appeals to my own particular sort of instinctive conservatism. I believe players should not only be made to wear stirrups but should WANT to in the same way that “woods” in golf should be made of persimmon. It was good enough for our daddies and granddaddies. Of course, as I type this, I’m looking at a picture of my own grandad, “Whitey” Warthen, pitching a game in the 19-teens. He’s wearing full colored socks, not stirrups, because in his day men were men. Me, I’d settle for stirrups. Because I’m still not sure about that blood-poisoning thing. You can’t be too careful.
I love the way the WSJ story ends:
On the field, as the Pelicans and Blue Rocks lined up for the anthem, half-moons glowed along the baselines. Kicking high, Michael Broadway pitched two perfect innings. In the fifth, Cody Johnson stepped into a fastball and sent it over the right-field fence.
It fell apart for the Pelicans in the ninth: walks, hits, errors. They lost, 9-2. “I want my $7 back,” a fan yelled on his way out. But for the stirrup-conscious in the crowd, the final score didn’t matter. On this spring night in Myrtle Beach, the socks won.