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Old School Spring Training

Feb 19, 2010, 7:57 AM EDT

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.

  1. Charles Gates - Feb 19, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    First, thanks lar.
    Craig, can shirtlessness be considered a method of self expression? And in the context of workplace law, how does grandfathering hold up legally? If 22 year old player ABC can’t to exercise his freedom of expression, but Tony LaRussa walks around sans shirt, because he’s arrogant enough to think we all want to see how he rolls, does ABC have the right to sue on the basis of discrimination?

  2. Charles Gates - Feb 19, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    I understand he has the right to try to sue…but would his case have any merit?

  3. lar @ wezen-ball - Feb 19, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    Thanks, Craig! Love the hashtag. Can’t wait until you bust that out again.
    So, are press forced to adhere to this Kuhn rule? Or are you gonna go down to Florida next month and flaunt it the whole time? That’d be an interesting sight…

  4. Rays fan - Feb 19, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    Thanks for the pics.
    When I was a boy, spring training was one of the highlights of my year. My family would go see the Cincinnatti Reds at Al Lopez Field every spring.
    Whatever’s left of Al Lopez Field’s now underneath the foundation of Raymond James Stadium. The Reds relocated their camp to Plant City–not too far away–and were replaced in Tampa by the Yankees. Now the Reds have moved to AZ & I feel a little like the Brooklyn Dodger fans must have, not to mention the Dodger fans who made annual pilgrimages to Dodgertown in Vero Beach.

  5. Logitech Trackball - Feb 20, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

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