A Yankee is someone who lives in the United States, or is from the U.S., and particularly an inhabitant of New England or one of the northern states.
Well that’s what it says….
Yankee Doodle Dandy is a musical film from the early 1940s about George M. Cohan, often referred to as “The Man Who Owned Broadway”.
In case you did not now.
And, there’s what some refer to as “the evil empire”: The New York Yankees baseball team. Except, I consider the franchise to be almost mystical, part of the great and irresistible fabric of that which is baseball, an eternal flag waving in the breeze, a kid looking up at a major leaguer and dreaming, a home run that captures the joy that revives all hope… Baseball, not simply a national past time, but a trip to the ball park, to Yankee Stadium, very much like visiting the river, stepping in, fishing and catching the sun’s rays playing havoc across the water.
So it makes very good sense that at home the Yankees wear pinstripes.
I used to go to Brooke Brothers, the venerable clothing store, to get the very best, the most pristine, the top-of-the-line pinstripe suits.
But, who thought of dressing up baseball players in pin stripes? Way back in the 1820s, in the Auburn prison system (aka the New York or Congregate System), prisoners had to be silent, walk in lockstep, and all wore black and white uniforms covered in stripes that reminded of prison bars. Those delightful outfits made prisoners instantly recognizable, such that escape was a bit compromised. Is that where pin stripes come from? God forbid!
The Yankees started wearing pinstriped uniforms in 1912, at least according to the New York Times as reported on February 27, 2012:
“When Manager Harry Wolverton’s Yankees trot out from their clubhouse on April 11 to open the season with Boston, Hilltop fans will see their favorites togged out in uniforms closely resembling those worn by the Giants last season. The fad for the pin stripe in baseball toggery, introduced by the Cubs a few years ago, has reached the Hilltop, and the home uniforms of the Yankees this year will be of that design. The home uniform will consist of white shirt and pants, with black pin stripe and ‘N.Y.’ on the left breast; a white cap with a blue monogram, and blue stockings with maroon stripes.”
The Yankees had a horrible season that year, and left the pinstripes behind, but brought them back in 1915 (the stripes were navy blue rather than black), and have worn them ever since.
This whole thing with the name “Yankee”… they had been known as the New York Highlanders, then the New York Americans at which point New York Press sports editor Jim Price coined the unofficial nickname Yankees (or Yanks), as early as 1904. Research indicates this was because it was simpler to fit that name in the headlines, and the word Yankee after all is a synonym for American.
Despite the story we’ve all read or heard over the years, the Yankees did not start wearing pinstriped uniforms to make Babe Ruth look slimmer.
You think of the Murderers’ Row lineup, which led the Yankees to a then-American League record 100 wins and a world series in 1927, repeating in 1928, and then again in 1932. Murderers’ Row, pin stripes, championships, hmmmmm…. coincidence? The Yankees won the world series every year from 1936 to 1939, with such illustrious players as Lou Gehrig and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, who had his record hitting streak in the 1941 series. There is so much storied about the team — from Don Larsen’s perfect game to Yogi Berra’s unique language, from the incomparable Casey Stengel to the rascal Billy Martin, and today Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
So I gotta ask: Is it true that you feel better about yourself, that you have more confidence, that you exude a greater presence, and thus you are an “improved you” when you dress better?
Saber metrics… make room for “Sartorial Dynamics!” Oh boy…. tailors in the Club House! The Manager consults with Ralph Lauren…. Soon we have the players making appearance on the infamous runways in the fashion industry! Can the mitts be far behind?
(Photo of that great ball player, Beau Brummell)