CAHSS Faculty Articles

Title

“Rooting for the Clothes”: The Materialization of Memory in Baseball’s Throwback Uniforms

Department

Department of Writing and Communication

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Publication Title

NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture

ISSN

1188-9330

Volume

21

Issue/No.

2

First Page

32

Last Page

55

Abstract

Excerpt

At their essence, sports jerseys function as symbolic materializations that foster a constitutive identity and unity between fans, players, and cities or regions. When new teams are created, often the team logo and uniform are the first manifestations of the team’s identity. These designs are so important that many franchises consult with professional marketing firms on new designs intended to connect with new fans and maximize merchandizing streams.1 Furthermore, when teams acquire new players, the first act as a new member of the team often involves a ceremonial press conference that is opened by the new player donning the team’s jersey (a similar practice takes place during amateur drafts for new players). The jersey thus signifies both an identity and a membership while existing as a transformative object with its own magical provenance: the wearer, whether on the field or off, defers their individual identity for the sake of a team. As such, jerseys are constantly put in place as performance pieces, as when uniforms are raised to arena rafters to give enduring presence to their greatness, or when city statues are draped in team jerseys to unite the citizenry. These uniforms come to symbolize more than just a team; they can become transcendent icons that represent a city, even a country, and its enduring memories.

ORCID ID

0000-0001-5001-7175

DOI

10.1353/nin.2013.0028

Peer Reviewed

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