Pedro Martinez's Colored Gloves and the 25 Greatest Accessories in MLB History
Baseball has always been a sport based mainly upon tradition. People fear change, and Major League Baseball is no different.
Nearly everything you see on this list comes from the past 35 years or so. Prior to that time, there was little room for individuality in the game. It was about tradition and the team. Players weren't supposed to bring any added attention to themselves except from their play on the field.
These accessories come in several different categories including equipment, style and habits. Players have been allowed to express their personalities and their individuality during this recent 35 year time frame.
I may have missed something, so if that's the case please share.
25. Rick Vaughn's Skull and Crossbones Glasses
With Charlie Sheen plastered all over the news, I thought I'd give him a little play here. One thing Sheen and his character Rick Vaughn from the movie Major League have in common is that they are both quite a bit off-center.
If you recall from the movie, Vaughn couldn't throw strikes and was nicknamed "Wild Thing". One day the manager surmised that Vaughn had a vision problem which was able to be corrected with prescription lenses. Vaughn chose the frames with the skull and crossbones which completely fit his personality.
Sheen and Vaughn apparently have one other thing in common, and no it's not tiger's blood. It's "winning".
24. Jeff Bagwell's Shin and Foot Guard and Velcro Hand Pad
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Jeff Bagwell was a wreck at times. With his unique batting stance, he had a tendency to foul pitches off of the inside of his left shin, ankle and foot. As a result, he began wearing a shortened shin guard to protect him in that area.
While Bagwell was not the first to wear that type of guard, he was one of the more visible and recognizable players to do so.
Also because of his unique batting stance, Bagwell was susceptible to getting hit predominantly on his left hand. That resulted in that hand being broken. To better protect that hand, an ingenious device was created.
Velcro was affixed to the top portion of his left hand batting glove. A thick pad with Velcro on the bottom side was attached to the batting glove covering the back of Bagwell's left hand.
He was hit in that same spot numerous times after adding the pad, and was never the worse for wear.
23. David Wells Babe Ruth Hat
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On June 28, 1997, David Wells did something quite odd while pitching for the Yankees. He wore an authentic Babe Ruth hat from 1934 that he had purchased at auction for the sum of $35,000.
He wore it as a tribute to Ruth as he has always been a huge admirer of the Bambino. As the hat didn't conform to MLB uniform standards, Yankees' manager Joe Torre made Wells remove the hat for the remainder of the game.
I personally think that was a great way to honor Ruth even for only an inning. While I'm not sure any one would characterize Wells as a classy guy, wearing that hat was a class act.
22. Rickey Henderson's Shades
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One word that I believe captures the essence of Rickey Henderson is unique. His ego is enormous. All one needs to do is watch him play and his reaction to certain situations to confirm that fact. Being the all-time MLB leader in steals among other things can justify some of that ego.
Over the course of his career, Henderson wore various types of shades while playing in the field. It would be difficult to go through all of them, but rest assured there were quite a few different styles.
One thing I suggest you do is to search for Rickey Henderson quotes and mispronunciations. Listening to him talk is always an entertaining way to spend a few minutes.
21. Josh Beckett's Necklace
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Undoubtedly most of us have seen Josh Beckett wearing that interesting necklace. It is a "Phiten" necklace partially made of titanium. There is a whole line of necklaces made in the colors of each MLB team as well as many other styles.
So why in the world does Beckett wear that thing? Beckett has had his fair share of injuries, and the necklace supposedly has many health benefits including reducing pain and the ability to enhance one's performance.
The company itself promotes additional benefits such as improved circulation, promoting relaxation, reduce stress and ease tension. Whether it actually does any of that, I can't say. What's important is that the players wearing the necklaces believe it.
Besides Beckett, Justin Morneau, Joba Chamberlain, Sergio Garcia and Jenny Finch have worn the necklaces at one time or another. You will probably notice more MLB players wearing it these days as well.
20. Manny Ramirez's Durag
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While Manny may be a little strange, okay a lot strange, he is a styling guy. His headwear is a big part of that style.
Manny has been known to wear a skullcap, sort of a fabric sheath for his dreads and a durag to keep his dreads in good order. I've seen the word durag spelled do-rag and doo rag as well, but I'm going with durag in this instance.
He's had a new one of them for each team he has played for while wearing dreads. Without a durag, his hair would be flying around willy-nilly. I think we know that would not be acceptable in the grand scheme of things.
19. Jeff Cirillo and Dale Sveum's Bubblegum
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I don't expect most of you to be aware of this "accessory", so I thought I would share. I had the opportunity to see both Cirillo and Sveum first hand when they played with the Brewers.
You might ask what's so special about players chewing bubblegum? These two never merely chewed gum, they blew bubbles and they blew them at any place at any time while they were on the field.
They both have blown bubbles while in the batter's box with a pitch on the way. They blew bubbles while running the bases. They blew bubbles while fielding ground balls, and they blew bubbles while throwing to the bases as well.
It was like second nature to them, and I can assure you they rarely even knew they were doing it at the time. I'm sure there are others that have done similar things, but I saw these two over the course of much of their careers.
18. Elbow Armor
There have been quite a few players that just love to crowd the plate giving the pitcher a smaller window to throw strikes. As a result, some of these player began wearing large hard plastic elbow pads. That gave them the confidence that if they did crowd the plate, their elbows would be protected.
There were also times that those hitters would just drop that elbow in there and get hit on purpose. Three of the biggest culprits with these tactics were Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Craig Biggio.
As a result of abuses of the use of the elbow pad, a guideline was added to the MLB rules restricting the size of the pad and requiring an official physician's report diagnosing an injury to the arm/elbow and stating how long the pad will need to be worn. All players must have prior approval from the Commissioner's Office to wear one of these now.
17. Bill Hall's Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Bat
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While dozens of players have hit with the pink bats promoting breast cancer awareness, Hall's case is unique.
On Mother's Day 2006 against the New York Mets, Hall hit a 10th inning walk-off home run with one of those pink bats. It was even more special because Hall's mother was in attendance at the game. After the game Hall dedicated his home run to his mother.
The bat was auctioned shortly thereafter on mlb.com to raise money for breast cancer research. Milwaukee Brewers' owner Mark Attanasio won the auction for $25,000 and presented the bat to Bill Hall's mother.
16. Steve Yeager's Throat Protector
In 1976 Steve Yeager, a catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was standing in the on-deck circle when a teammate's bat shattered and a large piece struck Yeager in the neck and tore into his esophagus.
He had to have nine pieces of wood removed in an operation lasting 98 minutes.
Shortly after the accident, the Dodger's trainer developed and patented a throat protector for Yeager to protect his neck from injury while catching. The protector has been used at all levels of competitive baseball and is still used in some places today.
15. Aubrey Huff's Red Thong
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This is by far one of the more bizarre accessories a MLB player has used. In the movie Bull Durham, young pitcher Nuke Laloosh is persuaded to wear a woman's garter belt under his uniform. That's Hollywood, but Huff's thong is real life.
Huff was a guy that virtually no one wanted leading up to the 2010 season. The Giants gave him a shot and he produced big-time. Then came the lucky red thong.
On August 30, 2010, Huff began wearing the thong that was adorned with rhinestones. The Giants record thereafter was 25-12, and you know how the story ends.
14. Jim Leyland's Cigarettes
Smoking in an MLB dugout wasn't a real big deal 30 or 40 years ago. In this day and age, it's just not cool. It really doesn't seem to bother the Detroit Tigers' manager Jim Leyland.
He has always defended his right to smoke even when MLB has discouraged players from using chewing tobacco. Luckily in 2010 a public smoking ban in Detroit went into effect effectively ending Leyland's visible endorsement of cigarettes while in the dugout.
Leyland, other managers and team owners expect their players to be good role models and display healthy behaviors. It seems like a double standard to me. I can't say Leyland isn't a good manager, but I can say he's an irresponsible putz.
13. Josh Hamilton's Tattoos
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Yes there are other players that display tattoos, but given Hamilton's current stature in MLB I decided he would be the one to illustrate body art.
During the warmer months, you can't miss the various tattoos adorning Hamilton's arms as he has no problem wearing short sleeves.
Hamilton's tattoos don't stop at his arms. If you've seen any of the bare chested photos, you will be able to see the extent of his ink.
While tattoos aren't my bag, some people enjoy them and the art that they embody. Besides his play on the field, Hamilton will always be known to some as that dude with all the tattoos.
12. Turk Wendell's Bizarre Necklace
Well all know Turk Wendell is not quite right. If you don't believe me, just Google the guy.
One of those things that proves my point is that totally bizarre necklace he wore on occasion while on the mound. Some people have said those are shark's teeth and others say alligator teeth. Those may be included, but there are more species than just those.
Basically the necklace contains teeth and claws of various animals that Wendell hunted and killed.If wearing something like that around your neck doesn't make you nutters, I don't know what does.
11. Barry Bonds' Cross Earring
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This is Barry's second appearance on this list because what he has in his ear isn't some lame piece of jewelry.
Most players with earrings just wear plain diamond studs. Some are larger than others, but in the end they are just boring studs.
Bonds on the other hand went with some style. He had the audacity to put a gold cross in his ear with diamonds on the sides.
He began wearing a cross earring while with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986. He wore one pretty much every day while he was younger. Later in his career he wore it only occasionally.
That earring pretty much distinguished Bonds from all other major league players because of its uniqueness.
10. U.L. Washington's and Dusty Baker's Toothpicks
I was disappointed that I was unable to find a clear picture of U.L Washington for this article. For those of you are not aware, Washington was a shortstop for the Kansas City Royals in the late 1970's to the early 1980's.
Washington was unique in that he always had a toothpick in his mouth. I mean always. Whether he was batting or in the field, he always had that toothpick. It seemed to be a bit dangerous to me back then, but what do I know?
Dusty Baker on the other hand wasn't as foolish as Washington. He only began using the toothpick after he quit using chewing tobacco. He uses it as sort of a substitute for the tobacco.
The Dusty Baker bobblehead and toothpick holder is quite possibly the coolest baseball bobblehead of all time.
9. Don Mattingly's Eye Black
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Donny Baseball was one of the great first-basemen during the 1980's and early 1990's. Not only was he a great hitter, but he was also a tremendous defensive player as well. Mattingly battled injuries much of his career which pretty much derailed his hopes of reaching Cooperstown.
Mattingly was known for his crouched batting stance, but he is very closely associated with wearing eye black during his playing days as well. While he didn't wear it all the time, it seemed to become part of his image as a player.
He's one of those guys that just looks right in eye black. Not all players can pull it off.
8. Pedro Martinez's Colored Gloves
I have been a Pedro fan since the first time I saw him pitch with the Expos. Some of you may have forgotten that he actually started his career as an L.A. Dodger and was traded to the Montreal Expos where he blossomed.
Most people only recall him wearing a red glove with the Red Sox and a blue glove with the Mets. You need to go back farther to see the coolest of his gloves by far.
While with the Montreal Expos, Martinez used a combination red and blue glove. Some of the colors were interwoven giving it a striking and almost artistic appearance. His red and blue gloves pale in comparison.
7. Delino DeShields' Double Ear Flap Batting Helmet
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Delino Deshields was another in a solid young group of Montreal Expos in the early 1990's. In all he played for five teams during his 13-year MLB career.
I don't know about you, but I always thought he looked quite ridiculous wearing that two ear flap batting helmet. I never knew why he wore it, just that he did.
As a switch-hitter, Deshields decided to just use one helmet rather that two separate ones each with an ear flap on the opposite side. I suppose that makes sense, but he looked like a little leaguer out there.
Deshields was a good player unfortunately he will be best known for that batting helmet with two ear flaps.
6. Eric Gagne's and Chris Sabo's Goggles
I decided to include both Sabo and Gagne since they both wore goggles but in different styles.
Sabo wore prescription goggles during his career called Rec Specs. At the time there weren't really other styles to choose from, so it was the Rec Specs or nothing. He obviously chose the former. Any time someone mentions the name Chris Sabo, only one image flashes in my head, those silly looking goggles.
As with many Canadian youngsters, Gagne was injured playing hockey. As a result, he needed to wear prescription goggles in order to see properly. Goggles came a long way as Gagne wore prescription Oakleys. Quite a step up from the Rec Specs don't you think?
5. Craig Biggio's Dirty and Sticky Batting Helmet
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Craig Biggio was always one of those players that I called a dirtball. I didn't use the term to disparage his character, but as more of a term of endearment. He was one of those players whose uniform was always dirty and wasn't afraid to stick his nose in there and do the dirty work for his team.
Then there is that batting helmet. It looks dirty and sometimes it looks downright disgusting. One can only imagine what exactly is in that sludge plastered to his helmet. It's a safe bet that the majority is pine tar and dirt from just about every stadium in the N.L.
Some people have suggested that there may be rosin, tobacco juice and even chalk mixed in there as well. One thing is for sure. Biggio will continue to be known for that helmet far into the future.
4. Ken Griffey Jr.'s Backward Cap
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They don't call him the kid for nothing. When Griffey came onto the scene at the end of the 1980's, he brought a youthful exuberance with him. He was able to connect with younger fans. He was a new generation of ball player. Not everyone was down with that.
Griffey began wearing his cap backwards on a frequent basis before the game and during batting practice. Some of the stuffy old-guard wasn't all that thrilled. They didn't think it showed proper respect to the game. Some people just don't have anything better to do than complain.
I know I will always remember two things about Ken Griffey Jr. The first is that gorgeous swing with the second being the backwards baseball cap along with that smile. Okay I guess that's three things.
3. John Olerud's Batting Helmet in the Field
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Wearing a batting helmet in the field does look strange, but John Olerud had a very good reason for it.
While Olerud was in college, he suffered a brain aneurysm which nearly took his life. At that point doctors recommended that he wear a helmet in the field as an extra precaution from suffering further head trauma. Later in his career it probably would have been safe to wear a regular cap, but players are creatures of habit, so the helmet stayed.
You may have heard a story about Olerud, the helmet and Rickey Henderson. In a nutshell it was about Henderson asking Olerud why he wore a helmet and then said he had played with a guy last year who wore one as well. To that Olerud told Henderson that the player he was referring to was him. It never happened. It started as a joke by some of Henderson's Mets teammates and the story was picked up. Olerud has confirmed that it never happened.
2. Reggie Jackson's Wire Rim Glasses
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As one looks back on Reggie Jackson's career, there has always been one constant. Those wire rimmed glasses are always there.
There is a funny thing about those glasses. Jackson didn't actually need them other than to correct an astigmatism. He's said that without the glasses his vision was 20/20, but with them it was 20/10.
There are two iconic images I remember when it comes to Mr. October. The first is that home run swing nearly corkscrewing himself into the ground. The second picture I always see is him wearing those glasses no matter which uniform he was wearing.
I also see him on occasion trying to kill the Queen of England. How weird is that?
1. Oakland A's White Cleats
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One of the things synonymous with the Oakland Athletics is their white cleats. They are the only team to wear those white cleats at home as well as on the road.
When the Athletics were still in Kansas City in 1967, Charles O. Finley switched from the original black cleats to white. It was certainly an interesting decision, but it has stood the test of time.
I am not a fan of any white shoes let alone baseball cleats. I do have to admit that the look is both striking and distinctive. Finley was a real piece of work, but his legacy lives on every time the A's take the field in those white cleats.