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BURNING QUESTION
May 13, 2002
WHY DO BASEBALL MANAGERS WEAR UNIFORMS?
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May 13, 2002

Burning Question

WHY DO BASEBALL MANAGERS WEAR UNIFORMS?

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Coaches in the NBA, NFL and NHL don't wear players' garb. (Good thing, too: Imagine George Karl in a tank top and shorts.) But big league skippers are different because they go onto the field during games. That is why major league baseball deems them subject to Rule 1.11 (a), which says, "All members of the team must wear a similar uniform." Says Mariners manager Lou Piniella, "It would be weird to walk to the mound in a suit. I'd feel like part of the security force."

Even before Rule 1.11 (a) went on the books in 1957, all but two big league managers dressed like their nines rather than to the nines. Connie Mack, who managed the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to '50, and Burt Shotton, who managed the Phillies and the Brooklyn Dodgers for eight seasons in the '40s, are the only skippers ever to work in civvies, but they sent uniformed coaches onto the field to make pitching changes and harangue the umps. "Could you imagine going out there in shiny dress shoes?" says Braves manager Bobby Cox. "How would you kick dirt on the umpire?"

Baseball managers (and players) receive an undisclosed sum of money for wearing their uniforms, as part of a licensing agreement with MLB Properties and individual uniform suppliers. Not that the managers wear playing threads for the compensation. "If we didn't have to go on the field," says the Cardinals' Tony La Russa, "I'd just as soon wear my stylish jeans."

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