In the 1870s and 1880s, people around the country knew the St. Louis team to wear Brown, just the same as Cincinnati to wear Red. Despite this, after Von der Ahe’s club played their first season in 1882, they abandoned brown in favor of red, and declared themselves simply as the St. Louis Club. This change caused much confusion amongst fans, and backlash from the media, and the team restored their brown trim in 1884. We are curious why the Browns would make this change.
We have one photograph of the team from this season, and while it is in black and white, we can clearly see the team wearing dark colored hats and socks. However one newspaper account makes a claim the team wore white caps. Seeing is believing, and we don’t believe what the newspaper says, but it also seems very difficult to assume he was wrong. When was the last time anyone confused white for red? This isn’t a color blindness issue. Does this claim have any validity? The only assumption we can make, is the newspaper article that describes the uniform is from February 2, 1883, which was a full two months before the season began. Perhaps this white cap was a prototype, and never made it to the field.

History Mysteries:
For what reason did the Browns change their identity?
Did they wear white caps?
Is the newspaper account about white caps completely incorrect?

1883 St. Louis Club team photograph

Cincinnati Enquirer: February 2, 1883
The old name of Brown Stockings has been abandoned, and the new organization will henceforth be known as the St. Louis Club. Not only that, but the old brown stockings are to be discarded, and a hoisery of bright red substituted. The shirts and trousers of the regular uniform will be of white flannel, trimmed with red cord, the name St. Louis being worked on the breast of their shirts. The caps will also be made of white flannel, and are a very pretty pattern, and trimmed with red braid. Besides the regular, there will be a practice uniform made of dark gray material.

Cincinnati Commercial Tribune: April 1, 1883
The St. Louis uniform will be almost identical with Cincinnati, and this lack of distinction in dress will cause trouble. The old brown was… very popular, and should have been retained. It was very ill advised to model after Cincinnati, who, after all, is better entitled to the red hose than any other in the country, Boston not excepted.

Rocky Mountain News: April 2, 1883
The St. Louis club this year will wear bright red flannel jackets with all collars. 

Cincinnati Enquirer: April 5, 1883
The change in the St. Louis uniform is also appreciated. For, in comparing the brown stockings with the red stockings yesterday, the latter looked bright and handsome, while the others are remembered as dull and homely.

Cincinnati Enquirer: April 5, 1883
Speaking of the St. Louis uniforms, The Republican says: “The uniform is perhaps the handsomest ever put on a ball field, but it is an imitation of the Cincinnatis. When St. Louis plays Cincinnati there will be some sad mixing up. Better have stuck to brown.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s