In the 19th century we have multiple newspaper accounts that describe the Browns uniforms, and especially the lettering on the jersey. Some times the newspaper accounts say they had “St. Louis” on the shirt, and sometimes they say “St. Louis Browns.” Reading that seems strange, as there are no photographs to corroborate these claims. So from a design aspect, trying to compose this on a shirt front clearly wouldn’t fit across the chest, unless it was broken into two lines of letters. Again, we have never seen the word Browns appear in any photography, but the newspaper consistently make this claim throughout multiple seasons.

We have to look at precedent from other teams when considering this claim. Thanks to the work by Craig Brown at, we know a small handful of teams wore two lines of text on their jersey. 1883 Chicago Unions, 1888 Fort Worth, 1889 Kansas City, 1889 Sioux City, 1896 Page Fence Giants, and 1897 Grand Rapids all wore two lines of letters on their jerseys. But of those six teams, only the Page Fence Giants actually have their team name on the jersey. Beyond the Giants, Chicago uses the Union League as part of their jersey, and the rest only describe their city name; Kansas City, Grand Rapids, and Sioux City all being two worded cities. It was incredibly rare for any team in this era to wear their team name on their jersey, which makes the claim that the Browns wore two lines of letters, including their team name, doesn’t seem to have a lot of legs.
We couple that with the non existent accountability of newspaper writers in the era, and we get a history mystery.

There is of course the 1886 Monarchs of the Sphere drawing, see below, which clearly shows two lines of text. Yes this is just a drawing, not a photograph, but does it give any credence to something the Browns actually wore? Or is it simply an illustration showing people that the city name is St. Louis and the team name is the Browns?

Of course we must also mention Abbott and Costello’s Who’s On First routine. Bud Abbott is famously wearing what appears to be a 19th century style uniform. Pillbox style cap, flannel shirt with collar, large belt with a single middle belt loop, the patterned pants often seen in 19th century baseball, and two lines of letters that says St. Louis Wolves. Is this an intriguing set of coincidences? Or did people of the 1940s still remember what 19th century baseball looked like?

History Mysteries:
Did the Browns ever wear two lines of lettering on the jersey?
Are the newspaper accounts completely incorrect in their claims?
Who is on first.

St. Louis Post Dispatch: February 16, 1884
The St. Louis uniforms will be the handsomest ever put on the field here locally, and will consist of a very pretty shirt, small collar, plain front with the words St. Louis in brown letters across the front; 

The Sporting News: March 17, 1886
Von der Ahe’s champions have ordered white uniforms, with brown trimmings and hose, with “St. Louis” in brown letters on the breast.

The Sporting Life: February 24, 1886
Spalding has the contract for the Browns’ uniforms. There will be two sets. They will differ but little from those of last year. The uniforms will be white and the stockings and belts brown. The same striped caps will be used, with the exception that they will have two circular stripes of brown, one at the apex and one half-way down. The belts will have nickel-plated buckles. The word “St. Louis” will be across the breast, as was the case last year. The new suits will not be worn until the opening championship game.

Sporting Life: March 23, 1887
The Browns will have two new uniforms. The championship uniform will be of the champion’s color, brown and white striped, of the finest cloth. The relay or exhibition game uniform will be of blue — shirt and breeches — and wine colored stockings. Across the breast of the shirt words, “St. Louis Browns” will be placed in wine colored cloth. The boys of the of the boss club will be supplied with uniforms this season. 

Brooklyn Daily: May 27, 1892
There isn’t much to praise about the St. Louis uniform. The navy blue shirts, trousers, and caps, with brown stockings, give them a heavy, uncouth appearance, as if they had just emerged from a bath. The only thing that relives the monotony of color is the word ‘St. Louis’ worked in white across the breast.

St. Louis Post Dispatch: March 12, 1893
The Browns’ new uniforms reached Sportsman’s Park yesterday. They were made by the E. C. Meacham Arms Co., and present a fine appearance. The pants and shirts are of blue, and the words, “St. Louis Browns” are across the shirts in white letters. The stockings, belts and caps are brown.

The Sporting Life: March 31, 1894
The Browns have announced their selection of ’94 uniforms. At home they will wear white with brown trimmings. On the road, blue flannel shirts and pants, with brown trimmings and the name, “St. Louis Browns,” across the shirt front. The cap is of blue, with brown trimmings, and the belt and stockings are brown.

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