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Why do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?

May 01, 2014

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Something I've always been curious about when watching sports, especially at this time of year when the great American pastime gets started: why does the baseball manager wear a uniform like the players?

Other Sports

In football, the coaches used to wear a suit. Old Cowboys coach Tom Landry famously made the fedora look fit on the sidelines and Vince Lombardi always had that trench coat on. In today's age, coaches generally sport team garb, or if you're Bill Belichick, an old dirty hoodie you found on the floor that morning.  

Bill Belichik has a style all his ownBill Belichik has a style all his ownCourtesy of NFLMAG

In hockey the coaches are almost always suited up, real rebels will sometimes go without a tie. I can't find anything in the NHL rule book so it must be an unwritten thing. Currently in the NHL, New York Rangers bench boss Alain Vigneault is probably the most slickly dressed. Proof:

Alain Vigneault, way ahead of the curve for NHL coachesAlain Vigneault, way ahead of the curve for NHL coachesCourtesy of QMJHL

Basketball, same thing, coaches are generally well-dressed, and more recently Commissioner David Stern implemented a rule stating that all coaches must wear a collared shirt, but could forego a tie. This surely ruffled the feathers of Stan Van Gundy, well known for his trademark blazer and turtleneck look.

Stan Van Gundy just finding out about new coaches and collared shirts ruleStan Van Gundy just finding out about new coaches and collared shirts ruleCourtesy of ESPN

In soccer you see all various styles but never a coach decked out in a full kit, looking ready to jog out on the field and play striker. 

In baseball though, every single team's manager is in full uniform, right down to the cleats usually, as if they might go play a few innings at shortstop and bat leadoff if they decided to call themselves in to action. 

But why?

History

When baseball was first popularized at the turn of the century, coaches, or captains, often also played for the team. When these experienced leaders could no longer play they often became managers, but didn't like the idea of no longer suiting up with the rest of the boys. The tradition has carried forward throught history right up until today when all the managers still suit up in full uniform. The offical MLB rulebook states that nobody can be on the field of play who isn't in uniform, including coaches, but that presumably refers to the first and third base coaches, and no such rule prohibits managers from wearing whatever they like in the dugout. Baseball is a game of many traditions, and one of those traditions that doesn't look to be changing is the manager wearing full uniform.

Pioneer

One individual who had no time for the uniform thing was legendary Philly skipper, Connie Mack. Connie managed the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 years and always wore a business suit and tie in the dugout. After his retirement the MLB passed the above rule which effectively stopped all managers from donning anything but a team uniform. 

Connie Mack was a pioneer for manager fashionConnie Mack was a pioneer for manager fashionCourtesy of Wikipedia

Have your say!

Do you think team managers should wear the full uniform? Do you think they should wear suits and ties or whatever they want? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

 

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