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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Baseball Players, Listen To Me: Stop Wearing Shirts Under Vest Jerseys

Illustration for article titled Baseball Players, Listen To Me: Stop Wearing Shirts Under Vest Jerseys
Photo: David Zalubowski (AP)

Attention all baseball men! Have you been outside? It is thousands of degrees outside and somehow even more humid. Terrible! It is almost August. And so I say to you: it is time to stop wearing these ridiculous t-shirts under your jerseys.

There are only two (2) Major League Baseball teams with a vest jersey in their rotation currently. The Colorado Rockies have a black vest that they wear about once a week, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have a cream colored vest that they wear, for reasons far too complicated and serious to be explained to the public, only for Thursday home games. Both of those teams are more than 15 games out of first place in the National League West. It is possible that this is not because both teams wear their vests poorly. But can it really be a coincidence that both teams wear their vest jerseys incorrectly and lag far behind in the standings? I think not.

I watched the Rock Boys play the Dodgers on Monday night, in a game they won 9-1. The win, however, was basically meaningless because they looked so dumb; they were wearing their ridiculous vests over black compression shirts. Some players wore long sleeves, others short, but all of them looked nerdy and dumb. If you’re going to wear the same color shirt under a vest you might as well have a jersey with sleeves. The whole point of a vest is to show off the arm muscles you presumably spend hundreds of hours a month exercising. You would not think I’d have to explain this to baseball players, but evidently I do.


Some history: The Chicago Cubs premiered the vest jersey in 1940. Presumably, this was to grant players a greater range of motion for throwing and hitting or whatever. A reasonable enough goal, but also do you know what grants the most range of motion and also a nice breeze when worn on a terrible hot baseball diamond? Not wearing an undershirt at all!

Not one member of the Diamondbacks or the Rockies has had the gumption to wear their vest without a shirt this whole season. Perhaps that is because there is some “clubhouse rule” they’re all too goody-goody to break. Or maybe it’s just because they are no fun.

The Cincinnati Reds showed that there was another way to live when they wore throwback jerseys on July 7. So many Reds players decided not to be stuck-up boring babies and take off their undershirts, and because of that, the world got to gaze admiringly at Yasiel Puig’s massive biceps.


Puig’s decision was probably an homage to the famously undershirtless Reds first baseman Ted Kluszewski. A bare shirt icon in his generation and every generation since, Kluszewski was a strapping 6-foot-2, hit 279 dingers in his career, and was also an expert bragger. When he joined the Reds in 1947 he claimed that he had to cut his sleeves off because his biceps were too damn big. “It was either that or change my swing,” he reportedly said, “and I wasn’t about to change my swing.”


This is a great brag! Much is made of baseball’s need for more drama, but more sex appeal wouldn’t hurt, either. Front offices are always trying new ideas to recruit new fans—shots in the dark like “bobbleheads” and “games in London”—when the real answer is plainly visible. Here is that answer: vest jerseys, no shirts, end of message. Yes the Reds lost that July 7 game, but in all of the photos it looks like they were playing a little league team. They looked cool as hell.

With their long baggy pants and big baggy shirts, it is easy to forget that Major League Baseball has some real brick-shithouse dudes in it. Imagine how much better a home run slow motion shot would look if we could see those biceps engage. Imagine a team wearing vests and no undershirts in the damn playoffs making a mockery of the other team out there with their demure sleeves.


Sleeves are repressive. Sleeves are regressive. Sleeves are, I submit, for little baby teams who are afraid that other people will see that they have small muscles. Let the beefy boys show off, I say. Let them wear vests!


Update: A previous version of this piece incorrectly stated that the Colorado Rockies lost their Monday game. They won, but the undershirts were still bad.

Kelsey McKinney is a staff writer for Deadspin.

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