A customer recently sent me a 1955 Brooklyn Dodger Yearbook. These things are always fun to peruse, and sometimes add pieces to the uniform puzzle – or occasionally make the puzzle more confusing. Take this photo of pitcher Johnny Podres and manager Walter Alston, for example: For many years there has been a friendly (and at times not-so-friendly) debate about the correct “B” on the Brooklyn Dodger embroidered caps in the 1950s. At the time Jackie Robinson joined the club in 1947, the “B” was very rounded. At some point in the 1950s a narrower version was adopted. To add to the confusion, the designer of the Dodger hat in the movie “42” (not us!) opted to use a felt – rather than embroidered “B”, which produced a “fatter” emblem in the movie than what the Dodgers actually wore. Well, in this photo from the 1955 world championship season, both versions are shown.
Branch Rickey was known as an innovator, and one of his legacies is the modern “farm” system, whereby the major league club would own their minor league affiliates outright, thereby having more control over player development (the other reason was that Rickey – a notorious cheapskate – got tired of purchasing the contracts of prospects from independent minor league teams). Rickey started developing the farm system concept as GM of the St. Louis Cardinals and brought it over to Brooklyn when he was hired by the Dodgers. All the minor league players would then train together at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida, and it appears that there was a special uniform devised for minor league prospects, consisting of a plain jersey with a simple block “B” on the chest. This is something I had not seen previously.
Lastly, Brooklyn appeared to experiment with a very early version of the mesh cap, which did not become common for baseball caps until the early 1970s. Likely worn only for spring training, Roy Campanella appears to be wearing one in a photograph in the Yearbook. Here’s Campy’s actual cap from that picture.
If anyone has any more insight into the Dodger mesh caps or the minor league prospect “B” uniforms, please leave a comment here. Thanks for reading!