A group of baseball fans in Kansas City is trying to recreate some of baseball’s old-time mystique by attending a Royals game while bringing back the fashions of days gone by.
That’s the idea behind a project cooked up by a group of Royals fans, organized by Brett Parker. If you tour the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, you’ll read (and if you’re lucky, hear) stories about how fans would go straight from church on Sundays to the baseball park, dressed in their Sunday best. It was a time when men wore suits and hats, when women wore dresses, and America turned out to baseball games as if they were events.
On Sunday, May 5, the Royals will face the Chicago White Sox at 1 p.m. and a group of fans have dubbed it “Dress to the Nines” day at the K. They’ve gotten Bob Kendrick of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on board, they’ve gotten Royals Hall of Famer Willie Wilson to celebrate the idea.
We can’t recreate everything about the era, but with the release of “42″ in theaters, CGI has recreated Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds, and Shibe Park. Fantastic casting of Chadwick Boseman (who looks quite like Jackie Robinson) sells the period even better. It’s clear that the old-time baseball of yesteryear is still of interest to fans all around.
Baseball is surrounded by larger than life personalities. Babe Ruth’s name is spoken with haunting reverence. Ted Williams is ordained as a god of hitting. Name after name – even those none of us have ever seen play in person – is brought up with such a sense of longing, of nostalgia, that the mystique washes over us.
Think of the movie Field of Dreams. While the movie may have had a similar effect if it had been about an Iowa farmer who tears up his crops to build a baseball field that then introduces Joe Schmo – unknown to us in the audience, but presented as a great in the film – the real power comes from its ability to inject the names of days gone by into the conversation. Shoeless Joe Jackson. Mel Ott. Gil Hodges. Names we recall. Names we recognize. Baseball is rooted, perhaps moreso than any major sport, in an appreciation for the greats who have come before the current stars.
So it’s only natural for fans to look back to bygone eras and wonder what it might have been like to witness a game. What would it feel like to be in the stands to watch Stan Musial face off against Sandy Koufax? Nevermind the battle on the field – what would the stands feel like? How would the game progress differently? For a few hours, at least, you could take in the sights and sounds of a game in style. A nod to the past.
Men in suits & hats; ladies in their dresses & hats to see the @royals vs White Sox on “Dressed to the Nines” Day at The K on 5/5!
— negroleaguesmuseum (@nlbmprez) April 29, 2013
Royals fans haven’t had a lot to cheer on the field over the years, but when given the opportunity to get behind a fun and interesting idea, they usually rise up. Royals fans are the group that launced Billy Butler’s “Country Breakfast” nickname into the national scene. We were so raucous in backing up our lone All-Star in own ballpark that it inspired multiple national columnists to try to scold us for the gall of booing Robinson Cano. We got Alex Gordon close to an All-Star selection in 2011 through the Final Vote. We can recognize a good idea and latch onto it.
And this is a good idea. It’s not established by the Royals. It’s not put forth by a radio station. It’s put out there by fans who want to put a unique twist on their attendance of the game and tip a cap towards an older era.
For more information, including organization of a group photo and any specific ticket sections, check out the event’s Facebook page.
UPDATE of the UPDATE: Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star wrote a column about Parker’s idea.
Another UPDATE: Parker was on the Ballgame on ESPN 1510 discussing the event. Dane Iorg and some George Brett were also on the show later so it’s maybe worth a listen.