All American

Photo of red, white, and orange Houston Astros jersey from 1983 worn by pitcher Joe Niekro
A 1983 Houston Astros jersey worn by pitcher Joe NiekroCourtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum/Milo Stewart Jr. B-50-83 

Inspired by this spring’s arrival of the city’s minor-league baseball team, the Worcester Art Museum has mounted a new show celebrating the sport: The Iconic Jersey: Baseball x Fashion. Opening June 12, the exhibit offers more than 35 historic and contemporary shirts, along with vintage photographs and trading cards, fabric swatches, and logo designs. On display, for instance, is “Stan the Man” Musial’s 1952 St. Louis Cardinal’s jersey, featuring the team’s bird-and-bat logo, which was hand-stitched (as all the team jerseys were) by workers at the R.J. Liebe Athletic Lettering Company through 2003. There’s the splashy 1983 Houston Astros jersey worn by pitcher Joe Niekro. A simple 2017 striped white top, designed by G Yamazawa and Runaway Clothing, honors the Japanese American players held at the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming during World War II.

What about the uniforms of the new Worcester Red Sox, a Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox? On opening day at the new Polar Park stadium, slated for May 11, team members will trot onto the field sporting jerseys adorned with the iconic yellow smiley-face holding a bat and clad in red knee socks. Devised by the San Diego-based Brandiose, the logo pays homage to commercial artist Harvey Ball, born and raised in Worcester. Ball originally created the smiley-face for a local insurance company in 1963, dashing it off in 10 minutes and earning $45. Sixty years later, it’s ubiquitous, and now affiliated with a multibillion-dollar sport franchise. Go WooSox! 

Read more articles by: Nell Porter Brown

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