"With no drinks [MacPhail] was brilliant. With one he was a genius. With two he was insane. And rarely did he stop at one." -Ken Burns 'Baseball'
One of the great things about the Los Angeles Dodgers, from a design perspective, is that their design elements date back further than 1958. I've written ad infinitum about the cap logo extending back to the PCL Los Angeles Baseball Club, but until today I didn't know who commissioned the Dodger script logo nor did I know that it tied the Dodgers to today's opponent: the New York Yankees. Todd Radom wrote the story on his blog, and I thought you all would dig it.
It all ties in to Larry MacPhail. Despite a name that would be a blogger's dream in this day and age, he was responsible for many of baseball's lasting innovations. It's a tough call for his longest lasting innovation as he was the one who installed lights at Cincinnatti's Crosley Field in 1935 introducing night baseball for the first time. He'd later install lights for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees. He also originated plane travel for teams and was a champion of regular radio broadcasts. At Cincinnati he hired Red Barber, then brought him to Brooklyn. Barber would later hire Vin Scully.
One theme throughout baseball is that the installation of lights was always a big deal. It was a break from tradition, the Chicago Cubs didn't install lights until the 80s, and it was thought that teams needed special uniforms that would pop under the lights. Which explains the red pants the Reds briefly donned in 1936. The Reds also introduced script Reds spelled out on a white shirt. He'd soon do the same for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In 1937 the Brooklyn Dodgers were awful. They finished 33.5 games out which for the record is many many games out. They did it wearing Kelly Green, probably to appeal to Brooklyn's Irish population. They also went with tan away uniforms, which was supposed to be less "drab" than the gray away uniforms.
Larry MacPhail joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938. The club had planned on sticking with kelly green but MacPhail had other ideas. Business manager MacPhail switched the Dodgers to the now familiar shade of blue and put a script Dodgers across the front of the jersey.
It's the same tail coming off the s as in the Reds script introduced under MacPhail. There was also a script Brooklyn introduced a year later, something the Dodgers have experimented with off and on in Los Angeles. The script Dodgers has remained the Dodger home uniform ever since.
The red numbers weren't introduced until 1952, the same year the Dodgers introduced a logo with a baseball above the script (no red action lines, those were added in Los Angeles). The Dodgers were the first big league team to display numbers on the front of their uniform, the red made the innovative feature stand out.
In 1942 MacPhail resigned to serve in World War II. To fill the void, the Dodgers hired Branch Ricky later that year as President and GM.
After the war he joined the New York Yankees where he added lights for the third time in his executive career. In 1946, looking to beef up advertising, MacPhail commissioned a new Yankee logo created by noted sports artist Lon Keller. The script Yankees with a bat for the K and a top hat on the bat is still the Yankee primary logo.
Three clubs, one executive, all still displaying brand elements he commissioned.
Additional reporting was done by bhsportsguy.