30 Years Later and Hank Greenberg Woulda Kicked Their Asses

The world can really change in some dramatic and shocking ways. Case in point: via the Hardball Times, a post about the uniforms of the 1914 Boston Braves, which featured a swastika on the cap.  I kid you not.

There’s something you don’t see every day, even though Keith Olbermann probably thinks that picture was taken at the Ole Miss baseball team practice last week.  But… what the heck, huh?  The so-well-researched-he-might-need-a-girlfriend answer from the Baseball Researcher blog:

The swastika has been around for thousands of years, the word coming from the Sanskrit “svastika” meaning “all is well.” Up until its adoption by Nazi Germany, the swastika was known as a symbol of luck, and was often worn as a good-luck charm. Of course, the symbol’s association with the Nazis has overshadowed this earlier meaning.

But in 1914, there was no stigma associated with the swastika. Well, at least very little. On January 26, 1912, the New York Times ran an article with the headline “‘Jinxes’ Have No Place With Yankees: Manager Wolverton Will Drive Superstitious Ideas Out of His Ball Team.”

Despite the best efforts of Harry Wolverton, the lucky swastika was and continued to be embraced by people around the world, including ballplayers. In fact, it is my belief that the Braves wore the special “swasti-caps” on Opening Day of 1914 as a good-luck charm … or at least as an end-the-bad-luck charm.


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