My older brother Nolen Robert dazzled me one day when he came home from high school wearing his baseball uniform. This was in the mid-1950s soon after the Korean War. I was about ten years old, and I watched him closely as a guide to growing up. He taught me to play baseball a few short years after he taught me to smoke. Later on he taught me to drive our tractor, then our pickup truck. He was a fine, attentive teacher and I wanted to be like him.
His baseball uniform simply dazzled me. I had never had my hands on a real baseball uniform before, and his looked a lot like the ones worn by major league players on TV. While I have no pictures of him in that uniform, I remember his red baseball cap, the bright red lettering and number over the light gray shirt, the wide red belt loops, the red rear button-down pocket flaps on his pants that came down a few inches below his knees, and his long red socks.
On those rare days when I watch baseball on TV now—usually for a short time before I get bored—I’m struck by how long major league players’ pants are, with several inches of surplus material bunched up around their ankles and sometimes dragging the ground at their heels. Nolen Robert’s baseball uniform looked so much neater. Major League Baseball would do well to look back a half century for a more stylish look than they have today (scroll down the opening page).
See what I mean about today’s too-long pants? (Photo credit.)
Nolen Robert was a sharp dresser. He paid attention to detail. So when he donned his baseball uniform, he wore it well. Recently, Texas state senator Kirk Watson addressed a group I belong to, and when he walked into the room a friend sitting next to me, Walt Tashnick, said, “He knows how to wear a suit.” Well, Nolen Robert knew how to wear a baseball uniform.
Maybe this blog post will result in one of my relatives or friends sending me a picture of Nolen Robert in his baseball uniform. I’d like to have a copy. If I had one, I’d frame it and put it on my bookshelf near my picture of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford. All four of them were heroes to me.
Some years later I was issued a high school baseball uniform, and I was really proud of it. I know of no surviving pictures of me in that uniform, if any were ever taken. But I remember Nolen Robert’s uniform better than I remember my own because I admired him so much, and because his was such a new experience for me. I’d rather have a picture of him wearing his.