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Saturday, April 19, 2014

NYT: Sandomir: When Swastikas, on Caps, Meant Luck

In 2009, Lukas posted a link to a photograph estimated to be from around 1915 of Maranville wearing a cap with a swastika on it. A few months later, Tom Shieber, the senior curator of the Baseball Hall of Fame, analyzed the uniform and the ballpark’s background in the picture and concluded on his Baseball Researcher blog that the photograph was taken on April 14, 1914, opening day at Ebbets Field between the Braves and the Dodgers. The ballpark was in its second season as the home of the Dodgers.

Last Monday, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of that game, Shieber put his blog post on Facebook. A reader wondered if there had been any contemporaneous articles about the “lucky cap change that could confirm your theory.”

Shieber responded, “I’m still searching for a ‘smoking gun’ on this one.” Shieber said last week in an interview that every six months, he returned to unanswered questions on his blog.

Earlier this month, when the Brooklyn Public Library expanded its digital archive of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Shieber thought he might find his answer. But he came up empty.

Peter Morris, a baseball historian writing a book about what makes baseball the national pastime, quickly turned up what Shieber was missing. Morris had read the Facebook exchange and searched The Eagle through a different database. He discovered an account by an anonymous woman reporting for The Eagle’s Woman of To-day page.

Under the headline “Yesterday’s Ball Game As a Woman Saw It,” she wrote that the Braves had lost the game to the Dodgers, 8-2, “in spite of the luck-inviting-Swastika emblem in red that adorns the cap of each member of the Boston team.”

The cap did not produce much luck for the Braves early that season — hard as it may be to believe a century later that the swastika could have been used to summon good fortune for anyone.

The Braves lost the opening two games to Brooklyn and were in last place as late as July 18 with a 35-43 record.

But they staged a remarkable comeback to finish at 94-59 and swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series.

Thanks to BH.

Repoz Posted: April 19, 2014 at 02:34 PM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Flynn Posted: April 19, 2014 at 02:54 PM (#4689154)
Hint to NYT photo editor: When it says Evers, Boston, that means it's not Rabbit Maranville.
   2. BDC Posted: April 19, 2014 at 03:03 PM (#4689162)
Somewhere I have a lucky piece from the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress exposition that features a swastika among other lucky devices (horseshoe, clover). Even that late it was a neutral emblem at least for Americans. But not much later, obviously.
   3. The District Attorney Posted: April 19, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4689182)
Wear swastikas to score runs
Wear swastikas to win some
Wear swastikas for home runs
Wear swastikas to get lucky
   4. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: April 19, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4689189)
The cap did not produce much luck for the Braves early that season — hard as it may be to believe a century later that the swastika could have been used to summon good fortune for anyone.

The Braves lost the opening two games to Brooklyn and were in last place as late as July 18 with a 35-43 record.

But they staged a remarkable comeback to finish at 94-59 and swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series.

So ... the caps were bad at first but then they went all the way?
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 19, 2014 at 05:35 PM (#4689287)
Wasn't very lucky for the Nazis.

-Signed, America
Two-time World War Champion
   6. spike Posted: April 19, 2014 at 05:50 PM (#4689295)
My local international market sells swastika brand vegetarian BBQ sauce. Really.

Hard to get my head around that one.
   7. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 19, 2014 at 06:00 PM (#4689299)
If their symbol had been a diamond, would we no longer play baseball?
   8. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: April 19, 2014 at 06:08 PM (#4689308)
If their symbol had been a diamond, would we no longer play baseball?

The game would now be played on a swastika. Duh.
   9. bobm Posted: April 19, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4689310)
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_use_of_the_swastika_in_the_early_20th_century
   10. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 19, 2014 at 06:34 PM (#4689325)
There's swastikas on the British WWI memorial statue at Balmoral castle; there's an apologetic note explaining that it predates the Nazis.
   11. TerpNats Posted: April 20, 2014 at 02:26 PM (#4689679)
Here's a pic of Clara Bow donning a swastika for good luck in the 1920s.

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