Why do baseball coaches wear uniforms ? Baseball is chock full of odd habits and conventions that, through decades and decades of use, we’ve all normalized as “tradition” — not to be trifled with, or touched, or thought about for too long. Why is the foul pole in fair territory? Why is it called a shortstop? Why do we all, in unison, get up and stretch in the middle of the game?
But of all the game’s curiosities, one might be the most curious of all: To this day, managers are still the only coaches in American professional sports who suit up in uniform, just like their players. Bill Belichick would never strap on shoulder pads. No one ever asks Gregg Popovich to throw on a tank top. And yet, here are the venerable skippers of MLB — all shapes, sizes and ages — looking like they’re about to be asked to take some hacks in the batter’s box.
The answer, as is so often the case with all of the most wonderfully weird features of our national pastime, dates back to the late 19th century. In baseball’s early days, the word “manager” meant something slightly different: It referred to a team’s business manager, the person tasked with keeping the books and arranging travel and generally making sure that everything ran smoothly. The person that we think of today as a manager — i.e., a team’s strategic leader, settling on lineups and making pitching changes — was simply known as the captain.
That captain wore a uniform — because, by and large, he was a player himself. Initially it was a practical concern: Early teams simply didn’t have the resources to think about hiring a separate coach. But as the game became increasingly professionalized (and increasingly specialized), responsibilities of both player and coach grew, and the roles began to differentiate. (According to MLB official historian John Thorn, the word “manager” stopped referring to business managers and started referring to the people making on-field decisions around 1900.)
Still, the sartorial tradition continued. There have been contrarians, of course: Legendary Philadelphia A’s skipper Connie Mack, who began his managerial career doing double-duty as a player-manager, famously wore a suit in the dugout during games.
Why Do Baseball Managers and Coaches Wear Uniforms?
In many sports, head coaches dress resplendently in formal suits and ties. In baseball, however, the manager wears the same team uniform the players wear. The coaches also dress in numbered team uniforms. This is a singular phenomenon that only happens in baseball.
Why do the coaches and managers wear the same uniforms the players do? Baseball managers wear team uniforms because the manager position of today used to be held by the team captain, who both managed from the dugout and played on the field.
The manager was once a player for the team, and was designated as “captain” because of his management duties. Baseball has risen in popularity to become an extremely profitable enterprise with a lot on the line. Managers, most of whom are retired ball players themselves, now focus entirely on running the team and managing the coaches.
There was a transition period in the early 20th century when managers stopped playing and only coached, and wore business suits.
Ironically, though it’s acceptable and even expected of a basketball coach to wear a suit, wearing a suit and tie to the become acceptable and even expected.
What Is the Role of the Coach in Baseball?
We will be talking all about baseball coaches. But first things first, what do coaches do in baseball?
The primary role of coaches includes telling the team’s manager about the performances of their players. This will help them strategize and make the players part of a winning team.
For most major baseball leagues, each team has from nine to eleven coaches. And, each coach plays a different role, like the batting coach, pitching coach, and other positions.
The coach would focus on each player so that they can competently carry out their functions for the games.
Suitable for the game settings
If you are an avid fan of baseball or play it yourself, you would know that it is an outdoor sport. The open field, grass, and vast space are the usual setup for every game.
Does this relate to the baseball coach gear we see in every game?
The attire of any individual is closely related to where they are currently at. The usual business looks like those basketball coaches would look weird when placed in the baseball setting.
Wearing formal clothing, with all the suit-and-tie and pants, would be too much for a baseball coach. So when we take into consideration the outdoor setup of baseball, coaches wearing uniforms fit just right!
Aligned with the rules
Also, another thing to consider when coaches wear their clothing is that they are still regarded as players of the team. Like any other player, they need to match their teams by wearing the same uniform.
The sports coach outfit is also written on the Major League Baseball rules. The League Rules tell us what should be the attire for the players, coaches, and even the managers.
The rules for this are written in Rule 1.11, Section a1 and a3. In Section a1, it notes that players should have the same team color, style, and design. Furthermore, if there is someone on the team with a different jersey or attire, they cannot participate.
As we read along to rule 2.00, it states that the coach is also a team member assigned by the manager, that should be wearing a uniform!
If it is in the rules, baseball teams participating in games will surely follow them.
The Long Tradition of Baseball Uniforms
Depending on how much of a believer you are, sticking to superstitions and practices will remain prevalent even today.
It started back on April 4, 1849, when the New York Knickerbockers wore the usual baseball uniform prototype adopted today. The attire includes white flannel shirts, straw hats, and woolen pants.
From here, many modifications to the baseball uniform molded it into what we see today. Some of the changes observed are putting their represented cities on their jersey, using graphic designs, and having special baseball shoes.
Despite being something done for more than a few decades in the major baseball games, traditions are not something that can fully explain why coaches wear their team’s uniform.
Similarly, not everyone is fond of coaches wearing the same uniform as the team because we see how different coaches suit up in other sports. Reddit holds a lot of discourses around this, but generally, opinions vary.
Hopefully, this article answers your question as “why do baseball coaches wear uniforms?”. We see it all the time in all existing baseball games, so it is just right that we dive deep and answer why.
To sum it up, coaches wear their team’s uniform because of the sport’s tradition, its stipulation in the rules, and it is best for the outdoor setting of the game.
Times have changed, and coaches are now different from batters and runners. But, this does not change the history and superstition of why they still stick with the good old team uniform each game!
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