May 4, 1975 –
Walkoff Win in Baseball’s Worst Uniforms
The Indians unveiled a new set of uniforms at the beginning of 1975 that are infamous as one of the worst outfits in baseball history.
The double-knit polyester pullovers featured a pseudo-Greek script that came to be known as the “Caveman font” by some. ”Sans-a-Belt” elastic waistbands replaced traditional belts. The road red-on-red uniforms were particularly hideous, although the mono-color mix-and-match nature of the uniforms were pretty bad in any combination.
I reached out to Paul Lukas of the venerable Uni Watch for his take on the 1975 set. Paul and the Uni Watch team have written about Caveman unis several times, but he was kind enough to comment on this look, “Ah, the blood clot uni — a true ’70s classic. One of those uniforms that would look absurd if you brought it back today but somehow felt Just Right for its era.”
Game 20 of the 1975 campaign was the second half of a true Sunday afternoon double-header. The Tribe had dropped the first game 1-11 after beating the Orioles both Friday and Saturday night.
Don Baylor got the Orioles on the board in the top of the 1st with a two-run RBI double off Indians starter Don Hood.
In the bottom of the 2nd, the beloved Oscar Gamble hit a solo home run. The Tribe manufactured two additional runs in the bottom of the 4th when Buddy Bell hit a single, stole second, and was driven in by catcher Alan Ashby’s single to left field. John Lowenstein would bunt Ashby over to third.
With Tommy McCraw at the plate, Ashby stole home while Lowenstein advanced to second. Alan Ashby went on to have a very successful career, primarily with the Astros. He is now the play-by-play voice of the Astros.
The big day for catchers continued, when the Orioles evened the score in the top of the 7th with a solo home run by Dave Duncan. Dennis Eckersley replaced Don Hood and secured the last out of the 7th. Eck would retire the side in the 8th.
In the top of the 9th, Eckersley got in some trouble when he gave up a hit to Doug DeCinces and walked Jim Northrup and Ken Singleton. With the bases loaded, he got Al Bumbry to ground out weakly back to the mound.
The Indians would get runners on base in both the 9th and 10th innings, but were unable to bring them home. In the bottom of the 11th, with runners on first and third, George Hendrick hit a single off Orioles reliever Jesse Jefferson to score Frank Duffy and end the game.
The 1975 jersey has become an (ironic?) fan favorite. You can always spot at least one 1975 jersey in the stands, whether the Indians are home or away. However, I have to agree with Paul Lukas. It has not aged well when it is worn by actual ballplayers. Changes in fabric and cut are not kind to the looks of the 1970s when they are reproduced for throwback day. Case in point: CC Sebathia looking like a blood clot in 2004.