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EFF Founder Jerry Cohen, gives us a brief history of authentic baseball jackets and show us a few original examples. Plus save save a whopping 20% on all of our handcrafted built-to-order American made authentic vintage baseball jackets for a limited time.

An original Milwaukee Brewers (American Association) jacket from 1950


Perhaps the most difficult historic on-field garment EFF does is the authentic baseball jacket. Pictures of players who happen to be wearing their warm-up jackets are scarce, and actual jackets that have survived the ravages of time are scarcer still. It occurred to me that we don’t talk enough about this part of our vintage product line, so we thought it might be fun to offer a brief capsule history of the baseball jacket, which like other parts of the uniform, has evolved over time.

Going back to the early 20th Century, players initially wore heavy gauge wool shawl collar or cardigan sweaters. These “full fashioned” sweaters were knit by hand or on early knitting machines. The 1920s saw the first appearance of jackets. Many of these were double-breasted affairs, sometimes with belts, made with plaid wool fabric and full collars, similar to hunting or shooting coats at the time. The Chicago American Giants of the 1920s sported such a style.

The Chicago American Giants posing in their attractive "hunter's" style plaid coats, circa 1925.

In the 1930s we find the appearance of the classic baseball jacket most familiar to Ebbets fans: All wool or wool with leather sleeves, knit striped cuffs, collar, and waist, a lining of cotton, satin, or even fur. This basic style (with variations) remained virtually unchanged until the 1960s, when satin jackets became more common (although the first satin baseball jackets actually appeared as early as the 1930s.) By the 1970s the wool and rayon satin jackets began to be replaced with polyester flight satin, the “Starter” jacket that was so ubiquitous by the 1980s and 1990s.

Original Memphis Red Sox jacket from 1945
Our authentic reproduction of the jacket. Available now.
This 1930s Mission Reds jacket is one of the earliest examples of a rayon satin jacket we have seen. Fabric has faded from the original deep red.

An original Milwaukee Brewers
(American Association) from 1950

An original Milwaukee Brewers
(American Association) from 1950

An original Milwaukee Brewers
(American Association) from 1950

An original Milwaukee Brewers
(American Association) from 1950

An original Milwaukee Brewers
(American Association) from 1950


Although the classic wool and leather baseball jackets look superficially very much like the common “varsity” school jacket, there are some significant differences: The quality of materials was generally superior in professional baseball jackets, particularly of the leather and wool used. The body length was also a bit longer, covering the waist instead of the riding just at the waist the way varsity or “bomber” jackets do. Because freedom of movement was of paramount importance for these athletes, a knit shoulder insert was often put between the body and sleeve (see the original Milwaukee Brewers jacket above).

One of my favorite stories is when we were bidding to do uniforms for the Jackie Robinson biopic “42”. The costume designer was British, and she was unfamiliar with historic baseball uniforms. However, she had done her research, and was determined to get one particular detail right: In the film Branch Rickey persuades Bert Shotten to come back as manager to replace the suspended Leo Durocher. Shotten had promised his wife he would never put on a uniform again, so he managed the Dodgers in street clothes. However he did wear a blue satin Brooklyn Dodgers jacket in the dugout. The costume designer showed me pictures of Shotten in the jacket. We just happened to have a roll of vintage Dodger blue cotton-backed rayon satin in the warehouse that was perfect for that one piece of clothing in the film. Needless to say we got the job!

Author - JERRY COHEN Founder, EFF Inc.


6 comments

  • Mike Olson: May 29, 2018

    I just received your 1950 Milwaukee Brewers jacket and it’s a work of art. Your company employs some true craftsman. Thank you.

  • Brian in Ft.W: March 27, 2018

    Love the back stories & history behind the great products EFF sells! Your attention to detail is awesome. I haven’t purchased a jacket yet but it’s near the top of my EFF wish list. I’m too busy “procuring” more caps!
    I would love to read some history on caps, btw. I was able to pick Jerry’s brain several years ago (maybe 07) on hats & could have stayed there all day.
    Keep doin what yer doin!

  • Terry Bass: March 26, 2018

    They aren’t just Jackets or Jerseys these garments are works of art. I love wearing my 39’ Oakland Oaks Jacket, and can’t wait to order at least one more Jacket that’s the hard part for me Choosing the next one.

  • Eric E Magnuson: March 25, 2018

    Informative history both with regard to the utility of those jackets and EFF’s attention to the garment manufacturing. Admittedly, I’ve been waiting for years for you to offer a reproduction of an American Association Milwaukee Brewers jacket like the one featured in the introductory photo. When you do, please expect me to be first in line to get one. Regardless, thanks for everything y’all do, from an obsessed fan of your company’s work.

  • AndyInHonolulu: March 21, 2018

    Wonderful look at a part of the baseball uniform that doesn’t get as much attention. For those reading who have never seen one of EFF’s jackets in person or worn one, I can tell you they are magnificent. Hard to beat authentic design, original materials and construction. For me, it’s what I wear to ball games.

  • Baruch Guzman: March 21, 2018

    Where are the jackets, there are only 2 listed?

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