Friday, February 19, 2010

The SS of Baseball

Normally, when you're at the ballpark and keeping score of the game, SS usually stands for "Shortstop" (at least, that's the way I note them. No two scorekeepers work the same way).

Well, today's post has something to do with the SS.

No, not the shortstop (well, sort of, but keep reading!)

THE SS, as in Hitler's special forces.

"WTF does the SS have to do with baseball?!" You may ask.

Here's the connection:

NO, that is NOT a photoshop job!! That is indeed a real photo! This shortstop, a player named Rabbit Maranville, really does have a swastika on his hat!

So is this Hitler's subtle attempt to infiltrate the US? Unfortunately, no (though that might make for a fascinating movie plot...). This picture was taken in 1914 on Opening Day, a full 25 years before anyone even knew who that screeching German with the Charlie Chaplain mustache was. Hare Maranville (get it? Herr=German word for "sir", hare=another name for rabbit) actually played for the Boston Braves, and according to Big League Stew, all the Braves players on Opening Day wore swastika hats (I think this was just a 1-day thing).

But aside from Hare Maranville, baseball purists might be surprised to know that Johnny Evers also donned a swastika hat. Here is the incriminating photo below.

Ok, so even though it's before WWII (hell, we're still in WWI at this point!), the question remains...why a swastika? Wouldn't a smiley face just do?

Before that screeching German made the swastika a symbol of hate and supremacy, swastikas were a symbol of good luck. Some cultures even considered them sacred, such as Buddhists and Hindus, both of which adorned statues or alters with swastikas (see here for Buddha, and here for the Hindu holiday celebration of Diwali).

It could very well be that the Braves used this symbol as a good luck charm for the first game of the season. And they did go on to win the World Series that year, so maybe there is some good luck associated with them (not in THAT way! I'm not a Nazi!!).

Have a good weekend!


GM-Carson said...

That was a very interesting read. I never knew that. It's strange to think swastikas at one time weren't filled with hate.

Burton said...

Excellent post, Tam! Very interesting :)

tamtam said...

When I saw this story, I knew it was a keeper :)

Ted said...

Amazing how a symbol--a simple collection of lines--can have so much meaning, and have that meaning change so much over time...