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The White Socks

August 14, 2008 - John Mehno

Here's a weird little slice of baseball life that I noticed yesterday in the Pirates' clubhouse.

There's a table in the center of the clubhouse, and there's a laundry basket on that table. The basket contains about 60 pairs of sanitary socks. Those are the long white socks that players used to wear under colored stirrup socks. Hardly anyone wears stirrups these days. A lot of players wear solid colored socks that look like part of a soccer uniform. Others wear their pantlegs down to their shoetops, so no sock shows.

Anyway, the players stop by this basket, grab a pair of socks or two and put them on. Even on the Pirates' modest payroll, they have millions of dollars worth of players sharing socks. This is something you'd think the players' union would have outlawed somewhere along the way.

The late Ray Mansfield used to delight banquet audiences with his stories of how tough things were for the Steelers in the 1960s. He said the team didn't even have enough money to do laundry. He said it came as a great relief one day when the players were told they would finally be able to change their underwear. Then came the announcement: "Mansfield, you change with Russell....Baker, you change with McGee...." It always got a big laugh.

But isn't it at least a little bit weird to think that Freddy Sanchez might be wearing the socks that Zach Duke wore yesterday? Apparently it doesn't bother the players, otherwise someone would have a sock exclusivity clause in their contract.

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