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David Brown

Bring It Back!: Baseball stirrups used to pack much more sock

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Most of our regular readers know that we have no problem with being wistfully nostalgic here on the Stew. From old television commercial clips to old players from the '80s, there isn't anything from the past that we won't pine or long for.

It's that kind of backward-looking obsession that has made us create a dedicated outlet for our wishes. "Bring it Back!" will be a recurring series on Big League Stew, focusing on things that were once a big part of baseball and should once again be.

For our inaugural run, David Brown pays tribute to a hosiery trend that has sadly passed.

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Indians right-hander Anthony Reyes is one of my favorite ballplayers. Oh, not because he can pitch, really; there's been only occasional evidence of that since Reyes broke in with the Cardinals back in '05.

No, Reyes exudes coolness to me because of his socks, specifically that he wears old-fashioned stirrups over them. He wears 'em long and he wears 'em thick. Can we say "badass" here on the Yahoo!? Because that's what Reyes' socks are. They're badass.

How much sock does Reyes show? Paraphrasing Valeria Golino's line (about her own legs) in "Hot Shots": "They go all the way up."

Or, as some might point out, Reyes' pants don't go all the way down. Whichever, if a player shows me some leg I'm happy as a baseball fan.

It makes me so happy that here's what I propose: When it comes to socks, everyone in the majors should dress himself like Reyes.

And not the fakey sock-that-pretends-to-be-a-stirrup, either.

No, I want the real thing.

Why is this? Most simply, it's how Carlton Fisk wore his stirrups when I was a kid. The man had a Hall-of-Fame career in part because of his Hall-of-Fame shins and calves. Fisk played baseball like a movie star: Cool. (I mean, ask Deion Sanders how cool Carlton Fisk was.)

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The big stirrups-look also became the style for Delino DeShields, who wanted to pay respect to the Negro League era, when ballplayers (of every color, really) wore their socks big, broad and sassy. (Come to think, that's how Deion did it, too. Maybe he and Pudge aren't so different.)

Anyway, thick stirrups started to go out of style in the '70s because, I think, fast guys wanted to appear faster by turning the stirrup into an ankle thong. See the legs of Dave Collins and Omar Moreno.

So, Reyes today finds himself among a sartorial minority; guys who show any leg at all. The likes of Reyes, Barry Zito, Juan Pierre and Jim Thome — all holdovers from a bygone nylon era — are scarcer than $1 hot dogs.

Many current stars, such as Ryan Howard and Ryan Braun, wear their baseball pants practically hooked to their spikes, as if they're afraid they'll catch a cold or something. They might have big, wonderful stirrups under there, but we'll never know.

No question, it's time for these guys to start legging it out.

Tell us: What would you like to bring back to baseball? To suggest a topic and possibly write your own case for BLS, email 'Duk at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com.

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