Sunday, February 25, 2024

rolled reuss?

back when i was playing baseball (mostly in the 1980's), uniform day was a much anticipated milestone. one thing that got a lot of attention were the stirrups.

there were lots of things to consider - do you stretch them or not? if so, how much of the top of the stirrup will you show? and, the more you stretch, the more material closer to the knee, and with that there was the question of whether you fold or roll that material. and remember -  we wore socks, covered by "sanitarys", and then the stirrups. three layers of material that contributed to the mass that needed to be dealt with. some of my teammates used tape to try to keep it all in place, but a lot of them rolled it down.

it looks like jerry reuss was a "roller" based on the image used on his 1982 topps sticker
but i reached out to him to get the scoop:
My older brother tutored me on the proper sock roll. I don’t know where he came up with the method but it sounded right to me. Put on uni pants with bottoms near your ankles. Then pull sanis as high as you can get them, followed by the stirrups (preferably 7”) riding same height. Pull up pants and fold all three layers together to desired height. If the socks were striped, I made sure all stripes were visible.
that's great big league advice right there! you can see examples of the stripes he refers to on his 1972 topps card (cardinals) and 1976 topps card (pirates).

i can't tell what pedro guerrero's tendencies were from the photo on reuss' sticker, but he clearly stretched his stirrups! his 1985 topps sticker 
doesn't show any bulk near his knee, so maybe he didn't have to roll or fold?!

one guy who i am pretty sure didn't stretch his stirrups was steve garvey, as you can see a pretty standard approach on his cards including this 2004 donruss world series blue card
it's hard to tell, however, if garvey rolled or folded. i assume folded, but his left leg shows some bulk. still, it looks folded to me. as an aside, i folded, and my league issued stirrups looked like garvey's in my little league days. if you go back to the first post on this blog, you will see that i stretched them out a bit as i moved on to babe ruth baseball.

in earlier decades, i think the stirrups were slightly different, with less actual stirrup. case in point, jim gilliam's 2002 topps superteams foil parallel card
shows very little of the sock underneath the stirrup.

in recent years, after a preponderance of long pants that showed no sock, sanitary, or stirrup for many players, this has been replaced by socks with designs, like cody bellinger is wearing on his 2022 topps pristine refractor parallel
even more recently, these socks have evolved to include a stirrups design! you can see this on jj bleday's 2023 topps stadium club card
looks like he pulled those socks up a bit higher than intended!

thanks to number 41 for his insight on the topic, and no matter whether they are stretched and folded or rolled or just printed on socks, i enjoy seeing the stirrups!


  1. Nice post! But I've always wondered if there was a practical purpose for stirrups. And who wore them first?

    1. i know that stirrups were initially a way to add color without making shoes/cleats too tight. the "sanitarys" were socks that were to protect your skin from the dyes that were initially used on stirrups. not sure who wore them first or even came up with the idea.

  2. Stirrups definitely brings back memories of 80's baseball... both MLB and Little League. I don't remember wearing "sanitarys" though.