The off-kilter curly W

A couple of folks have e-mailed me links to the Nationals message board on and a conversation regarding the ballclub’s new home uniforms. In short, there’s a perception that the curly W on the front is crooked. One person claims the replica shirts actually get it right, but the shirts the Nats are wearing seem to be consistently crooked.

I can’t confirm it myself - other than the “fashion show” they had when they were unveiled, I haven’t seen them on the field, though I’ll be down in Viera, Fla., in about a week - but it’s possible they’re right. Or, it could be simply, as another poster said, that the way the shirt hangs on the player’s shoulders makes it look crooked.

Many players these days wear shirts that are somewhat oversized. Back in the day, it was rare to see a major league uniform much bigger than a size 46. Frank Howard wore a 48 when he broke in with the Dodgers, and a 52 his final season, but he was much bigger than the average player. Today, a player who would wear a size 44 suit jacket might be wearing a size 50 uniform top. So an extra, extra-large shirt is going to hang loosely off that player’s shoulders.

Between 1956 and 1958, the Senators’ home jersey featured a block W with a 3-D look, achieved by several layers of fabric. On particularly warm days when a player tended to perspire more, the W would become waterlogged and cause that side of the shirt to sag. The team dropped it in 1959 in favor of a shirt that said “Senators” for the first time in their history.

I noticed another poster that claimed the curly W the Senators wore from 1963-71 isn’t the same as the one the Nats wear now, and posted links to a Web site that showed expansion Senators’ replica caps.

The emphasis here is on the word “replica.”

It’s true that the replica caps sold online and elsewhere are not really much like the caps the Nats wear now. However, if you take a real, game-worn cap from the 1960s - manufactured by Wilson Sporting Goods, by the way - and put it side-by-side with a contemporary Nationals cap, they’re virtually identical, aside from the MLB logo on the back of the modern Nats’ lid. I know, because I’m doing it now, with a Dick Bosman Senators cap and an Alfonso Soriano Nats cap.

The replica caps out there are made by manufacturers who worked from photographs, not actual vintage caps. That’s why they’re called replicas.

I will point out here that the 1971 Senators wore a cheaper cap that featured the curly W on a patch that was sewn on the front. Some of those occasionally had the patch sewn on askew, and no one died. Well, the ballclub itself did, I guess, but the cap had nothing to do with that.

If you care to come to NatsFest on March 30 at the ballpark, I’ll show you exactly what I’m talking about. I’ll have a lot of old uniforms and caps with me, all game-worn, and mostly obtained from the players themselves or former club employees.