By In Stuff

An Announcement

Because this is a personal blog, I hope you will indulge me for a moment as I make what is, to me anyway, a very important announcement about my life.

From this day forward, I intend to only wear baseball ties.

This has been a long time coming. I’m sure this has happened to you — for years, I have thought about making this transition to an all baseball tie wardrobe, but the time was never quite right. I believe that time is now. I am getting rid of all my non-baseball ties. I am purchasing nothing but baseball ties from here on in. This is it. I’m all in on the baseball tie thing.

Yes, sure, first thing you will say is: “Wait, you’re going to wear a BASEBALL TIE to a somber event like a funeral or the dinner when you accept the National Book Award for your soon to be finished book on Harry Houdini?” Yes, that is correct. I am indeed finishing a book on Houdini. Thank you for asking about that. Also, I am in the market for baseball ties that will fit all occasions.

I began this all-baseball-tie process last October during the baseball playoffs. I wear jacket and tie to baseball games I cover. I do this because … I don’t know why exactly. I like ties, I guess. I am like the opposite of the cool executive and creative types you read about who brag about how they love their job precisely because they don’t have to wear a tie. I work in a profession where you really don’t have to wear a tie, and I do anyway. This makes me ridiculous.

I have theorized — because, honestly, it’s just a theory — that the reason I wear a jacket and tie is that my parents always hoped that I would have a jacket-and-tie kind of job. My parents are immigrants who came to America just three years before I was born. My father worked in a factory. My mother stayed at home (though she later went back to school and became a computer programmer). There was a clear, “We sacrifice so that you will have a better life” theme throughout my childhood. The hope was that I would become a doctor, naturally. The fallback was lawyer. The everything-must-go-store-closing settlement was accountant. I went to college to become an accountant. Needless to say, it didn’t work out well.

It’s hard to describe the power of suits and ties in my childhood imagination. I didn’t know many men who wore ties to work; they mostly did not live in our neighborhood. In my mind, men who wore ties to work, wow, they were rich and powerful. They were the sort of people who belonged to country clubs and drank champagne from crystal tulip glasses and clicked croquet balls through those hoopy things stuck into the ground and they all had spouses named “Lovey” like Thurston Howell III. On those rare days when my father wore a tie, you knew something big and vital was about to happen — someone was about get married, someone had just passed away, the factory was having the big Christmas party at the owner’s house.

Anyway, I have always associated my parent’s ambitions for us with neckties. And maybe that’s why I wear them any time I go to a game or have an interview or appear on television. I’m wearing one right now.

And the tie I’m wearing, yep, it’s a baseball tie. It’s red and has a bunch of little sketches of the proper way to hold the baseball when throwing different pitches. There’s the knuckleball grip, the slider grip, the palmball grip (palmball!), etc.

For years, I wore real ties — “real” meaning “ties that do not necessarily have baseballs on them” — and it was fine. I had some fun ties; a couple of them had Looney Tunes characters on them. I had some serious ties with stripes or dots. I like a lot of those ties. I have a moon rock tie. I have a Sinatra tie. All must go.

Back to how this happened: Last year I was at the Baseball Hall of Fame for this incredibly cool project that I can’t wait to tell you about … and I was in the gift shop, and I saw this awesome baseball tie. It’s one that features the Norman Rockwell painting of the umpires deciding to call the game because of rain. It’s actually called “Game Called Because of Rain.”

I had to get that tie, it was way cool. And I wore it a couple of times, it got a lot of compliments. And it hit me: I should only wear baseball ties. I mean I’m at the point in my life where:

1. I like baseball a lot.

2. Like, a lot.

3. Seriously, who am I trying to impress at this point in my life?

So during the playoffs last year, I made the switch. I wore a different baseball tie every day until I ran out (I think I have 11 of them now) and then started over. And here was the craziest part. NOBODY NOTICED. I mean, people noticed individual ties — partiparticularlyNorman Rockwell one which seems to be the most beloved of the group so far — but nobody noticed that I was wearing only baseball ties.

And I thought: This works. Most people won’t notice anyway. And the people who do notice … well, just today, I went to the Hall of Fame press conference for Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman. What a great group, and before it began I went to see the delightful Andrea Thome, Jim’s wife, who my wife and I got to know many years ago.

She said: “I love your tie!”

So this is happening. I will readily admit that my midlife crisis does not have the same energy as the convertible sports-car midlife crisis, but that’s OK. I don’t like convertibles. I love baseball ties. I think back to my younger self, the kid who wanted to make a success of his life but had neither the will nor the brains to do it the conventional way, and I would love to tell him that I have a job where I wear jackets and ties.

“All right,” my younger self would say blandly.

“But here’s the great part,” I would tell myself. “They’re all baseball ties.”

And with that my younger self’s face would light up. “Cool,” he would say or whatever the word was at that time.

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43 Responses to An Announcement

  1. Caitlin Shively says:

    Your writing always brings a smile to my face, no matter what the subject — we were lucky to have you more than weekly here in Kansas City, so I appreciate your blogs to pretend we still do.

  2. Rob Smith says:

    Good stuff. You’re easing your way nicely into the lovable old coot stage of life. You still might be a tad young, but why not give it a whirl. A bit of advice. Save one black or gray tie for funerals. People seem to lack a sense of humor at those events.

    • Rich says:

      Agree with Rob about black/gray ties.

      Love the combination of sports, family, and funky personal stories.

    • Yehoshua Friedman says:

      Another vote for Rob. But otherwise, great, baseball ties. I believe in wearing things that are meaningful. When 9000 residents of Gush Katif in Gaza were thrown out of their homes in 2005 I wore orange ties out of solidarity with their orange campaign. I don’t wear ties much, but for the sake of solidarity with Israeli baseball maybe I’ll get a baseball tie or two. I am also an expat Clevelander and no longer watch football in principle because of brain-bashing. But I love to read your stuff.

      • KCRef says:

        The hunt for a black or grey “baseball funeral” tie begins…

        Never missed a JoeP Pos article in KC…don’t miss any here either…

    • AdamE says:

      GO with a black or grey tie at funerals but wear a baseball tie clasp.

    • Craig says:

      My father died 2 years ago. I flew back to Kansas for his funeral, and wore my one black suit and appropriately somber tie. I was the only one in the whole place even wearing a tie. So I say “go for the baseball tie, even at a funeral.”

  3. IRAM01 says:

    Are you going to change the logo picture? Doesn’t look like a baseball tie.

  4. Cuban X Senators says:

    ‘Long as you keep that gig-line straight.

  5. Brad says:

    Who knew there were eleven different baseball ties on the market? That’s a niche I completely missed. As always another great piece by Joe.

  6. mikeski says:

    You are the captain of your own neck.

  7. dlf says:

    Let’s see … I have one that is a series of closeups of baseballs, one that is architectural sketches of old ball parks, two different versions of Norman Rockwell baseball related pictures and one that may or may not count – a close up of grass. So I’m way behind Joe here.

  8. Joaquin Taco says:

    I’ve been struggling for an hour now to write the comment I want. That is the mark of a well written story, one that doesn’t lend itself to a quick, pithy response. Thank you Joe, for sparking memories of my grandfather, father, and even my younger self and what our sartorial choices say about us

  9. MarkW says:

    You wear a tie because something we grew up with tells us that this demonstrates we are serious about what we’re doing. I work at home so I don’t wear ties for work, but I don’t wear jeans or sweats either; I get dressed in “real clothes” every day even when I’m alone in the house. I get dumber if I’m not dressed properly…

  10. Tom Flynn says:

    The key sentence in all of this is: “Seriously, who am I trying to impress at this point in my life?” Really, who are we trying to impress? This fall I gave up the coat and tie for Hawaiian Shirts, shorts and sandals. Cold weather, sweat shirts, jeans, and jeans. This isn’t a crisis, this is a rebellion!

  11. MCD says:

    Please tell me that “I intend to only wear baseball ties”, means “the only kind of neckties I will wear will be baseball ties”. Only wearing a tie, regardless of the design, seems a little disturbing.

  12. Scott says:

    In Catholic education, we wear ties when the students wear ties. For many years, I’ve themed my ties with nobody noticing much. Baseball ties during the World Series and Opening Day. Once or twice a year, I wear a $2 bill tie and hand one out to the first student to mention it. It’s fun when someone notices.

    • robert says:

      I work in a high-pressure IT sweat box in downtown Toronto. For some reason we have a dress code. As if it concentrates our thoughts? Anyway, sorry to Joe but ripping that damn tie off, baseball or otherwise, is the crowing moment of my day whatever outrageous time of the day or night it may be Insofar as sports ties, they are on the interdicted list. Joe, you will just have to be my surrogate. The Cubs, please.

  13. Gene says:

    And of course, Joe, we’ll all wait patiently for the post where you give us links to a few vendors offering a nice selection of baseball ties.

  14. J Hench says:

    Nearly no one at my office wears ties. On Opening Day last year, I wore a tie in support of my favorite team (the Pirates – it didn’t work) and I’ve worn one nearly every day since.

    People look at me funny when they ask why I wear ties, and I tell them it was for baseball season. Maybe it I follow Joe’s lead and revert to wearing baseball-only ties, it will make more sense.

    • invitro says:

      You mean there are MORE people like Joe who wear baseball ties?!

      • J Hench says:

        I only have three – two Pirates ties and a generic baseball player motif. Black and gold unfortunately doesn’t go so well with my dress shirts, so I don’t wear them that often.

      • Bob says:

        I have collected (and worn) baseball ties for decades. I can wear a different baseball-related tie every day for nearly a full year now. It is a fun way to express yourself while still meeting dress code expectations.

  15. Subrata Sircar says:

    I have a print of that Norman Rockwell art hanging in my hallway – a gift from my wife, as one of our running jokes is that contrary to what my name and skin color compared to hers would lead you to believe, I’m the culturally-white one with the Norman Rockwell childhood in our relationship.

  16. MikeN says:

    Waiting for the punchline…

  17. fred says:

    Joe, I think you should add an escape clause allowing you to wear a Browns tie for a year when they win the superbowl

  18. KCRef says:

    The hunt for a black or grey “baseball funeral” tie begins…

    Never missed a JoeP Pos article in KC…don’t miss any here either…

  19. Cubfan in Tokyo says:

    Awesome. When my beloved grandfather passed away (I named my son after him the year after he died) my aunts & my mom put a Cubs tie—that he bought in Cooperstown—on him for the funeral. Right before the casket was closed, my aunt gave me the tie. I promised myself I would keep it in my drawer until the Cubs won it all. Fast forward 10 years—I wore it to school the day after the Cubs finally did (sorry, Joe…) and tried to explain the tie, my grandfather, & my son to my students. I say “tried” because many kleenex were necessary.

  20. Pete R says:

    Yes, a black tie is perhaps safest for funerals. But you can always refer to it as your Bud Black Tie.

  21. Ted Johnson says:

    But I thought there were no ties in baseball!

  22. shagster says:

    You get to wear a Norman Rockwell tie to work?

    That’s awesome.

  23. Rob Smith says:

    This begs the question…. are there baseball themed wooden bow ties. If so, you could show up to an event & go for the “cool hipster” look. It’s a good option to have in your bag.

  24. Richard says:

    Asking the unasked question:

    What knot do you use?

    I use the Co-Windsor. A slight variation on the Windsor, it’s a bit more symmetrical while still retaining the ease of untying.

  25. […] Joe Posnanski made a major sartorial announcement: […]

  26. […] Joe Posnanski made a major sartorial announcement: […]

  27. Joe’s uniqueness has an added twist. The Norman Rockwell painting is of a great crew: Beans Reardon, Larry Goetz, and Lou Jorda, in the late 1940s. Reardon, the crew chief, is at the center and wearing a bow tie. That was one of his trademarks, and Jocko Conlan, who broke in with him, started wearing one, too. Most umpires wore neckties. So, Joe is merely following in the footsteps of some umpiring fashion plates ….

  28. Mark Daniel says:

    A baseball tie might be appropriate for funerals, actually. It all depends on if the deceased is a baseball fan. I imagine it would be quite touching if you told the family you wore your [insert team] tie in honor of the deceased.

  29. KnucklesTheClown says:

    Dang it Joe. It’s getting dusty in here.

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