This week, the Boston Red Sox unveiled their new “City Connect” jersey designed by Nike. The Red Sox are the first MLB team to introduce their Connect jersey, which is similar to what the NBA and Nike have done with the “City Edition” jerseys over the past few years.
The yellow jersey and blue hat are a nod to the Boston Marathon, the annual race run on Patriot’s Day which coincides with a traditional morning start for the Red Sox. It is also the same colors as the Boston city flag. The uniforms are also a reference, perhaps unknowingly, to the 1936-1938 National League Boston Bees.
In 1935, Babe Ruth returned to Boston to play for the Braves after fifteen seasons with the New York Yankees. The arrangement did not work out well for him or the team, and he retired in May of that season. The Braves finished with a 38-115 record, which still stands as the worst winning percentage in modern National League history. According to Bob Klapsich and Pete Van Wieren in their book The Braves: An Illustrated History of America’s Team, after the 1935 season “…the franchise, nearly bankrupt after the Depression and a string of losing seasons, sought a new public image. General Manager John Quinn conducted a fan poll in search of a nickname, and the winner was ‘Bees.'”
The new name meant new uniforms, and to fit in with the nickname, the team colors became yellow and royal blue. Their stadium, until that point known as Braves Field, was nicknamed “The Beehive.”
The newly christened Bees debuted on Tuesday, April, 14 1936 with a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. The team improved in their first season as the Bees, going 71-83, and posted a winning record in 1938, but it was not enough to save manager Bill McKechnie’s job. He was fired at the end of the season in favor of legendary manager Casey Stengel.
Stengel is best known for winning seven World Series titles as manager of the New York Yankees from 1949-1960. He did not have the same success with the Bees, going 373-491 during his tenure in Boston, and only posting one winning season in 1938.
Hall of Famers Al Lopez and Al Simmons both spent time playing for the Bees. Simmons played for one season in 1939 and Lopez played from 1936 to 1940.
In 1939, the teams colors changed from yellow and blue back to red, blue, and white, and in 1941 after Louis Perini purchased the team, the name was changed back to the Braves. The Bees were short lived but remain a fun footnote in Boston baseball history. The Red Sox adopting their colors for some games may bring back their story.
If you get the chance to visit Truist Park in Atlanta, you can see a replica of Tony Cuccinello’s 1937 Boston Bees jersey on display with all of the other jerseys worn during the team’s time in Boston.