Monday, June 22, 2009

Aberdeen Black Cats 1918 Home

For our first Flannel of the Month feature, the letter A has a certain logic, as does featuring a team from our home state of Washington. So ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Aberdeen Black Cats.

I happened to drive through Kurt Cobain's hometown of Aberdeen last week (it is unavoidable if one wants to get from Seattle to Washington's Pacific Coast beaches), and it reminded me that professional baseball once flourished in these lumber towns of the Pacific Northwest. Aberdeen (then known as the Pippins) first made an appearance in the Class-D Southwest Washington league of 1903, together with the Hoquiam Perfect Gentleman, Centralia Midgets and Olympia Senators. In a curious footnoot to the SWL, teams played six times a week, but only weekend games counted in league standings. Games were played at Electric park, which fans reached by trolley.

In 1907 the now-Aberdeen Black Cats took the Northestern League crown led by Ed Householder's .347 batting average and pitcher Ed Higginbotham's 295 strikeouts. The 1909 club was managed by C.H. "Pants" Rowland, who went on to manage Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the White Sox to a World Series victory in 1917. Rowland later went on to become president of the Pacific Coast League, and worked tirelessly in the post-war years to have the PCL recognized as a third Major League (for you uniform buffs, notice how in the photo Rowland has a square patch sewn onto his shirt with the Cats emblem reversed).

Aberdeen's last year in organized ball was in the Pacific Coast International League in 1918, but the team continued to play in semi-pro timber leagues until the early 1940s. There must have still been fertile ground for baseball in Aberdeen in 1924, as Yankee stars Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel visited the Black Cats on a barnstorming tour that year (scroll down to see a picture of The Babe with the Black Cats).

This just in from two readers: The arched cat logo was known as "Hoo-Hoo" and was a good luck charm that used to be posted at logging camps around the Pacific Northwest. The symbol was also used by the radical labor movent, the IWW, and known as the "Ag Cat" (for agitation).

The jersey itself is fairly typical of the era, a pullover with a byron collar and five-button placket. The sillouetted cat design, cut out of felt, is fairly imaginative for a time when single-letter crests or simple block lettering was the norm. Jersey numerals were not worn in this era, so our Black Cats shirt is numberless. It is available now for the special Flannel of the Month price of $99.

Every month we will pick one baseball shirt and tell the story behind it. This is our first entry. We welcome your comments.

Thanks to Dave Eskenazi for his contributions to this article.


  1. If this is a prelude of great stories to come you'll have to do more than one jersey a month.


  2. Jerry-
    This is the type of email I don't mind receiving. I have been a fan and customer of Ebbetts Field Flannels for many years, and have always enjoyed your catalogs, which help fill in the history of baseball in these United States. I look forward to reading about these different jerseys--and the teams and towns they represented--on a regular basis.

  3. Jerry-

    Great story and wonderful blog idea. We always love hearing about the heritage and folklore of the Minor Leagues. Looking forward to future issues!

    Jason + Casey
    Plan B. Branding

  4. A wonderful start to your new website. I will look forward to you monthly stories as much as I do the UPS truck bringing me my newest purchase.

    Thanks Jerry

  5. Contrary to your statement, Pants Rowland was never the youngest man to manage in the Worlds Series. Among the younger men who performed this task were John McGraw in 1905, Frank Chance 1906-1908, Bucky Harris in 1924 (the actual youngest at 27), and Lou Boudreau in 1948

  6. Jerry,

    This blog/e-mail is a GREAT idea!

    George Contreras
    Elephants Catania, American Football Team
    Italian Football League
    Catania, Sicily, Italy

  7. Jerry,

    Congrats on the first of what I know will be a most elightening and entertaining series.


  8. Clever idea, and a great write-up. My curiosity's piqued by the Ruth photo-- those Yankee uniforms are a puzzle. They're pinstriped, and appear to be the home whites, but have "New York" on the front like the road uniform. Not only that, they use a tiffany-style lettering that the Yanks stopped using (as far as I can tell) around 1915, several years before this photo was taken. I guess Major League teams must've used different uniforms when barnstorming. Makes total sense, but I'd never really considered it before.

  9. I really enjoyed your story on the Aberdeen Black Cats. I look forward to learning more about the history behind these teams and background on their uniforms.

  10. I will look forward to this every month, that's for sure! Excellent.

  11. Jerry - Great opening feature!
    The arched-back cat symbol was known to NW loggers as a "Hoo-Hoo". It was plastered on logging camps and lumber mills all over the Pacific NW. It was a good-luck charm, like the hex signs on PA Dutch barns. I grew up in Western Oregon and used to see it on old lumber mills all over the NW.
    The IWW also co-opted "Hoo-hoo" as a symbol, in their fight to organize NW lumberjacks before World WarI.

  12. great story....

    I grew up in Hoquiam..

    baseball has a rich tradition down here..

    Olympic Stadium in Hoquiam is still the largest wooden stadium west of the Mississippi..

    thanks again, can't wait to see the jersey

  13. The same black cat was (is) the symbol of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical labor union active in the logging camps of the Northwest from the teens until the early twenties. Often called the Sab Cat (sabotage cat) it was used as a sticker it was used by workers as a "silent agitator," reminding loggers and other workers of the agenda of the IWW, who were very effective in organizing loggers in the Northwest. Since the symbol was so widely known and pervavisive it would be difficult to believe that the players were unaware of the visual reference!

  14. Great feature ! Will look forward to these posts each month.....

  15. The Fraternal Order of the Forest Products Industry is HOO-HOO International. It's symbol is a black cat with an arched back. It can be seen at

    Denny Felicetta
    Twin Cities Hoo-Hoo Club 12

  16. Is there more of the above photo? My grandfather went 10W and 7L for Aberdeen in 1918. Only photos I've seen are away jerseys. This is a cool flannel.

  17. Good. The woods find a way to have a good laugh on the cheap nhl jerseys clouds even though nevertheless getting to get these people by using swaying branches.

  18. Looking for The Babe with the Black Cats pic. Can you direct me?