My grandmother was the queen of mail order catalogs. From Sears to Fingerhut and everything between, she had them all and I loved it. Whenever I was over, I would pore over my favorites, usually leftover Christmas catalogs, and pick out every item that I wanted. I never got anything...but it was nice to dream about.

Eff Catalog 2
A copy of my Ebbets catalog

As I got older, toy catalogs turned into sneaker, skateboard or other random catalogs that seemed relevant to my interests at the time. It’s hard to recall all the printed material that flooded our mail, but like any historical or life-altering event, I remember the day that I received my first Ebbets Field Flannels catalog and quite possibly my first crush on something other than the girl next door.

I remember when my dad would talk about going to Seattle Rainiers games when he was a kid. I can also recall the giant R sign on the side of I-5 when I was younger, so you can imagine my delight when I opened up my first Ebbets catalog and saw those uniforms. But beyond the connections to my dad’s stories, I experienced something that impressed me even more. On a purely visceral level, I got lost gazing at the lettering and emblems of countless teams that I had never heard about. There was a graphic quality that was, for lack of better words, just flat out cool. I could go to any sports store at the local mall and look at current team apparel whenever I wanted. This was different. There were subtle imperfections, or so I thought, that gave character to the apparel. The felt and flannel material being used warranted an authenticity that I wasn’t privy to. This was real, and as an awkward pre-teen, being real was hard to do. The infatuation was immediate and the impact was permanent.

Eff Collage 2
Jerry Cohen
Jerry Cohen, Owner and Founder of Ebbets Field Flannels

I didn’t know it at the time, but Ebbets Field Flannels was a relatively young company. Started in 1988, the idea for Ebbets was born out of founder Jerry Cohen’s search for authentic baseball flannels of yesteryear. When he wasn’t satisfied with a mail-order 1950’s New York Giants road jersey, Jerry decided to make his own. After locating some hard-to-find wool flannel and finding the right people to make it, a couple of shirts were created and before he knew it, people were requesting shirts for themselves. A business was born. More than a throwback uniform company, Ebbets Field Flannels focused on old minor league and Negro league teams. Today they’ve expanded to Asian and Latin teams, as well as old hockey and football teams...many of which only existed for a short period of time.

Any kid who grew up in the early 90’s can recall their school hallways filled with satin Starter jackets emblazoned with MLB, NFL or NBA logos. And if that wasn’t the case, all you needed to do to get exposed to this craze was turn on MTV to check out the latest hip-hop video, full of caps with tags and oversized parkas. Don’t get me wrong, I was into it too. I had a bright red Chicago Bulls parka. LOL. But what Ebbets Field Flannels was doing was different. The jerseys were serious but playful. There was a quirkiness to them that was a sharp contrast to most of the sporting apparel at the time. Sometimes a letter seemed to curve a bit too much or a team name wasn’t perfectly centered. It was authentic and I loved it.

Eff Collage 90S

I never bought anything from that catalog. My parents, though impressed with the jerseys, scoffed at the prices. It was a hard pill to swallow. But I still had that catalog. And I looked at it everyday with the same amount of excitement that I had when I looked at my grandmother’s catalogs so many years before.

Fast forward about 20 years to sometime around 2011 or 2012. I’m now a graphic designer and still in love with cool lettering and well-crafted, bespoke things. I wasn’t sure how long they had been out, but when I first saw a Seattle Rainiers Grounds Crew Jacket online, I knew I had to have one. I was already a fan and owner of multiple Dickies Eisenhower Jackets, so to see the felt “R” and Sick’s Stadium sewn on was a dream come true.

Thanks to some pretty cool in-laws, I received one–my very first EFF piece, as a birthday gift. I wore that thing everywhere. And everywhere I went, people commented on and praised the jacket. I even had people pull up to me in parking lots, roll down their window while driving and shout out how cool they found the jacket, or how it inspired memories for them. Beyond the aesthetic quality, there were deeper, emotional connections made with the jacket. Much like an old father and son who don’t get along but can always talk about sports, Ebbets Field Flannels brings people together from all walks of life. For some, it’s an old baseball memory from their childhood. For others, it’s the discovery of authentic, well-made goods. For me, it’s a bit of both. 

Much like an old father and son who don’t get along but can always talk about sports, Ebbets Field Flannels brings people together from all walks of life.

In a time of mass production and value based shopping, Ebbets Field Flannels built a product and reputation based on the unrelenting, and at times a bit crazy, pursuit of what they believed in, even if no one else was willing to. They were willing to recreate a jersey, and go through a painstaking process to ensure it’s accuracy, even if only one was being ordered. Instead of chasing down licences and making novelty items, they stuck to timeless designs that were as authentic to their beliefs as they were to the players whose backs they once graced.

Me Ami
My daughter Ami and I in our EFF gear

When I reflect upon my relationship with Ebbets Field Flannels, I can’t help but think about the movie Field of Dreams and the famous line, “If you build it, he will come.” Ebbets Field Flannels has stayed true to their roots and built a product and reputation that people from all over the world are drawn to. Just like a mythical Shoeless Joe Jackson being drawn to a freshly dragged field, I’ve found myself, once again, drawn to something unique, real and flat-out cool.

Except this time, I don’t need my parents money to get it.

Andre Martin

Senior Designer

Andre is our Senior Designer and resident purveyor of wisecracks. He mixes intelligent design with a dose of humor. Expect his sauces to be on store shelves soon.