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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

The Blandest Uniforms in Recent Baseball Memory



One of the best aspects of a new baseball team is its branding. Today, we are delighted with creative designs or something with a little nod to the history or tradition of the game. The main objectives are to provide a pleasant-looking aesthetic, durability for the players, and merchandise sales across the nation.


Several ball clubs in both minor or partner leagues introduce their uniforms long before the season begins, but that was not the case for one independent ball club a little over 25 years ago. They debuted at home with nothing on their jerseys.


The East Chicago Conquistadors were members of the Mid-America League in 1995. The four-team league had all of its clubs in Indiana (Anderson, Merrillville, and Lafayette). Team owner Richard Grottanelli stepped down as president of another independent loop, Mid-South League, to purchase the Conquistadors for $15,000 after the original investors stepped down due to a lack of funds four months before the start of the season.



File Photo/The Times


The Conquistadors name was picked by Grottanelli, even though there was a fan vote that resulted in 120 submissions. A few of the names suggested were the Zebra Mussels, Steelers, Blockbusters, Harbor Lights, and the Harbor Fugitives. When asked why he chose a name, Grottanellis stated that he liked it and it would fit well with the local population.


When the Q’s took the field in front of 1,648 people at Block Stadium on June 13, they came out wearing white pinstriped pants, gray tops with green block numbers on the back, and a cap with a cursive Q insignia. There wasn’t any identification whatsoever on the front of the jersey. The only exception was the dark caps that featured an attractive cursive “Q”. The fans must have questioned the person next to them in the stands about their hometime club’s peculiar look.


The plan was to have green, red, and black tops with a big ‘Q’ across the front–perhaps on the right chest of the jersey. The team did feature a massive ‘Q’ letter in its logo, but it is unknown whether the planned design would have been that logo or the cursive ‘Q’ that adorns caps.

File Photo Yvette Marie Dostatni/The Times


The official logo also incorporates a morion helmet on top of the letter ‘Q’ with two pointed lances crisscrossing behind the helmet. The rest of the wording was in the standard blockish font. It was not a creative logo, and one would assume the club would have made the Zebra Mussel look bland.


Grottanelli assured that the team uniforms would be ready soon, but he was not sure when they would arrive. He attempted to contact the team’s supplier-Wilson-but did not have much luck getting through with anyone. He added that he was “terminally on voice mail.”


Photos from the Munster Times during the season show photos of the vapid jerseys, absent of team identification or nickname. It had to be odd for both players and fans to witness the drab jerseys that clashed with gray tops and white bottoms. The Q’s did not appear to have road uniforms, based on a photo from a game at Loeb Stadium against the Lafayette Leopards. The same jersey design appears to be identical to what they wore at home.


However, there was a lot more for him to deal with that maiden season, which included manager Drayton Patterson’s termination and Grottanelli taking over the position, only to turn it over two weeks later to outfielder Jerrone Williams. Grottanelli accused Merrillville Muddogs pitcher Chris Hall of scuffing balls during a doubleheader and was rejected from both games. This prompted Muddogs manager Ron Kittle to say that “he belongs in the circus”.


The franchise was sold to Dave O’Neill on July 23, who also owned the Anderson franchise. A few days later, the team debuted its new uniforms, described by new GM Jennifer Blatt as a reflection of its new image both on and off the field.

Photo Frank Oliver/Lafayette Journal and Courier

There was a slight mishap from its supplier, Main Sporting Goods, which had a few youth sizes in the shipment. The three players, who were assigned those numbers, opted for extra adult sizes with different numbers instead of squeezing into the youth tops.


The club debuted the new red pinstripe white jerseys in a doubleheader sweep against Anderson. They would win the very next game to make it 3-0 in the new pinstripes. David White smacked his first home run of the season and the following to say after the doubleheader.


“Now that we have the new uniforms it is like a whole new season for us. Baseball is very much a mental game for us in that new uniforms can change a whole team’s attitude.”


Unfortunately, the new uniforms’ mojo wore out very quickly as things came to a head during a doubleheader on August 13. Williams quit as manager, center fielder Darrio Green also left the team, and Jackie Robinson left the club after a player he instructed did not steal a base. Robinson watched the game from the stands at Block Stadium, but he did return for the nightcap.


The night concluded with backup catcher Ed Lewis escorted from the stadium by East Chicago Police after he allegedly assaulted Blatt. The next day in a game against Lafayette, players forfeited the second game of another doubleheader due to a lack of players and safety for the remaining ones playing out of positions.

File Photo Yvette Marie Dostatni/The Times


The Q’s failed to make the playoffs, but the league canceled the season when Lafayette pulled out of the postseason. East Chicago had a 23-35 record, attracting 5,444 fans on the season. Their uniforms, which they only wore for 18 days, were either taken home by players or stashed away by ownership.


The East Chicago Conquistadors were a small blimp in the history of independent minor league baseball; anyone who witnessed a game at Block Stadium that season has long forgotten about the team. However, there is curiosity about what the second jerseys issue looked like in appearance. However, the formation of new independent leagues has not ended 26 years later, but none will ever, at least I hope not, will have such a look as the Q’s did during their first and only season.


------ Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com





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