CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies will wear green jerseys and hats on this St. Patrick's Day, just as they have since the mid 1970s when Tug McGraw helped start the tradition.

Green Phillies merchandise has become sort of a thing. (These days, any Phillies merchandise is a thing, isn't it?) The hats and jerseys the Phillies use in today's game against Toronto will be auctioned later by the team to benefit ALS research.

But they're also another sign that meaningful baseball is just around the corner.

Thanks to Bob Warrington, a baseball historian and memorabilia collector, we've discovered just how far back the tradition of celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a little green goes.

Warrington found a copy of a March 17, 1899 story from The Inquirer that details "new sweaters trimmed with green" and sent it to Larry Shenk, Phillies vice president of alumni relations. The Baron was kind enough to pass it along for our enjoyment.

What follows is the text written by "a Staff Correspondent" at The Inquirer. (The beat writer must have been furloughed or something.)

CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 17 — In fitting commemoration of the day, the Phillies burst upon the startled natives this morning in their new sweaters trimmed with green. The collar is of a hue the like of which has never been seen this side of Ireland, and then, to accentuate it, there is a band of green running all the way round. Altogether white and emerald make it a striking combination. The boys gave two performances to-day. All hands had breakfasted by 8 o'clock and at 9.30 they were on their way to the ground. There their usual routine play was gone through, with batting to the fielders, the batteries warming up, and the infielders practicing on prospective double plays. The regulars who did so much work yesterday were naturally sore to-day, but none of them appeared to mind that, knowing that in two or three days more of the present weather their aches and pains will have practically disappeared.

My goal is to use breakfast as a verb more often this season.

Those 1899 Phillies played at the Baker Bowl and finished third in the National League with a 94-58 record. A 31-year-old Ed Delahanty hit .410 in 581 at-bats that season and a fellow named Klondike Douglass caught in 77 games. They also had two players named "Red" and my favorite part of the clipping is the blatant Gingerism against Red Donahue in the third subhead.

Perhaps the Phillies should move spring training to Charlotte, where the weather apparently heals all aches and pains.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

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