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A childhood fascination with baseball uniforms inspired Seattle’s Ebbets Field Flannels

Jerry Cohen, founder of Ebbets Field Flannels stands next to a blue jacket featuring the script logo of the Montreal Royals
Emil Moffatt
Ebbets Field Flannels founder Jerry Cohen grew up listening to stories about Jackie Robinson, who played with the minor league Montreal Royals before joining the Dodgers in 1947.

More than any other American sport, baseball is steeped in tradition. Someone who has been obsessed with the look and feel of baseball uniforms since he was a kid in Brooklyn is Jerry Cohen. He turned that interest into a business when he founded Ebbets Field Flannels in Seattle in the late 1980s.

The company makes fan apparel inspired by uniform designs from the past with a primary focus on minor league and Negro League teams. Uniforms made by the company have even appeared in movies and inspired "turn back the clock days" hosted by big league teams.

At one time the company had a physical store in Pioneer Square. But a series of break-ins and then the pandemic forced its closure, says Cohen, who notes the store accounted for only a fraction of the company’s sales.

A few weeks ago KNKX All Things Considered Host Emil Moffatt grabbed his favorite Ebbets Field Flannel hat (from his hometown Wichita Falls Spudders, circa the 1950s) and went to the company’s Belltown offices.

They no longer manufacture their products here, but there are still piles of samples and rolls of fabric stacked on shelves. That's where we sat down with Cohen to talk about the passion he inherited from his father.

Listen to their conversation above, or read selected quotes below.

Key Takeaways

On where his interest in baseball originated.

I grew up the child of a disgruntled Brooklyn Dodger fan because they had actually left the year I was born. But I also got my sense of my interest in history from him because I grew up hearing all the stories about Jackie Robinson from my dad. And that led me to be curious about the Negro Leagues and and those other kind of relatively unknown parts of baseball history at the time.

On why he gravitated toward baseball uniforms.

It's one of those things when you're a kid you get the baseball cards and where other kids were interested in the players, I was really more interested in the uniform graphics. And I used to, in school, in my notebook, I would sketch logos. So I was very interested, not just baseball, but logos on football helmets and basketball uniforms. But baseball was probably the one that was the most interesting to me.

On seeing Ebbets Field Flannel merchandise around the country.

This happens a lot. I was just in New York City and had three random encounters with people: two were wearing hats, one was wearing a Yankees’ 1947 jacket. My wife goes up and talks to them...I will talk to them before I say I’m the founder of the company, just to get an honest appraisal. But I think you hit on something about the brand that's really unique is that people are dedicated to the brand not because of a single team they're a fan of. It's that thing of, "Ah, that guy knows too, you know, he's got the Cuban Giants hat and I've got the, you know, Wichita Falls one." So it's like a little bit of a secret society.

A sampling of vintage-inspired baseball sweaters in the offices of Ebbets Field Flannels in Seattle
Emil Moffatt
Jerry Cohen of Ebbets Field Flannels says among the company's recent best-sellers are sweaters inspired by those worn in major league dugouts 100 years ago.

On what makes a good uniform or cap logo.

I love the stuff that has just come down through history and it just seems to become classic without a corporate intent. And then the other thing is just "unusual." I would say our biggest selling hat for a while became the Kansas City Kats, K-A-T-Z, sponsored by the Katz Drugstore chain in the Midwest. A collector walked in with that original hat one day and I said, "Oh my God, you know, this hat is either going to be the best selling hat or the worst selling that I've ever done." It's just a big cat head on the cap. Yeah, I'm always looking for the unusual.

Emil Moffatt joined KNKX in October 2022 as All Things Considered host/reporter. He came to the Puget Sound area from Atlanta where he covered the state legislature, the 2021 World Series and most recently, business and technology as a reporter for WABE. Contact him at
Freddy Monares has covered politics, housing inequalities and Native American communities for a newspaper and a public radio station in Montana. He grew up in East Los Angeles, California, and moved to Missoula, Montana, in 2015 with the goal of growing in his career.