As baseball season gets underway, we thought it would be fun to share a few stories about how long Levi Strauss & Co. has long been associated with America’s favorite pastime.
Our hometown of San Francisco has had baseball teams running around dusty fields since the late 19th century. The city’s merchants and their companies often had their own teams, and rivalries between them could be fierce.
For example, on September 9, 1886, the Levi Strauss & Co. Base Ball Club defeated Murphy, Grant & Co. (a rival dry goods firm) in a game for which the winners were awarded a brass pin, featuring cross baseball bats. And note how “baseball” was written as “Base Ball” in those days.
Then around 1900-1901 the company baseball team—possibly still called the Base Ball Club—featured employees from all parts of the company, from salesman to stock workers. They had names like Gus Pollack, Frankie Mitchell, Eddie Hannan, Charlie Grafe and Jimmie Ryan. Those just sound like names of the era, don’t they?
Sometime around 1909 the baseball team’s name was changed to “Elesco”—a phonetic spelling of the company’s initials: L. S. Co. (Check out an Elesco team picture below.) And there was still a Levi Strauss & Co. baseball team in the 1930s.
In the 1920s, when baseball was hitting its stride as a popular American sport, LS&Co. created a gift with purchase item: a little brochure called the Home Run Baseball Guide. It was a pamphlet on the rules of the game and featured advertisements for the company’s line of children’s clothing called Home Run—a line whose woven label featured a little baseball diamond. And around this same time the Home Run brand created a little striped one-piece baseball uniform for kids. Look below for all these images.
A few inter-company rivalries continued well after World War II, not only at the San Francisco headquarters but also in our sales and factory locations throughout the U.S. And in 2006, Levi Strauss & Co. took its hometown team to heart and began to sponsor “Levi’s® Landing” at AT&T Park, the home of the hometown team, the San Francisco Giants. We’ve recently renewed that sponsorship, proof that while we now own the naming rights to a particular NFL football stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area, we still love baseball.