Cool Sunglasses Before the Birth of Cool – Casey Stengel

Casey Stengel spent over 50 years as a player and more famously a gifted manager in Major League baseball. He was an amusing raconteur and essentially a clown. Once, when being jeered at Ebbets Field, he tipped his cap to the crowd revealing a small bird that promptly flew away. The jeers turned to cheers. This photo sums up his public persona:

Casey Stengel looking at a future so bright he requires sunglasses.

Casey Stengel looking at a future so bright he requires sunglasses.

Compare and contrast: This other photo was taken around 1915 when he was a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. I believe the sunglasses he’s wearing were made by Willson.

Casey Stengel in Cool Sunglasses, probably Willson, while standing in the outfield at

Casey Stengel in Cool Sunglasses circa 1915 – Photo from Library of Congress.

Note their effect on his persona. He doesn’t look like a clown at all. He looks like a badass, a motorcycle cop. He looks cool, even though the term and concept wouldn’t exist for another 20 years. (Adding to the air of machismo and swagger is the cropped Fatima Cigarettes ad behind him, which simply says “Fat Cigar”.)

This image eloquently argues why eyewear is the most important accessory there is.

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