At 9:30 a.m. on June 12, 1977, Jim Ksicinski arrived at Milwaukee County Stadium and went to prepare the visiting team’s clubhouse for that afternoon’s baseball game. It would be the second in a three-game series between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Kansas City Royals, and the Brewers already had one win in the bag. Business as usual.
But when Ksicinski fit his key into the lock, he knew something was off. The key wouldn’t turn, and he realized the door had already been unlocked.
“Then I pushed the door, it was open, and I saw right away there were no jerseys,” he told the Associated Press. “It was a very neat job. Every chair was in front of every locker, the same as we left them yesterday.”
Only seven shirts escaped the heist: pitcher Jim Colborn’s, which the burglar or burglars hadn’t spotted, and six that Ksicinski had brought home to wash after the previous game. All 53 other jerseys had been swiped, along with 20 gloves, 15 warm-up jackets, and 10 pairs of cleats.
Instead of having the Royals trot out in T-shirts, the team’s equipment manager Al Zych suggested they borrow the Brewers’ road uniforms. Not only would the light blue jerseys contrast well enough with the Brewers’ home white ones, but they were also basically the same hue as the Royals’ purloined kits. And since the two teams played each other often, they “looked at faces more than uniforms” anyway, as Brewers pitcher Jerry Augustine told MLB.com.
For spectators and scorekeepers, on the other hand, the sartorial switch-up likely proved a little disorienting—especially considering that three players were sporting number five: Brewer Jamie Quirk, Royal Hal McRae wearing Quirk’s road jersey, and Royal George Brett. Like the other players whose uniforms hadn’t been stolen, Brett was allowed to wear his own.
“I’ve heard some funny stories, like you can’t tell the players [apart] without a scorecard—or with one,” Colborn told The New York Times.
For all the jokes batted around between the two teams that day, it was the Brewers who had the last laugh: They beat the Royals 4-0.