It hopefully won’t come as too much of a dig, nor a stretch, to say that baseball is not particularly known for being fashion-forward. Especially compared to basketball or football, it’s known for being one of the least swaggy sports we’ve got. But a baseball style moment has been a long time coming—just ask Mookie Betts. And compared to their NBA and NFL brethren, Major League Baseball players have a leg up in that they’re allowed to wear jewelry during the game. That’s mostly meant that icy statement necklaces have found their place on the field. But Atlanta Braves outfielder Joc Pederson, who’s taken to wearing a string of pearls to the plate, is upping the ante.
The impish, well-liked Pederson insists there’s no big story here, no deeper meaning behind the accessory. (And even in the realm of sports and fashion, the choice reads less “nuanced gender critique” and a little more “white boy swag.”) But baseball being baseball, he’s still fielding plenty of questions about it. “It’s a mystery for everyone,” Pederson said after a recent game, a cigar in his hand like a goofy villain (or just a guy celebrating a division title). “They’ll never know.” A few days later, he told reporters that he wears the necklace simply because he is “a bad bitch.” It’s all joie de vivre, baby.
If Pinterest quote graphics are to be believed, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once said, “Pearls are always appropriate”—an adage that has only become more true over the course of the men’s jewelry renaissance. At first, pearls may seem like the mere WASPy ancestor to the kooky beaded necklace, as seen on the necks of Jaden Smith and Pete Davidson, though it really all depends on how you wear it. Either way, the well-styled likes of A$AP Rocky, Justin Bieber, and Harry Styles have helped champion a delicate strand as one of the must-have accessories of the year. But that isn’t exactly what Pederson is opting for here. In a sort of delightful way, Pederson pairing some cartoonishly big pearls (less Jackie O, more Mardi Gras) with his sweaty baseball jersey gives off a different vibe entirely, more akin to a fratty offshoot of the dirtbag prep era. Two trends for the price of one.