It’s becoming increasingly clear that Tsuyoshi Shinjo is going to need his own wing in the Uni Watch Museum of Athletics Aesthetics. As we’ve already discussed over the past few months, his farewell tour in Japan has seen him wearing collared undershirts, checkered wristbands, and the opposing team’s uniform. But he really outdid himself in last week’s Japanese All-Star Game.
It started with the pre-game photo, where all the players wore their uniforms — except for Shinjo, who wore a flashy shirt and shades (that’s him in the back row, third from the right). Then, during the game, he wore red camouflage wristbands, a matching undershirt, special shoes, and — the real showstopper — an oversized belt buckle with a scrolling LED message, which read, “Never Mind Whatever I Do, Fan Is My Treasure” (here’s another view). He later gave the belt to a fan. For good measure, he also swung a swirl-painted bat. Here’s the full effect, and here’s a video of his first at-bat, where you can actually see the belt buckle message as it’s scrolling. There’s also a Shinjo highlight video here, and you can see his belt buckle scrolling as he makes a diving catch here.
Somewhat amazingly, Shinjo wasn’t the game’s biggest spectacle. That title goes to his Nippon Ham Fighters teammate Hichori Morimoto, who dressed up as the anime character Piccoro — just a bit bizarre, to say the least. There’s some video of him midway through this clip.
(Big thanks to Uni Watch Far East Correspondent Jeremy Brahm, who provided most of the above links.)
Wanted Received: Über-thanks to everyone who responded to yesterday’s call for help in tabulating all the “worst uniform ever” emails. Seriously, I was blown away by how many of you volunteered your services — just the latest proof that Uni Watch readers are the coolest.
The “lucky” intern turned out to be Mike Orr. I figured he’d do part of the job and then I’d hand off the project to someone else to pick up where he left off. But in a truly heroic effort, Orr spent most of yesterday slogging through all of the nearly 600 responses — many of which featured multiple nominations and lengthy diatribes — and broke them down into a neat, easy-to-follow document. The fruits of his labors will be featured either in next week’s ESPN.com column or in the column two weeks after that.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Good article here about Mike MacDougal’s cap problems. … Remember the Devil Ray with the giant “W” taped to his windbreaker? An explanation comes from Cork Gaines: “It was Jae Seo, and it appears that the ‘W’ was from some prankster teammates. Seo has yet to earn a ‘W’ with the Rays, and his teammates felt he deserved one.” Ouch. … Good story from Shawn Dzwonkowski, recalling a 1999 game in Milwaukee: “I had third-row seats behind the visiting team’s on-deck circle. While Ken Caminiti was on deck, he pulled his batting gloves out of his back pocket and, unbeknownst to him, the pocket was hanging out! Being an observant fellow, I pointed this out to my friends. We all gawked and snickered, and then one of my friends started shouting, “Hey, Caminiti, your pocket’s hanging out!” He continued shouting this several more times, and then Caminiti reached around, tucked his pocket back in, and kindly turned and thanked us.” Given what we now know about Caminiti, they’re lucky he didn’t fly into a ‘roid rage and brain them with his bat. … David Sonny asks, “Could Antione Winfield not ‘cage the snake,’ if you catch my drift?” … Bill Blevins notes that Akinori Otsuka has “JAPAN” printed on his glove. … More news about Bob Wickman’s plus-sized physique, courtesy of Patrick Lindsey: “When Wickman got traded to the Braves last week, the team was in Philly. The Braves didn’t have any uniforms in his size, so they had to call Majestic and have someone drive his uniform down to the ballpark from the factory, which luckily was in Bangor, Pennsylvania, which is only a short trip. As for the pants, he wore a spare pair of Chad Paronto’s.”