New ESPN column today. Check that — it’s been bumped to Monday.
Meanwhile: One thing I love about Uni Watch is how an offhand comment sometimes leads to a series of connections that can teach me something — or a whole set of somethings — I didn’t know before.
Case in point: On Monday night, I was sorta-kinda watching the BCS debacle while reading through the day’s comments, one of which was a note from reader Matthew Self: “ESPN Classic is showing a boxing match (from the early 1970s, I think, but I haven’t yet seen particulars) in which one of the boxers (I think I heard the commentator call him ‘Buchanan’) is wearing plaid — yes, plaid — boxing trunks.”
I posted a response, explaining that the fighter in question was Ken Buchanan, a Scottish lightweight best known for wearing Scotch plaid trunks while losing his title to Roberto Durán in 1972 (this was the first of Durán’s many world titles).
It wasn’t until the next morning that I saw a further response, from Michael Churchill: “In that case, it’s probably the Buchanan tartan, and it does look like it to me.”
I hadn’t realized there was such a thing as Buchanan tartan. I thought the trunks were just Buchanan’s way of honoring his homeland, but it turns out he was honoring his family name, which is pretty cool. And although I’d never seen any photos or video of him except from the Durán fight, a bit of additional research reveals that the plaid trunks were his visual signature throughout his career, as seen here, here, here, and here. He became so plaid-associated that he titled his autobiography The Tartan Legend.
Coupla notes about the videos: First, check out those “Rocky Duran” shirts being worn by Durán’s cornermen — that was his nickname at the time. And in the Ortiz fight, see the ref taking something out of his pocket at the end of each round and then writing something on it? That’s his scorecard, because fights in New York state were scored by two judges and the referee in those days (instead of the three-judge system that’s pretty standard worldwide these days).
Meanwhile: If you find yourself digging the Buchanan plaid, it’s available on virtually anything you can think of: neckties, bow ties, scarves, mittens, baseball caps, pillows, notebooks, teddy bears, guitar cases, even soccer balls. And yes, of course, kilts.
Speaking of which: Note that Buchanan consistently paired his plaid trunks with white footwear, perhaps as way of mimicking the full-on kilt and stockings look. And don’t make fun of him, because he could probably kick your ass from here to Glasgow.
New Arrivals: Big day for the Uni Watch library yesterday, as two vintage catalogs showed up in the mail. First up is this 1930 beauty, which I won on eBay a few days ago. Aside from the super-cool football jerseys and super-dorky hoops jerseys, there are some surprises. Who knew, for example, that there were so many different leather helmets available in 1930 (note the built-in faceguard on model No. 70H)? Or so many different football pants? Or basketball knee pads? Or that lacrosse players got to wear this totally boss helmet? Also: What’s so special about a “laceless basketball”? Answer: Most basketballs back then were laced up!
In addition, the Rev. Dr. Keith Coes generously donated this 1974 hockey catalog. This one isn’t as scanner-friendly, so I’m only gonna show a few pages, like these cutaway illos showing all the features of their gloves. Check out the helmets — and the mouthguards! My favorite part: the different stripe patterns you could get for the shaft of your stick.
Uni Watch Road Show: Looks like I’m going to be making brief early-February visits to San Francisco and Dallas (the latter of which will definitely see me wearing this). If any readers in those towns are interested in getting together for an impromptu Uni Watch gathering, let me know and I’ll keep you posted as my itinerary firms up.
Meanwhile, an additional tidbit of news regarding the Uni Watch party tentatively slated for February 3rd in Brooklyn (if you think you can make it, send a note to uniparty at earthlink dot net): Looks like the venue will be the 12th Street Bar & Grill, where the presiding bartender will be none other than Uni Watch editor emeritus Miles Seligman. Although no longer in the media game (and who can blame him), Miles was the Village Voice‘s sports editor back when I came up with the Uni Watch idea in 1999, and was the only editor who Got It™ when I shopped the project around. He oversaw the column’s first few years and gave it the freedom to grow into its own thing. Or to put it another way, he’s at least slightly responsible for all of us meeting here every day. He’s promised to come up with a few drink specials for us (I’m trying to get him to create a cocktail called a Bloody Uni), and I’m sure he’ll get a kick out seeing the audience he’s had a hand in creating.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Big News out of St. Looie, where several readers report that the Blues’ radio team spilled the beans on the NHL’s plan to go back to home whites next season. … Good catch by Bryan Redemske, who notes that Andy Pettitte was wearing Johnny Damon’s glove for his photo op yesterday. … “Union College goalie Justin Mrazek appears to be wearing cut-off sweats under his pads,” writes Greg Schwanbeck. “I’ve never seen a goalie (or any other hockey player, for that matter) play with exposed skin below the knee.”