Yesterday’s ESPN column generated so much response that I’ve created an FAQ page for it. To see it, scroll down to the entry immediately after this one.
One comment that came up repeatedly — and occasionally comes up in other e-mail I receive — was that I’m a prime exemplar of “the media’s east-coast sports bias” (it’s particularly amusing when someone thinks this is why I don’t like Nike in general or Oregon’s football uniforms in particular). As I usually explain in such instances, hey, no bias here — my favorite state is Wisconsin, I rooted for the Kareem-led Lakers when I was a kid, and my favorite NFL team is the 49ers, for chrissakes.
There’s one area, however, where the charge is at least somewhat accurate: Since the major-level pro sports leagues and big-time collegiate sports all started in the east and midwest, I’m sometimes guilty of forgetting that there’s plenty of sports history — and, hence, uniform history — out west. It’s just that most of it was at the minor league level. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
That point was recently driven home to me when Bob Andrews tipped me wise to a site chronicling San Diego’s sports history. Can’t say I’d ever given much thought to that concept, or to the notion that San Diego even had a particularly deep sports history. But I’m gonna try to make amends by highlighting some of the better uni-related details from the site.
Let’s start with the city’s baseball history. Check out the creased pants in this shot (which supposedly dates from 1887, although I have my doubts about that), and the amazing front bibs in this one (of more believable 1887 vintage). You get a real feel for the mix of baseball and western-style architecture in this shot, and San Diego’s long history as a Naval port city is plenty evident in this one (taken aboard the U.S.S. Alert in 1918).
Of course, San Diego’s biggest baseball legacy is the Padres, who were Pacific Coast League team for over 30 years before the club’s current MLB incarnation. Check out these pics from 1936, 1948, 1949 (love that zipper), 1950, and 1957. Cool stadium shot here, too.
Turning to football, Russ High School sure liked that big “R” on its jersey, as seen in these great shots from 1902, 1903 (dig those crazy-ass socks on the dude at far left), and 1904. Meanwhile, check out the San Diego High player on the right in this 1921 shot: He’s got some some sort of tape wrapped around his thighs, his hip pads are tied together, and he’s got his keys hanging from his belt (which doesn’t match his teammate’s belt color). I sense the work of an overprotective mom.
Skipping forward several decades, it’s pretty obvious that those early Chargers uniforms were miles ahead of what the rest of the AFL was wearing. Can you even figure out who their plain-helmeted opponents are here? Incredibly enough, it’s the 1962 Oakland Raiders, hopelessly uni-outclassed. Similarly, who are the Chargers playing here? Answer: the 1963 Boston Patriots (who supposedly had Pat Patriot on their helmets, but I guess the AFL had some sloppy quality control).
Raffle Reminder: Lots of people had the day off yesterday for MLK Day, so you may have missed the announcement that we’re doing another Distant Replays raffle. For full details, scroll down to the “ITEM! January Raffle” section of yesterday’s entry.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Here’s something I haven’t seen before: padded/quilted uni numbers — additional views here and here — as worn by the UK’s Farnham MH Knights (whose head coach, Steve Rains, provided the photos). … The minor league Cincinnati Cyclones, who are affiliated with the Canadiens, wore Canadiens-themed jerseys on Friday night. “I thought the front of the jerseys looked really nice,” says Kris Rose, who provided these photos. “The backs, however, were a bit of a train wreck. The stripes going around the jersey made the numbers REALLY hard to read when the team was playing. Some sort of outlining would have helped a lot.” … Latest racer-backed women’s hoops team: Colgate (with thanks to Stewart Small). … Duke’s David McClure had a nameplate typo on Sunday night (good catch by Matt Palombi).