Back in September, I was given a look at the new MLB designs for the 2007 season, on the condition that I not divulge or discuss any of them prior to their official release dates. Most of them, like the Reds’ and Diamondbacks’ makeovers, were pretty conventional. Then I looked at the new Pirates design, and I couldn’t believe what I saw: MLB’s first-ever red vest, worn over black sleeves. Surely this must be a batting practice jersey or something like that, right? Nope, it was listed as the “Alternate Home” uniform.
For four months I sat on that knowledge, telling no one, certain that the whole thing must have been a mistake. There was no way the Buccos would really wear that, right? In recent weeks, as news outlets reported that the team would be “reintroducing red into the team’s color scheme,” I figured they’d just do a red-brimed cap or something like that — not the full-on bleeding vest. About a week ago, I told a friend from Pittsburgh about the red vest (she was horrified), but afterward I felt silly for having alarmed her, because I still couldn’t believe the team would actually go through with it.
On Friday, they proved me wrong. And you know, it’s not an ugly garment per se — I actually like red, black, and yellow together, and the team’s insignia still looks crisp. Really, this concept would make a swell bowling shirt. But as a Major League Baseball uniform — especially one for a team known for wearing black and gold — it’s a total fucking joke, and could single-handedly destroy PNC Park’s well-deserved reputation as a gorgeous place to watch a ballgame.
Incidentally, there’s been some rather disingenuous chatter coming from Pirates HQ about how “red used to be one of our original team colors back in the old days, after all.” True enough — and hey, it’s easy to see the natural evolution from long-ago red-inclusive Pirates uniforms like this, this, and this to the new design. Why, they’re obviously just preserving and honoring their heritage!
Remember the new Uni Watch standard: Is it good or is it stupid? I don’t think that question has ever been more rhetorical than it is here.
Party Update: Remember, Uni Watch party this Saturday, 3pm, at the 12th Street Bar in Brooklyn (just east of the corner of 12th St. and 8th Ave.; F train to 7th Ave. stop).
After extensive research and deliberation, it’s been determined that the San Francisco party (Feb. 7th, 7:30pm) will take place at Lefty O’Doul’s. I know I said I didn’t want a sports bar, but how many sports bars bill themselves as piano bars? I’m a sucker for that (even if they don’t actually have a piano anymore), plus it appears to be a pretty old-school kinda place. If anyone has a serious objection, let me know pronto. Otherwise, I’ll look forward to seeing you there next Wednesday evening.
And the Dallas party (Feb. 8th, 7:30pm) will be at the Ginger Man, a venue that I trust will be less controversial, since many people suggested it.
Uni Watch News Ticker: “I wandered into a bookstore yesterday and stumbled upon a book that seems to be right up your alley,” writes Billy Duss (see link at right). “Basically, the author has gone through most of the English club teams and documented their changing uniforms from 1980 to today. Most clubs change their uniforms every two years, so there is plenty to document.” … Interesting query from Aidan Brand, who writes: “Back when I was a small boy watching Hockey Night in Canada, all the players seemed to wear the same kind of pale blue ringer tee. I thought they were long-sleeved, but they may well have been short-sleeved. I couldn’t for the life of me find a decent photo, but you can catch a glimpse of what I’m talking about in this video of Louis Debrusk and Marty McSorley. Do you know anything about these? Were they as ubiquitous as I remember? If so, why was everyone wearing them? Who made them? Any idea where I could get one?” … Last week’s entry about Scholastic Coach magazine, and its many ads for Sand-Knit uniforms, triggered fond memories for Tim Walker: “I’m a former basketball manager (Indiana 76 NCAA Champion) and son of a high school basketball coach (Paul Walker — HS coach of Jerry Lucas!). My dad generally got new unis every year for the Middletown (Ohio) Middies, and I vividly remember helping him order those double knits! Here‘s a warm-up top from those years (Sand-Knit as well). Also: At Indiana, we switched over from leather Cons to Adidas in 1975-76. The Adidas Superstars from the factory had red leather stripes and a leather heel patch, but we often had to get a pair on short notice from the local sporting goods store, which only had the black Adidas stripes. They supplied the managers with a small bottle of crimson leather paint and we would color the stripes by hand. The end result was often pretty ragged, with paint getting on the white leather and the black showing through. I wish I had some pictures of that!” … My friend Ganda Suthivarakom, who runs the very wonderful food blog Eat Drink One Woman (and sings with David Byrne), featured me last Friday in her weekly “You Are What You Eat” feature. … “On the Colts sideline, I always see a person who looks vaguely official, wearing a red polo shirt with a Colts horseshoe on it,” writes Dave Ciskowski. “I figure there must be a reason for it — and perhaps it’s obvious — but I’ve never found an answer.” I’m assuming this is a coach who wants to make it easy for his group of players to identify him when he gives signals from the sideline, but does anyone know any specifics on this one? … Hilarious bit here about pointless Super Bowl merch (big thanks to Paul Hirsch). … Rob Bindeman just got back from attending the Twins Fantasy Camp in Florida. “Each ‘camper’ gets a full home Twins uniform and a BP jersey with his name and number of choice. In addition, the camp directors, Sports Adventures, encourage campers to bring their own uniform to support their favorite team (here’s camper Bill Phillips in a sweet Cubbies uni — note the ‘energy bar’ in his left hand). Former pros in attendance wear either a Twins uniform (like Harmon Killebrew, shown here with me) or the uniform of the team with which they’re most associated or currently affiliated.” … Dave Shucosky reports that the Wilkes-Barre Penguins will wear camouflage unis this Saturday. … Just to show I don’t completely hate Nike: Their “uniform builder” web pages (available for baseball, football, and lots of other sports) are pretty cool. … I’ve occasionally written about uni elements that don’t align (either across separate garments, or sometimes within the same garment). That prompted Flo Zenger to contribute the following: “These are pictures of a German (then) second division soccer team (Stuttgarter Kickers FC) back in 1993. They didn’t just have aligning stripes — their shirts and shorts actually formed the team’s logo. You can imagine what a mess that was when they were playing.” … “Here is a picture for the Japanese BJ-League All-Star Game uniforms,” reports Jeremy Brahm. “The player’s regular team is on the right side on the front of the uniform (the circle in the picture), and the team’s logo is on the back (also circled).” … Lots of great old Rochester Red Wings pics here (with thanks to Jesse Spector). … The Islanders wore 1972 throwbacks on Saturday night. … Speaking the Isles, there’s a good article about their “Fish Sticks” jersey design here (and check out the “More Jersey Stories” links at the bottom of the page — good stuff). … Jason Iapicco wants to know what Mo Williams is wearing on his left shoulder. … Decent article about team logos here. … Not quite uni-related, but Scott M.X. Turner has turned up YouTube video of the opening credits and theme songs for Monday Night Football in 1973 and CBS’s NFL football broadcast in 1970, both of which feature some amazing graphics. You can see them here and here, respectively.