While I was in San Francisco last week, Uni Watch pastry chef Liz Clayton took me to Kayo Books, which specializes in old comics, pulp novels, and related sleaze. Pulp novels occasionally had uni-related cover art, so I was hoping to hit paydirt with something that struck the perfect balance between sex and uniforms. I was only partially successful (more on that in a sec), but I did manage to turn up some more conventional sports titles, with lots of great uni-related content. Here’s a quick rundown:
Curling with Ken Watson, by Ken Watson (Harlequin, 1958). Not to be confused with the similarly titled Ken Watson on Curling (I always get them mixed up, don’t you?), this 222-pager features lots of amzing curling sweaters. I love the crossed-brooms patch shown here, and look how nubby this one is. But apparently some teams just wore plaid shirts, which doesn’t even seem like a fair fight. Best photo of the bunch: this dude, with his dangling cigarette.
1962 Pro Football Handbook, by Don Schiffer (Pocket, 1962). This book includes both NFL and AFL coverage, including some good shots of the Dallas Texans, an early AFL official (you can’t tell from the b&w photo, but those stripes are actually red, not black), an excellent view of the Packers’ early-1960s triple-striped pants, and heartening evidence that the Bears’ socks haven’t changed one bit in 45 years.
1969 NFL-AFL Illustrated Digest, by Don Smith and Ed Croke (Poretz-Ross, 1969). By this time, the merger was imminent and the Jets had beaten the Colts in Super Bowl III, which may explain the hierarchy of logos on the back cover. Tons of great stuff here — better break it out into a list:
• Look at that last photo again. See how the Saints’ helmet and pants striping goes in the familiar black-white-black sequence? After the second game of the 1968 season, the team inexplicably reversed the sequence, so that the helmet and pants striping both went white-black-white for the rest of the season. In 1969, they went back to black-white-black.
• Here’s Sonny Jurgensen playing, as he often did, without a chinstrap.
• Look how huge the Giants’ helmet numbers used to be!
• The thing I miss most about straight-on placekickers: square-toed shoes.
As for the sports/sleaze intersection, the best I could find on Kayo’s shelves was this, but it’s a real stinker, uni-wise. Like, is that the sorriest excuse for a football helmet you’ve ever seen or what? The earhole isn’t even in the right place! This shoddy illustration work no doubt explains why the guy sitting next to me couldn’t stop staring at the cover as I read this book on the flight home.
Party Report: Speaking of last week’s road trip, the two Uni Watch parties were big successes. The San Francisco gathering was a particularly raucous caucus, with a sizable crew showing up at Lefty O’Doul’s, where there was lots of memorabilia on the walls and no shortage of light, nourishing fare on the menu. Among the attendees:
• Here’s the very jovial Al Cummings, who kept me entertained with stories all night long and also went above and beyond by presenting me with a set of stirrups from Serra High School (“They’re post-Lynn Swann but pre-Barry Bonds,” as he put it), which I immediately pulled on. Not only that, but Al says his daughter works as a colorist for a major sportswear company and has promised to arrange a Uni Watch interview with her. Thanks again, Al!
• David Arnot looked sharp in his Uni Watch cap. But Aaron Strickland went a step further, by having me autograph his Uni Watch sweatshirt (he even brought along a green marker, so the signature would be color-coordinated).
• John Moist wore my favorite jersey of the evening — a 1942 New Orleans Pelicans beauty.
• Here’s Paul Hirsch, who not only wore a gorgeous 1960s Reds vest but also brought along an amazing piece of ephemera: a postcard from Marc Okkonen, author of Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century. Apparently Hirsch had written to Okkonen to point out a few errors in the first edition, and Okkonen responded in hilariously impressive detail.
• At first glance, it looks like Tim Cook is wearing an ancient, battered T-shirt. But it’s actually a brand-new “pre-distressed” model from Reebok, which he purchased only an hour or two before the party.
• I liked Mark Campbell‘s understated Calgary shirt and John Mandsager‘s KC A’s cap. But the most interesting merchandised product of the evening was Richard Craig‘s briefcase, made of genuine Rawlings glove leather.
• No jersey, cap, or briefcase for Brandon Davis, but he did bring along a lacrosse helmet from Dominican University, where he works. And get this: As you can see from the helmet, the team is called the Penguins — and that’s because Dominican is a Catholic school that used to be run by nuns.
Things were a bit more low-key the following night in Dallas, but there were still some good shirts on display, most notably William Denton‘s Danbury Trashers T-shirt and Ian Voorn‘s Asian jersey of uncertain origin. Jesse Ghiorzi, who works for the Texas Tornado hockey team, brought along a jersey for me to try (it was just a little big), and Robert Eden, Patrick Woody, and Alicia Stepp showed me plenty of Texas hospitality.
Big thanks to all who came out — it was great meeting all of you.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Dolphins plan to tweak their uni number font for next season. … You can read about the Hurricanes’ reactions to the new NHL unis here (with thanks to Matt Brukman and Clayton Hollingsworth). … Jorgen Jonsson recently played his record-setting 273rd game for Swedish national hockey team, and had a special jersey for the occasion (with thanks to Antti Salmi). … Some interesting uni-related eBay items here, here and here. … Good article here about the guy who makes NHL stick-curve gauges (as spotted by Jerry Wolper). … And here‘s a decent piece on MLB “cap surgery.”