For last Thursday’s entry about team captains, I put a photo of Captain Kirk at the top of the page. It now occurs to me that the original Star Trek series, which I watched a lot of as a kid (insert all the usual geek clichés here), had a very formative effect on my uni-watching predilections, because I was pretty obsessed with how the various characters’ Starfleet ranks were indicated by the gold braid on their sleeve cuffs (sort of like this). A quick recap:
• Kirk was a captain, so he had two solid braids with a dotted braid in between. Occasionally they dressed him in that green tunic-y thing (I believe because William Shatner had put on too much weight to look good in the standard uniform top), and it always bugged me that the tunic sometimes had the standard sleeve braids and at other times mimicked the sleeve braiding on the shoulders with the sleeves left blank.
• Commanders, like Spock, wore two solid gold braids.
• Lieutenant commanders, like Scottie, had one solid braid and one dotted.
• Ensigns, like Chekov, had plain, unadorned sleeves, which always struck me as a bit of a gyp. Like, shouldn’t they get a single dotted braid or something?
• The occasional appearance of a Commodore, like Stocker or Decker, was marked by two gold braids with some sort of metallic foil in between.
There’s more, like all the different badges and such, but I never got into that stuff as much — then, as now, I was always more interested in the sleeve stripes. (Those who really wanna dork out on this stuff should look here, and there’s a doozy of a PDF file here.)
Much later, in the early 1990s — several years before I came up with the idea for Uni Watch — I got into the great 1960s TV series The Prisoner, and I noticed an ongoing discrepancy in the white piping on Patrick McGoohan’s signature black jacket. Sometimes the piping ran straight through the notch between the lapel and the collar (as seen here, here, here, and here), but at other times there was a small break in the piping (here, here, here, and here). Sometimes these two styles appeared within the same episode — or even the same scene. Bizarre. The people who produce The Simpsons must have noticed too, because they used both styles in this frame.
Obviously, it’s completely shocking that I was watching all this non-sports programming, but think of this as Uni Watch in its embryonic stages. I assure you that I was obsessing about stirrups and sleeve lengths and all the usual minutiae the whole time anyway.
Meanwhile, in actual sports news…: I’m trying to put the finishing touches on the roster of players who’ve worn particular uni numbers for particular reasons. As you’ll recall, I’m trying to get at least one example for each number from 0 through 99 — a tall order, it turns out. Here’s what I’m missing: 35, 48, 54, 59, 61, 63, 64, 67, 78, 82, and 86. (Update: Thanks to a slew of extremely helpful readers, all I’m missing now is 64 and 78.)
If you know of a player who’s worn any of these numbers for a specific reason, please get in touch as soon as possible.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Really interesting article here about Little Leaguers wearing Negro Leagues uniforms. … More swag at the White House. … The Capitals will unveil their new uniforms on June 22nd. … Confused by the Mets’ ever-shifting color protocols? You’re not the only one (with thanks to Jesse Spector).