I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Uni Watch readers are the best. How great is it that I can show up in a city and get to meet a bunch of you? Very great indeed, as this past weekend’s Minneapolis and Chicago parties ably demonstrated.
My Midwestern road swing got underway on Friday night at Nye’s Polonaise Room in Minneapolis. While other people danced to the Ruth Adams polka band, about 15 of us gathered toward the back of the bar. Here’s a rundown of attendees:
• Gotta start with comments section mainstay Teebz, who drove down all the way from Winnipeg (a six-hour haul) just to make the Uni Watch scene. He also wore two New York-centric jerseys, just to make me feel more at home: the Islanders’ fish sticks disaster (complete with seasickness-inducing rear view) and then, underneath that, an Eli Manning special.
• The other comments section royalty in attendance was Minna H., shown here with me. Note my Minnesota 9th District American Legion Band jacket (and my gold/maroon U. of Minnesota color scheme!), which I wore all special-like for the occasion.
• That last photo was taken by Trevor Williams, who made the drive down from Brainerd, where he works for the Brainerd Dispatch. I am very disappointed to report that he barely made a dent in his sumptuous-looking kielbasa platter, but he’s a swell guy (and he may be writing a little something about the event for this Sunday’s Dispatch), so let’s cut him some slack.
• Getting back to Golden Gophers colors for a sec, here’s Jim Snouwaert, looking sharp in a Gophers hockey jersey. He said he had a hard time deciding whether to tie the lace-up jersey or leave it hanging loose (ah, the pressures of attending a Uni Watch gathering).
• My favorite shirt of the night was the tee being worn by frequent contributor Todd Davis, who came all the way from Colorado. (Okay, he was also in town for a wedding, but still…)
• Here’s Jeff Barak, who began by wearing a Russian Red Army hockey jersey, then took that off to reveal a Giants retro design, and then stripped down to a really cool Minneapolis Millers T-shirt that he designed and produced himself. (As an aside, Jeff also very generously provided me with some photos of the 181 high school hockey jerseys that are on display inside the Xcel Energy Center.)
• Mead M. was really trying to butter me up. First he wore a green jersey (that’s the University of North Dakota hockey team — here’s a closer look); then he took that off to reveal a Uni Watch T-shirt underneath. All this brownnosing finally paid off when I posed with him for this shot, taken by Trevor Williams.
• This is Adam Roesch (and no, he doesn’t have mustard on his lip — it’s just the weird lighting), who has an interesting blog project called “Mugshot Purgatory,” devoted to those ubiquitous head shots that appear on web-based MLB roster pages. If you’re curious, he began the project here, some of his best entries are here, here, and here, and his archive is here.
• Here’s Hugh Gitlin, who wore a biking jersey over a basketball coaching polo, and seemed to know a little something about every single imaginable sport.
• This is Peter Kotas, who, in a bit of fortuitous timing, just moved to the Twin Cities about two weeks ago (and who, despite what my camera thinks, doesn’t really have a luminous chin). He’s only 19 and wasn’t sure they’d let him into Nye’s on his own, so he brought along his mom, Mariann Montagne (who, even more fortuitously, lives right across the street from Nye’s; thanks again to Trevor Williams for that last shot). I thought it was really cool that they came together.
• And no visit to Minneapolis is complete without seeing my longtime pals Jack Kirr (who graciously put me up for the night) and Rachel Hutton, who are two of the sweetest, most wonderful people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Always great seeing you two — big love to both of you.
From there I flew to Chicago, where a smaller but no less enthusiastic crowd convened at the Montrose Saloon. Among the attendees:
• I was particularly happy to meet Dave Dixon, who drove over from Rockford. Dave saved my ass last year when I wanted to write an ESPN column about the World Cup (and, more to the point, my editors wanted me to write one) but I was faced with the slight problem of not knowing jackshit about soccer. Dave’s the guy who basically held my hand and led me through all the World Cup uni designs, and it’s no exaggeration to say that this column wouldn’t have existed without him — thanks again, bud. And you don’t have to be forever in his debt to appreciate his Seahawks T-shirt, which garnered a lot of well-deserved compliments.
• Here’s Adam Elkana-Hale, who wore two interesting items: a Russian jacket of uncertain provenance (probably a track warm-up jacket, although he’s not sure, because he scored it at a thrift shop), complete with uni number on the sleeve, and a killer hurlng jersey (dig the rear view).
• Adam broke out laughing when he glanced toward the door and saw John Borovicka arriving in a Devil Rays jersey. I was so amused myself that I didn’t even give him any shit over the purple-brimmed cap.
• Jennifer Hayden and her co-worker Sandy Eberhardt had both ends of Chicago’s baseball spectrum covered. Big thanks to both of them for all the French fries, and bonus points to Sandy for her Chisox pendant.
• Pat Ratliff wore a really interesting Hanshin Tigers jersey. Look closely at that photo and you’ll see that the button placket ends slightly below the chest insignia, so it’s essentially a henley-style jersey. But there’s a row of non-functional buttons continuing down the length of the jersey, just for ornamentation.
• Finally, here’s my old pal Tim Adams, who I’ve known for nearly 20 years. He put me up for the night (as he almost always does when I visit Chicago) and also picked the venue for the night’s gathering — a fine choice, as it turned out. Thanks again, Tim.
In short: a really swell weekend. Thanks yet again to all who came out — I’m a lucky fella to have such wonderful readers.
Uni Watch News Ticker: In case you missed it in Sunday’s comments, reader Tim Stoops put together a killer slide show from Friday night’s Padres throwback game. … Great find from Jennifer Hayden, who came up with this shot, from the Oberlin College women’s rugby team calendar. … Some serious logo creep on the Oklahoma football truck (with thanks to Timm Decker, who adds, “I checked the tires — they are Goodyear, not Nike”). … Daniel Sherman notes that Blue Jays outfielder Adam Lind has a big “LIND” printed on his batting gloves. You can see part of it on his left glove here, and there’s a clearer (but very isolated) view here. … “Here’s something I’d never seen before,” writes Dave Scocca. “At AAA Durham [which is a Devil Rays affiliate], Tampa’s ‘minor league roving hitting coordinator’ Steve Livesey was in the dugout — in the uniform of the big league club. He was wearing the dark green, while the Bulls were wearing their sleveless whites (with team colors of blue and orange). It was odd to see the contrasting uniform in the dugout.” … Interesting track uniforms worn by Lancaster High School in Texas (as spotted by Tory Humphries). … Rob Thomas reports that Lamar Hunt, who helped created MLS, was memorialized over the weekend by the two teams he owned. The Kansas City Wizards wore a special “LH” jersey (here’s a closer view; their usual design looks like this), and FC Dallas, which is still owned by the Hunt family, went with an “LH” sleeve patch, which they’ll continue to wear all season. … Spectacular photo here of the 1892 Centre College baseball team (as spotted by Peter Stork). … “Sheffield United used kits with the number and name typeface that the Premiership will be using next year,” writes Dan Jacobsen. “But with their loss and relegation, this may be the only game they ever wear this particular font.” … Multi-pronged report from Jen Muller, who writes: “During Sunday’s Red Bulls game, Dane Richards’s name was spelled as “RICHADRS”. I’m guessing that the team had new home whites made after they auctioned off their VT tribute jerseys. While they screwed up Dane’s shirt, at least they made some improvements with a couple of others. In the same photo as the Richards gaffe, you can see that Dema Kovalenko (#21) doesn’t have the subscript “K” and “O” that he had in the first game. Dave van den Bergh also had issues with his name in that game, but unfortunately I don’t have any before pictures. Oh, and Kovalenko got blood on his jersey and had to finish the game in numberless model.” … Latest Japanese observations from Jeremy Brahm: (1) Tsuyoshi Nishioka of the Chiba Lotte Marines (No. 7 in this photo) appears to have his name rendered in boldface. (2) Check out Ryoko Tani — two-time gold and silver Olympic medalist in judo — wearing the Toyota logo. And (3) The Hanshin Tigers are wearing a special uni design (front, back) for the Japanese interleague games. … Late-breaking observation from Robert Eden regarding spring college football intra-squad scrimmages: “For Nebraska’s spring game, the starting offense and defense (the Red Team) don the current home uniform. The backups (the White Team), however, wear the white road jersey and the home white pants, instead of the traditional red road pants. I’ve never seen a reason given for this, but I suspect it’s because it’s possible for players to participate on both the Red and White teams during the game, and changing pants would be difficult and time-consuming.” … In response to my uni cameos column on ESPN.com, reader Neal Smith sent me this shot of O.J. Simpson in a Chargers jersey (but not Chargers pants or socks, apparently because it’s a practice session). He didn’t know the background of this shot, and neither do I. Anyone..? … Interesting article here on how Nike products (among other American brands) find their way to Cuba, despite the trade ban (with thanks to Brinke Guthrie). … Alan Topolski sent along this video clip of an old WHA game between the Cincinnati Stingers and the Houston Aeros. The interesting thing is that all the Stingers’ have their first initials (as well as their surnames) on the backs of their jerseys — apparently a team-wide thing. Anyone know of any other teams who’ve done this? … Speaking of names on the backs of jerseys, yesterday’s comments included a note about Ryan Rowland-Smith, who could become MLB’s first-ever compound-surnamed player. For details, scroll down to the “Waiting for the Word” section of this page. … You don’t have to be a Rams fan to be creeped out by this photo, taken during yesterday’s Fatah/Hamas clashes in Gaza City. … Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio discusses a few uniform details for the upcoming season in this short video clip (with thanks to Moose G.). … Regarding the pink bats on Sunday (and a few other things), an inside source with the Rangers chimes in with this: “Everyone was saying too bad Cruz didn’t hit that walk-off with his pink bat since his broke, because it would’ve been interesting to see if he tried to use it on Monday. As for the ‘T’ on the mound, they started doing that during the season last year when Dennis Klein became the new groundskeeper. Incidentally, MLB Authenticators have been running rampant here with all the pink stuff getting signed and with Sosa’s chase for 600. You’ll notice we’re now using the specially marked balls for Sosa’s ABs.” … Speaking of the pink-ism, when I referred to Kenny Lofton’s pink anklet yesterday, I meant to point out that this was, I think, MLB’s first ankle band since Jason Simontacchi’s ankle-borne memorial to Darryl Kile in 2002. In fact, that’s the only other MLB ankle band I’m aware of, aside from Lofton’s. Anyone know of any others? … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Some blogger is claiming that Ken Griffey gave him (the blogger) his (Griffey’s) jockstrap on Friday night. Sounds like a hoax to me, but decide for yourself here. … Rugby news from Caleb Borchers, who writes: “A couple of weeks ago I told you about Nike and France teaming up to change the traditional French colors because of the All Blacks. Now Nike is at it again: They introduced a new red jersey for England on Monday, believed to have been created so that they can deny the Welsh their traditional red shirts in the World Cup Quarterfinals.” … Fascinating quasi-uni-related article here about the controversy surrounding an amputee sprinter.