We have a lot to cover today, boys and girls, beginning with the Capitals’ uniform unveiling, which took place on Friday evening. Although I couldn’t make it down for the event, Uni Watch was nonetheless in the house, in the person of DC-area reader Mike Forgy, a longtime Caps season ticket holder who was generously provided with media credentials by the Caps PR office (thanks, Nate). Mike took several dozen photos, which you can access here, and filed the following report:
One of the first things that struck me when I walked in was that the staff already had polo shirts with the new logo. Meanwhile, I saw that face painters, magicians, and one of the facility’s two rinks were made available to fans as a pre-unveiling treat. (The unveiling would take place on the other rink.) Merchandise stands were being set up, and jerseys could be pre-ordered for a September delivery date for a pretty reasonable price of $99. It would cost another $60 if you wanted it personalized. A huge screen was also installed in the second rink, so people could watch the unveiling and draft as they skated.
I made my down to and across the ice (not easy with dress shoes on) and took my place with the rest of the photographers and videographers. Most had their super powerful digital SLRs with huge lenses. I was armed with my regular camera, which is about as small as a cell phone, and the camera my friend Jennifer loaned me, a Canon A620, which had a lot more zoom than mine.
The Caps play-by-play announcer came out and introduced some of the great Caps from years past: Yvon Labre, Rod Langway, Mike Gartner, Kelly Miller, and Sylvain Cote, all of whom wore the jerseys from their respective eras. I am not sure, but it looked like Rod Langway had a souvenir shop jersey, although at that distance it was hard to tell. The alumni were then shuffled off the stage.
Finally a large curtain fell and the new uniforms were there for everyone to see. The home reds were worn by Captain Chris Clark and Defenseman Jeff Shultz, while the away whites were worn by Brian Pothier and Ben Clymer, who then took to the ice and skated around.
Soon we made our way to a media area (which, unfortunately, wasn’t very well lighted) to interview the players. I talked to Pothier, Clymer, and Shultz, and they all said the same things: They love the feel of the jersey, though the underarm area seemed a little tight. They all loved the tight socks (here’s a rear view) and the garter system that attached inside the pants. The old socks were the heavy cotton, which did not breathe so well. Most thought this would be the biggest difference maker during games, more so than the jerseys. All the players said they preferred the white jersey to the red one, but all made the caveat that white is just more classic.
When asked what kind of input they had, Ben Clymer said, “When I put it on about 30 minutes ago … that‘s my first input.” Even the Captain, Chris Clark, said he had not seen them before his arrival at the complex earlier in the evening.
While talking to Ben Clymer, I realized there was one thing I had completely forgotten about: helmets! I asked Ben if the color of the helmets would be red and white (for the respective jerseys) and he seemed shocked with the question, like maybe someone forgot about the helmets. At no point did anyone come out wearing one, nor were they alluded to. Ben informed me the red jerseys would get a blue helmet, and the white jerseys a white helmet.
The media kit provided a booklet on some of the features of the uniform and branding program (the eagle in the secondary logo must always face forward, for example) and some great pictures of Olie Kolzig, who is the only Caps player to wear all five uniforms.
The Caps made a killing that evening selling new merchandise to fans (myself included). One of the T-shirts they were selling featured numbers and letters that were printed to look sewn on, as if they actually had some raised stitching. What’s odd is that the number looks like the old jersey material — shouldn‘t it look more like this?
First and foremost, thanks to Mike for representing Uni Watch at the event — much appreciated. As for the full uniforms, I still don’t like the new logo (that p is just a disaster), but the whites are clearly better than the reds, and the full treatment (name/number, breezers, socks) is better than the jersey by itself. I’m still not wowed, but it would be fair to say that if my initial assessment was, say, a solid C, I’d now upgrade that to a B-minus.
As you may be aware, several other teams unveiled (or leaked) new uniforms over the weekend, including the Blue Jackets, Hawks, and Kings (and, depending on whether you trust images of dubious origin, maybe the Islanders and Hurricanes too). I’ll have more to say about these in a few days on ESPN.
Meanwhile, this was also a good weekend for MLB throwbacks, and Uni Watch was in the house again — sometimes in more ways than one. Let’s start with Saturday’s Dodgers/Rays game in Tampa, where L.A. dressed as the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers (a team that included current Devil Rays coach Don Zimmer) and the Rays became the old St. Petersburg Saints (complete with a totally cool flamingo sleeve patch). The big news here, which I didn’t even realize myself until yesterday, is that both teams’ uniforms were designed by Uni Watch’s own Scott M.X. Turner, who worked on the job for Ebbets Field Flannels. And as you can see in this shot they were indeed flannels, not just old graphics sewn onto polyester double-knits.
Designing the Dodgers’ duds wasn’t too hard (it’s not like there’s a shortage of old photos), but Scott says the St. Petersburg uniforms were trickier, because all he had to work with was a few photos from old newspaper clippings provided by the Rays (additional views here and here). “This is what companies like Ebbets Field, Mitchell & Ness, and AIS often have to dig through to recreate historic uniforms,” he says. “Sometimes we get crisp images or, rarely, actual garments. This wasn’t one of those times. In the end, though, I just did the designs. It was Jerry [Cohen, Ebbets Field’s owner/prexy] who single-handedly made the physical production happen, which was very, very hard, with hassles from all ends — MLB, the clubs, the various vendors, the shippers, customs, the whole thing.”
I hope to discuss all of this in an interview with Cohen in the near future, but for now we’ll make due with a note from Cohen that Scott passed along: “We pretty much made sure the teams would have to have stirrups (didn’t give ‘em a choice). Also, we know perfectly well that the Dodgers didn’t wear ‘Brooklyn’ in ‘55, but they wanted specifically to celebrate Brooklyn, so we did it that way.”
As it happens, reader Tim Burke was in the stands and snapped a lot of good pics, which you can see here.
A Uni Watch reader was also in attendance for Friday night’s Padres/Bosox game, which featured 1980s attire for both teams. As was well documented in the weekend comments sections, the Padres’ uni numbers weren’t quite right and the lettering Boston’s jersey insignia was too thin, among other problems, but whatever — we can still enjoy Tim Stoops‘s slide show of the evening’s events.
Another thing that came up in the weekend comments: the question of how “BOSTON” should have broken across the Red Sox jersey plackets. Should it have been BOS TON or BO STON? This turns out to be something of a variable element in Bosox history, and reader Jere has just whipped up a treatise on the topic for his blog — recommended reading.
Finally, the Brewers and Royals wore Negro League unis on Friday night, and holy shit did they look awesome (additional pics here, here, here, and here). No Uni Watch readers were in attendance, at least not that I’m aware of, although Nicole Haase did provide a bunch of screen shots that provide better views of what the Royals were wearing. And if there’s one thing we learned, it’s that players can look equally lame-o in any era.
Membership Update: I mailed out about 60 membership kits on Saturday (would’ve been a few more except I botched a couple while trimming and laminating, so those will have to be redone), and Scott is busily working on the next batch. We hope to be caught up, or close to it, by the end of this week.
We now have 175 members, 143 of whose cards have been designed, and I don’t mind saying that I think it all looks pretty damn cool. Plus the card design process has taught me a lot about team colors, numeral typography, and so on, so it’s been, as Homer Simpson might say, an edumacational project, and those are always the best kind. Thanks again to all who’ve signed up.
Meanwhile I regret to report that laminating a Cheerio isn’t nearly as good an idea as I thought it would be.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Ever notice that after Bobby Richardson caught the last out of the 1962 World Series, he didn’t have his cap on? Some ace detective work by New York Times Yankees beat writer (and Uni Watch devotee) Tyler Kepner has turned up the bizarre explanation: The second base umpire asked if he could have Richardson’s cap just moments before Stretch McCovey hit the line drive that would end the Series, so Richardson gave it to him (look closely at the photo and you can see the ump carrying the cap). Full details here. … History was made Friday night in Seattle, as reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith — the first-ever MLBer with a hyphenated name — made his big league debut (with thanks to birthday boy Jeremy Brahm, who attended the game). … Always good to hear from Uni Watch baking consultant Elena Elms (she of the stirrup-frosted cookies), who writes: “The Raleigh News and Observer ran a small item in which Robert Woodard (6’2″ RHP, UNC-CH) explains why he wears high cuffs. I’ve seen most of his home starts in his four years here and never saw him wear them that way until about a month ago. The pale blue stockings give quite an colonial appearance to his uni, I think.” … Bob Weston reports that Cubs reliever Bobby Howry has “Phil. 4:13” inscribed on his undervisor. … Hahahahahahahaha. … Cycling note from Michael Rich, who reports that Fabian Cancellara of Team CSC wore his No. 13s upside-down during the Tour de Suisse, as a way of avoiding any 13-related bad karma. … Garrett Hipple reports that Oregon State pinch-runner Braden Wells had a Virginia Tech logo decal (presumably another memorial in response to the shootings) on the back of his helmet in last night’s CWS game. … This is almost too good to be true. … Couple uni-related entries in this Q&A blog entry by Curtis Granderson (good spot by intern Vince Grzegorek).