New ESPN column today — here’s the link.
Meanwhile: Sometimes I’ll come across a book that isn’t really about uniforms, or even about sports, but is nonetheless very much a Uni Watch type of book. That was the case last summer when I reviewed The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America (still highly recommended), and it’s even more so with Blackstock’s Collections: The Drawings of an Artistic Savant.
Some quick background: Gregory Blackstock is a 61-year-old Seattle pot scrubber who’s also a self-taught (or, if you prefer, “outsider”) artist and musician (there’s more info on him here). He specializes in “visual lists” — basically detailed illustrations that show all the types of a particular animal or tool or technique or whatever. Just as many of us are detail-oriented collectors (either of jerseys or of other ephemera), Blackstock collects things by documenting them in his drawings. And like any good collector, he finds commonalities and groupings where the rest of us might miss them — who knew there were so many kinds of hoes or trowels, for example? He’s essentially created his own series of systematic classification systems, which is very Uni Watch-ish indeed.
Blackstock also adheres to some fairly rigid self-imposed protocols, my favorite of which is his devotion to the definite article — almost all of his drawings have a title or heading that begins with “The” (although he occasionally breaks this rule). Some of his drawings are a bit drab, others bright and festive, but they all exhibit significant attention to detail, and many of them border on information overload — the mark of a completist (and, again, very much in keeping with Uni Watch).
As for uniforms, I was happy to see that the book’s clothing chapter (“The Hats,” “The Shoes,” “The Masks”) began with this opening page. Unfortunately, the one drawing actually devoted to uniforms is among the least inspired in the entire book. Too bad.
Despite that one shortcoming, the book is incredibly charming, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it will probably strike a familiar chord in many of you (it certainly did in me). Just as many of us obsess over knowing, documenting, and communicating every last bit of uni-related knowledge, Blackstock obsesses over, well, everything. That’s both the blessing and the curse of his artistic niche: He has an endless supply of source material, but he’ll never be able to keep up with all of it. I picture him waking up at 3 a.m. and thinking, “Damn — there’s a trowel design that I totally forgot to include in that drawing!” Or, “Should I do separate drawings for the mustards, the ketchups, and the relishes, or should I just do one drawings called ‘The Condiments’?”
I’m fairly certain Blackstock didn’t choose this niche so much as it chose him. Again, I think many of us, myself included, can probably relate. In any case, it’s an amazing book — Uni Watch’s highest rating.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Bit of a footwear snafu for Celtic on Tuesday (with thanks to Greg Riffenburgh). … Nats backstop Brian Schneider plans to swap his old Expos mask for one of Sidney Crosby’s jerseys. Details here (courtesy of Kim Kolb). … The Brockton Rox are planning to wear “Kiss-inspired jerseys,” whatever that means, next month. Details here (with thanks to Rick Subrizio). … I think it’s safe to say that never before have we had a situation where two MLB managers are wearing slings, but that’s the case now with Willie Randolph and John McLaren. But Matt Hessling has noticed an inconsistency regarding McLaren: “Whenever he is shown in the dugout, pregame, postgame, or even arguing a call, he is wearing the sling; however, when he makes a pitching change, the sling is off, no matter the throwing hand of the pitcher.” … You know the titanium necklace phenomenon has gotten out of hand when umpires are wearing them (Rick Reed in this case). … More details here regarding the logo-festooned vests that the NFL wants photographers to wear. … Good article here on sponsor advertising on Tour de France jerseys.
Friendly Reminder: By the time most of you read this, I’ll be off on vacation. I’ll be back on the 26th, or maybe the 27th. Membership orders will still be processed during my travels, so go ahead and keep sending them in, but Vince will be steering the ship in all other respects, so if you have questions, observations, or contributions, send them to him. And treat him right — if not for him, the site would probably have to go on vacation too.
Have fun while I’m gone. See you Toronto readers next Tuesday!