Got an interesting note a few days ago from reader Jim Borwick, as follows:
I was watching the Blue Jays play the Sox in Chicago a couple of weeks ago and saw something I found odd on the White Sox home unis. Even though their logo is only on one side of the shirt, the second button from the top is positioned higher than it should be. Other teams obviously do this to accommodate the insignia running across the chest area, but with the Sox there is no need for that. I did a bit more research and discovered that most of the other teams with “one-sided” jersey logos also do this, including the Tigers, Reds, and Cubs — but not the Yankees. Their buttons are evenly spaced.
Have you ever noticed this ? What am I saying, of course you have.
Coupla things here. First, yes, I have noticed that even teams with simple chest logos, as opposed to full-chest insignia, use the unevenly spaced buttons (another team that does so: the Rockies), which has always struck me as a lazy move by Majestic. I’d never noticed that the Yankees were bucking this trend, however, so I was feeling pretty unobservant after reading Borwick’s note (especially after he showed so much faith in me at the end of his communiqué).
But then I discovered that he appears to have gotten some of his research mixed up: Contrary to what he wrote, the Yankees do indeed have the uneven spacing (here’s another example). And although he cited the Cubs among the unevenly button-spaced contingent, it appears that the Cubbies actually have nice, even button spacing on their home jersey (but, as you’d expect, uneven spacing to clear a path for their road jersey insignia).
Are the Cubs the only ones with evenly spaced buttons? Not sure — I haven’t yet had time to check the status of every left-chest-logo’d team, but I hope to get moving on that soon. (Translation: Vince, can you please look into this?)
A more serious research project would be to investigate the history of button placement. Did all teams use evenly spaced buttons years ago, and did this lead to buttonholes in the middle of chest lettering? If so, when did that second button migrate upward, creating the open real estate for the insignia? Is the uneven spacing just a Majestic thing, or were Russell, Rawlings, and other recently MLB uni manufacturers also doing it? I hope to look into all of these questions soon. If anyone has info or wants to contribute any research or their own, you know what to do.
Rocket Science: New York Times Yankees beat reporter Tyler Kepner wrote a little item about Roger Clemens last week, but it only made the early edition of the paper and doesn’t appear to be linked on the paper’s web site. Fortunately, he passed it along for me to reprint here:
There is a strategic reason, Roger Clemens explained, that he carries a black, hard-shell equipment trunk with him at home and on the road. Clemens insists on putting his gloves in the trunk so they do not get banged up during travel. He wants the leather to be stiff so hitters can not see the movement of his hand as he grips the ball.
Early in his career, Clemens noticed how veteran teammates like Marty Barrett and Dwight Evans could tell what a pitcher was going to throw by reading the subtle movements of his fingers and wrist. Clemens is careful to conceal his intentions, using a glove with no openings that would show any part of his hand or fingers.
Clemens said he tries to never wear long sleeves for the same reason. He might reach deeper into his glove to grip a certain pitch, and he figures that if the hitter sees only skin — not the end of a sleeve — he might be unable to tell when Clemens is changing his grip.
Clemens said he wants the leather in his glove to be soft enough to catch a grounder or a flip from the first baseman, but essentially he wants it firm. If a glove gets even the slightest bit floppy, he said, he will give it to his agent, Randy Hendricks, an accomplished softball player who can use a deep pocket in his glove.
Good Things Happen to Good People Dept.: I don’t know how I ever got by without an intern. More specifically, I don’t know how I got by without Vince Grzegorek, who’s become an indispensable member of the Uni Watch team and a good friend besides. Incredible as this may seem, Vince’s sportswriting aspirations go beyond the realm of uniforms, and lately he’s been trying his hand at non-uni pieces, one of which has just been published by Cleveland Scene (the Forest City’s alterna-weekly). Enjoy it here, and please join me in congratulating Vince.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: There’s an amazing old Montana football jersey being sold on eBay. … That same seller is also auctioning off a bunch of 1930s Montana game programs, many of which have really gorgeous cover art, as seen here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. … Interesting article about the use of the Cubs trademark here (with thanks to Laura Koenig). … Boston College is slated to unveil new uniforms today. … Here’s a minor league promotion I hadn’t seen before: Backwards Night. Details here (with thanks to Jason Adkins). … A few days ago I linked to this article, which reputedly showed all sorts of reasons why Barry Bonds’s swing is improved by his elbow armor (and not just because it allows him to sit on the inside part of the plate). That article has been widely ridiculed in baseball circles over the past few days. But the author isn’t giving up — he answers his critics here. … Someone’s put together a nice little gallery of bespectacled ballplayers (thanks, Vince). … Thanks to Barry Bonds, Mike Bacsik is now wearing MLB’s most famous stirrups. They’re even mentioned in this article about Bacsik, which includes the following passage: “Bacsik is not your typical major leaguer. He wears old-fashioned stirrups. He studies baseball lore.” But Bacsik’s not the only stirrups-clad hurler out there. Check out, for example, last night’s starter for the Rockies, Ubaldo Jimenez (additional views here, here, and here).