By Vince Grzegorek
As a fan, you might wear a ballcap when you go out to watch your favorite team. But for reasons of logic and convenience, you only bring one hat to the game — right?
Well, there is one man who fails to see that logic, and who appears to be undaunted by inconvenience. As pointed out in the comments section a couple of days ago, it looks like there’s a guy who sits in the first row at Jacobs Field and seems to change his hat during every inning of every Indians game. That would be Tom O’Toole, a 40-year season ticket holder who sits in perfect view of the camera every time there’s a close-up shot of a left-handed batter.
O’Toole began his headgear ritual in 1994, when the Indians moved from old Municipal Stadium to the new ballpark. He figured that he was on camera so much that he might as well have fun with it, neon-style. So he came up with the routine of changing his cap after each inning, meaning that he wears nine different lids during every game. Same rotation of colors, same innings, every single time. They even have a sticker on the underbrim denoting their designated times.
There’s a fantastic article on O’Toole and his bizarre and endearing hat routine in here, including the following highlights: He goes back to the first inning hat if the game goes extra innings; he only wears hats at the game, never anywhere else; he only makes it to about 20 games a year; and his wife has to wear the designated hat if he leaves his seat for any reason. The last one has led some random strangers around town to off-handedly mention, “Tom went to the bathroom in the sixth inning because Joanne was wearing the hat.”
For all the great info in that article, one important thing is left out — or, to be specific, nine things. They don’t go through the montage of hats, which is sad, because it is quite the colorful explosion of color that can only be truly appreciated all together in one place. Here’s the sequence:
- 1st inning hat: dull yellow.
- 2nd inning hat: hot pink.
- 3rd inning hat: neon yellow.
- 4th inning hat: neon green.
- 5th inning hat: neon orange, with wife, Joanne wearing it (is your girlfriend/wife cool enough to do this?).
- 6th inning hat: bright orange-ish red.
- 7th inning hat: yellow hat, red brim.
- 8th inning hat: red.
- 9th inning hat: blue.
Now that is fan dedication, in one of its strangest and most Uni Watch-ish forms. Although we might quibble with some of his color choices, Tom O’Toole’s obsessive dedication to uni-related ritual makes it clear that he definitely Gets It™. And if you’re ever watching an Indians game and you’re not sure what inning it is, refer to our handy guide and check for the man with the neon hat in the first row.
And now over to Paul with the rest of today’s news and info.
Research Project: I’m trying to piece together a timeline of bullpen cars and carts. When did they first appear? When and why did they fall out of favor? Which teams had particularly interesting or innovative vehicles or gimmicks? Which pitchers refused to use them? (Mike Marshall comes to mind.) Any other good stories?
If you’ve got any info on this front, please send it here.
ALL MEMBERS, PLEASE READ: I’m making good progress on restoring the missing names from the membership roster, but we’re not there yet. In case you’ve missed my pleas the past two days: A softwear glitch wiped about 90 names off the roster listing, and I need your help to get things back to normal. All members who haven’t already done so should please check the roster listing. If you don’t see your name there, please e-mail me your name, membership uni number, membership level, and why you chose your number. If your name linked to a photo, please re-send it. And if you’d like to help speed up the process a bit more, pick out your card from the design gallery and send me its URL. Big thanks for everyone’s help.
And if you’re wondering about the design of today’s showcase card, it’s based on the back of the Ohio State marching band uniform.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Good breakdown here of Arizona high school football helmets. … This isn’t me, I swear (good find by Todd Davis). … Speaking of the Rockies, good article here about their W-L record in all their various uni combinations. … Latest Euro-styled NBA teams: the Grizzlies and Raptors, who both played games in Madrid yesterday and wore the colors of the Spanish national flag. … Iowa has a new basketball coach who wants to add player names to the backs of the jerseys, but a new name-free uni set was ordered before he was hired and the numbers are positioned too high to allow for names. Details here (with thanks to Cork Gaines). … Is Colorado wearing reflective-outlined numbers or what? … Wake Forest wore a “Skip” patch last night, in memory of former hoops coach Skip Prosser. … Speaking of Wake, most of the team’s players go bare-legged. But as Zach Smith notes, several players appeared to be wearing striped leggings (additional shots here and here), similar to what Kobe Bryant was wearing a while back. … Latest college basketball team to go with the System of Dreck: UNC (with thanks to Jordan Woodson). … Carey Price’s white mask has now been painted (with thanks to Casey Barcomb and Dave Frolick). … “I was at the Pitt/Navy game the other night at Heinz Field here in Pittsburgh,” writes Doug Keklak. “They have a Steelers Hall of Fame exhibit on loan from Canton — I think it’s something they put together for the team’s 75th anniversary. I snapped some quick photos and put them into this album.” … You knew Chad Johnson was Ocho Cinco. But did you know Jonathan Papelbon had christened himself Cinco Ocho earlier this year? He’s even got it on his glove (as forwarded by Phil Johnson). … Jon Eisen just sent me a link to an archive that will take lots of time to explore. For now, though, here’s the cutest uni-related photo ever. … Yesterday I ran some old Detroit sports photos. As Doug Mooney points out, there’s plenty more where that came from. … Another small change for the Wizards: Player names, which had been white, are now bronze (good spot by Colin Wilcox). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Good video here featuring the Sharks’ equipment manager showing the art of skate-sharpening.