The e-mails started arriving at Uni Watch HQ right after the end of Saturday’s Kentucky/LSU game. While the rest of the country was buzzing about Kentucky’s upset victory, Uni Watch readers were puzzling over something that had briefly appeared on their TV screens. Of the dozen or so readers who got in touch, Rob Kustal summed it up best:
With :02 left in regulation, before the big field goal missed by LSU, CBS showed vintage footage of Kentucky, circa 1950 or so. I didn’t even catch the specific story, because I was so distracted by what I thought I saw: I swear it was a player wearing a jersey number reading ‘1A.’ My friend thought he saw the same thing. It could’ve been a funky-looking 14, or maybe 17, but it certainly looked like 1A.
During the course of his legendary career, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was known as an innovator of introducing changes in the game of football. One change Bryant introduced during his tenure at Kentucky was the use of a unique number system to identify twins Harry and Larry Jones, who both lettered three years (1950-52) with the Wildcats. Harry wore 1A and Larry wore 1B. Harry led the Wildcats in all-purpose yardage in 1951 with 964 while Larry led UK in kickoff returns (21.1 avg) in 952.
Maybe someone should have said, “Yo, Bear, here’s an innovation for ya: If you want to tell them apart, howzabout giving them No. 1 and No. 2?” or something like that. In any event, this wasn’t the only time a team used numbers and letters in tandem. In 1952, LSU used an alpha-numberic system based on the players’ positions. And then there’s this YMCA basketball team, circa 1900, which Vince wrote about back in January.
But the Kentucky situation is unique because, as far as I can tell, it’s the only time that an alpha-numeric format — or any non-standard numbering format — was used for just a couple of players, instead of team-wide. A silly idea at the time, but great Uni Watch fodder half a century later.
(Special thanks to Jeremy Brahm, who provided the “1A” screen shot.)
Flap Follow-Up: Last Thursday’s entry on Earl Battey and his improvised earflap led to a nice shout-out from Blake Meyer, who runs the superb TwinsCards.com site. He put out the call among his people, one of whom, Pat Bones, came up with those two elusive Battey photos from the 1963 Twins yearbook. The pics aren’t great, but the flap is there if you’re looking for it. Big thanks to Blake, Pat, and the TwinsCards.com network for coming up with these.
Now let’s see if we can return the favor: Blake and his people want to know what’s up with this 1968 baseball card. It appears to have been taken at an all-star game, but the ’67 game was in Anaheim, so the A.L. players would have been wearing home whites and the N.L. would have worn road grays, instead of the other way around. Maybe it’s from the ’66 game..? Insights welcome.
Research Project: I’m trying to compile a list of uniform quirks and eccentricities that aren’t part of a team’s official uni specs but have nonetheless become part of the team’s established protocol. Examples would include the Cowboys’ Dymo Tape helmet nameplates (as seen at right) and jersey tie-downs, the Giants’ rounded nameplates, the Bears’ horizontal shoulder darts, the Steelers’ heavily ribbed socks, the Red Wings’ preseason use of straight nameplates, and so on. Care to contribute some additional examples? You know what to do.
Uni Watch News Ticker: We’ve often talked about city flags appearing on sleeve patches or serving as the basis of team color schemes. Now Scott Greene has found a page featuring dozens of city flags, most of which I’d never seen before. Did you know Detroit’s flag looked like this? Or that Long Beach’s looked like this? Fascinating stuff — highly recommended. … Speaking of flags, last week I asked if anyone had a shot of the American flag flanked by an Adidas flag during the singing of “God Bless America” at Yankee Stadium. Now Tim Walsh has provided this, which must surely rank among the most offensive examples of logo creep ever. … Reprinted from Friday’s comments: David Carr’s penchant for wearing gloves has led to a new blog. … Susan N. Freeman found an amazing 1929 photo featuring these totally rad Texas Tech uniforms. … Nate Allen lost his shoe the other day (good spot by Greg Riffenburgh). … Last week I linked to a great Sports Business Journal article about the NFL cracking down on uniform violations, but you had to register for a free trial subscription in order to access the story. Now I’ve got a scan of the print version of the article — print quality isn’t top-notch, but it’s legible. Highly recommended reading. … Great catch by Dennis Gray, who noticed that Manny Fernandez’s lace-up collar didn’t have any laces the other night. He doesn’t always go lace-free, so it’s not clear if this was a matter of personal preference or just an oversight. … Dave Eskinazi sent along this old Spalding Tour photo. At first glance the most salient details are the classy chest insignia, the white belt, and the colored pants. But take a closer look at the detailing on the sleeve cuffs. “Never seen anything like it,” says Eskinazi, and neither have I. … “There is so much wrong with this photo, I don’t know where to begin,” writes Jordan Cutler. For the record, that’s Geo Soto playing for the triple-A Iowa Cubs. … In the “Oh. My. God.” department, the Wisconsin hoops team will honor their 1941 NCAA championship squad by wearing throwbacks on December 3rd, and I may just have to fly out to Madison for that one, because we’re talking about some serious striped-sock action (with thanks to Damion Beth and Karl G. Anderson). … Thomas Langan reports that the Hofstra lacrosse team honored former teammate Nick Colleluori, who recently died of lymphoma, by wearing lime green uniforms (the color of the lymphoma ribbon), all with No. 27 (Colleluori’s number), back on October 7th. … Has Dartmouth always had these weird helmet stripes? (As spotted by Zevi Lowenberg.) … Old Dominion will return to football competition in 2009, and their just-unveiled uniforms appear to be a total rehash of the current Miami design. Of course, Miami will have moved on to a new uni by 2009, so ODU is basically getting sloppy seconds here (with thanks to Charles Pritt). … Here’s something I don’t recall having seen before: Evander Holyfield had his surname on his shoes during Saturday night’s bout against Sultan Ibragimov. … No comment. … Reprinted from Saturday’s comments: Western New Mexico has taken the very odd step of putting their helmet decal on the back of the helmet. … Reprinted from Saturday night’s comments: Lots of inconsistencies in Auburn’s nameplate typography (as noted by Kris McInnis). … Since the NFL fines players for having their jerseys untucked, can’t the NHL do something about Jaromir Jagr, who keeps wearing his jersey tucked in? Looks like crap. … Rutgers wore black pants on Saturday. Doesn’t look bad, but also doesn’t look like Rutgers. … The Jets’ Titans throwbacks looked nice, but oddly collegiate, no? (First person to comment, “That’s appropriate, since the Jets play like a college team” gets tossed from the site, so please be more creative than that.) … Major wardrobe malfunction yesterday in Chicago, where Adrian Peterson of the Vikings had his pants come down in the fourth quarter (nice work by Aaron Etshokin). … According to Dressed to the Nines, in 1974 the Red Sox wore an alternate uniform, featuring a multicolored cap and non-striped stirrups. Not sure I’d ever seen a photo of this design until Andy Given came up with this shot of El Tiante (which he found in this excellent gallery of Red Sox pics). … Not sure why, but the Chargers’ new powder-blue alts didn’t quite wow me. I think it’s because the blue panel on the pants creates a blue overload. … Meanwhile, guess whose American flag helmet decal was missing yet again. … Attention all fans of design (which pretty much means everyone reading this): This is National Design Week, which among other things means free admission at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum here in NYC. … Several readers think Santana Moss was wearing a collared shirt under his jersey yesterday. Personally, I’m dubious, but you can kinda see it here. If this sounds familiar, it’s because we went through a similar discussion regarding the Saints’ Will Smith last year. … Interesting volleyball hosiery here (with thanks to Steven Trujillo). … Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero was wearing a ski cap under his mask last night. … Brandon Bowker works at a book store where a copy of this title recently came through. “Check out those socks!” he says. Indeed. … Remember our recent examination of Todd Helton and his Mizuno-ized Nike cleats? Here’s a great close-up from last night’s Rockies/D-backs game. … Reprinted from last night’s comments: Nice little video clip here about Martin Gerber’s new mask.