It’s hard to think of a group that was less well served by athletic apparel than early women’s basketball players. While the men got to wear shorts or at least bare arms, the mores of the times forced the women to stay covered up — sometimes in exceedingly unathletic attire.
I’ve occasionally linked to early women’s hoops photos in the Ticker, but I’d never seen so many of them in one place until Chris Burris recently directed me toward Women’s Basketball Online, a fairly comprehensive resource that includes a timeline with dozens of photo links. Among the highlights:
• This is the 1904 Fort Shaw Boarding School team, which was comprised of Native Americans and played at the St. Louis Worlds Fair. The striped shirts and “F” and “S” initials on the collars are much more uniform-ish than what most other women’s teams were wearing around this time. (A similar set of initials can be seen here, as worn by the 1907 Central Park Congregational team.)
• Here’s the 1904 Florida State College team. Note the handwritten school insignia — unbelievable.
• A major find here: a 1904 vide clip from Missouri Valley College. All the women are in dresses.
• According to the timeline, 1908 was when “Agnes R. Wayman, a member of the Women’s Basketball Rules Committee, [suggested] that coaches emphasize the feminine traits of their players on and off the court,” and also when “[m]any parents [began] to forbid their daughters playing basketball, fearing its bad influence.” Despite these negative developments — or maybe because of them — 1908 appears to be when women’s hoops uniforms really started looking like uniforms. Some of them began wearing their team names, like the Hull House and Spalding squads (both from Chicago). Others wore graphic symbols, like the Christian Temple team (Chicago yet again) and this Arizona club. And check out the sleeve insignia on the the University of Texas team.
• Hard to tell for sure, but it looks like the 1909 Austin Methodist Episcopal team wore left-sleeve armbands of some sort.
• 1909 also appears to be when most of the women’s uniforms went from dark to light.
• Another 1909 trope: the sudden appearance of male coaches, as seen these shots from Milton High School in North Dakota and Miller High School in Nebraska. (As you can see in that last shot, it was common for early women’s teams to pose for team portraits while lying down — the better to look all cutesy and unthreatening.)
And that’s just the pre-1910 stuff. There’s a lot more on that timeline page. Eventually the puffy designs give way to things like this, but it took a while to get there. It’s amazing the gals persevered that long.
Uni Watch Road Trip: I’m gonna be in Boston on December 6th and will probably be convening a Uni Watch party around 8:45 that evening. Details to follow shortly.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Speaking of basketball history, there’s a fantastic story here about how the Black Fives crew did all kinds of historical research to resurrect the logo of the old Independent Pleasure Club — highly recommended. … Yesterday I linked to this photo, which showed Joe Torre’s monogrammed cuffs. That prompted a note from, of all people, Giants equipment director Joe Skiba: “The maker of Torre’s shirts is actually a friend of one of our equipment managers.” Here’s an actual Torre monongram swatch, from a cuff repair that had to be done on one of his shirts. … Skiba also confirms that the Jints will indeed be wearing their red alts this weekend (which means I’m gonna go to the movies or something, because I just can’t watch that). … A reader who didn’t give his full name checked in yesterday with a tantalizing question: “Years ago, back in the mid-’90s, the Cowboys were unveiling some new throwback or alternate uniform (I think it was the ‘triple star’ jersey) and, here’s the kicker, Jerry Jones himself modeled it in full pads, with a helmet under his arm. I recall it was a sideline interview and I think it was the home game before the Thanksgiving game (they were going to unveil the new uniforms on Thanksgiving). I swear on my life I saw this with my own eyes.” Anyone know more about this? …. Another no-name reader sent along this photo, which must surely set the record for the most logos on an ice rink. It’s for the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels. … Nike has developed a high-visibility soccer ball (with thanks to Paul Berggren). … According to this article (forwarded by Todd Hawes), Oregon wideout Jaison Williams had an expletive written on one of his gloves on Saturday. Anyone know more about this? … Not uni-related, but it’s worth mentioning that No Mas’s Dave “Large” Larzelere continues to write the most compelling sports analysis on the web. His take on the World Series is dead-on, and his essay on the Calzaghe/Kessler fight is the kind of boxing writing that qualifies as literature. Time and again, he’s able to articulate things that I had intuitively grasped but had failed to flesh out into fully formed ideas, and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve thought “Damn, wish I’d written that” while reading his stuff. Don’t miss. … Yesterday I asked when the Rangers started using nameplates instead of direct-sewn lettering. Kurt Zwald provides a probable explanation: “Generally, the Rangers wear a preseason set with screened-on nameplates and then bring out the regular-season sets with letters sewn directly onto the back. However, beginning in 2005-06, the Rangers recycled that preseason set into their first regular season set — they’d cover up the screened-name nameplate with a sewn nameplate. This practice was implemented before the inception of the Edge jersey.” … Chris Markham notes that the Patriots’ rear-helmet uni numbers are usually split down the center of the helmet. But Dante Stallworth’s numerals are tighter together and maybe even shifted to the left side, presumably because he’s wearing one of those new Schutt helmets, which don’t have a center ridge. … That SDSU helmet decal for the San Diego firefighters — referenced in the Ticker last week — ended up looking like this (with thanks to MarcZ). … Not uni-related but still plenty interesting. … My favorite link of the day: Justin Kadis has found a site devoted to pencil design. Look at all those logos! Click on any of them for pics of various pencils made by that brand, and then click on any of those pics for a closer view. Surprisingly addictive.