[Editor’s Note: Although intern emeritus Vince Grzegorek has moved on to greener pastures, he’s still going to contribute occasional entries — like today’s, for example.]
By Vince Grzegorek
A few weeks ago, there was a mention in the Ticker of the Slipstream cycling team’s search for a new uniform for next season. They invited fans to submit designs, leading to over 600 entries, including some, er, interesting versions (Drew McKay‘s favorite). The important thing here is that Slipstream is pretty famous for its use of argyle patterns, going so far as to call their fanbase the Argyle Armada, so almost all of the proposed versions included variations on this design motif.
All of which got me thinking: How often does argyle show up in uniforms? As Slipstream shows, it can look pretty sharp. I figured there had to be some great examples in other sports.
First, a word on the origins of the pattern itself. According to Wikipedia, “The argyle pattern is said to have been derived from the tartan of Clan Campbell, of Argyll in western Scotland.” It was basically a re-appropriation of the pattern that gave birth to argyle socks and, in turn, argyle sweaters, hats, vests, and the whole preppy wardrobe. The elite began to wear the style in their leisure activities, which included sitting around at their clubs, watching horses, and playing golf, marking the evolution of argyle from casual dress to (somewhat) active dress.
When it comes to uniforms, golf is a great place to start, since it that was the sport that brought argyle into the mainstream in America. According to legend, the president of Brooks Brothers saw golfers in Scotland wearing argyle socks and began selling them back on our side of the pond. Argyle socks went from fashionable links attire to a trendy and dressy hosiery option for the masses.
Of course, argyle is still a common sight in golf today (although not as common as it once was). It’s also made its mark in a variety of other sports — and not just in predictable country club pursuits like tennis and horse racing.
In fact, it seems that virtually every sport has dallied with argyle at one time or another. Given all the emphasis on handsome hosiery during the early period of baseball, for example, it’s no surprise that this 1874 Ontario team was sporting argyle hose.
Over on the soccer field, we’re all probably familiar with this example of argyle socks, thanks to a concerted effort by Boca Juniors to bring back classy. But would you guess that argyle socks also showed up in track and field? American sprinter DeAna Carson wore argyle socks while running the 200-meter dash at the Simplot Games in 2006, garnering my nomination for Best Dressed Female Athlete of the Year (the ESPY’s should include this, no?).
On the hardcourt, the most obvious example is the UNC basketball uniform, which in 2000 began featuring an argyle pattern running down the sides — a classic look. While looking for UNC photos, I stumbled upon this gallery — check out Shaw University’s uniforms! More argyle!
I couldn’t find a football example, but I’m betting there’s got to be one out there waiting to be found. I think there’s another database in our future. Post any suggestions in the comments section or e-mail them our way.
Unfinished Business: (Shivering) Working for Paul Lukas has been good. He is a nice man. Um. I never felt overworked. And every task he assigned me was worthwhile and rewarding. Yeah. The last year has felt like
being imprisoned in research hell it went by in the blink of an eye. (Nervously looking over shoulder.)
Seriously, everything was great — Paul was a blast to work for on every project, I loved what I was doing, and whether he admits it or not, he had a lot to do with the progress I made over the last year that has now translated into a full-time writing job. Due to the new employment, the holidays, and an ill-timed and lengthy internet outage at my house, I never got a chance to say that. One other thing I never got to say was congrats to Bryan, who is obviously filling my massive size 10s quite well.
I’m not going anywhere, and as you can see I’ll still be contributing material, at least as much as I can. You guys have been too great and this has been too fun to just stop all together. So, consider me your Senior Assistant Editor (at least that’s the title I’m going to demand if Paul asks). In short, or, at this point, long — thank you for all the support and patience you’ve shown me over the past year.
Call for Research: I’m working on a piece about CFL uniforms and would welcome any suggestions on what to cover. Neither Paul nor I have much expertise in that domain, so any input would be appreciated. One specific question: Anyone know when and why the Canadian flag started showing up as a helmet decal? Pre/post 9/11? E-mail all contributions to me at vincegrzegorek [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks.
And now over to Paul for the rest of today’s material….
Pennant Grace: Victory Pennants, one of the fine vendors hyped in yesterday’s ESPN column, is offering a 15% discount to readers of this site from now through next Friday, the 14th. When checking out, use the coupon code “UNIWATCH001.” Big thanks to company prexy Morris Levin for extending this benefit to Uni Watch readers.
Boston Reminder: Remember, Uni Watch party tonight, 8:30 p.m., at the Boston Beer Works.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Check out what Mississippi State’s football uniform used to look like (great find by Scott Turner). … The Mets and White Sox will be playing the Civil Rights game next March 29th. Let’s hope the uniforms are better than last time around. … Big package on goalie masks in yesteray’s USA Today. Look here, here, and here. … Tons of great old White Sox photos here (with thanks to Eriq Jaffe). … Excellent question from Jon Blake, who writes: “This article ranks Floyd Mayweather’s ‘five key fights.’ For his 1998 matchup with Genaro Hernandez, it says, ‘Mayweather, at 17-0, was challenging for his first world title (WBC super featherweight) and was so cocky that he wore a WBC championship patch on his trunks into the ring.’ My question is, who else has worn something commemorating an achievement yet to happen? My friend and I recalled Clemens wearing the ‘300 Wins’ patch against Boston when he got yanked in the 3rd, but who else has done something similar?” Please, let’s not have a jillion comments about “Buffalo Bills Super Bowl Champions” post-game T-shirts and the like — this question is about things worn during the game or match. Anyone..? … The Celtics and Sixers wore throwbacks last night. Note that Boston appeared to have matte jerseys and shiny shorts, just like back in the day. Plus there were retro shooting shirts (complete with retro Adidas logo) and championship patches on their warm-up jackets. … Double play from Frank Mercogliano, who writes: “Pocatello High School [in Idaho] is wearing new racer-back jerseys from Russell, so I snapped a picture of #4 on the bench, who has a horrible off-center number. Sorta like killing two birds with one stone. The JV game was funnier because one of the girls attempted to iron her shorts and burned a huge imprint of the iron on the back of her red shorts. It was priceless.” … The Royals will unveil their powder blue alternate jersey today.
Housekeeping Note: I’ll be off the grid for most of today and tomorrow. If you have any site-related issues (abusive comments, spam filter problems, etc.), please e-mail Bryan. Ticker contributions can still come to me.