The site had very little traffic back on December 24th, so most of you probably missed an interesting discussion prompted by this Ticker item, which mentioned that Penguins equipment manager Dana Heinze was planning to have goalie Dany Sabourin wear “a set of earmuffs with the team logo” over his mask in the Winter Classic game.
As it turns out, that didn’t happen. But the mention of it in the article led Keith Merritt (aka The Ol Goaler) to post the following comment:
If Dany Sabourin wears earmuffs in the outdoor game against the Sabres, it will hearken back to one of the lowlights in Pens history. Back in the late ’60s, Pens coach Red Kelly had his entire team wear earmuffs for an indoor game at the St. Louis Arena, in an effort to block out the noise of the rabid “singing fans” of the Blues. After the Blues scored their third unanswered goal, Kelly threw his earmuffs to the floor in frustration.
I’d never heard this story before, so I immediately put out a call for photos and additional info. A reader who goes by Nuk quickly responded with this (scroll to page 21), which lists the date of the incident as January 3rd, 1970, and explains that the ’muffs were worn only by players on the bench, not by those on the ice. A few hours later, reader Bob A came up with some major paydirt, demonstrating yet again that Uni Watch readers can untangle the threads of almost any historical mystery, even when operating with only a Christmas Eve skeleton crew.
Okay, so the those ’muffs didn’t look quite as cool as these Muffs. But the bigger issue, at least to me, is that those fluffy earmuffs aren’t designed to block out noise — they’re only supposed to keep you warm. Maybe those headphone-ish earmuffs, like the ones worn by airport runway monkeys hadn’t been invented yet in 1970, but what about, um, earplugs? Less embarrassing-looking and more effective to boot.
And then that got me thinking about athletes who’ve worn earplugs. The most prominent recent example is Rafael Palmeiro, but he’s far from the only one: Bobby Bonilla wore ’plugs during his Bronx-cartography stint with the Mets (sorry, no photo), and I observed Chuck Finley going ’plugged on at least two occasions (best photo I could find was this).
I’m sure there are others I’m overlooking. Clearly, we need to assemble a team of earmuff/earplug all-stars. Let the nominating begin.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Giants equipment director Joe Skiba’s latest video report is available here. … Interesting bit here about the Arizona hoops team’s shoes (with thanks to Dan Thomas). … While researching something else, I came across this early-’90s shot, showing the Lions wearing a memorial patch. Anyone know who it’s for? … Not such a great idea (fortunately, I was off at the movies seeing There Will Be Blood, which was completely mind-blowing — not to be missed). … Did you know Minnesota wore this jersey design in 1995? I didn’t, until Dan Schneeman told me. … Uni Watch antique photography authority David Brown sent me this 1870 shot yesterday. “Check out the amazing ironclad ship on the bib of one of the uniforms,” he writes. “Is that some kind of first for representational images on baseball uniforms?” Probably. … Follow-up from Richard Fronheiser regarding yesterday’s post about the officials wearing red and green armbands during the ’69 Rose Bowl: “Back in the day, players would have to report in as substitutes. One team reported to the official with the green armband and the other reported to the official with the red armband. Simple as that.”