A few Sundays ago, while the rest of you were watching football, Scott M.X. Turner and I went over to reader Steve Flack‘s house — or, rather, to the building next door to his house, which his father, John Flack, has turned into a de facto museum for his amazing collection of baseball artifacts — mostly books (like, lots of books), but also bobbleheads and other treats.
There were tons of great things to look at (plus some great ironies — what are the odds, for example, that these two players would end up collaborating on this book?), but of course I focused on uni-related details. While flipping through assorted books, I encountered two such tidbits:
• I’d known that Roger Craig of the ’62 Mets changed his uniform number from 38 to 13 when he was mired in a 13-game losing streak, but I’d never seen any visual documentation of it until I came across this early example of uni-watching.
Big thanks to Steve and John for their hospitality. If you want to see more of their museum, Steve has assembled over 250 photos into a Flickr gallery here.
Steve isn’t the only reader who recently shared some uni-related treasures from his family’s collection. There’s also Jay Danbom, who sent me the following communiqué:
My grandfather, Larry Danbom, played fullback for Notre Dame from 1933-36. He was from Calumet, Michigan, on the Upper Peninsula, where his boyhood idol and neighbor was none other than George Gipp (that’s basically why he went to Notre Dame over Michigan).
At Notre Dame he played for Hunk Anderson and Elmer Layden (one of the Four Horsemen), and he played in the 1935 “Game of the Century” against Ohio State. He played in the All-Star Game that year (with Sammy Baugh, I believe), which was the first team of college all-stars to beat the NFL champs, as they beat the Packers, 6-0. We still have his all-star uniform — it’s amazing what they played in back then. The jerseys were all long-sleeved and made of polyester [more likely durene — PL] and is a little shiny, whereas his Notre Dame jersey was 100% wool (can you imagine playing USC in L.A. in early September in those?). The elbows are reinforced, and the socks are stirrups.
The pants are satin, for that shiny night-game look. The knee pads in the pants feel like they’re padded with wool. But by far the most interesting thing about the whole uniform are the pant stripes on the back — check it out!
Since Notre Dame didn’t play in bowl games back then, making the all-star team was the only way to play in the “post-season,” so they also gave out sweaters and blankets (though he was an All-American in the 1936 football season, the game was played in ’37, which accounts for the two different years). The sweater is personalized on the inner hem.
We also have my grandfather’s Notre Dame letter sweater. The two sleeve stripes indicate the two letters he earned playing football, but his letter sweater for gymnastics is nowhere to be found.
As for his beautiful Notre Dame Uniform, we framed it for his 80th birthday. It was displayed in his living room, but then when he passed away my aunt took it and threw it under her bed. I can’t tell you how pissed I am about that! That beauty needs to be displayed. … If I can pull up any pics of his Notre Dame uniform, I’ll email ’em, as well as pictures of him playing.
My grandfather was supposedly drafted by the Lions four years later in the first NFL draft. We’ve never found documentation of this, but he said they begged him to play for them. He was an extremely humble man and could’ve cared less about his accolades on the field, so I’m inclined to believe him. He and I were pretty close. … I remember one of the last times I saw him, he couldn’t remember what he had eaten for breakfast, but recalled a game against USC nearly play-for-play.
Wowzers — incredible stuff. Can’t even begin to tell you how special it is for people to share their family histories like this. Thanks so much.
Raffle-0-Rama: Our friends at Distant Replays are running their annual January clearance, with almost everything marked down 25%. Better yet, they’ve given me a $250 gift card to raffle off. I’m tellin’ ya, they’re like Crazy Eddie over there (only without the securities fraud).
By now you know the drill: To enter, send an e-mail to uniraffle at earthlink dot net by 10 p.m. this Friday. Only one e-mail per person, but everyone enrolled in the Uni Wach membership program by the time of the drawing will automatically get three bonus entries added to the pot. I’ll announce the winner on Monday.
By the way, several of you — you know who you are — have been trying to increase your raffle odds by e-mailing more than one entry. Some of you have been doing this by entering from multiple e-mail addresses; others have been entering once every day or so, figuring we wouldn’t notice the duplicate submissions if you spaced them out far enough. Guess what: We noticed. I’ll skip all the usual bromides about being fair to your fellow readers and just cut to the chase: Trying to cheat on a free internet giveaway is about as pathetic as it gets, people. If you don’t have any respect for me, at least have some for yourself. Okay? Okay.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Bizarre scene at UMich, where new football coach Rich Rodriguez wore a hockey jersey while introducing his staff the other day (with thanks to Tom Konecny). … We’ve talked before about Ohio State’s huge TV numbers. What I didn’t realize until yesterday, however, is that their sleeve numbers were black back in the 1960s — weird (with thanks to Kevin Bresnahan). … Remember this? Maybe it was inspired by this 1937 photo of the Philadelphia A’s apparently experimenting with a hard hat-styled batting helmet (great find by Jared Wheeler). … West Ham United’s Freddie Ljungberg had to wear a nameless, numberless blood jersey the other day (with thanks to Cole Ollinger) … Uni Watch design director Scott M. X. Turner is currently vacationing in New Mexico. Judging by this attachment he sent me yesterday, I assume he spent the day at Roswell. … For years I’ve been using this shot as my go-to photo when referring to Marquette’s untucked jerseys. Didn’t realize that much better pics had been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, as seen here and here. … Great contribution from photographer Jason Palmer, who got a shot of a Giants staffer checking the team’s radio-equipped helmets. Invasion of the green dots! … Better view here of Cullen Jenkins ripping off Matt Hasselbeck’s muff (with thanks to Jeff Ash). … “There are some great little uni details in this pic,” writes Neal Shaffer. “It’s the script ‘Cale’ on the one helmet that gets me the most, but the stripes, the old-school plain white helmet, and particularly the Hawaiian Tropic logo on the guy on the left are also pretty cool.” … Todd Davis reports that the Dakota Wizards of the D-League are featuring some intense negative arching. … “This could very well be the most bizarre jersey ever to grace a professional hockey team,” writes Kelly Phillips. “It’s from the DEL (German Ice Hockey League) and was used in a charity game to raise money for building schools in Germany through UNICEF. They say, ‘We’re helping the kids! Schools for Africa.’ They were worn in the 2001/2002 season by the Sinupret Ice Tigers.”