By Bryan Redemske
There’s a guy in my office who rattles off lineups and stats when you start talking about baseball teams from the 1950s and ’60s. There’s another guy who talks about the various stadiums teams played in. Me, of course, I think of uniforms. And not just uniforms, but the way they were styled in particular eras. While the first guy’s mental Rolodex is fluttering from stat to stat, I’m picturing Al Kaline (right). While the second guy talks about the the monuments at Yankee Stadium, I think about the Mick, and how totally awesome he looked in pinstripes.
At this point, both guys usually leave because I’m rubbing my fingers together, eyes closed, and mumbling, “Wool flannel … so pretty … so scratchy … so baggy… .” And so on.
All weirdness on my part aside, this is actually how I think of different eras in sports. Pre-WWII baseball? Longish sleeves soft-crowned hats. And then there’s the ’70s. It’s like a long, tight, polyester nightmare. Things toned down in the ’80s, but the Straw pops into my head every time. Lots of sock, still tight, still slightly garish. For the current era, it’s Manny. Sigh.
Take a minute and consider your own mental filing system. Is your old-school football reference point this guy? The sleeves shortened for Unitas‘s era, then the pads got really big in the ’70s. The college kids thought it necessary to show off their abs during that same period, something that continued well through the ’80s and into the ’90s. And that’s how I think of college football through the era — a faceless, teamless guy in big pads with exposed abs.
As a cyclist, I’m forced to render that sport’s past in uniform-based context as well. Really old guys (pre-mid-’50s) all look like this, Eddy Merckx represents almost every rider through the ’70s, and then there’s the tragic ’80s and early ’90s. And then there’s this. He has a category to himself.
Research Projects: Paul here. Earlier this week I posted pics of Marquette’s untucked jerseys. But as someone on the Chris Creamer board pointed out the next day, De Paul also went untucked back around 1981, as seen here and here — I hadn’t been aware of that. Aside from the pajama-era White Sox, have there been any other untucked teams? Obviously, I’m not counting hockey or other sports where the jerseys are meant to be untucked — I’m talking about teams that showed off their shirttails in an otherwise tucked-in league.
Also: Yesterday’s comments included a link to this pink helmet, which is essentially a scarlet letter that has to be worn by the player who comes up on the short end of a scoring game during practice (full details about halfway down this page). So it’s sort of like the pink knapsack routine in baseball, except it’s more uni-based. Can anyone think of any other uni-based scarlet letters?
Raffle Reminder: You know the drill — $250 Distant Replays gift card. E-mail your entry here by 10 p.m. tonight. One e-mail per person. Winner announced on Monday.
Uni Watch News Ticker: “Two CBA teams, the Oklahoma Cavalry and Great Falls Explorers, have had their road uniforms disappear this season,” writes Chuck Miller. “In Oklahoma’s case, fired head coach Micheal Ray Richardson simply took the road unis until he was rehired a week later; in the Great Falls situation, the circumstances are unknown. Anyway, this caused both the Cavalry and Explorers, on the road, to wear the road uniforms of their host teams, as can be seen by these photos of Albany versus Oklahoma (Albany is in the yellow) and Albany hosting Great Falls (ditto).” … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Great gallery of New Jersey high school hockey jerseys here. … We’ve all seen plenty of shots of Cleveland’s elfin mascot, Brownie. Until now, though, I hadn’t seen one where he had spikes on his stockings (with thanks to Brendon Yarian, who also passed along this shot of a Bears jersey with what appears to be an upside-down “3”). … As I mentioned in my ESPN column a few weeks ago, I don’t like uni memorials that include the deceased’s signature — seems a bit creepy. But Motherwall FC in Scotland apparently feels differently, as they’ve just tributed Phil O’Donnell by embroidering his autograph onto their jersey. Full details here (with thanks to Patrick O’Donnell). … Interesting note from Travis Edwards, who writes: “My boss and I were talking about football jerseys, and he had told me about some team (unsure who they were) who used to have footballs on the sides of their jerseys. They used to run the wing offense and when they would run, everyone would have their hands to their sides acting as though they had the ball. Now, was he jerking me around, or can you help me to identify who that team was?” … The Central Hockey League held their All-Star Game a few nights ago, and Scotty Hockey sent along a pic of both uniforms. … Hmmm, separated at birth? (Good find by Ronnie Poore.) … Good note from Steve Shanabruch, who writes: “Twins pitcher Pat Neshek has a blog, and he often has auctions for game-used items. The funny thing is, the winner isn’t the person who bids the most money, it’s the person who offers the best baseball cards (he’s a huge collector). Anyway, one of the recent auctions was for a luggage strap that he used for road games last season, inscribed with the last name ‘Dahmer.’ I figured he was using the name of a serial killer as his alias, but it turns out his alias was ‘Cy Dahmer,’ because if you say it fast, it sounds like ‘side-armer,’ which is how he pitches.” … LeBron James has a new sneaker, and Vince has written his take on them. … Yesterday’s lead item regarding prototypes prompted Andrew Schimmel to send in n this shot from the Florida Panthers’ uni unveiling back in May of 1993. “Note that the red sweater has blue numbers with a yellow outline,” he writes. “The Panthers never used this color combo for the red sweater at any point. Also, the gloves have claws printed on them. I would tend to think they weren’t serious about actually using such gloves — I believe it was only for the unveiling ceremony.” A shame, because I think the claws look pretty cool! … Very unusual hoops jersey being worn by Fairfax High in L.A. Here’s another view, with a T-shirt underneath (with thanks to Hunter Franks). … We all know the Lakers wore short shorts a few weeks back. But until now, I didn’t know that there was an “I saw the short shorts” T-shirt, which you can have for your very own (nice find by Matt Shervin). … Latest reason to love Wisconsin. … “Formula 1’s Red Bull Racing unveiled their 2008 car on Wednesday,” reports Dane Drutis. “You can also see David Coulthard and Mark Webber wearing their new fire suits. I believe this is the first time F1 drivers have worn their car numbers on their driving gear. It’s somewhat odd that Coulthard will drive car No 9 but is wearing 09 — why the zero, I wonder? As for the stripe running from right shoulder to right ankle, you be the judge.” Personally, I dig the stripe, but I’m sure that’s no surprise to anyone here. … Latest installment of “Equipped with Joe Skiba” is up on the Giants’ home page, and it’s a really good one — enjoy. … Lots of crazy helmet decal action in this Shrine Game practice photo gallery (with thanks to Nick Noyes). … Latest example of handwritten uni numbers on socks: Denison Cabral of the Baltimore Blast (courtesy of Jen Muller). … Alarming news from Jere Smith, who writes: “I work for a children’s book publisher. One of the books slated to come out in ’09, for kindergartners, is about getting dressed for a baseball game. It shows your basic T-ball outfit, and each page shows a different piece of the uni. When it gets to the all-important ankle-ish area, they’ve put the poor girl in those white socks with the blue vertical stripe down the sides that end at the shoe line. The climactic scene shows the dad appearing, also in full identical uni, right down the fake stirrups.” … I’m going to be out off the grid again for most of today, so contact Bryan if you have any major site problems. I’ll be back on Monday.