Last fall I ran a rundown of old uni-related New York Times articles, which made it clear that uniform coverage was alive and well decades before the advent of Uni Watch. Now Doug Mooney, who did the archival research for that piece, has come up with a bunch of additional old articles from a variety of newspaper sources. There’s some great stuff in this batch — here’s a chronological breakdown:
• October 18, 1931, The New York Times, John Kieran’s “Sports of the Times” column: This column is a hodgepodge of disparate items, the first of which is about the Army football team’s uniforms (the practice unis were heavier than the game-day attire, so the team would feel lighter and faster) and footwear. Details here.
• January 24, 1937, The New York Times, “First Basketball Game of 1892 to Be Reproduced at the Garden”: Could this have been the first throwback game? The story describes plans to celebrate basketball’s 45th anniversary by staging a re-enactment of the first game ever played. According to the article, “The players will be garbed just as they were first that first game — turtle-neck sweaters, handle-bar mustaches, shin guards and the like, while peach baskets will serve as the targets.” Full text here.
• July 30, 1943, The Sheboygan Press, “Sports Uniforms of Nylon Will Be Used After War”: Nylon was hard to come by during World War II, because most of it was reserved for making parachutes, tents, ropes, and other military provisions. In this article, the DuPont company, which developed nylon, forecasts that the material will become common in sports uniforms once the war is over — a prediction that turned out to be correct.
• December 14, 1946, The New York Times, “Expanding Demand Seen for Uniforms”: This article describes a speech given at the annual dinner of the National Association of Uniform Manufacturers (could someone please build me a time machine, so I can attend?), where an industry executive predicted that uniforms would gain great prominence in coming years. He was mostly talking about service uniforms, for repairmen and the like, not sports unis, but it’s still pretty interesting. Look here.
• August 30, 1959, The New York Times, Letter to the Editor: Hilarious letter from a recent immigrant who “[can't] help wondering why the umpires are forced to carry out their respective duties dressed in black suits that look heavy, uncomfortable and — pardon me — somewhat silly in the grueling heat of a three-hour game.” It would be another decade before umps stopped wearing neckties, and much longer before the letter-writer’s suggestion (“a lightweight, loose-weave shirt and summer slacks”) became the standard that we now see today. Full text of the letter is here.
• January 11, 1961, Ironwood Daily Globe, “Tigers Change Uniform Style”: We’ve discussed several times how the Cardinals’ birds-on-the-bat logo took a one-year hiatus in 1956. A similar situation unfolded in Detroit in 1960, when the Tigers replaced their old English “D” with a “Tigers” insignia. That experiment lasted only one year, and this article describes the move back to the “D” logo. Look here.
• July 30, 1972, The Odessa American, “Bellard Here to Charge Aggie Batteries”: This article is about Emory Ballard, then the new football coach at Texas A&M. Amidst lots of other Aggie chatter, there are two paragraphs devoted to the team’s new uniforms, including news that the team would be wearing white helmets, because “maroon is a hard color to duplicate.” Full text here.
• February 7, 1973, Sheboygan Press, “Football Uniforms Fashion Items”: Fun article about the latest in “modern” football attire. Key quote: “Striped kneesocks are big, and so are terrycloth wrist bands, originally intended to just soak up sweat.” Full amusing details here.
• February 5, 1974, Winnipeg Free Press, “Als Will Try Popular Colors”: Really interesting article about how the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes planned to switch their color scheme to red, white, and blue, because that’s what the city’s more popular teams — the Canadiens and Expos — were wearing. Kind of amazing to think that the Expos were more popular than, uh, anything. Also discussed in the article: the Als’ new logo (apparently this one). Full text here.
My continued thanks to Doug for all his great archival research.
Seattle Update: Next week’s Uni Watch gathering in Seattle will take place on Friday, March 14th, 7:30pm, at the Pyramid Alehouse. Looking forward to meeting lots of you there.
In other administrative news, you may have noticed that we have a new advertiser at the top of the page: Black Fives. In what I consider to be very classy move, Black Fives prexy Claude Johnson has configured the ad to link to the company’s home page, not to its merch page, so he’s looking to spread awareness, not just to sell stuff (although he’s certainly got plenty of stuff to sell). Claude’s Black Fives blog is a consistently good read, and I’ve been very impressed by my interactions with him. He’s documenting an important and overlooked chapter in sports history, and I hope more people will get hip to what he’s doing.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Brett Favre tribute-a-thon has spun so far out of control that I’m half-expecting the Packers to be wearing a memorial patch for him next season. … Fun rumination on NFL typography here … A Cleveland inventor has come up with a visor designed to keep your eyes focused on the rim, not on the ball. Details here, and the inventor’s site is here (thanks, Vince). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Is a Colts soap dispenser the one thing that’s really been missing from your life? Then the NFL Hardlines VI Trade Show is for you. Details here, and there’s a photo gallery of dubious products here. … Stirrups alert from Yankees camp: Ian Kennedy. … Speaking of the Yankees, they played a navy-vs.-navy game against the Twins yesterday, while the Rockies and Chisox went black vs. black. … If you don’t like mandatory helmets for baseball coaches, you might not like this either (with thanks to Ryan Connelly). … “I received an e-mail today telling me I could order a commemorative jersey for the 20th anniversary of the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA),” writes David Ballenger. “I don’t even know where to start with this horrid design. How long do you have to be riding directly behind someone to have the time to read a paragraph on the back?” … Good video here on the Canadiens’ equipment manager and arena staff. Only catch: It’s in French. Still, there’s some pretty cool visual footage (with thanks to Jean Gagnier). … align=”right” padding-left=”10px” FREE!: this and this. Naturally, I approve of all the green, although I kinda miss the silver. Additional details here and here. … This year’s MLB undershirt template from Nike will apparently look like this. … According to this page, “[Tiger] Woods donned a batting helmet and Braves jersey (tucked into shorts) and stepped into the batter’s box when [John] Smoltz threw three simulated innings at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.” No word on whether Woods insisted on a swoosh-emblazoned helmet. … Nick Waters took some photos of Georgetown’s new SOD uni (additional pics here). “Not sure if they’ll debut them on Saturday or at the Big East Tournament next week,” he writes. … Minna H. reports that the Minnesota high school state hockey tourney is underway, with plenty of interesting uni designs. There’s a full gallery here. … Yee-IKES (horrifying find by David Sonny). … Shorpy continues to delivery the goods. Note the lack of uni numbers and the ump’s backwards cap. … Reprinted from last night’s comments: The Yankees’ official retired numbers page shows Yogi Berra wearing a Mets cap (which of course pleases me no end).