Got a note the other day from Brian Schulz:
Is it just me, or does the whole thing about giving someone a framed jersey just seem pretty ridiculous? I thought about it when you recently wrote about Gordie Howe getting the No. 17 jersey from the Wings. Now, I had my jersey retired from my high school and I thought that was a pretty cool deal, because I never had an old jersey of mine from back in the days. However, these pro guys must have jerseys and mementos piled up all over the place. Do they really need another jersey framed for them?
It’s a fair point, but I think these framed jerseys are at least as much for the fans as they are for the honoree. It’s all part of the spectacle. I bet some honorees — not all, or even most, but some — just trash the framed jerseys afterward, or give them away, because their trophy rooms are already stocked to the gills.
All of which brings us, in a roundabout way, to the case of one Joe Hilseberg. By now, most of you are probably familiar with Joe, who’s been an invaluable Uni Watch contributor for years now. And unlike most of us, he’s walked the walk: He used to work in the shop that does lettering and stitching for the Orioles and Ravens, and he later used that work experience to create some unique groomsmen’s vests for his wedding.
Anyway: In late March, Joe asked for my mailing address. He didn’t elaborate, I didn’t ask him for details, and I’d forgotten all about it by this past Monday, when a package arrived. I opened it and was surprised to find this.
Pretty nice, right? It’s fairly big (about 18 inches square), and the stitching is really nice. And unlike Gordie Howe, I don’t have a big trophy room filled with treasures from my legendary career, so I was genuinely stoked to get my framed “jersey.”
There was no note inside, no card, nothing like that. What had I done to deserve such a swell present? I quickly dashed off a thank-you note to Joe. Here’s what he wrote back:
You have just received the prototype Name Frame! This is my new business/product that I’m working on right now. I’m working on doing all of the legal stuff so I can start selling them. I searched far and wide and saw that nobody offered this product — very cool, authentically done, custom-stitched jersey art.
And that leads back to you. It has been the joy of your site that made me determined to figure out a way to get back to doing something I love. Talking about jerseys, lettering, and tackle twill all of the time has really fueled my desire to make this happen. Initially I had hoped to open my own custom-lettering shop (which may be possible down the road), but that market has already been tapped. I needed something different, something fun, something people would want. Then I got my Uni Watch membership card, and that’s when it hit me: Make a full-sized framed version!
I’m targeting high schools and universities that might want to give these as an award or unique keepsake. Or maybe parents who wants one for their letter-winning child. Legally, I can’t recreate all the MLB styles, but if this takes off I don’t think it’s going to be a hard sell to MLB to start licensing these. What kid wouldn’t want one of their favorite player? And then it’s on to the NFL, NHL, NBA… It could be huge.
NameFrame.net is up right now, but it’s in the VERY early stages of development. I plan on eventually having an interactive designer application and all that jazz.
So in short, thank you for keeping my mind on jerseys, lettering, and all of the intricacies that make athletics aesthetics so enjoyable for me!
Wow — thank you, Joe, for the kind words. Glad to have provided the inspiration for your new venture.
Incidentally, those who frequent the comments section may be aware that Joe usually weighs in on the side of nameplates, instead of direct-sewn lettering. So how come my Name Frame NOB is direct-sewn?
“Honest answer: They’re a bitch to find,” says Joe. “And if I cut them myself out of material, I have to pay $10 a plate to have the edges serged. Oh, plus I knew you don’t like them. But if someone wants one, I’ll do it!”
As if that weren’t enough, two other readers sent me uni-related treasures this week. First, remember the Mets pin-up girl that Rob Ullman created for me? He just sent me the actual artwork, all signed and everything.
The kicker came on Wednesday, when I went out for a bike ride and came back to find that the UPS guy had left me a package from Mitchell & Ness historian Jared Wheeler. I opened it up, and whoa — 11 pairs of striped stirrups, including two gorgeous woolen models (plus several of them featured a really cool label design). These were a gift from Jared and M&N prexy Peter Caporino, who recently told me how he’d compiled a big backlog of stirrups back when he was outfitting the models for Sports Illustrated‘s all-time all-star team photo.
Seriously, am I a lucky fella or what? Big thanks to all these people who’ve showered me with uni-related goodness — you’re all aces.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Good assortment of Oregon jerseys, including a few prototypes, here (with thanks to that Joe Hilseberg guy). … Soccer question from Claude Reifsnyder, who writes: “In Wednesday’s Champions League match between Liverpool and Arsenal, Liverpool wore a black jersey. As I’m sure you know, all EPL teams are supposed to use the standard league font, so how did they get away with the adidas-stye font on the back of their jerseys?” … Awesome find by Jeremy Gooch, who came up with an old college photo of Jerry Rice wearing vertical sleeve stripes. … Further info on San Diego’s third base coach’s box at the very bottom of this page (with thanks to Brian Hilemon). … “Nothing makes a woman feel more petite than posing for a photo next to Boog Powell,” writes Elena Elms — unless it’s posing with the Nationals’ mascots. … What company’s logo is that? … Okay, it’s official: This whole Lego thing has gotten out of hand. Disturbing details here (blame John Latham). … Looks like the Magic will have new uniforms next season. … Did those Phillies throwbacks look totally hot or what? Lots of photos here. … Yet another Nationals player with an upside-down “I”: Paul Lo Duca (spotted, once again, by eagle-eyed Michael Zakrzewski). … Karl Anderson attended last night’s Wild/Flames game and, like all fans in attendance, received a fan-appreciation patch identical to the one that the Wild wore last night. … Let’s just be glad that Cecil Fielder never tried what Prince did yesterday. … Incidentally, you see Alfonso Soriano in that last photo? I don’t know who’s paying him to wear those eye-black stickers, but I have a feeling he’s gonna get a note from the league office pretty soon about them. … Not sure how much stock to put in this, but the rumor mills says that Iowa State’s new basketball uniforms will look like this. … The WNBA’s Atlanta Dream (yes, that’s what they’re called) just unveiled their new uni, which is about as boring as all the other WNBA unis. Details here (with thanks to David Kendrick). … Some great equipment switcheroos last night in Atlanta, as Justine DeCotis explains: “The Braves had Chris Resop, a RHP, on the mound and a left-handed batter, Adam LaRoche, was coming up for the Pirates. So, they went to the bullpen and got a Royce Ring, a LHP. But instead of taking out Resop, they took out the left fielder, Matt Diaz, and put Resop in left field. So Ring pitched to LaRoche and then they took him out and brought Resop back from left field to the mound and put Gregor Blanco into left. Resop pitched the rest of the inning. When Resop went to left, he took Diaz’s glove to wear and Diaz took Resop’s glove to the dugout. And then when Blanco came in to play the outfield he took Resop’s pitcher’s glove back out and gave it back to him.” As LI Phil is already beginning to post in a comment, the Mets did something similar during an extra-inning game around 1985ish, when they shuttled LHP Jesse Orosco and RHP Roger McDowell back and forth between the mound and the outfield depending on who was batting. … Cap question from Sean Deitrick, who writes: “What’s the deal with the Texas Rangers’ blue cap with the red “T,” which the team lists as its official road cap? I’ve e-mailed some of the beat writers for the team but haven’t gotten a response. The even appears is most video games produced since its original inception [and is also still listed as the road cap in the MLB Style Guide — PL], but it’s never used in road games and I don’t think it’s appeared in a game since Esteban Loaiza was traded. … The Mets plan to unveil “a new Shea logo” (it’s not clear if this means a new Shea Stadium logo, or a William Shea logo) at next Tuesday’s home opener. It will be displayed alongside the team’s retired numbers. Details here. … Good all-purpose hockey goalie site here (with thanks to Thomas Harris). … Jack del Rio and his suit will be around for a long time. … More about that controversial new swimsuit here. … You rarely hear about tampered boxing gloves anymore, but here’s a brutal reminder. … The New York-Penn League wants your help in designing a new logo (with thanks to Matt Nelson). But before you enter, see today’s comment #22.