Last August, I published my “One and Done” column on ESPN.com, which was devoted to uniforms that were worn just a couple of times. My timeline of such uni designs included the following entry:
1971: Brooks Robinson, who’s moonlighting as a sporting goods executive while playing third base for the Orioles, convinces team management to have the O’s suit up in solid orange uniforms supplied by his company. The team humors him for two games before the solid orange getup is put out to pasture.
My source for that info was this page from Bill Henderson’s MLB Game-Worn Jerseys of the Double-Knit Era CD, which, as you can see, indicates that the all-orange ensemble was worn twice in 1971 — once at home and once in Cleveland. I generally trust Bill’s info, plus I had two other resources that seemed to confirm that the orange design was only worn in 1971: First, there was this photo (probably taken in 1971, since it shows the “Big Four” of Palmer, McNally, Dobson, and Cuellar, each of whom won 20 games in ’71), and then “Dressed to the Nines” (whose database shows the orange uni appearing only in 1971).
Had the Orioles actually worn the orange design in ’72 as well as ’71? Maybe they just wore them at the tail end of spring training? Maybe Steve didn’t date the photos correctly?
I wrote to Steve to ask what he could tell me about the pics. Here’s what he wrote back:
Since the slides are stamped “APR 72” and were shot in Cleveland [based on the stadium background], I can only guess they were shot in the series that the Orioles played in Cleveland on April 21-23, 1972.
I had another person tell me that the O’s planned on wearing them at home during Friday and Saturday games in 1971. Because of Boog Powell’s objection, though, they only wore them about 10 times.
The month/year stamping on slides doesn’t always tell the story, though. For example, it’s not unusual to get slides stamped with “October” because they were shot at a September 28th game and weren’t developed until October 1st or later. But in the case of these images, it’s unlikely they were shot in 1971 and sat for 6 months before developing, especially knowing who the photographer is/was (for several reasons, I can’t discuss who took the photos on my site).
I suppose the date-stamping machine at the film developing place could have just gotten the year wrong.
Hmmm, lots to chew on there. Were the orange uniforms worn just twice, or as many as 10 times? Just in 1971, or possibly in ’72 as well? When were the Cleveland pics taken?
A few thoughts:
• Note that the center photo on Bill Henderson’s page refers to a Sports Illustrated caption indicating that Brooks Robinson had just hit an orange-clad grand slam. Brooks hit only one salami over the course of 1971 and ’72, and that was in this game — 9/16/71, in Baltimore. So that’s one confirmed date for the orange uni.
• After that game, the O’s went on a road trip that included a stop in Cleveland on September 24-26. If they were experimenting with the solid-orange design, it seems plausible that they’d wear it on the road trip immediately following the uniform’s home debut.
• On the other hand, I’ve had second thoughts about this photo. Sure, it could’ve been taken late in 1971. But it probably wasn’t taken at that Sept. 16th game in Baltimore, because none of the pitchers had notched 20 wins yet at that point. Now, if the team did go orange-clad in Cleveland later that month, the photo could’ve been taken there, because all four pitchers had reached the 20-win plateau by the end of that series (Dobson and Cuellar, in fact, both reached it on Sept. 24th, as the O’s swept a doubleheader from the Tribe). HOWEVER, wouldn’t it actually make more sense for the photo to have been taken the following year, as the pitchers were basking in the glow of their 20-win quadfecta? That logic would argue for the uniforms having been worn at least once in 1972. Can anyone tell which stadium is shown in the background?
So it’s still a bit of mystery. The real lesson here, it seems to me, is how easy it is to fall into the trap of relying on a source like “Dressed to the Nines” or Bill Henderson’s CD — or Uni Watch, for that matter. I’m not critiquing Bill, or Steve, or Marc Okkonen (the historian whose work is the basis for the “Dressed to the Nines Database”) or Tom Shieber (the current “Nines” curator) — I’m just saying that historical documentation is often trickier than it seems, and we all need to remember that something isn’t necessarily accurate simply because an “authority” says it is, whether that authority is Bill, or Steve, or Marc, or me. Something to keep in mind as we try to piece together the puzzle of those orange unis. (Update: See comment Nos. 73, 80, 177, 223, and 227 below — I think we have our answer.)
One final thought: What was the deal with Brooksie’s stirrups? Yeeeeesh.
Uni Watch Vacation Update: I’m gonna be in New Orleans next week (attending the Ponderosa Stomp, eating lots of crawfish, etc.). My original plan, as I reported about a month ago, was to shut down the site for the week, which no doubt gave many of you a case of cold sweats, but it turns out that won’t be necessary. Bryan will handle main entries next week, and Vince will compile the Ticker (communiqués sent to the Uni Watch e-mail address will automatically be forwarded to him). Both of them will be under orders to turn off the commenting function or just shut down the site if people act like 12-year-olds, so please don’t give them the substitute teacher treatment. Thanks.
Membership News: A month ago I promised to address the status of the membership program “in a week or two.” Sorry for the delay. Let me try to anticipate some questions you might have:
Does the membership program still exist?
Yes, but it’s much simpler now. There’s now only one membership level. It costs $15 to join, your membership lasts forever (including all the existing memberships from the past year), and there are no other benefits other than the membership card itself. If you’re an existing member and you want a new card with a different design on the back, that too is $15.
When I launched the program last year, the idea was to generate enough $$$ to justify all the time I was sinking into the site; now that I have a much more generous deal from ESPN, it’s no longer necessary or fair for me to ask for that kind of support, so now the membership program is much simpler. The $15 fee is just to cover the time and labor that goes into creating the cards.
So when I joined at the $100 level last year, that was all for nothing?
No no no — without the many generous contributions that many of you made last year, I would’ve had to either shut down the site or curtail it significantly. You made it possible for me to keep working on the site — I thank you, and I’m sure your fellow readers do as well.
Now that there’s only one membership level, what are you going to do about the membership roster listing, which indicates each member’s level?
For now, I’m leaving the roster format unchanged (mainly because I’ve been too busy to deal with it). But since the “Membership Level” field is now blank for new members, I’ll probably just eliminate that column from the roster altogether.
I made a point of signing up before July 31st last year just so I could be a Charter Member. You said we’d get a little “Charter Member” designation on our cards when we renewed, but now I’m a member for life and there’s no reason to renew. So what about the little designation on my card?
This is the one thing I haven’t found a good solution for. One thing I plan to do is to change the membership roster so charter members’ names (not just their uni numbers) are shown in bold. But that doesn’t address the question of the cards. If you’re a charter member and want to order a new card with a different design, we’ll definitely add the little designation on your new card, but I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to order a new card. We considered e-mailing a little “Charter Member” icon to the appropriate people, with the idea that you could print it out on a label and apply it to your card, but the icon would be too small for most home printers to execute with any degree of clarity.
Frankly, I’m a little stumped. I feel bad about not providing that little extra bonus that so many of you signed up for, but I don’t see a good way to provide it unless you order a new card — and really, I don’t want you to order a new card unless you really want one. If there’s a good solution we’re overlooking, feel free to let me know.
I joined at Level Four, which means Scott Turner’s supposed to design a logo for me. Whatever happened to that?
Scott designed almost all of the Level Four logos months ago. If you haven’t gotten yours, it’s either because you asked him to wait until you had a clearer idea of what you wanted and/or because he hasn’t been able to get in touch with you. If you haven’t gotten your logo, please contact me.
I joined at Level Five, which means you’re supposed to publish an interview with me. When does that happen?
I’ve been very bad about this, even though it only applies to two of you. Karen, I interviewed you months ago and will publish the transcript shortly — honest. V., I contacted you a while back and you said, “No rush,” but I’m sure this isn’t what you meant. I’ll be calling you as soon as I get back from New Orleans.
What about the T-shirt that was available for Level Two and above? Now that there’s only one level, can anyone get the shirt?
I’ve decided to retire this shirt, so that it will be special collector’s item for people who helped support the site over the past year. All future shirt designs will have nothing to do with the membership program and will be available to everyone.
I think that covers everything. If you have additional questions, you know what to do.
Uni Watch News Ticker: My thanks to the many, many readers who pointed out that there’s nothing at all unusual about the How I Met Your Mother T-shirt that I showed yesterday. It’s a Canton-Akron Indians tee, plus the Indians used the wishbone C back in the 1950s (which I should have known, duh, but I was kinda frantic putting together the Ticker yesterday morning). … We all know the President receives lots of commemorative jerseys, but what about Condi? Details here (with thanks to Zac Neubauer). … New uniforms for the Penguins — well, for one penguin. … I’ve opined many times that the Reebok logo on the Seahawks’ sleeves is so big that it overshadows the team logo. But MJ Turner has found this photo, from when the current design was first introduced — note the different Reebok logo placement and the much larger team logo. Would’ve been much better if they’d stuck with that, but Reebok must’ve insisted on the lower sleeve placement. Pricks. … New Hockey Canada jerseys were unveiled yesterday. … Here’s a video of the new Minnesota uniforms (with thanks to Jeff Brown). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The Rams will wear a Georgia Frontiere memorial patch next season. No photo yet. … Tarheel-O-Rama: Mike Orr sent along some old pics of UNC’s 1892 baseball team, 1892 football team, and 1911 basketball team. … Yesterday I ran this photo and asked, “What’s up with that mound?” Chad Wilson says it’s probably one of these. … Former candlepin bowling broadcaster Don Gillis died on Wednesday, and his obituary includes some video links that feature some amazing bowling attire — look here and here (with thanks to Mike Vanne). … Huge manifesto on retired numbers here. … Bit of a cock-up, so to speak, on the logo front in London. … Good photo gallery of hockey playoff beards here (with thanks to brad Smith). … Frank Mercogliano sent along some amazing photos from the recent Idaho State/Utah softball game. The field was pretty wet, so the teams went to Wal-Mart and purchased some paper towels — “Like, a lot of paper towels,” says Frank — which they used to
set back the trade of groundskeeping by at least 80 years mop up the field. … Frank Thomas, back with the A’s, has reclaimed No. 35. Dana Eveland, who’d been wearing that number, has switched to No. 30. … Loads of big, wet kisses for Nike in this video clip about the new U.S.A. softball uniforms (with thanks to Brinke Guthrie). … And in a stunning development uncovered by Bryan, it turns out Nike has also scored a sponsorship deal with the Texas polygamists (I hear they got a group discount). … Remember how the Colts wanted fans to submit designs for a new secondary logo? The five finalists are now up for voting. Personally, I’d prefer to see them use Horse (who wears a uniform!), Quick Draw McGraw, El Kabong, Silver, Trigger, Champion, or whoever this is, but they don’t appear to have allowed for write-in votes. … “I know the trend of having fans dress ‘in uniform’ has been around for a while, with the 2006 Miami Heat 2006 Miami Heat and Calgary Flames coming to mind immediately,” writes Dan Arnold. “However, it seems like this trend has been everywhere in these NBA playoffs.” … Stunner last night in DC, as longtime Stirrups Squad member Johnny Estrada pinch-hit against the Mets and was wearing a pair of those bogus faux stirrups (photo taken and provided by Tim Stackhouse, who was at the game). … Speaking of the Nats and Mets, sharp-eyed footwear specialist Mark Mihalik checks in with some awesome reporting work: “On Wednesday night, I noticed Jose Reyes wearing Easton cleats — surprising, since he normally wears Nike. At first it appeared that he may have switched contracts, but after hearing the details from a few Easton employees, it turns out that Felipe Lopez gave Reyes a pair of his cleats (he’s the only one who wears a model with those colors). Reyes wore them again on Thursday, and here’s a great shot of them together with their matching footwear.”