On Sunday night I spent a few minutes going through the comments that had been posted on the site that day. One of them, posted by Benjamin Bonnet, caught my eye: “Santana is throwing so hard today, the blue piping on his right sleeve is falling apart!”
I had listened to Sunday’s Mets/Dbacks game on the radio but hadn’t seen any of it on TV, so I hadn’t been aware of any issues with Johan Santana’s sleeve. So I went online and found this. As you can see, sure enough, it looks like a bit of the blue piping on his left sleeve was coming loose.
And that might have been the end of it. Fortunately, however, reader Dan Cichalski was paying closer attention. He noticed that there was a lot more going on here than just some loose piping, and it involved both of Santana’s sleeves. Check out this screen grab that he sent me, along with these close-ups of Johan’s left and right sleeves.
That’s a new one on me — never seen anything like it. Almost looks like a backwards S, or maybe some spangles, right? Or maybe talons. Very strange.
My first thought was, “Has this been going on since the start of the season?” So I started looking at Sanatana pics from last month. The piping here looks normal enough, but this one looks like it might have some extra stitching — not as much as he had on Sunday, though — or it might just be the spot where the two ends of the piping meet and overlap.
My next thought was that I had to talk to Russ Gompers, the Mets’ stitching and embroidery guy. When a player requires some custom work (like the little stretch panels sewn into Pedro Martinez’s sleeves), he’s the guy who does it. He’s always kinda surprised and amused when I notice these little details, so I called him up and figured we’d have an entertaining and illuminating chat. Here’s how it went:
Paul: Russ, it’s Paul Lukas from Uni Watch.
Russ: Hey, Paul! How ya doing?
Paul [all smug and chummy]: Fine, fine. And I bet you can guess why I’m calling.
Russ [a bit puzzled-sounding]: Uh, actually, Paul, no I can’t.
Paul [still all wink-wink, nudge-nudge]: Well, I was watching the game yesterday, and I noticed something veeeeery interesting on Sanatana’s sleeves. And I figured you might be able to tell me about it.
Russ: Really? I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Paul [spell finally broken]: Seriously?! Well let me show you these photos I’ve got.
So I e-mailed the screen grabs to Russ and then called him back a few minutes later.
“That’s some weird shit there,” he said, as he studied the pics. “Wow. I was watching the game, too, but I didn’t see that. What the fuck? It looks like a backward S. I know nothing about that, Paul, but I will check it out with Charlie [Samuels, the team’s equipment manager] and get back to you.”
The only thing cooler than going over uni details with Russ Gompers is stumping Russ Gompers. Stay tuned for more info on this one.
O’s in Orange, Revisisted: As you’ll recall, I recently ran an item about the Orioles’ orange uniforms. I thought they’d been worn twice in 1971 (based on info from Bill Henderson and “Dressed to the Nines”), but Steve Dewing’s photo site suggested they’d also been worn in April of 1972. (If you missed that entry, catch up on it here.) By the end of the day, several people had posted comments quoting archival articles that seemed to confirm that the uniforms had indeed been worn in 1972 as well as ’71.
A couple of things have happened since then:
• First, Bill Henderson — whose awesome CD was my main source for the “only in ’71” claim — checked in with a very thoughtful, articulate post in the comments section. He posted it several days after the fact, so you probably missed it — check it out here. (A lot of researchers would have gotten all defensive or uppity if their work was called into question, so Bill’s graciousness here earns him major bonus points in my book.)
• Mike Kingery (no, not that Mike Kingery) sent along this page. If you scroll down to the bottom, broadcaster/collector Ted Patterson is quoted saying that the orange uniforms may have been worn as many as 10 times.
• Charlie Frank forwarded a bunch of archival articles relating to the orange garb. Here they are, in sequence: 9/17/71 (orange uniforms, “every bit as colorful as the green and gold of the Oakland Athletics,” make their debut); 9/26/71 (the Orioles plan to “bedazzle the Oakland Athletics in the playoffs” with the orange duds [of course, that plan never came to fruition]); 10/3/71 (orange uniforms were hanging in the O’s lockers during the playoffs but were never used in the post-season); 4/18/72 (brief reference to the O’s “wearing their pumpkin orange uniforms” — confirmed for 1972 use!); 5/23/72 (“The Orioles performed in their orange uniforms. ‘We wear them in about one game per series,’ said manager Earl Weaver, ‘and the more we wear them, the less I like them,'” which would seem to lend credence to the fact that the design may have been worn around 10 times).
• My own research turned up a few items from the Sporting News archives, including this item from 5/13/72 (note the first full graf in the right-hand column) and this one from two years later — 5/3/75 — by which time the solid-orange look was already being viewed as a “What were they thinking?” misstep.
Thanks to all who helped sort this one out.
Site News: As you may have noticed, the site is loading much faster now — no more sluggishness. The only down side is that we had to eliminate the little quick-link tags (“Bold,” “Italic,” “Link,” etc.) from the commenting function. For some reason those tags were slowing down the site’s performance — not sure why. John’s working to come up with a replacement plug-in, but for now you’ll have to use standard HTML coding if you want your comment text to be bold, ital, or whatever. If you want to add a link to a photo or web page but don’t know how to do the coding, just put the URL on a separate line, all by itself. OK? OK.
Uni Watch News Ticker: While looking through the Sporting News archives for info on the orange O’s uniforms, I came across a few cool things. First, check out this letter to the editor (from 9/1/73), from a fan who apparently wasn’t too fond of this look. Totally dig that “Voice of the Fan” illo, too. And then, from 3/8/75, imagine the double-take I did when I saw this ad. These and other treasures await anyone who signs up for a free membership at Paper of Record, which has searchable archives of the entire Sporting News database. … “The IIHF World Hockey Championships are going on right now in Halifax and Quebec City,” writes Kris Fulton. “It’s the 100-year anniversary of the tournament and the first time it’s ever been held in Canada, and Nike has been stepping up with some amazing throwback jerseys.” Lots of photos here. … Interesting note from Jeff Fishman, who writes: “With the rain out of the Mets/Pirates game on April 28th, the team will face a predicament regarding their scheduled ceremonies for counting down the games remaining at Shea. The original plan had someone associated with the number to be honored (for example, Tom Seaver will presumably take down the 41, and so on). But the April 28th game has been rescheduled for August 11th, so I was wondering if the team will now have everyone switch their appointed ceremony by one game later (a potential travel nightmare, especially for those honored at the last game at the end of a homestand), or just stick to the original schedule.” Good question, especially since there will no doubt be more rainouts to come. Anyone know how other final-season stadiums with similar ceremonies handled this? … Following up on yesterday’s main entry, Todd Radom checked in with the following explanation of the W used by the Nationals vs. the one that had been used by the Senators: “For the Senators, ignore the retail Cooperstown caps in every respect. See attached for some relevant images, including a couple of game-used examples from a reliable auction house. The Senators had a lighter red and a slightly lighter blue outline, but the Senators and Nats had same angle to the W. Today’s W is of course more puffy and dimensional, and the vintage versions were often inconsistent, but the photos tell the story.” That last bit is the key — we often fall into the trap of thinking logos have always been super-standardized, when in fact they often varied widely. So trying to match a “true” Senators logo is ultimately an exercise in futility. I still think the Rangers shouldn’t have used black-underbilled Nats caps, though. … Wren Wagner noticed something else about that throwback game: Back in the late ’60s, the Oakland’s pants piping was green-gold-green (at least in that photo), but on the throwback pants it was gold-green-gold. … Extremely entertaining article here about the “uniforms” — i.e., specially modified suits — worn by New York police detectives. Great accompanying video embedded in the article page, too — highly recommended. … “I went to the U.S. women’s soccer match vs. Australia last Saturday in Birmingham, and noticed that Natasha Kai was wearing one red Nike Mercurial Vapor IV and one orange one,” writes Craig Justice. “Also to help the orange one match, she has been wearing a bright orange headband during recent matches. I think she’s been doing it for a while.” … New uniform, of sorts, for Cesc Fabregas. “Hard to tell for sure, but it looks like the actual EPL font on the back, including logo inside the numeral,” notes Matt Brukman. … “Oscar De La Hoya is a part owner of the Houston Dynamo, and on Saturday he had a Dynamo logo on his trunks, ” writes John Romero. “The funny thing is, the fight took place on the home pitch of the LA Galaxy.” … “I cover the Manchester Wolves AF2 team in New Hampshire,” writes Ian M. Clark. “On Sunday against Daytona Beach, the Wolves wore jerseys designed by patients in the pediatric unit of Elliot Hospital in Manchester. It’s hard to see in the pic, but the jerseys have some flowers and a sun on the front. In addition to the orange/dark blue shoulders with alternating colored numbers, they also had green stripes down the side. Manchester normally wears blue jerseys at home.” … The Reds really overdid that NOB lettering back in the day, no? That shot comes courtesy of Kenn Tomasch, who says it dates back to 1988 or ’89. … Got a note from one Andy Thoele, who has a pretty entertaining site devoted to souvenir batting helmets — worth checking out. … Awesome discovery by Ed Hahn, who writes: “I was watching a DVD of the 1980 Carl Sagan science series Cosmos (yeah, nerdy). Guess what appears for a few frames in Episode VIII, ‘Travels in Space and Time,’ about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? Even weirder, this particular scene was filmed in Vinci, Italy, in Tuscany.” … Remember that guy who tried to force his kid to wear a Packers jersey? Maybe he should adopt this kid. … Speaking of kids, Dave Sterling found some short video clips of Japanese Little Leaguers. Good to see they’re teaching good hosiery protocols over there.