Last month I ran an entry about Michael Princip and his clear-shell helmet tribute to Joe Washington. That piece was of particular interest to reader Jeff Fedenko, who wrote in to let me know that he has a big collection of clear-shells. Even better, Jeff lives in Brooklyn, just a few miles from my apartment, so a few weeks ago I went over to his place, where he and his daughters (that’s Micah on the left and Taitu on the right) welcomed me for a very enlightening evening of football helmet show-and-tell.
Clear-shell helmets are painted and decaled from the inside. The original idea was that they wouldn’t need to be repainted so often, although they turned out to be susceptible to other problems, like scuffing and breakage. Jeff has collected lots of them (that’s just a sampling of his collection) and says he can spot them a mile away, although I found it difficult to get a photo that captures their visual distinctiveness. Jeff also creates his own custom helmets by stripping the paint off of old-clear shell models and then adding his own paint and decals. This one will be a Rice design, and he’s prepping this one for a UMich paint job.
Jeff, who works as a phys ed teacher in the New York City school system (and is also a big NBA jersey collector), also has a massive library of football-related books, magazines, and catalogs. I could spend hours poring over his stuff, and he’s invited me to do just that at a later date — an invitation I will certainly accept. For now, though, here’s a look at a few things I documented during last week’s visit:
• This book is a treasure trove of great photos (the caption reads, “Fur-bearing businessmen rom Oshkosh check their fuel supplies before entering City Stadium for the Championship Game”) and illustrations (here’s another). Here’s a rare shot of the Vikings’ seldom-seen purple pants, and check out all the different goalpost striping patterns here, here, and here. Also, a small mystery: Jeff grew up in Wisconsin but isn’t sure why the scoreboard at City Stadium (Lambeau’s predecessor) featured two feathers. Anyone know?
Major, major thanks to Jeff for graciously welcoming me into his home and sharing his wonderful collection with me. I think we’ll be featuring him again in the not-too-distant future.
Yo buddy, ya want a cheap watch?: I’ve got a couple of electronics-y items to sell — one old, one new, both functional. I could put them on Craigslist, but I want to give Uni Watch readers first crack at them. Here’s the inventory:
• Epson C120 ink-jet printer: Basic ink-jet printer. Mac- and Windows-compatible. Still in box, never opened (got it as a freebie for buying something else, but I have no need for it). Lists for $90, sells on Amazon for $40. Yours for $35 if you want to show up at my door and pick it up; if you want me to ship it, you’ll have to pay the freight (the box weighs 11 pounds). Oh, and in addition to the ink cartridges that come with the printer, I’ve got an extra black cartridge that fits this printer, so I’ll throw that in too.
• Apple eMac computer: Purchased in 2004, used heavily up until a few months ago, but still works fine (I just wanted to upgrade). This machine produced most of the material on this site, so think of it as the blogging equivalent of a game-used jersey (I’ll even autograph it if you want). … Specs: Mac OS 10.3.9; 1.25 GHz PowerPC G4 processor; 512 MB memory; 40 GB hard drive; optical drive plays and burns CDs and DVDs but burns CDs only; MS Office 2004 and Photoshop Elements are installed, along with all the usual Mac stuff; does not have a wireless card; power cord, keyboard, and mouse included (duh). … Way too bulky and heavy for me to ship (I don’t feel like finding a box, wrestling with an acre of bubble wrap, etc.), so this one is a pickup-only deal — swing by Uni Watch HQ, slip a cool C-note into my hands, and it’s yours.
If you’re interested in either of these, please get in touch pronto.
Santana Update: No word yet from Russ Gompers regarding Johan Santana’s sleeve piping. Several readers have pointed out that lots of players have frayed piping (indeed, Steve Hicks notes that Prince Fielder was allowed to wear remarkably shoddy piping for a Sporting News cover shoot just a few weeks ago), but I’m not yet convinced that Santana’s piping was frayed — this looks like extra stitching to me, esp. on the right sleeve. Bryan found this and this look like fraying, but I’m not sold on that — I think they could be those little extra-embroidered spangle thingies. Still hoping Russ can provide us with the definitive word soon.
Uni Watch News Ticker: “You’ve probably already seen this article about the VW ads on DC United jerseys,” writes Matthew Algeo (actually, no, I hadn’t). “It made me think of another soccer team that had ads on their jerseys: the Pennsylvania Stoners of the American Soccer League. Back in 1980, the Allentown-based team wore jerseys with the name of a local business on the front: Alpo, the dog-food maker. It made for a lot of bad jokes, which was ironic, because the Stoners were good — they won the ASL championship that year. The Stoners (love that name) were one of the first U.S. pro sports teams to do this. (I think the only one that did it before was that minor league hockey team in Buffalo that incorporated a Pepsi logo into their uniform design.) Also, I’d forgotten — or maybe never realized — that all the jerseys had ‘Stoners’ on the back, instead of player names.” … “I followed a link off of Shorpy that lead me to this vintage poster site,” writes John Ervin. “This crew poster might be of particular Uni Watch relevance.” … Don Cherry is fighting breast cancer (great find by John Muir). … Look at the thumbnails on this page to see a good video about how the Cowboys assign uni numbers and equipmenet to rookies. “In case you hadn’t heard, Mike Jenkins is taking over Roy Williams’s 31,” says Stu Taylor, who brought the video to my attention. “It will be weird to see #31 actually covering somebody.” … It’s been reported for years that Dontrelle Willis has “Have Fun” and “Joyce” (his mother’s name) written on his underbill, but until now the only photos I had were this (hard to see) and this (easier to see, but not on his head). Now I also have this, which I found in a 2006 Rawlings catalog. … Jared Wheeler sent along this awesome 1939 photo of (L to R) Pepper Martin, Mickey Owen. and Lon Warneke chewing tobacco “Pepper Martin seems to be preparing to let out a bee line of spit,” he notes. … We often talk about players with long surnames. But the Indians have just signed a minor leaguer with a real mouthful of a middle name (thanks, Vince). … Some cool old USFL footage here, including some shots of refs in shorts (with thanks to Doug Keklak). … Lots of great old A’s mustache footage — and a bit of commentary from me (misidentified as “Paul Lucas,” but it’s hardly the first time that’s happened) here. … “Hiroshima Toyo Carp player Go Kida is going FNOB, even though there are no other Kidas on the team,” reports Jeremy Brahm. … Numerological note from Adam deNobriga, who writes: “On Monday Night’s Sports South coverage of the Braves/Padres game, the Braves announcers were discussing Mark Kotsay’s number choice, and they mentioned that he likes to wear increments of 7. He was 21 in Oakland, 14 in San Diego, 7 in Florida, and even 7 at Cal State. When he came to Atlanta, he wanted 28. However, he saw a picture of Darren Bragg wearing #28 ‘crumpled against the wall in center field’ and decided he didn’t want to wear 28. So he went to two guys (I’m guessing the equipment managers) to decide on a number. They recommended #11 based on the fact that two former Braves, who were also former Marlins, had success in Atlanta wearing that number: Edgar renteria and Gary Sheffield (even though I’m finding pictures of Sheffield wearing 10 in Florida). Therefore, Kotsay chose #11.”