[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest book review from reader Mike Engle, who’s done a great pinch-hitting job. Enjoy. — PL]
By Mike Engle
As a McGill student whose parents live on Long Island, I’ve logged my fair share of train travel from Montreal to New York City. In order to pass the time (all 11 hours of it), I always make sure I have a new book to read. Recently the book in question was Brad Snyder’s 2006 work, A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports, which turned out to have plenty of Uni Watch material.
• The front number is clearly red with navy outline in this photo, which makes the “Cardinals” script look red without an outline. The Cardinals also had pants piping, which has since been abandoned. Also note the short sleeves, which are shorter than modern short sleeves. However, the coolest detail is on Flood’s left stirrup — that’s a “17” inscription, even though Flood was No. 21. Very strange mismatch.
• Here are Flood and Bob Gibson posing with their 1965 Gold Glove Awards. These awards are specific to handedness and position. The difference would be more obvious if Flood were a left-handed first baseman instead of a right-handed outfielder, but look closely — Flood’s award glove is clearly a long-ish outfielder’s glove, while Gibson’s is a shallow-pocketed pitcher’s glove.
• This is just an all-around good shot of the uniform. We have glorious striped stirrups, logo-free cleats, a flapless batting helmet, and some extremely 3-D NOB typography, which is red with navy outline.
• This is Flood playing for his Oakland-based Post American Legion team, Team Captain Bill Erwin. Dig the dapper umpire in suit and tie.
• Here is Flood in a minor league uniform, posing with his Savannah Redlegs teammates. Even though all of the caps match, the man on Flood’s immediate left must have the parent club’s jersey.
• Flood was a man ahead of his time, not only with his fight for free agency, but also with his jersey tribute to Jackie Robinson. During his first season with the Cardinals, in 1958, he wore Jackie’s 42. After that, he switched to 21, specifically because it was half of Jackie’s number.
• This is a copy of Flood’s famous letter to MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn, which started his epic battle against the Majors. Check out his special business stationery — it’s from his St. Louis-based photography business, which was to symbolize his reluctance to play for anybody other than the Cardinals, let alone the Phillies.
• Here’s Reds pitcher (and The Long Season author) Jim Brosnan. Brosnan, along with Jackie Robinson, Hank Greenberg, and owner Bill Veeck, testified in support of Flood. As a child who started following baseball in the ’90s, I was surprised to see that the pinstriped cap predates me by many years. Also, why is there that pinstripe-free side panel under his left arm? Finally, add Brosnan to the list of spectacled ballplayers.
• Two of Bowie Kuhn’s biggest headaches: Flood and Denny McLain. This was during Flood’s brief 1971 stint with the Senators. That’s Sens manager Ted Williams on the left — seeing him in a non-Red Sox uniform will never look right to me.
• These are the nine Supreme Court justices at the time of Flood v. Kuhn (1972). Warren Burger, the Chief Justice, is in the middle, but his robe lacks any distinctive markings. The man in the back row, to the far right — William Rehnquist — added sleeve stripes to his robe when he became Chief Justice 23 years later, which just goes to show that uni watching can extend beyond the athletic realm.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Paul here. Finally heard back from Mets stitcher Russ Gompers about Johan Santana’s sleeve piping (if you missed that entry, look here). In Russ’s words: “Johan likes his sleeves very loose, so he actually stretched the sleeve out with his hands and the piping frayed. Charlie [Samuels Mets equipment manager] ordered new shirts for him with one inch more room on the sleeves.” I really thought there was some extra stitching or ornamentation on the piping, but that turns out not to be the case. … The WNBA is becoming the McNBA. What a joke. … Yowza (great find by Erkki Corpuz). … Erik Little has discovered Texas vs. the Nation, a college football all-star game between top Texas players and top non-Texas players, and sent along some pics from the Feb. 2007 game. “Seems like a regular Senior Bowl game — the players wear their own helmets and extra decals from other teams. No special jersey patch for the game, though — just an ‘El Paso’ decal on the back of the helmet. Other photos show a nameplate malfunction, self-expression with red tape, and what happens with all the extra decals after the game.” … “The Russian soccer team that won the UEFA Cup on Wednesday played the game in their all-white strip,” writes Adam Sell. “But as soon as the game ended, they donned gold jerseys. … Rob Ullman has really outdone himself here and here. … Gary Alexander has found a very interesting photo. According to this eBay page, it shows several Japanese players playing with the Fresno Giants in 1964. But what’s with the “New York” insignia? Were old N.Y. Giants jerseys still being used as hand-me-downs in Fresno in ’64? … Awesome set of old gumball helmets, complete with some great packaging, here (great find by Brinke Guthrie). … USF’s new road uni will look like this (with thanks to Chris Freet). … The Kitchener Rangers have unveiled a new WW I memorial jersey (check out the “C” and “A” placement here). Details here. … Check out the “Say No to Drugs” message on the towel of this 1988 Nebraska player (nice find by Robert Eden). … Those of you who keep track of such things may be aware that the second anniversary of this site’s launch is tomorrow. I hope to mark the occasion with a few minor announcements on Monday. For now, my continued thanks to all of you who’ve made the site’s second year even better than the first — you all rock.