By Bryan Redemske
Florida State was eliminated from the College World Series on Monday night, robbing a national television audience of the chance to see an all-yellow uniform. Of course, that loss also took away viewing opportunities for five other unseen Florida State jerseys. You know, because they have eight different jerseys.
Eight jerseys. Remember when the Marlins came into the National League in 1993 with multiple jerseys and hats? What seemed like overkill then is pretty much par for the course at the College World Series. The roots are likely in the laundry room, where uniforms would have to be washed after every game of a three-game road trip. And, let’s face it, doing laundry all night sucks. So why not bring another uniform set? Or maybe two extra sets! Perfect!
Or how about eight? Now you’re onto something. Here’s a team-by-team look at this year’s College World Series:
Stanford — It’s best to get the Cardinal out of the way early, because it’s the simplest. Here’s the entire wardrobe: home, away. That’s it. Note the pullover tops, remnants of a long-ago era and now part of the program’s tradition. Also note the black front number on the home uniform. It’s the only black on either set, and seems out of place. But that’s also a longstanding tradition [plus it's in keeping with, say, the red number on the front of the Dodgers' jersey, which has no chromatic reference anywhere else in the team's uniform system -- PL].
LSU — Speaking of longstanding tradition … Omaha felt strange without LSU fans milling about, drinking all of our beer. The Tigers are back, and they brought their purple and yellow along. The yellow jerseys are the same as they were in the late-1990s glory days, while the whites are similar. There’s a purple jersey in the wardrobe, but LSU has stuck to yellow and white over the last month or so.
Fresno State — Here’s the surprise team of the series. From an attire standpoint, it’s probably my favorite. The Bulldogs have four jerseys (white, gray, blue, and red), two pairs of pants, and two hats. But everything matches, so any combination can be worn together. It’s like Oregon football, but without the whioe burning-retina thing. Also, the Bulldogs appear to have merit stickers on their helmets. Or else a pox of some sort. [Late-breaking footnote from reader Dana Czerwinski, who points out that the Bulldogs also seem to have some button issues. And eagle-eyed Hunter Franks has spotted something interesting: a "TM" symbol on the team's cap. -- PL]
Rice — The Owls keep it simple, with “Rice” across the front of their jerseys in Old English. It’s the same on the home and away sets, and also the blue alternate. There’s a pinstriped set this year, too, but it doesn’t come out much. I like it as a complement to their other jerseys. Same for the blue alt — nice.
Georgia — Beware, we’re deep into Nike territory here. Sure, Fresno State is a Nike school, too, but not like this. The armpit-stains jersey is here, and it won’t get better until this entry is done. There’s lots of it ahead. Georgia wears white jerseys and caps most of the time but went with the red alternate for the CWS opener. That’s the second red jersey they’ve worn this season — here’s the other. It looks like they got a new one halfway through the schedule, as the script one hasn’t been seen in a while. There’s also a gray uniform and a black jersey kicking around somewhere, along with a red-crowned hat with a black bill. The Nike pits thing is troublesome, but because of that cut, teams with those jerseys are forced to compress or shrink their logos or wordmarks on the front, which effectively clutters the hell out of things.
Florida State — Eight jerseys, huh? Here they are: White, pinstriped, white again, gray, pinstriped gray, red, yellow. Okay, that’s only seven — there’s another red jersey, too, but pics are hard to find. I really like the “FS” logo jerseys, which are the most current set. The others, with “Seminoles” across the front and Nike pits on the side, can go away any time now. Oh, like Monday … ouch.
North Carolina — The Tar Heels have undergone the same unneccessary uniform explosion as Florida State. But, sadly, they fell short of the eight-jersey mark. UNC has three white jerseys (and two different vests), one Carolina blue top, one navy top, and one gray jersey. Not sure if last year’s godawful black model might be available, too. And let’s not forget the two different white caps, the navy blue cap, the gray cap, and the Carolina Blue cap. Maybe we should. This makes me long for the days of old. Or just makes me like Stanford more.
Miami — Finally, the Hurricanes are here to calm the waters with a mere six jerseys. That includes, of course, a sleeved and sleeveless version of the same jersey, à la the Twins. Then there’s green, orange, gray, and — regrettably — black. Always with the black.
And that’s the College World Series, minus paying $20 to park on some dude’s lawn and then walking a mile to the stadium, or $7 for a milkshake (after waiting in line for 30 minutes), and then, finally, coming home with severe sunburn on half of your body. I love June.
While we’re on the CWS, though, here’s a note from Elena Elms, who spotted a uni-related item on this Q&A page. Here’s the pertinent passage
Q. So I was wondering…what’s up with the Michael Jackson approach to Carolina baseball? I’ve noticed that the position players wear a single white glove underneath their fielding gloves. The gloves look similar to batting gloves. I was wondering, what’s Nike’s newest baseball innovation? I guess they must be effective, because I’ve seen a variety of the players wearing them; including this past weekend, where I’m surprised that the gloves didn’t permanently fuse to their hands as a result of the sweltering heat.
A. For the last two years, Nike has picked a color to emphasize with their college baseball apparel and equipment. In 2007, that color was black, which resulted in a major Tar Heels abomination. The company also produced black bats that were used — with a varying degree of enthusiasm — by several players last year. This season, the color of choice is white. That means white bats, white batting gloves (which is what Jennifer noticed), and even white spikes. As you might have noticed, Nike sent the Tar Heels some custom white spikes with Carolina blue accents that are a vast improvement over last year’s black jerseys. The white shoes made the trip to Omaha, and it’s a safe bet that you could see them at some point during the College World Series. What’s next for Nike? I don’t know, but let’s hope their color choice for 2009 isn’t red.”
Second Time Around: Paul here, with a buttload of follow-ups. First, regarding my newly acquired vintage jersey of uncertain origin (left), several people wrote in to say it looks a basketball warm-up shirt. “Yeah,” I told all such correspondents, “but how do you explain the uni number, since 7 isn’t kosher for scholastic hoops?”
That pretty much stumped everyone, except for Terry Proctor, who responded, “Up until 1962, high school basketball players could wear the digits 6,7,8, and 9 in any combination. But starting with the 1961-62 season, those digits became illegal for use (that rule is still in effect for high school and college basketball). So a player wearing #7 in the 1950s is entirely feasible. The rules were made by the National Federation of High School Sports Federations (NFHS) and the NCAA, which usually parallel each other’s rules changes.”
I hadn’t known when that rule went into effect. Also hadn’t suspected that the jersey was pre-1961 (I figured mid- to late ’60s). As for Terry, he added, “I know a little about athletic uniforms — I’ve been selling them since 1967. My friend and I do mostly high school and junior league teams in the Rochester area. I worked in Rochester for 23 years at the former Ruby’s Sporting Goods. We used to outfit the Rochester Americans hockey team.” I asked if he’d be willing to do a Uni Watch interview, and he quickly agreed, so expect to hear more from him later on.
Meanwhile, reader Paul Kosman has helped establish a new benchmark for the earliest appearance of the ® symbol on the Cubs’ jersey logo. My previous working date has been 1982, but Paul provided me with this 1981 card. The photo had to have been taken in either 1979 or, more likely, 1980 (prior to 1979, the Cubs’ chest logo had a narrower blue circle, and there was no red circle on the chest patch), so 1980 is my new benchmark. Paul’s theory is that the trademark symbol arrived along with the thicker blue circle in 1979 — a good hypothesis, if we can prove it. For now, though, I’m going with 1980.
It’s worth noting, by the way, that someone had suggested in last Friday’s comments that the Tribune Company might have imposed the ® symbol after they bought the team. But that ownership change took place in 1981, so this latest visual evidence would appear to blow a hole in that theory. Meanwhile, just for fun, Paul also scanned the covers of the Cubs’ 1977 and ’78 media guides, which, as you can see, underwent their own ®-symbolic evolution.
Finally, I suddenly got a flurry of returned calls yesterday from the Chicago Athletic Association. First I heard from their attorney, who wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing some sort of exposé. Then I heard from their COO, Rich Wharton, who pointed me toward their historian, Ron White, who agreed to answer my questions about the connection between the CAA logo and the Cubs logo.
Ron turned out to be a real character. I don’t know if he smokes a pipe, is absent-minded, or wears a corduroy jacket with suede elbow patches, but let’s just say none of that would surprise me. Amidst lots of unrelated ramblings about woodpeckers, track meets, and Germans masquerading as Poles, he managed to convey the following points:
• About six months after that, they added a black circle around the C.
• In 1908, it was proposed that the black circle be changed to blue, because blue would look better when rendered in stained glass, but the club’s membership voted down this change.
• In 1916 and ’17, prior to America’s entry in the first World War, there was a huge outpouring of patriotism and support for the French and British air forces, which were fighting the Germans in Europe. Both those air fleets used red, white, and blue roundels on their fighter planes — red with a blue center for the French and blue with a red center for the Brits (for more on roundels, look here). The CAA decided to change their black circle to blue as part of this wave of support.
• William Wrigley, who’d been a CAA member since 1895, was part of a syndicate that purchased the Cubs in 1916 (he became the principal owner after buying out other shares in 1920). But it’s not clear exactly when or how he began using the CAA logo as part of the Cubs’ identity system — Ron said the logo just sort of “drifted” into the team’s graphics, “and no one ever questioned it, because [Wrigley] was part of the [CAA].” But when exactly did this drift take place? If you look at the team’s uniform progression beginning with 1916, you’ll see that the now-familiar red “C” didn’t appear on the team’s uni until 1937. Even more confusingly, the team used a similar C way back in 1908 and a “C-ubs” treatment in 1909, well before Wrigley was involved with the team. It’s unclear whether these marks had anything to do with the CAA. It’s also unclear whether Wrigley used the CAA-derived mark — i.e., the one with the red C — for non-uniform purposes (programs, signage, stationery, etc.) between 1916 and 1937. If anyone has has any pre-1937 documents showing the Cubs using CAA-inspired graphics, please let me know.
Ron promised to send me copies of some early paperwork relating to the CAA logo, so hopefully I’ll have some additional info soon. Based on my conversations with him, though, it’s clear to me that there was never any sort of legal arrangement between the CAA and the Cubs. So the ® on the Cubs’ uniform has nothing to do with the CAA.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Awesome DIY project by Jeff Barak, who writes: “When I was a kid I bought several of the 1973 Fleer Baseball Big Signs. As an adult, I was able to add a few of the missing ones at a baseball card show, and I eventually got the rest of them off of eBay. But a couple of teams changed logos shortly after the set of signs came out and, as time passed, more expansion teams joined MLB, so my set of signs again started to feel incomplete. So I decided to make an ‘update set’ for the Fleer Big Signs in the style of the originals.” Jeff eventually showed his creations to JC Helf, webmaster of the completely amazing Fleer Sticker Project site, who featured Jeff’s designs in a recent entry. You can also see JC’s entry on the original Big Signs series here — all highly recommended. … Interesting tidbit in the middle of this story about Yadier Molina’s latest injury. The relevant passage (spotted by Ryan Johnston) reads, “Molina had a mild concussion in September of last season, prompting bullpen catcher Jeff Murphy to improvise a hybrid catcher’s mask. For better protection, he merged the shell of the hockey-style mask with the padding from a traditional mask. … Since the Wings beat the Pens, Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell had to settle a bet by wearing a Wings sweater. Details here (with thanks to Morris Levin). … Hadn’t seen this before: gumball-style helmets modeled after the Riddell Revolution design (big thanks to Greg Riffenburgh). … “Took this photo over the weekend during the introductions of a softball all-star game,” writes Steve Johnston. “Kind of speaks for itself. Love the expressions from the girls standing in line next to her.” … When the Bills play occasional home games in Toronto over the next five years, they’ll be wearing this patch. Details here. There’s also some discussion about possibly adding a uni-borne memorial for Tim Russert. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Georgia Tech football uni poll here. … I was walking through an Italian neighborhood in the Bronx yesterday afternoon when a lot of yelling and cheering emerged from a bar. Maybe it was because Italy’s Antonio Cassano got a little carried away celebrating his squad’s victory over France yesterday (thanks, Bryan). … In case you missed it, Mets GM Omar Minaya, asked why he fired Willie Randolph at the team’s hotel instead of at the stadium, said, “I don’t believe in firing a manager after the game in uniform,” becaus that would be a “disrespect.” So after losing his first game as interium skipper last night, Jerry Manuel quipped, “I made it through. I’m going to have to sleep in this uniform, though.”