Several weeks back I did an entry about the 1971 book This Great Game. That led several readers to suggest that I track down a pair of football books that were published around that same time: The First 50 Years (which I’ll get to another day) and The Other League, which chronicles the story of the AFL. As you might expect, there are some excellent photographic details worth examining. Let’s take a look:
• Nice shot here of George Blanda with a pocket pouch and no chinstrap. Also, note that the “1” on his chest doesn’t match the one on his sleeve.
• Speaking of chest/sleeve inconsistencies, check out Joe Namath here.
• Look at this — holy moly! According to the book, that photo is from 1963, which was the only year that the Raiders wore silver helmets and gold numbers, but I’d never seen that heavy black outlining before. Yeesh.
• Lots of interesting shots of officials. In this photo, from 1961, the zebras weren’t even zebras — no stripes, just giant uni numbers. By 1963, they’d gone to the red stripes with no numbers (note the Jets’ original helmet design, too). In that last photo, it looks like the ref, who’s in the background, is wearing a black cap, but apparently it was red, with the AFL logo. The white caps had the logo as well. Anyone know if the AFL officials eventually switched to black stripes? Looks like they might have, based on this late-’60s shot, but it’s tough to be sure. There are also several Super Bowl photos that show officials wearing black sleeves with uni numbers (additional shots here and here). All those shots are from Super Bowls I and II, so those could just be NFL officials — who officiated those early Super Bowls anyway, NFL crews, AFL crews, or a mix? Anyone know if that non-striped black sleeve was an NFL or AFL thing?
• Look at that last photo again and check out the facemask for the Chiefs player who’s facing the camera. Look how the area between the two upper screws (just above the nose bumper) is sort of scooped or scalloped — don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.
• At first I thought the “4” in this photo was a mistake. But apparently that was part of San Diego’s standard uni number font. Not only that, it was also used by the Titans, who kept the font when they became the Jets. Plus the Colts used it back in the 1950s (even on the sleeve). Still looks weird to me.
• Man, the Oilers had some huge-ass rear-helmet numbers.
• Love the “CBS Color” sign on the camera.
• And finally, here’s a wide shot of Shea Stadium’s first pro football game. Forty-four years later, I don’t think they’ve ever changed the foul pole or screen.
And there’s plenty more. Want you own copy of this book? Look here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Fascinating tidbit from sporting goods magnate Terry Proctor, who writes: “Did you ever notice the extended flap of knit trim with the off-center double snaps on the A’s waistband? That flap was extended to cover the real belt that was worn underneath. The knit trim that went around the waist on the pants actually was a tunnel loop. A regular belt was worn and that flap covered the belt buckle. The Red Sox also wore this style.” I had never, ever heard this before. … “A New Orleans police officer was suspended — 15 minutes before he was set to retire — for wearing the wrong uniform shirt (with thanks to Chuck Alexander). … Scott Little is obsessed with Starter jackets, among other things, and sent along photos of 16 jacket tags plus a few other tags and labels of interest. Check out the full slideshow here. … Japan has unveiled its wrestling and table tennis uniforms for the Olympics (with thanks to, of course, Jeremy Brahm). … While we’re at it, Thomas Tunner (who modestly claims to have “both the largest sports collection and the largest wardrobe”) sent along this. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The roster of catchers who’ve worn brimless helmets (which had previously included Duke Sims, Ron Hodges, Dave Valle, Bob Boone, Jim Sundberg, Carlton Fisk, and Pudge Rodriguez) has a new member: Jeff Torborg. … The Reds’ camo jerseys have stirred up a bit of controversy and commentary (with thanks to Mark Fightmaster). … If you go to this audio link and scroll ahead to the 38-minute mark, you’ll hear swimmer W. Hodding Carter discussing the new LZR swimsuit. Interestingly, he says it makes you feel “like a superhero,” yet another furtherance of the trope I identified in this site’s very first entry (with thanks to Morris Levin). … Not exactly a surprise, but Citi Field will feature lots of pricey food options. … “I saw this sign at the New Era shop in Manhattan,” writes Steve Flack. “So all those ugly-ass ‘fashion’ 5950s are born out of a request from Spike Lee.” … I know Sandy Alomar Jr. was the first catcher to wear knee-saver pads, but did he also wear them while batting? Check out this shot of him from the 1997 All-Star Game — never seen that before. … Nike is being sued by an inventor who claims the
Evil Empire Swooshkateers stole his patented cap design. Oddly, the guy wore a Nike cap for his photo accompanying the article (with thanks to David McGee). … Interesting note from Jeremy Gooch, who writes: “No photo, but during the 1992-93 preseason and at least part of the regular season, Tom Rathman of the 49ers wore a ‘No Fear’ sticker on the back of his helmet, right above the American Flag. It looked kind of like this, minus the circle, and it was red instead of black.” Anyone know more about this? … According to the “Clubhouse Confidential” section on this page, the Brewers’ equipment manager had ordered a uniform for C.C. Sabathia a week prior to the trade, because he was worried about getting caught short during the Independence Day weekend (nice find by Rob McCallum). … You probably know Babe Ruth was briefly a Dodgers coach after his retirement. But did you know he wore No. 35 (here’s another shot)? Dan Cichalski took both of those screen grabs from last weekend’s debut installment of Baseball’s Glory Days, a new weekly series running on FSN (or on MSG-Plus in some markets, including New York) that I’ve been meaning to mention. The series is basically the second coming of HBO’s When It Was a Game productions: Lots of home movie footage, a bit of endearingly over-sentimental voiceovers, and some talking heads waxing poetic. New episodes will debut each Sunday night, and I think it’s a 12-week run. Great stuff, and highly recommended. … Also from Dan: The Lakewood BlueClaws are holding a Springsteen promo on July 25th, and will be wearing this design for the occasion. … Super-cool Charlie Gehringer military baseball uni up for auction here. … Charlie Samuels strikes again: Earlier this season, Mets outfielder Nick Evans wore No. 6. Then they sent him down, acquired Trot Nixon, and gave him No. 6. Then Nixon went on the DL, where he remains today, and now they’ve recalled Evans and given him 6 again, which means they now have two players on the roster with the same number. Is that even allowed? … Speaking of the Mets, Bryan Heaton notes that neither Jose Reyes nor recent call-up Argenis Reyes is wearing a first initial. … Elton Brand posed with a throwback Sixers uni yesterday, and Jake Driver points out that they apparently did something similar for Josh Smith. Not sure what this all portends, but I’m looking into it. … Bernie Langer was at last night’s Phils/Cards game in Philly and says Brendan Ryan’s striped stirrups (shown there from another date) caused quite a stir. “People all around me were saying, ‘Look at that! Look at those socks!’ A dad behind me kept on yelling to his little kids, ‘Look at that guy’s socks! Look at them!'” … Nice timeline of Houston Cougars logos here (with thanks to Corey Buck). … Ryan Connelly notes that the NHL09 trailer shows the Panthers wearing their pre-Edge design — odd. … The Red Sox were still wearing the stars/stripes caps yesterday. … Remember how we discussed that the “NBA” icon on the Celtics’ championship banner is sometimes solid, sometimes not? Mario Fontana took a tour of the arena two nights ago and asked about that. “I was surprised to get an answer,” he writes. “If the Celtics won the championship that year on the road, it is represented with a dark (filled in) circle, representing their green jerseys. If they win it at home it’s a white circle, representing the home jersey. I thought this was pretty neat.” … Get this: The Brewers put their “B” logo on the pitching mound each game, but a reader who didn’t give his/her name says, “For the recent Negro Leagues tribute game, they put a dark blue generic M back there, to try and complete the effect.” Yeah, nothing says authentic Negro Leagues like a field decoration that nobody thought of until a few years ago. … Speedo is having trouble producing enough LZR swimsuits to keep up with demand. That link came from Jeremy Brahm, who says he also found a Japanese article that says “regular swimmers cannot get the LZR until the Fall because the priority is getting enough suits for the Olympic swimmers.” … Jeremy also sent some pics from the Haarlem Baseball Week in Holland, a six-team tournament for college level teams. Interestingly, the Netherlands Antilles are using two Braves “A” logos on their jerseys and caps (which is an improvement over what they used to wear). … A bunch of Thurman Munson memorabilia is going up for auction.