[Editor's Note: Pittsburgh-based reader Doug Keklak recently got a DVD set of a notable chapter in uniform history and put together an entry based on his many observations. Enjoy. -- PL]
By Doug Keklak
Last Christmas I was lucky enough to get the 1979 World Series DVD set, which contains the full game broadcasts, not just the half-hour tape that MLB Productions used to put out.
The DVD quality is spotty at times, and my screen shots are simply cell phone pics of my PC, so the image quality here isn’t the greatest, but I think they’re good enough to have a conversation about the topic. Here are the highlights:
• When you hear the term “Stargell Stars,” you tend to think about the pillbox caps. But they were apparently awarded on batting helmets too. I don’t if they were a different composition (cloth on caps, stickers on helmets) because it’s hard to tell. [Also: Note Matty Alexander's hand-numbered sweatbands. -- PL] Since Manny Sanguillen wore his cap under his helmet, you can see his cap stars under his helmet brim.
• Speaking of Baltimore’s NOBs, holy letter spacing, Batman!
• Even though I’m a Pittsburgh fan, Rick Dempsey was always one of my favorite players (I was a catcher), and I was slightly obsessed with him being one of the last (and ultimately the very last) catchers to wear a cap under his mask, instead of a helmet (additional shots here, here, and here).
• Growing up in the Pirates’ mix-and-match era, I always thought it was odd that the black jerseys used a different NOB font. Shorter names (three to five letters) were often rendered in much larger lettering, but not always. I couldn’t get a good grab of Ed Ott, but his was larger too.
• The Pirates had Bill and Don Robinson on the roster, but there were inconsistencies regarding the use of first initials. In black, they both had the initial; in yellow, however, neither of them had it. Bill had the initial on the home whites, but Don didn’t play in that game and the whites weren’t used again in the Series, so I’m not sure about his initial. (Incidentally, Bill was traded to the Phillies in ’82 but Don continued to sport the “D.” on his jersey well after that.)
• Everyone knows that this Pirates team was called “The Family,” after the Sister Sledge song. This even extended to the dugout.
• Many Uni Watch readers know about this Kent Tekulve T-shirt. But here’s the original Tekulve T-shirt. And look: Tekulve even batted (back when closers pitched more than one inning and actually had to bat).
• Although I always remember this as one of the more colorful World Series, the O’s only sported their orange jerseys in Games 1 and 7. (During the Game 7 broadcast, Keith Jackson erroneously referred to them as “goldenrod,” which I think is actually closer to the Pirates’ yellow.) As for the Pirates, they sported four different combos — Games 1 and 5: yellow cap, black jersey, yellow pants, black stirrups; Games 2, 6, and 7: black cap, yellow jersey, black pants, yellow stirrups; Game 3: black cap, white jersey, white pants, black stirrups; and Game 4: black cap, yellow jersey, yellow pants, black stirrups. If I seem a tad obsessed with this, it’s because I tried out for the old ESPN game show 2 Minute Drill back in 2001. My specialty category, if I would have made it to the end of the show, was the ’79 series. The month leading up to my tryout I watched the half hour highlights of this series EVERY DAY.
• The pillbox cap was never a good look when worn backwards (that’s Manny Sanguillen, who was nearing the end of his career). The only shots I’ve seen of the pillbox under catchers’ masks are from these baseball cards: Gary Alexander and Milt May.
• Why the hell was Bill Madlock watching the end of Game 7 in what appears to have been a laundry room?
• Good thing fans aren’t allowed to rush the field following baseball games anymore. You might not be able to tell from the upper-left portion of this shot, but trust me, the video shows Steve Nicosia beating the hell out of some kid.
One other note about the mix-and-match era: When the mix-and-matches debuted in 1977, there were no names on the back. I remember seeing pictures of Goose Gossage, in his only season with the Bucs, with no name on his jersey. I read somewhere, but cannot verify 100%, that the National League instituted a rule that a team’s road uniform had to have names on the back and since the Pirates didn’t have just one road combo — they wore all their uniform elements at home and on the road — they put the names on all the jerseys. Whether or not that is true, the names were on all colors of the jerseys through the end of the mix-and-match era. [This is basically correct: The N.L. mandated NOBs for road jerseys in 1979, so that's when the Bucs added them throughout their set. But in ’77 and ’78 they were NNOB, as seen in this shot of Goose Gossage in the 1977 All-Star Game. -- PL]
If you want to see even more screen shots from the ’79 Series, I’ve got them grouped by game here.
Raffle Reminder: Paul here. I’m raffling off two copies of the Yankee Stadium: Baseball’s Cathedral DVD. To enter, send a blank e-mail with your name and address to uniraffle [at] earthlink [dot] net (not to the usual Uni Watch e-mail address, please) by 10pm tomorrow. One entry per person, but everyone enrolled in the Uni Watch membership program at the time of the drawing will automatically get three bonus entries. I’ll announce the winner on Monday.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Latest smoking athlete: soccer player Dimitar Berbatov (with thanks to Iain Landon). … The European Junior Championships of American Football 2008 are currently underway in Spain, and Peter Nilsson notes that Denmark is using country-name NOBs and a really weird helmet design. … “I’ve been reading Mark Bowden’s The Best Game Ever,” writes Rob Andrews. “It includes this picture of Vince Lombardi, circa 1958, when he was a Giants coach. Obvious Yankee influence here — was this standard? I haven’t seen a NY Giants picture with a jacket like that before. Is it a Giants jacket at all? Maybe something Art Ditmar left around the locker room..?” … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Latest addition to our roster of brimless-helmeted catchers is Mike Fitzgerald. … Jared Wheeler says this is not a satin Dodgers uni. “It was worn by Whitey Ford on an amateur team that traveled in 1946,” he says. “It was dubbed Brooklyn vs. the World.” Additional info here and here. … Birthday girl Nicole Haase has discovered a site devoted to soccer patches. “When I was a kid, whenever you played in a soccer tournament, you received a patch,” she says. “I have a bunch saved at home, including this one — the guy who’s mentioned on that page ran that tournament with my dad for about 20 years. I’m kinda shocked I never thought about these patches as uni-related ephemera before. My brother had a team warmup jacket with them sewn all over it.” … Nick Wollen reports that the single-A Boise Hawks — a Cubs farm team — have periodically been wearing really nice 1908 Cubs throwbacks (additional pics here and here). … This NBA Live 09 screen shot suggests that the Timberwolves are getting new uniforms (with thanks to Josh Skattum). … Chris Markham, who specialized in custom-painted electric football figurines, sent along pics of his latest project: the ’63 Chargers, complete with the “San Diego All-America City” crest on the helmet. … Mark Mihalik‘s new footwear-centric site has a good breakdown of Easton’s signature cleats from the All-Star Game. … “Just wanted you to see for youself that we’re not all a bunch of slobs out here in Los Angeles,” writes Chad Peiken. “I bought a bunch of powder blue stirrups for my co-ed softball team (different cuts and sizes) and here I am with my girlfriend/1st baseman. A lot of my other teammates have taken to wearing them as well, so little by little we’re changing the hearts and minds of the public.” … Oh. My. God. (courtesy of Paul Ricciardi) … There are rumors that UW (that’s U. of Washington, not Uni Watch) may be changing uni outfitters (with thanks to John Hansen). …Photo gallery of Braves uni history here (as forwarded by Dan Phillips). … Jim Parker sent along another shot of those UMich football socks with the “M” logo — sweet. … Anyone know of a supplier who makes patches? If so, please get in touch.