How great is Ricko? This great. Maybe you were doodling uniform drawings in your notebook or devising new logos for your favorite team, but Ricko basically doing proto-Okkonen-esque work back around 1960, three decades before Okkonen’s book was published. “These look quite juvenile,” he says, “but keep in mind I was just a kid.” Sorry, dude, false modesty doesn’t suit you. I mean, look at this stuff — totally obsessive, totally brilliant. Dude even documented the AFL All-Star Game uniforms!
“These ones show how tough it was, almost 50 years ago, to get things right,” say Ricko. “Nothing was in color — not TV, not newspapers. Maybe an SI cover or article, or Sport magazine (if you wanted to wait for it) or gum cards (ditto). If the play-by-play guys didn’t say the colors of the unis in the new AFL, you didn’t have a clue. Hence the incorrect black-gold Art Powell for ’63. Saw the new unis on a B&W TV and figured Al Davis (who had coached at Army) had decided that the Raiders ought to LOOK like Army. On a later telecast, after I’d already made that card, an announcer said the Raiders were in ‘silver pants and helmets’ — that’s how I learned they’d changed their colors. Davis had, in fact, styled the Raiders unis after the Black Knights, but had changed from the earlier Raider black and gold.”
As for the outline template, Ricko says it’s “based on one of the drawings of Jim Brown in the cover story from this issue of SI, which I’m pretty sure I no longer have, so, I can’t show you the original. Anyway, by 1963 I realized it made more sense to just start a clippings file.” Speaking of which, here’s the latest batch of treasures from that stash:
• Nice little item here about the Astros’ 1971 jerseys. Love how the jersey is referred to as a “blouse.”
• This one’s a little hard to believe: According to the photo caption in this 1967 article, Rusty Staub would change his shoes after reaching base. Would the umps really tolerate the delay that must have caused? (And if you ever saw Rusty “run,” you know that it would take a lot more than a footwear switcheroo to help him move around the bases.)
• Speaking of soccer cleats, check out Joe Namath in the Orange Bowl (his last college game).
• We’re all familiar with football players spatting their shoes with tape. But several MLB players were doing it in the ’70s, including Dave Parker, Pops, Ed Herrman, Jay Johnstone, and Ed Ott (who apparently used gold tape in Pittsburgh).
• Some great Washington Senators images here: Gil Hodges exhibiting some serious stripeage and Hondo Howard wearing the white spikes the Sens wore in 1971 (not shown in Dressed to the Nines, but they wore ’em, as confirmed in this Denny McLain shot). As for this card, Ricko explains: “Wasn’t it nice of Calvin Griffith to leave his last D.C. uniforms behind for the new Senators to use during spring training? With the hats and socks they’d take into the regular season.”
That’s enough for this time around. Lots more soon.
Two Reminders: Remember, I’ll participating tonight as part of a “Sports and Design” reading series at KGB. It’s free, and it starts at 7pm.
Also, don’t forget my latest research project: Next time you see a home plate ump “cleaning” the plate by kicking the dirt off of it, instead of bending over and using his whisk brush, please make a note of the date, inning, and batter, and then let me know. Thanks.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Remember the NFL’s 1994 throwback program? Ronnie Poore somehow got his hands on all of the official style-guide sheets and sent them my way. Some of them don’t match up with what the teams eventually wore (the Niners sheet, e.g., shows a blank helmet, which isn’t what the team wore), but that just makes it all more interesting. You can see a slideshow of all 28 style sheets here. … Ever wonder about the history of the foam finger? Me neither, but here it is anyway. … The Blackhawks held a convention last weekend, and Ryan Connelly notes that the jerseys worn by past and present players had a little convention patch — a nice touch (plus it appears that Stan Mikita has rather Lindsey Nelson-eque taste in sportscoats). … Jeremy Brahm, who’s previously noted the problem of Portland Timbers jerseys ripping during play, says the phenomenon hasn’t been fixed. … No idea how legit this is, but someone is claiming that the new Hornets jerseys will look like this (blame Chris Mycoskie if it turns out to be hooey). … Check out this shot of the 1925 Pirates — even the scouts are in uniform (with thanks to Jerry Wolper). … Here’s another Pirates team shot, this one from 1903. Man, dig those double-breasted jackets (big thanks to Phil Johnson, who also says he was just in Pittsburgh and was puzzled to see that the “Heinz” in Heinz Field is AWOL). … Interesting article here about the tailor to the U.S. Olympic team (with thanks to Dwayne White). … Most of you have never heard of Anne Occi, but she’s a household name to those of us who work with baseball logos and such, because she’s essentially the overseer of, and gatekeeper for, all of MLB’s new designs. Never seen an article about her until now (with thanks to Bill Erdek). … Peter Colvin and I both wanna know how the hell you can have your uni number retired from the NBA Summer League? … Check out what the Austin Blue Sox — an amateur team in Austin, Minnesota — are wearing on their shins (with thanks to Brian Schulz). … Interesting article, plus an embedded video, here about the guy who makes championship boxing and wrestling belts (nice find by Xavier Otero). … You know those clear plastic throat guards that hockey goalies wear? Eric Borer reports that umpire Kerwin Danley, who missed six weeks of action after taking a fastball off his jaw, is now wearing something similar on his hockey-style ump’s mask. … Good UGA equipment slideshow here (with thanks to Brent Hardman). … Russell, Under Armour, and Nike, all at once — ooof (with “thanks” to Jonathon Binet). … Following up on an item from yesterday: Sure enough, Bobby Layne did wear No. 22 for the Longhorns — look here (big thanks to Jim Parker). … Lots of photo links to Va. Tech’s new football uniforms here. … Scroll down to the bottom of this page for loads more vintage base ball photos (with thanks to Ian Hoadley). … Naomi Campbell apparently has a good throwing arm (at least when throwing cell phones at subordinates), so it’s no surprise to see her taking a turn at bat. Additional crimes against nature here and here. … The pine tar phenomenon has trickled down to high school baseball in Iowa (with thanks to Jesse Gavin, who also notes that this team — Davenport Assumption — is a pretty good approximation of what the Braves would look like if they wore vests).