Several readers have spoken highly of this 1969 book, which chronicles the first half-century of the NFL, so I tracked down a copy. Sure enough, tons of great stuff. Here are some highlights:
• First and foremost, there’s a section devoted to the evolution of the uniform, featuring a kickass series of illustrations showing what was worn by the 1920 Decatur Staleys, the 1921 Packers, the 1926 Duluth Eskimos (my favorite of the bunch), the 1948 Rams, and so on. There are some major surprises here — did you know, for example, that the Giants once dressed like this? Or that the Bears, for one season, wore this? Yabba-dabba-doo! The Lions, on the other hand, haven’t changed that much.
• Check out this illo of Lenny Moore, circa 1957. Naturally, the caption mentions his famous spats, but there’s also this: “The yellowish substance on the shoes is a resin many ball carriers dab on their fingers to get more tack on the ball.” This is the earliest reference to stickum I’ve ever seen. Also from the caption: “The sweat band on his wrist was borrowed from tennis.” So are they saying Moore was the first NFLer to wear a sweatband? Major discovery!
• There’s also a series of awesome poster-style illustrations devoted to over a dozen important NFL historical figures, including Johnny U, Crazy Legs Hirsch, John Mackey, Jim Brown, Don Hutson, Chuck Bednarik, Gino Marchetti, Leo Nomellini, Louie the Toe, Gale Sayers, Cal Hubbard, Jerry Kramer, Ray Nitschke, Night Train Lane, and Elmen Tunnell.
• Great padding/gear photo here.
• Did you know the Redskins used to wear their Indian-head logo on their chest, sort of like the Blackhawks? Look!
• Here’s the oldest, rattiest jersey I’ve ever seen. And the 8 appears to be upside-down!
• Rare shot here of the Browns’ block-shadowed numbers.
• We’ve all seen this SI cover featuring Y.A. Tittle. But I’d never seen that helmet in action until I saw this photo (note the light-colored nighttime ball, too). Also, oddly, they chose to use Tittle and his helmet as the subject for this illustration. The caption includes the following note: “Although Tittle wore high top shoes, low cuts were becoming the most popular shoes. With the mandatory taping of ankles, the high cuts were no longer necessary.” I’d never heard about mandatory ankle taping before, or its effect on footwear styles!
• Love the striping and shoulder yokes here.
• Check out this shot of the overtime coin toss from the famous 1958 championship game. No wonder the Giants lost the game — their captains were taking refuge in a sideline cape while Johnny U was rarin’ to go. Bad form, no?
• You don’t often see pics from the early-’70s Pro Bowls, back when they wore “A” and “N” helmets.
• Hey, Jim Bakken — fasten your chinstrap!
Want to get your own copy of this fine volume? Look here.
And now a note from Vince: I’m looking for unique sports-related T-shirts, not unlike the beautiful Brewers shirt Paul linked to last week. Anything different, timely, relatively unknown, undiscovered, or featuring great design would be welcomed. Have a favorite tee you’d like to share with the world, own a company that makes kick ass shirts, or know of somewhere to get some great gear? Drop me a note with the pertinent details. Thanks much.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Paul here. Fascinating story here about a factual error in one of the Steelers’ Super Bowl ring designs. … Dig these great high school hoops unis from 1972. Love those big bullseye numbers (with thanks to Chris Markham). … Mark Jones sent along this photo from the 1966 Cotton Bowl. Note that the two LSU players have mismatched pants striping. … Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho will wear No. 80. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a number that high on a soccer jersey,” says Greg Riffenburgh. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The Dodgers print Andy LaRoche’s NOB in all caps, while the Pirates style his brother Adam’s NOB with a small cap. … When I visit Portland next month, I hope most of the locals can spell better than whoever created these jerseys at the Highland Games (with thanks to Ryan Hossner). … Andrew Ferguson reports that BU basketball has a new 100th-anniversary logo, although it isn’t clear yet if it’ll be worn as a patch. … Can’t remember if we’ve covered this already, but just in case: Miami will supposedly be wearing this alternate jersey this season — yikes (with thanks to Mike Camello). … Got an interesting note from Mike Frentz, who attends the same church where Marc Sagmoen is a youth pastor. Sagmoen, as some of you may recall, is the outfielder who was called up by the Rangers and issued No. 42 on April 15th, 1997 — the same day the number was retired by MLB (we’ve discussed this previously here on the site; for details, scroll down to the middle of this entry). Mike writes: “On April 15, 2007 (a Sunday, as it happens), [Sagmoen] brought in the jersey he wore for that one game, the 10th anniversary of his MLB debut. As he tells the story, he’s sitting there in the on-deck circle in the 4th inning of his big league debut. As he and Mickey Tettleton get loose, Mickey says to him, ‘Take your jersey off.’ Marc is confused, even after Mickey repeats the message. Finally, exasperated, Mickey points to the Jumbotron, where President Clinton is making the announcement that Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 will be retired across baseball. ‘Now batting, number 42…’ … Anyway, the question I the question I wanted to ask is this: Marc claims that this incident makes him the only player in the four major pro sports to play one game and then have his jersey number retired. Can you verify this, or come up with counterexamples for me to show him? I’m not talking about ceremonial comeback stints or numbers that were never used again (like Eddie Gaedel’s 1/8). The player must have played exactly one game and then had his number formally retired.” Good question. Anyone..? … I work for ESPN.com, so how come it took Stu Taylor to tell me that the site is doing a college football helmet poll? … See that little chest patch on Kyle Boller’s jersey? The Ravens are giving that to players who attended at least 85% of the team’s off-season workouts (plus they get a piece of candy, a gold star, and a nice note from the teacher to show their parents). Here’s a closer look (with thanks to Jack Krabbe). … Gibby Davis notes that Shawn Marcum appears to have a more southerly Pedro porthole. … Paul Wiederecht sent along this shot of the 1989 Pittsfield Mets. Thank got the parent club never used that striped waistband. And what’s with the one guy with the striped pants? … Good info here on Roger Federer’s Olympics attire (with thanks toBrinke Guthrie). … Here’s something you don’t often see: a Little League team in Negro Leagues throwbacks (with thanks to Michael Miller). … Scott Novosel sent along this shot from a 1976 all-star tour of Japan. Look at all the National Leaguers wearing pillbox caps! … David Sonny notes that Johnny Cueto has switched from a black glove to a red one. … DC report from John Muir, who writes: “On Thursday, July 17th, my girlfriend and I went to the 47th Annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park, the first to be held in the new stadium. I had to use my cell phone camera, because her camera battery died. Those shots, and several scans from the official program, can be found here. Some notes from the game: Democrats took the left dugout, Republicans the right; Dem. Batting helmets were blue, Reps. Red; all Congressmen wore the uniforms of their home MLB, minor league, local college (some of them were alma maters), or hometown travel team; Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) wore a No. 9 Mets home alternate, with solid blue cap and high blue socks; Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Cali) wore No. IX, in reference to Title IX; Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Az) donned the Diamondbacks road brick, with full black tights; Rep. Joe Buca (D-Cali) wore a Dodgers home jersey and cap, but with oddly piped pants; former Florida GOP Rep. Lou Frey Jr., who’s slated to be inducted into the Congressional Baseball HOF, was in attendance — he wore Dodgers off-white throwback.” … Good soccer uni site here (with thanks to A.C.). … And here’s a compendium of Olympics posters dating back to 1896 (as forward by Marcus Ramsey). … Thanks to everyone who came down to KGB last night — hope you had as much fun as I did.