Been awhile since we’ve taken a stroll down Ricko Boulevard. Without further ado:
• One question that frequently comes up in the comments is whether the Astros’ tequila sunrise design came in separate home and road versions, or if there was just one — white — version. Answer: Just one, as you can see in these white-uni shots taken at Wrigley.
• Check out these super-cool chevron-patterned shoulders worn by West Virginia in 1961.
• Good view here of Colorado wearing black and silver.
• Speaking of Colorado, here’s a prototype helmet that never made it onto the field, from the disastrous Chuck Fairbanks era.
• Anyone know why Alabama wore gray helmets against USC in 1971?
• We’ve all seen football plays diagrammed with Xs and Os. But how about with little plastic models? “That’s from SI, Dec. 24, 1956,” says Ricko. “It’s one of six full-page B&W photos that used these tabletop figures to ‘illustrate’ a key play in each of the six upcoming Jan.1 bowl games. I have them all; this one’s for the Rose Bowl, Iowa vs. Oregon St. The unis had nothing to do with the teams, with the same set of figures used for all six.”
• Always interesting to see Dr. J as a Virginia Squire.
• Here’s Spider Lockhart wearing white shoes in 1970, long before the NFL’s white-shod era.
• Speaking of footwear colors, check out these shots of Joe Washington wearing silver while playing for Oklahoma (is that a training camp strip of name tape on the TCU helmet?) and the Chargers (yes, FNOB, already noted in last week’s ESPN column).
• And here’s one Ricko showed me when I visited his pad two weeks ago: Check out the front-facing TV numbers worn by the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1966.
Speaking of my visit to Ricko World HQ, I hope to share more images and info from that summit meeting shortly. As I mentioned last week, I’m thinking Ricko might be ESPN material, so for now I don’t wanna spill all the beans here on this site, because I might wanna use them over on Page 2. Final decision on this should come in another week or two — will advise.
Sopel Sock Update: Yesterday’s item about Brent Sopel’s low-striped socks prompted lots of interesting responses:
• From Thomas Clark (reprinted from yesterday’s comments): “Many of my college teammates did the same thing (and myself to a lesser extent) because with fitted ankles on hockey socks, the bottoms can be a bit annoying. So we pulled them down to create a more comfortable feel around the upper ankle/lower calf.”
• From Jeff P (ditto): “The old CCM socks were very loose around the pad. I could never wear them myself — I wear something by Twin City or Pearsox, because they’re much tighter and help hold the pad in place. But a lot of guys like the really loose feeling. When the Edge was introduced, socks became a lot tighter, so Sopel probably asks for a couple sizes up to get it looser (regular joes can’t get them in sizes, but pros get Small, Medium, large, XL and so on). And since the Velcro patch to hold it up is at a fixed location, he has to take the extra length off at the bottom. So in effect, this is the baggy baseball pants of hockey. And as for Sopel’s pre-Reebok days, he was probably cutting off the elastic cuff at the bottom.”
• From JD Patch: “I wear my socks the same way, bunched at the bottom. For me, it’s purely habit, I wear my shinguards over the tongues of my skate boots. I suppose it’s more vanity than anything else — I don’t want my shinguards showing at the base if my socks pull up during the course of the game. On a somewhat related note, the new Reebok socks are grade-A crap — cheaply made and not especially more breathable, as Reebok likes to claim.”
• From James Paterson: “I think the reason lies precisely within Garrett Malcolm’s comment that ‘it makes his calves look wide and trunk-like.’ As a defenseman, Sopel has to block shots. But if the shooter thinks Sopel’s legs look wider, he may alter his shot or pass the puck. So while it does look stupid, in this case form COULD follow function.”
• From Jesse Swanko: “In the old days, hockey socks had actual stirrups and you would wear them inside your skates with the tongue of the boot sticking out in the front over your shinguard. That means you put your shinguards on first, then your socks, then your pants (breezers), and then your skates on last over everything. That is how I still wear mine, and so does Alexei Kovalev on the Habs. Now, however, most players put their skates on first before their shinguards and socks. They tighten the tongue down against their shin, then put the shinguard on, then the socks, and the breezers last. That’s why most new breezers have those zippers inside the thighs, so you can loosen them to get them over your skates. But today’s hockey socks have elastic on the bottom so you can slide them down over your skate (like pulling jeans over cowboy boots). However, the elastic is usually too tight, so most players cut if off entirely and just make a ragged edge on the bottom so it fits looser. A lot of players on my college team did that, which was hell on the equipment guy having to buy new socks at the end of every year. Plus the new Reebok socks are more or less Spandex, so they’re really tight around the pads, giving the ‘robocop’ look. So if Sopel wears extra-thick shinguards or some type of ankle protection under his skates, he would need to cut his socks further up the taper to reach an area wide enough to fit over everything. Plus defensemen who block a lot of shots, like Chris Pronger, wear a dummy boot over their skate for added protection. I don’t think Sopel does this, but if he did that would also require cutting the elastic off to fit over it.”
• From Chaz Noerenberg: “Many other players in addition to Sopel have done this. Michael Handzus [as seen with the Kings, Blues, and Blackhawks] and Pavol Demitra [Blues and Wild] come to mind right away.” (For the record, reader Joe Barker, mentioned these same two players, and Kyle Somerville mentioned Garnet Exelby, although his stripes don’t look that low.)
Raffle Results: The winner of the Syracuse helmet is Chad Gilman, who should contact me asap to claim his prize. Congrats to him, and thanks to all who entered. More raffles coming soon.
Uni Watch News Ticker: So these are the socks that reportedly got Ike Taylor fined a few weeks back. All I can say is, if they’re fining everyone who wears low whites like that, they must have a big pile of cash by now. … Meanwhile, Chris Hilf notes that Hines Ward wore gold shoelaces in that game. … Potentially awesome NOB news, but they’ll probably just handle it the way they did in the preseason. … Nobody likes a tease, but I’ll be one anyway: I spent about two hours yesterday at the NBA offices, where I learned about all sorts of interesting uni-related initiatives for this season (most of which I’ll be able to share in my season-preview column next week, although a few are embargoed for another month or two) and next season (sorry, that stuff’s all off the record). … Brian Birkhofer won the $50,000 top prize at last weekends Dirt Track World Championship, and Scott Johnson reports that Birkhofer’s a big Steelers fan and has some Steelers elements on his driving suit. … The Islanders will wear pink tape on their sticks on Thursday, and the coaching staff will wearing “Hockey Fights” cancer neckties and pins. Details here. … This probably isn’t Nike’s fault, at least not completely, but let’s blame it on them anyway cuz it’s so much fun. … Yesterday I mentioned that the Tommie Agee marker at Shea appeared to have been successfully excavated. That led pseudonymous commenter Union Jack to opine, “Looks likely that someone figured out during demo that the stairs landing was hollow, not solid concrete. This probably made extraction feasible (can you imagine trying to carve away a slab if it were solid?).” I spoke with concessionaire Barry Meisel yesterday, and he basically confirmed that. “We were surprised,” he told me. “It came out in one piece really easily, no problem.” He thinks he has a buyer for it, too. … The Nationals are sponsoring a pumpkin carving contest (with thanks to Mark Kluczynski). … The Vero Beach Devil Rays (Tampa’s single-A affiliate) are changing their name and location, and will now be known as the Port Charlotte Stone Crabs. No logo or uni design yet, but they should be good, since stone crabs are so cool-looking (with thanks to Jeff Mayer). … Did you see Mike Smith’s mask on Saturday? Get this — it was a promotional stunt to promote the latest splatterfest flick. Smith was apparently so disgusted by this that he chose to go maskless in protest (with thanks to Dane Drutis). … Here’s the latest obligatory article-plus-video about the endearingly crabby underpaid middle-aged seamstresses who sew patches on uniforms for millionaire athletes (thanks to Mike Edgerley). … Why would you pair a red jersey with an orange helmet? That’s Cherokee High in New Jersey, as sent by Doug Keklak (who also sent this hyphenated NOB shot of LaRod Stephens-Howling). … Under Armour is going to sponsor the NFL combine, which would seem to create a conflict with Reebok (courtesy of Brinke Guthrie). … Bill Heatley has come up with the best photos yet of the black distance numerals that were used on Shea Stadium’s outfield wall for the first homestand of 1967. He took these shots on April 20th, 1967, which was when Tom Seaver got his first career victory.