It must have been in 1988 or ’89, right around sixth or seventh grade, when I had the revelation. I have to believe it was the result of seeing it on TV, or noticing it on a baseball card. Whatever it was, I realized that back yard Wiffleball games would be so much cooler if I wore a batting helmet — complete with the MLB logo on the back — while I hit.
The batting helmet thing followed years of trying to find a fitted Cubs hat without actually going to Chicago. Really, up until the mid-1990s, getting a pro-style, authentic hat was pretty much impossible, especially if you lived in the middle of rural Iowa. Here are just two of the lids I found in my closet. I’m fairly certain I had at least four or five more. I think it was 1996 before I finally got an authentic Cubs 5950.
But back to the helmet … My friends showed up the next day with whatever cheap replica batting helmet was laying around the house (mostly Cubs, Cardinals, and Twins), but I upped the ante. The night before, I dug out some baseball card wrappers I had hanging around and started looking for the perfect MLB logo. Turns out 1988 Donruss had a decent-sized, full-color logo on the wrapper. After some careful snipping and a bit of clear packing tape, I was done … for a minute or so.
Then I got out my dad’s label maker and punched out my name. And then I got a Sharpie and added the old ABC helmet logo. Now I was done.
I ended up doing a few more helmets, and even adding a flap to the original, before the summer was out. “Why did you do that?” my parents asked. Hey, if I’m going to daydream, I want it to be legit.
The helmet above is a recreation I did yesterday at my parents’ house. I headed out to the garage with my dad in hopes of finding the originals, but it was clear early on they were gone. We found a few others, though. And, of course, there’s still a pile of baseball card wrappers — neatly pressed, actually — in my old closet. The packing tape and scissors were in the same drawers as always. Couldn’t find the label maker, though.
No, the logo isn’t quite right, but it’s the spirit of trying to get the details right that led me to Uni Watch back in the Page 2-only days. And, like most of you, I followed readily when Paul promised daily (!) content here.
Thank you for joining me on weekends — and few weekdays here and there — here at Uni Watch. I’ve had a lot of fun, of course, and I’m proud to have been a part of this community. I won’t be totally gone from Uni Watch — I’m working on the giant list of mascot names, which is far more giant than I anticipated — and I’ll have little tidbits here and there.
But the weekends? That’s Phil’s turf now, and I’ll happily cede the floor. — Bryan