Even before the advent of internet uniform databases and Marc Okkonen books, most of us were pretty familiar with most of the MLB uniform designs since, say, 1960. But that’s not the case with football. There are several reasons for this: the general suckitude of football cards; the fact that the NFL barely acknowledges that it even existed prior to the Super Bowl era (or, really, prior to the merger); the fact that NFL teams play only about one-tenth as many games as MLB teams (and it used to be an even smaller percentage), which meant limited TV exposure and small photo archives; and so on.
So while it’s fairly unthinkable that anyone reading this site would be unfamiliar with an MLB uni design from 1967, I’m willing to bet that many of you — maybe even most of you — haven’t seen this uniform, which is what the Steelers wore in 1966 and ’67. I’ve frequently seen it referred to as the “Batman design,” because the diamond-shaped yoke looks a bit like a cape (although it was Robin who had the yellow cape). But it turns out that there’s a good story behind the yoke — a story I hadn’t heard until reader Doug Keklak recently found it lurking on the Steelers’ web site. Here’s the relevant passage:
[In 1966] the City of Pittsburgh was trying to remake its image, trying to get away from the perception of a dirty, smoky city. One of the downtown areas being refurbished was called the Golden Triangle, because that was the shape of the land created by the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers flowing into the Ohio River. Dan Rooney decided to incorporate this unique bit of the city’s geography into the Steelers new uniforms, and that’s how the triangle design came to be a part of the jersey.
But if the intent of linking the team to its city was a nice idea, the practical execution of it didn’t always go smoothly. For example, washing the uniforms. In 1966, the Steelers’ preseason finale was against the Cleveland Browns in Birmingham, Ala., and they were to wear the black jerseys with the gold triangles, because the Browns always preferred to wear their white jerseys. But in laundering the Steelers’ jerseys, the black bled into the gold triangles and created an aesthetic mess.
And then, not everyone was able to make the connection between the Steelers’ jerseys and Pittsburgh’s geography. Midway through the 1966 season, the Steelers were set to play a game against the Cowboys in Dallas on Oct. 30. Shortly before kickoff, Dan Rooney appeared on the Cowboys’ pregame radio show where he was asked, “Are your wearing those uniforms because tomorrow is Halloween?”
Action photos of the Golden Triangle design are pretty rare (at least until Ricko digs into his archives — hint-hint), but I’ve compiled a small slideshow here. Meanwhile, tell me: Was I wrong, or has this design flown under most people’s radar? And had anyone else heard the Golden Triangle story before?
Membership News: We’re closing in on our 700th member, thanks to new enrollees like Chris Hart, whose card (shown at right; here’s a bigger view) is based on the Dayton Dragons. Interestingly, we’ve also had some recent sign-ups opting for the old-school Uni Watch design — sort of a membership throwback. As always, the full gallery of card designs is available for your inspection here. And yes, I’m still giving out a $10 Distant Replays gift card with every $15 membership — full sign-up details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Galatasaray’s goalie, Servet Cetin, wears a mask (with thanks to AJ Chalifour). … The Flyers’ orange alts have white nameplates, an element taken from their 1974 postseason design. But why did they go with white nameplates back then anyway? The answer comes from Christopher Dearth: “On Tuesday’s night’s Flyers telecast on Versus, broadcaster Mike Emerick mentioned that the Flyers didn’t have names on the back of their orange jerseys in 1974 but the NHL forced them to add NOBs when they made the playoffs. Story has it that they had no white letters so they improvised and added a white stripe (or even tape) and used the black letters.” … Really fun article here about the Browns’ PA announcer (nice find by Jason Hillyer). … Someone’s asking a mere $40,000 for a game-used Cali Seals jersey. Details here (with thanks to long-lost Vince Grzegorek, who also reports having a found a more reasonably priced NHL artifact). … Good uni cameo find by Andy Chalifour: Mike Hampton as a Mariner. … Wayman Tisdale has a Sooners-branded prosthetic leg (with thanks to Mark Kaplowitz). … Cool old uniform shown here, and check out the chest insignia here. … Very odd sleeve tailoring on this old Newark Rams jersey — sort of like a vest, but there are vestigal sleeves. … Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. guitarist Jon Hammer (who, much like Uni Watch fave Rob Ullman, knows a thing or two about creating killer pin-up art) recently tipped me wise to this Toots Shor documentary. Got myself a screener DVD and it’s awesome stuff, with lots of great sports-related content. I think it’s currently showing in L.A., plus it’s available on Netflix, or you can order a copy here. … Double-decker HNOB! That’s Whitesboro Senior High School in Marcy, New York (courtesy of Charlie Ryczek). … John Elway, one rude fucker (nice find, Phil). … Josh Danker-Dake was watching Fear Strikes Out and noticed that Tony Perkins’s Red Sox jersey was different than everyone else’s — no placket piping. Anyone know the story behind that? … It’s hard to see, but the home team in this photo is called the Hot Dogs, apparently because they play in Frankfort, Indiana. Details here. … NOG — that’s name on glove (good eye, Phil). … Minor league baseball news: New logos for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (further details here), the Winston-Salem Warthogs will announce their new team name today, and the Lowell Spinners will unveil a new logo set tomorrow. … Greg Riffenburgh notes that Jake Delhomme and Brett Favre have been wearing turf shoes on grass. … “Jr.”-inclusive NOB alert: Anthony Mason Jr. (with thanks to Matt Shevin). … Reprinted from last night’s comments: Good article here about NFL equipment and gear. … Cavs wore their throwback uniforms and warm-ups last night. … Here are the Sens alts in action. … Small item buried on this page: “The Ravens won’t wear the usual all-black uniforms for national television [this Sunday night] because [coach John] Harbaugh doesn’t like the look. Instead, the players are expected to wear black jerseys with white pants” (with thanks to Tom Hedrick)… West Ham United, whose previous jersey sponsor had gone belly-up, has a new sponsor (cheers to Alex Paine). … Pitt wore gold uniforms last night. … If you care to believe a completely unsubstantiated rumor started by some anonymous clown on a message board (isn’t that how we ended up in Iraq?), Army and Navy will have very special uniforms this weekend (I’m guessing Chris Mycoskie is the guy behind the rumor). … Exactly one year ago, I ran this rugby note from Eric Bangeman: “The Barbarians, an invitation-only rugby club that plays a handful of matches per year, took on the newly-crowned world champions South Africa. In addition to wearing classic black-and-white uniforms, the Barbarians ask each player to wear the socks from his home club, which makes for some interesting hosiery contrasts.” Now Bill Coughlan has a follow-up report: “I attended the Australia/Barbarians match last night and they were all wearing matching socks. The explanation comes from this article, which states: ‘The match was organised as part of the British Olympic Association’s celebrations of the centenary of the first Olympics in London, where the Games will return in four years’ time. Australia took the rugby union gold medal in 1908 with a 32-3 victory over Great Britain, represented by the English county of Cornwall. In honour of that match, the Barbarians all wore yellow Cornwall socks as they departed from their usual tradition of players wearing their club socks.” … Next time you spot a typo or other mistake I’ve made, keep in mind that I’m often working under somewhat distracting conditions.