Photographers taking photos of ballplayers is nothing new. But there’s only one time when photographers take photos of other photographers, and that’s spring training, where Photo Day portraits are such an essential part of the proceedings that the photo sessions themselves are documented, just like wind sprints and bunting drills.
From a uniform perspective, Photo Day portraits are interesting on several levels. First, since most of the photos are straightforward front views, it doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing someone else’s jersey (as several readers noted when I ran that photo in the Ticker last week, that’s obviously not Tom Glavine) or a jersey that’s blank on the back. Hell, if they shoot you from the waist up, it doesn’t even matter if your pants don’t match, or if you’re wearing mandals.
But as the Photo Day portraits begin circulating over the wire each February, what really interests me is how the various photographers try to impose their “artistic vision” on the proceedings. When Getty Images shutterbug Nick Laham photographed the Rays, for example, he clearly told everyone to turn either their body or their head slightly off to the side. But when Laham photographed the Red Sox, he opted for these soft-focus mug shots that give the players a vaguely old West feel.
Here’s a look at how the photographers handled some of the other teams:
• Reds: Very similar approach to the Cards — lots of bats and balls — so I was surprised to find that it’s not the same photographer. The St. Looey pics were taken by Doug Benc, Cincy by Chris Graythen.
• Yankees: Nick Laham — the same guy who took the Bosox shots — took these, as you can tell from all the soft-focus stoicism. But he chose to do the Yanks pics on a white background (as opposed to the darker backdrop on the Sox shots), which creates an oddly ethereal effect. Also: Some very odd cropping.
• Nationals: “Hey, you know what would be cool? Let’s shoot you guys like you’re in confessional. Yeah, I know, it sounds weird, but work with me here — it’s just a different creative approach. And besides, you guys kinda suck, so you have lots of sins from last season to confess.” I think there were several Brewers shots in this same motif, but they’ve already moved off the wire and I can’t find them now.
And so on. About half the teams’ portraits haven’t moved over the wire yet, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for any other interesting motifs.
Incidentally, anyone else notice how nearly none of these players are smiling? Jeez.
(Extra-special thanks to Phil, whose Herculean research help — on very short notice, I might add — made today’s entry possible.)
Yet another raffle: As you all know by know, I don’t know jackshit about soccer, but I’m told that the fans like to hold up team scarves during the games. This is the inspiration for Stephen Wong’s series of cashmere soccer scarves. Stephen, who’s a big Uni Watch fan, has generously offered to have me raffle off one of these cashmere beauties, which retail for $200 a pop.
To enter, send a blank e-mail with your name in the subject line to the raffle address (not to the usual Uni Watch e-mail address, please) by this Wednesday, February 25th, at 7pm eastern. Note that this is an earlier deadline than for most of our other raffles. One entry per person, but anyone enrolled in the Uni Watch membership program at the time of the drawing can send four entries. I’ll announce the winner on Thursday.
Steeltown Reminder: Uni Watch party on Sunday, March 1st, 1pm, at Max’s Allegheny Tavern. There’s even a vaaaaague chance that I may wear a jersey to this one, because I just scored a very cool garment that I’m looking for excuses to wear.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Duke unveiled some very odd new uniforms yesterday and wore them last night against Wake. Additional pics here and here. … Do you miss Peter Puck as much as I do? Even if you don’t, you should check out these old PP cartoon here. … Here’s something you rarely see: a high school basketball team with uni-numbered socks. “The school is Lake City (SC) playing at Dreher (Columbia, SC),” says Michael Orr. “Also the numbers on the jerseys look black in these photos, but they were a deep navy blue. Very strange to see the color-on-color numbers like that.” … Hmmm, that Reebok wordmark is everywhere. Rob Ullman took that shot at his local Target last week. … Junior Griffey’s return to Seattle is, uh, heartwarming. Good pics here, here, and here, though. … Lots of cool stuff on eBay at the moment, including a SF Giants booster club blazer, a killer corduroy baseball jacket, a really nice women’s softball jacket, some cool letterman patches, an awesome cheerleading cardigan, a varsity sweater with some great sleeve patches, and a dynamite football jacket. … There’s skin-tight and there’s skin-less (with thanks to Hugh McBride). … We’ve seen plenty of color-on-color games, but how about white on white? Okay it’s actually light gold on white, as Washington visited UCLA a few nights ago. “It was almost impossible on my cheapie TV to tell the teams apart,” says Glenn Tanner. … Eric Garment was recently at the Smithsonian and took some pics of uni-related items, including a very old women’s basketball outfit, and a Roberto Clemente helmet and uniform (here’s the money shot). … This year’s College World Series logos look really cheesy (with thanks to Dustin Hall). … I really, really like the really nice memorial patchLarry Miller memorial patch that the Jazz have added. They’ll be wearing it for the rest of this season. … Here’s something I didn’t know: When a sumo wrestler’s career comes to an end, there’s a ceremony in which his top knot is cut off. Details here (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … Let me get this straight: The auto industry is on life support, and Ford’s idea of a turnaround plan is to buy ad space on Miguel Cotto’s trunks? … Check out WVU’s old mascot. “Dig the boots and checked flannel — a punk precursor?” says West Virginia native Shane Arbogast. … Not uni-related, but this book looks really promising. … Reebok’s wordmark encroachment on NHL goalie mask continues. That’s Mathieu Garon’s new lid (with thanks to Justin Shawley). … If you’re as intrigued by abandoned buildings as I am, you’ll want to check out this site (with thanks to Trevor Williams). … The mascot for the Arkansas Warriors — a semipro basketball team — appears to be a DIYer. … “Keep your eyes out for a shot of Chien-Ming Wang’s new glove,” says Tyler Kepner. “He has a huge Chinese symbol for his name on the outer webbing. Nike made it custom for him. Not sure if he uses it for practice because he just got them, but there are 2 in his locker. … Reprinted from Saturday: Rafer Alston is listed as No. 2 on the Magic roter, but he had to wear No. 36 with NNOB on Friday night, because his new jersey wasn’t ready in time for the game. … FINA is trying to amend its swimwear regulations. … Also from Jeremy: new uniforms for Thespa Kusatsu, a J-League team. … Given the financial limitations of most collegiate athletic programs — especially for a sport like lacrosse — isn’t it odd that most college lacrosse teams have two helmet designs, one for home and one for the road? (Good observation by Travis Holland.) … Pirates prospect Daniel Moskos has a blog, and in this exchange he mentions that the organization has imposed a high-pants rule throughout its minor league system this year (with thanks to Daniel Weimann). … Someone on the Cardinals appears to have an NOB but no number (good spot by Aaron Steele). … Think my piece about CC Sabathia’s pinstripe count was a study in minutiae? That’s nothing compared to this story about him. … We’ve seen plenty of instances of players stretching their pant cuffs down under the heels of their shoes, but look at this shot of Big Papi. Looks like he’s got an extra panel of fabric attached to his pants. Either way, looks like shit, but I’m curious about the logistics of it. … And speaking of pants pulled down over the heels, look at Hanley Ramirez. … Jason Varitek’s “C” looks a tad low, no? … Not positive, but I don’t think we’ve seen Tyler Clippard wearing glasses on the mound before. … One of the many great things about spring training: Where else would you see a photo like this?. … The Orioles’ new Japanese pitcher, Koji Uehara, is wearing orange shoelaces. … Bryan Martin Firvida notes that Nikita Mescheriakov’s surname is spelled very differently here and here. Can anyone explain? … “Looks like the Flyers are ready to fight Mad Max,” says John Muir. … Some good historical details on game-used Cowboys jerseys here (with thanks to Brinke Guthrie). … The PBA had a throwback tourney of sorts over the weekend, requiring all bowlers to use old-school plastic balls (big thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … Yesterday’s post about Slap Shot prompted this note from Terry Proctor: “Here is a photo on the site below of the NAHL Philadelphia Firebirds whose uniform style was used by the Blades in SlapShot. The colors are kelly green, orange, athletic gold and white. You will note that the Firebirds are wearing color-coordinated gloves in the photo. Probably the movie company didn’t want to spend the extra bucks for them. They ended up having both the Gears and the Presidents teams wear green/gold/white gloves (North Stars-style), since both teams’ base color was kelly green. No doubt the two teams used the same gloves in the movie. The Blades’ sweaters were made by HSI out of Phila., who supplied the Firebirds their unis.” … The Trenton Devils recently retired Scott Bertoli’s number, and the team wore a patch for the occasion. “This is particularly noteworthy since the Devils very rarely allow jersey patches on any level,” says Paul Roper. … Check out this awesome photo of Rogers Hornsby’s son Bill, taken on 7/6/34. Not clear if he was the bayboy or just hanging out on “Take your kid to work day” (great find by Bruce Menard). … Buncha stuff from Phil: Lousiville won yesterday, so they can get their practice gear back; this video clip has gotta be the weirdest uni-related promotion ever; with the economy in the shitter, logos are getting more upbeat; and if the Giants and Jets can share a stadium, why not the Niners and Raiders? … Way back in the fall of 2007, I wrote an entry about an article in an old issue of Inside Sports, in which some menswear designers were hired to create prototype uni designs that were modeled by some sportscasters. Fast-forward to last night, when David Soline was watching a 1981 Bosox/Chisox game on the MLB Network and heard that article being discussed by Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersal: “Harry mentioned the uniform design contest and the designer uniforms that he and Jack Buck wore for the article. He said the pants were so baggy, like the Sox used to wear. Piersal said he did not like the pants he used to wear, as the elastic was too tight. Then he said, ‘But these uniforms today [in 1981] are the best.’ And then added, ‘Maybe not ours.'” … Good primers on several kinds of non-sports uniforms here (with thanks to Morris Levin). … Rockies coach Jim Tracy wore a jacket with $200 in cash attached to it yesterday, as motivation for a fielding drill/contest, which was won by Jhoulys Chacin. … Is the Italian WBC jersey cream-colored, or is it just the lighting? … Check out Jeff Clement wearing one of those little paddle gloves during a catching drill. … Nice. … Iowa finally wore their new System of Dress uniforms yesterday. … LSU’s new baseball stadium opened over the weekend, so the team wore jersey patches for all of their weekend games. Here’s a closer look at the patch design, although the actual patch doesn’t appear to have the Sonic logo, thankfully (with thanks to Mark Jones and Chris Mycoskie). … Kudos to Penn State, the latest school to sever ties with Russell Athletic due to Russell’s labor practices (with thanks to Chris Flinn). … After the Super Bowl, several people noted that Larry Fitzgerald’s team wordmark was curved during the game. But Doug Keklak points out that it looked perfectly normal in the first half. … Big congrats to Ma & Pa Uni Watch, who celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary yesterday (that’s known as the Maris anniversary, natch). Love you both!