By now you know the drill with these old uniform catalogs I collect. Most of them are from the 1950s and ’60s, and I usually end up focusing on the same things each time — unusual basketball shorts, groovy football jerseys, and striped socks. Fun stuff, but I realize it’s probably reached the point of diminishing returns for some of you.
But this Athletic Knitwear catalog, which I recently scored for $10, is different. For starters, it’s from 1974 — right when the uniform world was changing from natural fibers to synthetics, from staid designs to gonzo patterns, from classic to kitschy. And in many ways, those changes can be summed up with one word.
There’s so much to love about that two-page spread, but it’s actually rather sedate compared to much of the rest of the catalog, which is ridiculously entertaining on several levels. Here’s a rundown:
• This catalog has the most gorgeiosly whacked-out softball designs I’ve ever seen. I mean, seriously, a lace-up collar? And what’s with that skinny belt? Love to see a full team of any of these designs, though, especially the one at lower-left.
• Check out the photos on the left side of this page. Is that even a hockey stick, or is it just a random piece of wood they had lying around the photo studio? Love how the guy at lower-left is essentially combining hockey, football, and boxing into one photo.
• There’s soooooo much that could be said about this page. I think I’ll just point out that they misspelled “Pittsburgh” and let it go at that.
• Hockey cardigans! Never seen that before. (And that model must be the owner’s son or something, because he’s in, like, 90% of the photos.)
• Here’s something else I’ve never seen: the term “basketball target socks, as found at lower-right here. Anyone know what that’s about?
• Here’s the only other basketball page in the catalog. Pretty basic for its era, by which I mean it’s totally fucking amazing.
• As you all know, I’m pitifully ignorant regarding soccer, so someone please fill me in: Did soccer jerseys once feature lace-up collrs, as shown in five of the 10 jerseys shown on this page?
• Can you imagine being a fly on the wall during the photo sessions that resulted in this page?
Incidentally, I’ve recently acquired one of the greatest salesman sample catalogs I’ve ever seen, and also one of the greatest style guides. Neither one is sports-related, but both are off-the-charts amazing. More details once I’m able to take lots of photos (they’re both too big for the scanner).
Raffle Results: I know, I know — you were positive that you were going to win this time. And if your name is Hans Krake, you were right!
Uni Watch News Ticker: Dayton wore black alternates last Thursday (with thanks to Todd Herzog). … Chris Holmes found this cool old AFL illustration. Note the Bengals players, though — they never wore that uniform, at least not to my knowledge. … Lots of great old Knicks photos here. … The Globetrotters played a game on the roof of the Spectrum the other day (with thanks to Michael Lipinski). … Insert steroid joke here. That photo’s from A-Rod’s minor league rehab stint last May. Apparently the facilities down there were a bit makeshift (great find by Paul Wiederecht). … In case you missed it over the weekend, that two-tone Rangers batting helmet ain’t gonna happen after all, which means we’ll all have one less thing to laugh about this summer. I told Hall of Fame curator Tom Shieber that he should get one of the two-tone prototypes before they all end up in the dumpster, and basically said, “Nah, we’ll pass.” Are you kidding me?! The Hall could build an entire new wing around one of those helmets! … This page includes the following graf: “It’s weird seeing [Garret] Anderson in Braves garb, but Anderson notes that this is not his first change of uniform. The Angels wore three different uniforms during his 15 seasons with the club. Anderson preferred his first version, with the ‘CA’ on the cap and ‘Angels’ on the jersey. ‘They should never have touched it,’ Anderson said. ‘That still should be the uniform right now. It was as classic as it gets.'” … Pitt retired Brandin Knight’s number last week (with thanks to Doug Keklak, who also reports that he recently found these at his mom’s house). … Johan Santana had some sort of sticker on his cap while throwing a bullpen session on Saturday (with thanks to eagle-eyed Steven Wojtowicz). … Great find by Ross Hazlett, who writes: “Just found this auction for an old 1993 Indians jersey, which includes the never-worn ‘Last Season at Municipal Stadium’ patch. That patch got pre-empted by the Steve Olin/Tim Crews memorial. I remember seeing these patches on T-shirts for sale all around Cleveland that year.” … You say you want a cookie? Here, have a cookie. … Northwest baseball historian sent along some primo pics of the Oakland Oaks, from 1942, the 1920s, and the ’20s again. “The hose/shoes worn by the “bunting” player in photo #1 were, of course, not team issued,” Dave hastens to add. … Here’s the coolest eBay item I’ve seen in awhile: a Kansas City Scouts radio (great find by Tris Wykes). … And speaking of eBay, check out these Twins stirrups (with thanks to Jeff Barak). … Bizarre scene at Saturday’s Rays/Bosox game, as Tampa coach Todd Greene and infielder Adam Kennedy were both wearing No. 24 (nice job by Nick Hanson). … Remember how Russell Martin recently announced that he’d be wearing a “J.” initial on his NOB, in honor of his mom? He’s also wearing it in the WBC (screen grab courtesy of Lee Ziegler). … Very odd to see Tae Kyun Kim of Korea wearing some sort of calf support over his socks. … When Charlie Finley tried to put Mike Andrews on the DL in the middle of the 1973 World Series, several A’s protested by wearing white-tape renderings of Andrews’s number, 17, on their sleeves during a pregame workout the next day — or at least that’s what I’d frequently heard. But I’d never seen visual evidence of it until now. Larry Wiederecht noticed that shot and this one in this video clip. … I’d been hoping to bid on this 1927 catalog, but the price got a little too high for me. … Yet another uni design for Memphis the other day. Here’s the rear view. … Interesting NOB here. Looks like there’s no space between the “De” and “La”. … Jim McCue recently scored a used copy of the book Great Moments in Pro Football and scanned some of the more uni-notable pages. Among the highlights: Jim Bakken kicking one of this then-record seven FGs on 9/24/67 with an unbuttoned chinstrap, some great college all-star shots here and here, Packers center Jim Ringo wearing a snappy cap on the sidelines, Bronco Nagurski looking totally bad-ass, and some tremendous illustrations on the endpapers. … Paul Barrett was watching the replay of the Northeastern vs Towson CAA tournament game, and I noticed this NOB. “Then I checked the roster and saw that Jarrell Smith and Jimmy Smith are both on the roster,” he says. “But Jimmy smith has only recorded five minutes in his single game appearance.” … Jen Muller reports that one of her local magazines, The Clifton Merchant, recently ran a story about Babe Ruth playing basketball. The full article, which also includes a shot of the Bambino bowling ducks, is here. … Not sure if we’ve covered this before, but just in case: Buffalo’s basketball team has added a memorial shoulder band for the victims of Flight 3407 (with thanks to Mark Kluczinski). … Andrew Schall noticed something odd in this 1999 video clip of the last game at Pitt Stadium: All of the Pitt players appear to have first initials on their NOBs. Was the entire team first-initialed that season? … The losers at Re/Max can’t sell any real estate market in this economy, so instead they’re spending their time whining about someone else supposedly stealing their logo. Why of course, they’re practically identical! Key quote, from one of the Re/Max attorneys: “If you chop the top off of the ‘h,’ you (almost) have the ‘m’ in Re/Max. The next letter is an ‘a,’ and if you take the ‘v’ then you have half of an ‘x.'” Oh please, go back into your cave and take the cyanide with you (with thanks to Stu Taylor). … Reprinted from last night’s comments: The Islanders’ awful alternate socks are no longer awful. … Jere Smith notes that Canada’s Phillippe Aumont has an upside-down W, instead of a proper M, on his NOB. … WBC observations from Jeremy Brahm: The entire Chinese team is going FNOB, one of the Taiwanese pitchers has his uni number on the webbing of his glove, and Sandaharu Oh wore a special WBC glove while throwing out the first pitch of the China/Japan game.