As you no doubt recall, I spent most of last Friday’s entry gushing of the hosiery stylings of A’s prospect Corey Wimberly. After a bit of phone tag, yesterday I finally caught up with Oakland equipment manager Steve Vucinich (that’s him in the background of this shot), who was happy to chat about Wimberly, among several other pressing issues.
Uni Watch: So I’m very curious about Corey Wimberly.
Steve Vucinich: He just came up to me at the start of spring training and said, “Do you have any stirrups?” And believe it or not, I always carry ’em with me, even on the road, just in case. And I carry two sizes — the four-inch [opening] and the seven-inch.
UW [laughing]: You are a man prepared! So when you said, “I just happen to have some right here,” was he surprised?
SV: Well, what he actually said was, “Can you get me something?,” as if he figured I wouldn’t have ’em. And I said, “I got ’em here, no problem.” So he was kinda surprised. He was probably expecting to wait a day or two.
UW: And did you have the yellow sanitaries as well?
SV: I always carry those too. A lot of guys still wear those underneath the thicker sock.
UW: Now, Wimberly’s a pretty young guy. By the time he was growing up and watching baseball, stirrups were already on the decline. Do you know why he chooses to wear them?
SV: You know, I’ve been meaning to ask him and haven’t had a chance. He’s gotten pretty good coverage on it — I was listening to a game broadcast in the car the other day and the announcers were talking about it on the air, and they wrote about it in the papers in the Bay Area, so he’s really getting noticed for it. Where’d you pick it up?
UW: One of my readers pointed him out to me.
SV: And he wears them real long, like Vida and Reggie and those guys. In the past few years, anyone who wears stirrups has pretty much worn the four- or six-inch.
UW: Is he the only guy in camp wearing them?
SV: Actually, Rajai Davis just asked for them too, but I haven’t seen him wear ’em yet.
UW: Did he do it because he liked Wimberly’s look?
SV: I don’t know. In spring training I’m not down in the dugout as much as I am during the regular season. And one of our rookie pitchers just asked for ’em too. The thing I love about stirrups is, last year we had a turn back the clock game — we went back to 1968, which was our sleeveless uniform, and I made everyone wear stirrups. And guys did not know how to wear ’em. “Is the big opening on the back or the front?” Honest to god. They had noooo clue.
UW: So did you have to give everyone a little tutorial?
SV: It didn’t take long.
UW: Do you like the look yourself?
SV: Sure, I grew up with that. But if you go back 100 years, they were all wearing the solid sock. We’re doing a throwback game in August — we’ll be the 1929 Philadelphia A’s against the White Sox, and we’ll be wearing solid-white socks, or maybe off-white, with stripes on ’em [presumably like this -- PL]. I’ve got Twin City Knitting making those for us right now. And I know we’re gonna take some hits because we’re not doing black shoes. I talked to Nike about that, and they said it would just be cost-prohibitive in this economic climate. Plus the guys would have to break ’em in for two or three days beforehand. And I said, “OK, but I know the Uni Watch blog’s gonna get on us for that.” And believe me that did enter into the conversation!
UW: I’ll cut you some slack on that one.
SV: Well, you like to get it right. We’re doing a turn back game in Seattle in May, and it’s gonna be the 1939 Oakland Oaks against the Seattle Rainiers. And this uniform is pretty neat — it’s got like a built-in green sleeve with some piping, and a patch, and “Oakland” across the chest in plain block two-color lettering, with a line underneath it. And the hats have the shorter rise in the front, the lower profile.
UW: When these throwback games come up and you make everyone wear the stirrups, do the players complain?
SV: You can get away with that for one day. They’ll be saying, “Hey, these pants aren’t as long as before.” That’s right, because I ordered ’em six inches shorter and you gotta live with it. But they get into it for that day — they really do.
UW: So now that you’ve got two or three players in camp wearing stirrups, did you have to go out and get more?
SV: I’ve got plenty in Oakland. Down here I just bring my road trunk, which normally has three pairs of the seven-inch and three pairs of the four-inch, so I may have to have some flown down from Oakland.
UW: Emergency stirrup shipment!
UW: Now what about the kind with the stripes, which you guys used to wear? Maybe you should get some of those.
SV: You know, I was looking into that, and it looks like we stopped wearing those around 1970 or ’71, when guys were wearing their stirrups higher, so you didn’t really have the area that showed the stripe.
UW: You should show a striped pair to Wimberly, see if he wants to wear those.
SV: I don’t know if that’s part of our official uniform ensemble with MLB anymore. You know, the sample player they show getting dressed [he's referring to the uniform guide posted in each MLB clubhouse -- PL], he doesn’t have stripes.
UW: He doesn’t have any socks at all! His pants are down at his ankles! Anyway, is Wimberly gonna make the team?
SV: I think he’s ticketed for triple-A right now, because we’ve also got Rajai Davis, who does most of the same things and already has big league experience. But hey, Rajai might be donning the stirrups as well, so there you go.
And here’s a late-breaking item of related interest: According to this story, the Rangers wore stirrups yesterday against the Giants. Unfortunately, I can’t find a single photo or video clip from that game. Anyone..?
Burying the Lede: For those of you who care about that college basketball thingie that’s about to get underway, here are the special rear-jersey designs and sneakers that will be worn by Duke, Michigan State, Memphis (is that jersey embarrassing or what?), Gonzaga (wait, suddenly the Memphis design doesn’t look so bad), and Oregon (sorry, no sneaker photos available for them). Plus here’s the UConn sneaker design. Further details here.
And as long as I’m posting stuff for you sneaker-porn addicts, here are some snuff films of Nike’s Zoom LeBron VI Superman, the Zoom LeBron VI Hardwood Classic, and the Zoom LeBron James VI SVSM Saint Vincent Saint Mary’s (in Uni Watch colors, how quaint). I don’t know who this LeBron guy is, but he can’t design a sneaker for shit.
The Proctor Chronicles, Continued: Yesterday I linked to this photo of the Lakers wearing mismatched shades of purple. That prompted sporting goods scholar Terry Proctor to check in with an explanation:
Back when teams were responsible for actually buying their own uniforms, the Lakers’ duds were made by Galbraith and Tiernan of Inglewood, Calif. Galbraith and Tienan was a small cut-and-sew operation that made custom uniforms.
G&T bought their fabrics and braid trim from Yarrington Mills of Hatboro, Penna. The Lakers’ jerseys were made from Yarrington’s Stretch Nylon Eyelet Mesh, and their shorts were made from Yarrington’s #157 Medium-Weight Double-knit Stretch Nylon smooth-knit fabric.
Unfortunately the mesh was not as colorfast as the double-knit. It had a tendency to “bleed” after a few washings. I know this to be true because we used that Yarrington mesh for two sets of basketball uniforms back in the late 1970s. One set was white, the other was purple, and the school’s laundry person decided to wash both sets together. Big mistake! When she took them out of the dryer, one set was a light grape color while the formerly White uniforms had turned a lovely shade of lilac. The company did replace the uniforms- in double-knit.
So the Lakers’ garments were from two different fabrics.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Tim Thomas’s mask was damaged during last night’s Bruins/Blue Jackets game. When it became apparent that it couldn’t be repaired quickly, he wore teammate Manny Fernandez’s mask, which led to some rear-view uni number dissonance. … Hmmm, new ventilation system or wardrobe malfunction? (Screen grab courtesy of Bill Blevins.) … New uniforms for the Lotte Giants (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … Ryan Villopoto had some good luck wishes written on his helmet at Saturday’s Daytona Supercross (with thanks to Sean Clancy). … Chris Canty, who recently signed with the Giants, has a fairly unique facemask design, so Greg Riffenburgh suggested that I ask Joe Skiba if he’s making any special arrangements. I did just that, to which Joe replied: “Dallas actually sent over their stock of facemasks.” Cowboys and Giants staffers cooperating and helping each other out? Scandalous! … Erkki Corpuz notes that the UCLA basketball cheerleaders have worn at least 11 different outfits this season. … Nice gallery of Iditarod photos here. … Having just typed that last item, I’m struck by how frighteningly close “Iditarod” is to “Idiot A-Rod,” which just goes to show that everything leads back to that guy. … Coupla weird things about this, which is from the 1999 NLCS: First, that’s the smallest superscript “c” I’ve ever seen on a McNOB. And what’s with the radial arching? I know the Braves occasionally used radial arching for call-ups during their vertically arched era, but this was the NLCS — he’d been on the team throughout September and in the NLDS. Couldn’t they have given him a proper nameplate at some point during that span? (Thanks to Vincent Vincenzo for the screen shot.) … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Here are some screen shots showing the Rangers’ two-tone batting helmet in MLB 09. … Nice story on the Mariners’ uniforms here. You’ll have to click on the “magnify” tab to get it at a legible size. … “Player exclusive shoes in soccer are extremely rare to non-existent,” says Greg Riffenbrugh. “The only real examples are Nike’s custom design for Ronaldinho and David Beckham’s exclusive colorway of the Adidas Predator (note the Beckham logo on the tongue). So I was surprised to see Fernando Torres of Liverpool wearing the Nike Total 90 Laser 2 in a new colorway in the Champions League game against Real Madrid on Tuesday. Is it a player exclusive? It’s possible, because it’s obviously in the Liverpool white and red and Torres is a relatively high-profile player. Or is it something he’s just previewing before it hits the mass market? That’s possible as well, because he and Wayne Rooney did similar with the original Total 90 Laser a few years ago. I’ll keep my eye out to see what happens.” … Jake Melbye was checking out Rangers camp yesterday and spotted country singer Charley Pride warming up in the bullpen. … New uniforms for Davidson. Very SoD-ish jerseys, but the shorts aren’t that billowy. … The stimulus logo is the subject of a good analysis here and a radio story here. … Jay Shive thinks he’s found the hockey equivalent of an underbrim inscription. That’s Flyers goalie Martin Biron, during last night’s game against the Sabres. Can’t make out the handwriting, unfortunately. … Great uni concept! Greg Cotharn‘s nephew drew that. Several more of his and his sister’s designs are displayed here. … A German soccer player is in trouble for pantomiming an ad, or something like that (with thanks to Nicole Haase).