By Phil Hecken
This past week, a number of pictures from the outstanding Google-Life magazine collaboration, featuring the treasure trove of Life magazine pictures, have been again popping up on the blog. The collection, which was originally released in November of 2008, features literally millions of gorgeous pictures from Life‘s archives. You can begin your search for these photos here. I’ll see you in a few hours.
The collection is still relatively new (in fact, as many of you know, UW prexy Paul Lukas already wrote two pieces featuring photos from the Life collection when it was first released). But they keep adding wonderful photos to the archive, and it continues to grow. They estimate they’ll have over 10 million images available when all is said and done. Not all of them are sports-related, of course, but many are.
I won’t spend this article reposting a bunch of pics (although I will post some), since you don’t need me to do that — you can get lost in your own little search for hours (as I know I have and I’m sure I am not alone in that). But just in case there was anyone living under a rock, or who didn’t happen to read Uni Watch when Paul first explored the Life archives, I thought we could take just a few moments to discuss the Google-Life collaboration.
The only problem, if you could even call it that, with the search function, is it doesn’t seem to have a great interface. It takes some getting used to, and finding pics can prove tricky. And once you find your photos, they’re not exactly always clearly marked. I’m hoping they’ll get around to better identifying the photos in the future, but with 10 million of them, and I’m sure many of the originals weren’t well ID’ed, that may prove a daunting task.
Lets say I want to find some New York Mets pictures. Simple enough, right? Just go to the ‘start’ page, type in “Mets” in the “search” bar, and voila — five pages of uni goodness. I mean, how gorgeous is this? Awesome, right? And look, the photograph is clearly identified: “Baseball player Willie Stargell #8 (L), of the Pittsburgh Pirates, sliding in a game vs the New York Mets.” They also include the date, location and photographer’s name.
Unfortunately, however, that same search turns up this beautiful photograph, but the only identifier is “1969 Mets Baseball Team” (I am pretty sure that’s Gil Hodges on the left, but many, I’m sure, do not.) And if I change my search terms to “Gil Hodges”, I do find 10 photos, (one of which may have been taken the same day, only it’s in black in white), but I don’t find any in color. So, while finding pictures, especially with an easy search such as “Mets” turns up gold, I simply wish there were more to go on, especially with older teams or teams for which I am not familiar.
Likewise, a search for “Tom Seaver” turns up ONE (!) result, and it’s flipped! (this pic appeared in the comments this week and prompted today’s column). That’s another small beef I have with the archive. Here’s how that pic should have looked (and surely, it was correct if it did appear in the pages of Life). As several readers (I’m looking at you Squiddie) have pointed out, many of the pics are flipped, such as this Baltimore Colts pic (which I unflipped). Again, with 10 million photos, give or take, I can’t really complain about the lack of identification or a few being reversed, but it is more than a minor flaw.
A search for “Giants”, for example, will return not just sports photos, but other stuff as well, so it’s always advisable to refine your search terms. If you just wanted to keep going after that initial search, however (and why not — those pics are gorgeous), seven pages in you’d find this page, and if you click on the 18th (out of 20) thumb, well then you’d be rewarded with this fantastic pic of “The New York Giants, in dark jerseys, playing against the Dallas Cowboys in light jerseys. (December 1962).” Notice the player is wearing sneakers. Of course, he’s not identified (pretty sure that’s Frank Gifford), so the greatness of the site is somewhat diminished by the lack of identifiers.
A final, although not major complaint I do have is when one finds, say, a photo string to one’s liking. Say I just click on the “Baseball” link on the home page. The result will be thousands of photos in thumbnail form. If I click on the one from page 1 entitled Cuban Baseball Players, I get that particular photograph, with not much identification (ok, fair enough). To the right of the photograph are four additional thumbs (“Related Images”) plus a link to “more” photos. I wish they could have spread those photos and the additional links out in the same form as I get if I typed in “Cuban Baseball Players” in the search screen. The way they’ve set the board up, however, yields the photo with the four thumbs (which seem to rotate in a bizarre order when you click on them). If I click the “more” link, all I get are four new small thumbs. If there is anyone from the Google-Life page reading this, maybe you could talk to someone about this and set about to fixing it pronto? (I keed, I keed).
Anyway, in sum, I LOVE the Google-Life stuff. I just wish it were a little easier to identify and/or search for specific teams, persons, etc. And Life isn’t the only game in town as far as finding old sports photos goes. The Library of Congress (head down to the third item in Paul’s Follow-Up Roundup for linkies) has pics, as do Corbis (be sure to sign up — it’s free) and Shorpy and probably a bunch of others. But the Life archive is still relatively new, adding new pictures all the time, and just a wonderful place to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon (or a day in your office, if you know what I mean). If you haven’t yet bookmarked it, what are you waiting for?
From The Ricko Files we have four beautiful photographs today, in honor of the announcement that the Original Eight AFL clubs would be wearing throwbacks this season. (For the full story, click here. For a pretty damn cool link showing a bunch of 50th Anniversary stuff, click here.) Paul referenced the report (first item in Friday’s ticker), and announced the referees (to our surprise and delight) would also be “throwing back” to their original AFL uniforms. Some discussion ensued as to whether the AFL referees really wore orange and white stripes, or if the stripes were, in actuality, red and white. As we Uni Watchers are nothing if not a detail oriented group, we of course needed additional confirmation that the ref unis were, in fact, orange and white. Confirmation came in the form of this auction piece, which shows the unis are a beautiful orange and white stripe. Notice that the uniform on the left has what appear to be equal width stripes, while the two on the right have thicker orange stripes (as well as numbers). One is obviously the short-sleeved and the other is the long-sleeved version of the same jersey. They are distinctly different from the third jersey however. This will be evident in the photos below.
Ricko has delved deep into the Ricko files to provide us all with additional photographs showing the referees in their original orange and white. The first pic appears to be just a couple of Patriots (and, c’mon, how freakin’ gorgeous is that uniform? — I know the ‘losing’ sentiment that is attached to those, but seriously, that’s 9,000 times better than the stuff they won all their Super Bowls in). Anyway, if you look closely at the photograph, you will see in the upper right-hand corner a referee, clearly clad in the orange and white. You’ll also see the lower portion of his leg, which features a black and orange striped sock (but no stirrup!). It’s hard to tell, but the orange stripes appear thicker than the white ones on the official (ref?). The second photograph shows the Buffalo Bills in action (another gorgeous uniform), with a clear image of a referee in the background wearing the orange and white stripes and an orange cap. The stripes on his jersey appear to be of equal width. The third photograph is from a 1963 Chargers versus Oilers game (love those Oiler helmets) and notice the color of the Chargers jerseys — I’m not quite sure what color blue that is, but I know what it isn’t — ‘powder’ blue. Notice the referee (or is that a line judge?) in what could be described as red (but most likely orange) stripes, and they appear to be much thicker on the color side and thinner on the white side. Also, the cap is white. Finally, the fourth photograph is from 1961 (it says 1962, but it’s a pre-season guide, so the pic is from ’61), Buffalo Bills versus Dallas Texans. The official does appear to have red stripes in that one as well, but don’t appear to be equal width either. Hmmm.
I can certainly see how it might be possible to think the referees and officials wore red back then, because in a couple of these photographs they sure appear red. If anyone knows more about the stripe width (as in, who on the field wore which), it’d be great if you could post it. Also, what was the distinction between the orange and the white capped officials?
Ricko sent me a note along with the photos, a portion of which I will reproduce here:
“That Bills-Texans photo is the first color action photo I ever saw from an AFL game. Imagine that, the ’62 SI football preview. Two full seasons played and its the first color game action seen by a kid who bought every annual he could find for those two years. Saw football cards, of course (which were all posed), but no game action. Granted, I didn’t live in an AFL market, but still…
And these young guys think we’re kidding, exaggerating, bragging or telling sob stories when we talk about how tough uni-watching was back then. LOL”
Thanks, Ricko! You’re the man. These kids today, eh?
This and That: Interesting stuff from reader Charlie Lockett: “The new England soccer kit is launched this weekend and for what i believe will be the first time, each kit is individually tailored to each player, like a suit! Some really interesting preview videos you might enjoy” … Today’s NC2A regional final between the Heels and the Sooners may be more about Blake and Tyler than NC and OU … Texas Ranger Michael Young states, “I played for the Cubs. Our uniforms were green.” … They’re still doing that pink thing in hockey? … This may have already been posted, and if it was, my apologies, but the Chiefs will be wearing the Texans unis this year, and some are not happy about it (again, apologies if this exact story was already posted) … The Jags will be getting really shitty uniforms this fall, but at least they have low expectations for the upcoming season … Speaking of new uniforms, the Russians are getting some for their national soccer team … Yesterday’s post got me thinking “Go Terriers” (no, not really) … Speaking of hockey, this is REALLY cool — why didn’t they have cool stuff like this when I was a lad? … “We haven’t bowled a single game as a team and we already have equipment companies calling us, so the word is getting out” … A bit of uni news can be found in the “Briefly” section of this 49ers article … Do people still skateboard? If so, here are some skateboard logos … and finally, Brawn scores with Virgin.
Everybody enjoy your Sunday. I gotta work, my brackets are all busted (there’s more red ink there than in the stimulus package), and it’s supposed to rain. Cheers!