Several people have complained that the Patriots’ AFL throwbacks feature the Pat Patriot helmet instead of the team’s original helmet design, which used the old tri-corner hat logo. “If you’re gonna honor the AFL’s origins, go with the team’s original 1960 uniform!” these people say.
I haven’t added my voice to this chorus, mainly because I love Pat Patriot. And really, who doesn’t? Not only is he a great logo character, but there’s the great story of how he originally appeared in a 1959 cartoon by Boston Globe artist Phil Bissell (who later ridiculed his own creation, saying Pat looked like “a lopsided Chinaman”) and became the team’s logo because team owner Billy Sullivan was a tightwad who got permission from the Globe to use the character for free. How could the tri-corner hat compete with that?
Ah, but it turns out that the tri-corner hat has its own backstory, and it’s a good one. I learned about it from reader Rick Subrizio, who recently visited the Pats’ Hall of Fame at Patriot Place in Foxboro. Turns out they’ve got a small display devoted to the original design, which was submitted to the team by a fan named Walter Pingree. Pingree sent the original logo concept to Billy Sullivan in either late 1959 or early 1960, along with this handwritten letter, which read as follows:
Dear Mr. Sullivan,
As a rapid [sic] football fan and delighted with our new Boston Patriot’s [sic], Pro-football team, I would respectfully like to submit my original idea for the Patriot’s [sic] uniforms. Red, white, and blue colors are a symbol for patriotism. I believe this uniform to be unique and colorful, and indeed worthy of the fine team I know we will have here in Boston. I am looking forward the the [sic] coming season with eagerness and much enthusiasm and you can count on me as one who will be there to root the team on, win, lose, or draw.
Walter J. Pingree
Mr. Pingree’s faith was soon rewarded with this letter from Billy Sullivan, on the letterhead of Sullivan’s company, the Metropolitan Coal and Oil Company. Here’s what it said:
Dear Mr. Pingree:
I can’t begin to tell you how much we appreciate your thoughtfulness in reference to the uniform.
I am sure it will please you to learn that we are planning to adopt it, and, as the first step, we are having a uniform designed along the lines of that which you suggested.
A couple of changes have been made, but they are relatively slight. I think you will be happy to learn that the Boston Globe is taking a color picture of one of our players wearing the new uniform, and it will appear before long in that fine publication.
I will look forward to meeting you in the near future, but meanwhile, I do want you to know that we are very grateful for your thoughtfulness.
William H. Sullivan
So it looks like ol’ Billy got that logo as a freebie too. Wonder if Pingree got so much as a free pair of tickets out of the deal. Meanwhile, I’d love to see Pingree’s original uniform drawing and that Boston Globe photo. Anyone want to hunt for that in the newspaper’s archives?
As if providing these photos and letter transcriptions wasn’t enough, Rick Subrizio also decided to do a little research on Walter Pingree. “I found a reference on a Patriots fan board saying that he was ‘an employee of the Boston and Maine Railroad who designed these unis based on those he remembered from his days at Somerville High,’” says Rick. “Not sure if that is accurate, as Somerville High’s teams are called the Highlanders, but perhaps they were the Patriots in the past.”
And now that I know the story, I find the original logo a bit more appealing, a bit more endearing. Here’s hoping they finally revive it for a throwback game at some point — if not for this season, then at some point down the road.
Research Query: If you’re a past or current member of the military, I’d like to hear your opinions on baseball teams that wear camouflage uniforms. Again, this is only for past or current military members. If you fit that description, and would like to chime in, contact me here.
My Dinner with Joba: Did you know there’s a steakhouse inside the new Yankee Stadium? It’s true! And since red meat and baseball are two great tastes that taste great together, one of my ESPN editors and I had dinner at the new restaurant last week. A full account of the evening’s events is now up on Page 2.
Maybe not such a great idea after all..?: People who’ve placed ads in the Uni Watch Classifieds tell me that response has been good. But very few people are actually placing ads. If you folks aren’t into this, no biggie — maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Here, let’s try a price break: Instead of $25 per week (and $20 for members), let’s make it $15/week (and $10 for members). Full submission instrux here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: While preparing today’s entry, I realized that the favicon Kirsten designed for our Candela Structures site looks a lot like an upside-down tri-corner hat. … Man, there’s quite a bit going on in this photo. Details here. … Two days ago I mentioned that former bench coach Bryan Redemske had been involved in a cycling crash. If you can stomach it, here are the somewhat gruesome results. Heal up fast, Bry! … FNOB alert. That’s Mike Roberto (duh) of the SBHL’s Fayetteville FireAntz, whose roster also includes Mike’s twin brother, Matt Roberto (with thanks to Denis Kirstein). … This guy sells a lot of cool sports-related printed matter (with thanks to Larry Weiderecht). … Marc Wermund has taken lots of photos of the Fort Wayne Tin Caps’ new stadium, Parkview Field. “It has the second-largest jumbotron in all of the minors, ‘rooftop’ seating beyond right field, a home run deck, seats with waitstaff, some lawn seating, a kids’ play area, and dollar beers on Thursday — you can’t beat that,” he says. Check out his photo albums here and here. … “Here’s a weird hockey sock that goes back to the early ’50s,” says Terry Proctor. “It was worn by the old Quebec Aces. They were white with green knees (no jokes, please) and the two stripes were red. Looked like Christmas stockings. That’s Jean Beliveau in his Aces uniform. The club kept that style of socks through 1967. I saw them play in Rochester several times from 1960 on.” … There are sooooo many things wrong with this cap (as spotted by Doug McConnell). … It’s all true, the only reason ESPN lets me write for them is that I’m a Mets fan, otherwise I’d be out on my ass. … Actually, my editor and his boss are both serious Seattle fans, so there goes that theory. … Oooh, this is cool: NFL pencils (good find by Roger Faso). … Brian Erni notes that yesterday’s edition of Newsday had a slight Cardinals mix-up. … Josh Outman and his picture-perfect stirrups were on the mound for one inning at Yankee Stadium last night. It was a drizzly, foggy night in the Bronx, but Outman’s exemplary hose cut through the gloom like a beacon in the night. … Oooh, wait, fellow Outmaniac Ted Kerwin attended last night’s game and got several additional pics of Outman in all his glory. … Dan Cichalski notes that Outman didn’t always wear stirrups. … The other day I mentioned that the Mariners’ compass was missing Ichiro’s jersey. Ben Cook says this is nothing new. “He appears to wear it all the time on the dark and grey jerseys but seems to go back and forth with the white jersey.” I suspect there’s no master plan here — more likely the compass is missing from one of his home jerseys, so he’s compass-clad when that other jersey is in the wash and then compass-free the next day when the normal jersey is in the wash. … It’s gotta be the
shoes pants (with thanks to Stephen Melton). … Tallegega Superspeedway now has a 40th-anniversary logo (as noted by Josh Neisler). … Breaking news from Robert Marshall: “Chance just had a record-setting turn at cat bowling. Six eclipses the previous record of five set by Jesco. He way behind before that, and if he manages a two or better with his second ‘shot’ in the 10th frame, he’ll have the high game by one. It was some seriously clutch cat bowling, Paul — comeback of the ages!” … Interesting piece on the authentication of MLB memorabilia here. … CC Sabathia’s shoes, donated to the Hall of Fame after his first Yankee Stadium start, are the largest shoes in the HoF’s extensive collection (with thanks to HoF curator Tom Shieber). … Central Michigan is switching from New Balance to Adidas, which means new football uniforms. “I think its big and ugly, especially compared to last year’s design,” says CMU alum Jason Bowman. “You’ve got no white, no third color to outline or give a pop to the letters or numbers or anything. The New Balance font was at least unique and it worked for their scheme, but the big block lettering needs some white outline or something. The piping is unnecessary as well, but you’ve got to live with it. The rumor is the away uniform is the same except white with maroon letters, numbers, and piping.” … Speaking of new football uniforms, Washington’s new set will be unveiled on Saturday (with thanks to Lee Ziegler). … Ingenious page here: It lets you search Flickr by color (very cool, Kirsten). … Jeffrey Moulden notes that Tennessee has been wearing a seriously ugly baseball uniform. To see, go to this page and click on the March 27th game. … Someone in the comments a few days ago mentioned that Rogers Hornsby served as a Mets coach in the franchise’s early days. That prompted Phil to track down this. Man, that really does not compute. … Speaking of Phil, he’s all decked out for a trip to Flushing. … Good spot by Matt DeMazza, who writes: “Apparently the Ducks use the old-school B-shaped nets (which haven’t been used by the NHL since the early ’80s) during warmups. I go to plenty of Rangers games and have never seen this. I don’t think I’ve seen it anywhere else, either.” This is the part where I say how I always liked that net design and kinda miss it, and then you say, “Geez, Paul, you always like everything old, it’s so predictable — stop living in the past!” And since we’re both right, we shake hands and go out for a beer. … Either there was some dust on the lens, or else someone was throwing their rosary beads at Lem Barney (with thanks to Aaron Bell). … Annals of Youthful Sports Journalism, Vol. 1: Some journo student from Penn State called me yesterday and spent about 10 minutes asking me a bunch of questions for a survey of sports bloggers being conducted by him and some of his classmates. Among the questions, and my responses, were these: “Is homophobia a problem in women’s sports?” (I have no idea, but it wouldn’t surprise me), “Should bloggers be held to a high ethical standard?” (sure), “Are professional journalists too close to the athletes they cover?” (good question), and “Have you ever had to censor discussions on your site?” (only when Powers posts too many photos of his snowblower). They said they’d send me the full survey results when they finish crunching all the numbers. … Annals of Youthful Sports Journalism, Vol. 2: Yesterday morning, a reader sent me a link for a article-plus-slideshow about uniform typos over at the Bleacher Report site (which encourages people to write but doesn’t pay them). The author of the article turned out to be a high school kid who, according to his bio on the site, is looking forward to studying journalism in college this fall and is using Bleacher Report “to hone my writing skills,” or something along those lines. Apparently by “hone” he meant “steal,” and by “writing skills” he meant “material from other people,” because almost all of his story’s photos, and some of its text, were lifted wholesale from an ESPN column I wrote in 2007. I wanted to drop him a quick “WTF?” line, but I couldn’t find a “Contact” link, so I just left a comment congratulating him on his plagiarism skills. Things got mildly surreal about two hours later, when a Bleacher Report “community coordinator” (I believe this is slang for “intern”) tried to pimp the kid’s story — which was based on my story — to me. “Hey Paul,” he wrote, “I have one article for you to take a look at today. Here is a great top-10 list of the worst typos on modern sports uniforms. Thanks and I hope this is something you could use on the blog.” I sent back a note suggesting that he scroll down to the comment I’d left. About half an hour after that, I got a note from a Bleacher Report “community GM” (the site’s co-founder, as it turns out), who apologized for the whole thing, said the article had been taken down, and said the writer would be reprimanded. Can’t wait to hear how they handle that — what are they gonna do, cut the kid’s non-existent pay? Of course, given the current state of journalism, plagiarism is probably the only viable career path the industry has left, so the kid’s on the right track. I figure it should take him about, oh, 11 years to become an editor at some place I write for. And then he’ll get assigned to me, and I’ll remember this whole incident, and he’ll be too clueless to remember and be a real moron of an editor to boot. And then I’ll have no choice but to feed him to a crocodile or something. … And speaking of uni typos, I got a note last night from former MLB pitcher Jeff Bajenaru (who, by coincidence, was born on 3/21, just like me), as follows: “I saw your article from two years back on uni name typos. I made my major league debut in Sept. of ’04 and my name was misspelled on the back of my jersey (Bajhenaru) for the White Sox. I do have a hard name to spell and pronounce (‘Badge-in-arrow’).” He’s looking for a photo and will send it along later.