A few weeks ago I got a package in the mail from reader Bruce Jaynes. Inside were copies of several dozen comics and illustrations, along with a cover note, which read as follows:
I wanted to pass along these uni-related comics created by my late uncle, Ned Paynter. Like most longtime baseball fans, he despised most of the modern changes and longed for the game of his youth. As a way of venting his disgust, he created an alter ego called “The Grizzled Veteran” — a crusty, Ty Cobb-like columnist who had a chip on his shoulder and an ever-present frown.
I really loved, as I’m sure you do, the muted colors, killer illustrations, and snappy text in Ned’s work. I wrote back to Bruce and asked about his uncle’s backgroud — had he been a professional graphic artist, a writer, or what? Here’s what he wrote back:
He was a journalism major but ended up a history professor. … He would do freelance writing (mainly on architecture — his other great love) and contributed commentaries on San Diego’s KPBS radio. As for his art, he was influenced by early Sporting News and Street & Smith’s illustrations, and was a big fan of R.Crumb. But other than the illustrations in his high school yearbook, he wasn’t published. His cartoons were mainly done for the amusement of family and friends.
The amazing thing was that he could draw characters without a photo to prompt him. I remember watching him do an “Ol’ Griz” piece and marveling at how he could sketch DiMaggio, Feller, Griffey, Rodriguez, etc. by memory. The details on Pudge alone — sunglasses, turned helmet, chest protector — are incredible.
But wait, it gets better: Bruce also included a second batch of material, and this one went waaaaay past the boundaries of the cranky-old-fan shtick. Dig:
The second bactch is from the fictitious East Central Saskatchewan League. Its genesis came from the time we spent with my dying grandfather, who’d grown up on the central Canadian prairie. As he drifted in and out of consciousness, he would talk about the different towns in the area. As a way of coping, my uncle and I would come up with imaginary team names for the towns, complete with team colors and ballpark designs.
The town of Esterhazy had a potash mine, so they became the Ashers [additional Ashers content here]. Spy Hill became the Agents, for obvious reasons. Saskatoon was a hub for the CP Rail, so they became the Switchmen. My uncle’s illustrations are quite clever, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy his take on the uniforms.
This batch, despite being rendered in black-and-white, is pure gold. Ned came up with fictitious game accounts, “legendary” lore, stadiums running the gamut from old-school to newfangled (oops, that one wasn’t built) to fantastical, a columnist who covered the league with a jaundiced eye, and game notes.
There’s so much life in these pages, so much inspiration and imagination — amazing stuff. Big, big thanks to Bruce for sharing his uncle’s work with us, and to Ned for totally making my day, even if he’s not around anymore to hear my praise. RIP, buddy.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Not clear why this Madden screen shot shows the Eagles using a helmet number (and off-center, at that), but I assume it’s just a Madden error, not a portent of things to come in Philly (as spotted by Brendon Yarian). … Nice look at early-’70s basketball cards here. … The classics never die. Brian Codagnone spotted that signage on Rt. 93 north of Boston on Saturday. … Hey, Terry Proctor, when did Sand-Knit make these?! (As found by Roger Faso.) … Also from Roger: I’d never seen Mr. Met wearing catching gear — until now. … The FIVB has changed its Beach Volleyball Tour logo from this to this. Ooops, wait, I mean this. Details here (thanks, and apologies, to Jeremy Brahm). … New uniform controversy at Oregon, but it’s not what you think (with thanks to Kenny Ocker). … Newly minted Jets QB Mark Sanchez threw out the first pitch prior to Monday’s Mets/Marlins game. … Even the great Satchel Paige wasn’t immune from getting his buttons mixed up (with thanks to Justine DeCotis). … Also from Justine: Mismatched uniforms — but, thankfully, high cuffs — at the Mets’ Dominican training complex. … EA is introducing a “team builder” feature for NCAA Football 10. Video report here (with thanks to Patrick Runge and Ethan Crooks). … Not sure why Jamie Costello waited so long to tell us this, but he dressed up as Mike Nolan last Halloween. “I DIY’d a pair of headphones into a coach’s headset (using cardstock, tape, and Motorola logos I printed), made myself a little lapel pin out of cardstock and a 49ers logo I printed out, and made a custom pink slip which I laminated and put in my suit pocket (because he’d just been fired),” Jamie says. “I also printed a generic-looking coach’s play sheet and laminated that. Finally, I got a little piece of red fabric and tied it up to look like a challenge flag, which I kept in my back pocket. I wore a plain suit with a red tie and carried around a 49ers glass all night. For people who got it, they thought it was a great costume. Not sure what the other 95% of the people thought.” … Larry Bodnovich knows I like shoulder yoke striping, so he sent along these shots of OSU, circa 1960 or ’61, OSU ’65, and Dartmouth 1957 or ’58 (and look at those stripes on Princeton!). … Interesting that the Chargers and Bills had their draft picks pose with throwback jerseys. … Meanwhile, Alphonso Smith’s photo-op jersey had an upside-down I. … I don’t much care about spring football scrimmages, but I might make an exception for team with uniforms as nice as UCLA’s (with thanks to Erkki Corpuz). … Nice hockey ref billboard treatment at the IIHF Men’s World Championships (with thanks to Steve Alvarado). … As most of you know by now, the Red Sox have gone back to wearing red sox (and sleeves) on the road. But here’s a question: What will they do this Friday, when they’ll presumably be wearing their solid-navy Friday road jersey? Will they wear red hose with that (ugh — not a good idea), or are they now start packing a separate set of navy sox on road trips, just for use on Fridays?
Or will they wake the fuck up and scrap the alternate jersey already because it’s a nothing but a douchebag merchandising move? Never mind, no chance of that happening. … Wait, update: According to this piece from today’s Boston Globe, the Bosox “will go back and forth [between red and navy socks] throughout the season.” Doesn’t say they’ll do so specifically because of the navy alt jersey, but I’m willing to bet that’s what will drive it. … Jeremy Brahm has uploaded a bunch of his Japanese baseball photos to Flickr. … Great work by Dan Cichalski, who found shots of Adrian Beltre wearing flat soles in the field and spikes at the plate in the same game. Both shots are from 9/1/07. … A reader who didn’t give his full name submitted an interesting question: Why do so many left-handed pitchers wear No. 57? In raw numbers, the split isn’t so pronounced — nine lefties on MLB rosters currently wear 57, compared to seven righties — but when you consider how there are so many more right-handed pitchers out there, the nine-to-seven ratio is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser. Anyone..? (Answers involving Heinz ketchup are not acceptable.) … Lots of uni number news for the Chiefs (with thanks to Brinke Guthrie).