Last Wednesday I spent the day out on Long Island, where my father has been recovering from a three-week hospital stay (he’s almost back to normal, thanks). This is what’s known as Very, Very Bad, because I wasn’t home when the FedEx guy showed up. You may have gotten a hint of this, even though you know nothing about my father or my FedEx shipments, at 4:13pm, when Robert Marshall posted the following message in that day’s comments: “aaargh!! paul, you were not home to accept the package?! that tears it, i’m getting drunk.”
Marshall, as you may recall, is the OCD-DIY (his description) genius (my description) who created that amazing Big Ten bowling set, among many other sensational projects. I was pretty sure I knew what was in the package he had sent me, because he’d been hinting about it for months, and I was plenty eager to see it. But I figured one more day of waiting wouldn’t hurt.
Next day: It’s late afternoon and I’m about to go out for a social obligation that will take several hours. Dammit, where’s that FedEx guy? Just as I’m about to give up and head out, the doorbell rings. I dash downstairs, grab the package, run back upstairs, toss the package on my sofa, and head off for what turns out to be an excruciatingly bad evening. By the time I get home, it’s about 11pm and I’m exhausted. Also crabby. I figure I’ll just feed the cats and crash.
But wait, what’s that on the sofa? I’d forgotten all about Robert’s package. It’s tagged with a fun illustration, which provides a further hint as to its contents. I open the outer wrapping and find a box. I open that and am greeted with some fabric. This turns out to be some sort of tunic, with a uni number on one side and a boozing bird on the other. The bird seems like an obvious reference to Drinky Crow, the lead character in Tony Millionaire’s long-running comic strip “Maakies.” Hmmm, I think, is Robert a fellow “Maakies” enthusiast? Is he aware that I have an original signed/framed “Maakies” strip hanging in my dining room? I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this to him, so maybe the bird on the tunic is just a coincidence. Still, it’s a pretty big coincidence. Which makes me think of that Seinfeld bit where the annoying (but kinda hot [but mostly annoying]) Russian chick says, “That’s what a coincidence is! There are no small coincidences or big coincidences. There are only coincidences.”
This is the part where I say, “But I digress.”
Squirreled away inside the tunic are three bubble-wrapped treasures. By now you should have figured out what they are, but I suppose a few of you might have bet on Mine That Bird at 50-1 and spent the rest of the weekend partying so hard that your logic circuits aren’t firing at peak efficiency today, so here’s a hint:
Rhymes with “bobbleheads.”
And not just any bobbleheads, mind you. We’re talking Uni Watch bobbleheads, handmade by Marshall himself. He’d first proposed this project to me a few months ago, and he’d been giving me small, tantalizing updates on his progress along the way. I was pretty damn excited to liberate them from that bubble-wrap.
The photo at the top of this entry gives you an idea of what the bobbles look like, but that’s all I’m gonna show you for now. Because to fully appreciate the bobbles, you need to know how they were made. So I’m now going to surrender the floor to Marshall. Open this page in a new window, read it all the way through, and then meet me back here. Don’t cheat by skipping ahead on this page!
Hello again. Pretty great stuff, am I right? I am very, very humbled by the thought that Uni Watch helped inspire these amazing creations.Incredible as it may sound, however, Marshall actually short-changed his own work in that essay of his, because he didn’t go into most of the little details that make these bobbles so wonderful. Por ejemplo:• I love the little logo labels on the baseball player’s glove.
• Also love the raised button on the baseball player’s cap.
• Robert mentioned this in his step-by-step rundown, but it bears repeating: It’s so cool that the hockey player is all cherubic and fresh-faced yet he’s also dropped one glove already. Don’t fuck with him!
• And of course I appreciate that Marshall used Uni Watch colors, that he used the uni number I use on my Uni Watch membership card, and that he went old-school NNOB for all three figurines.
I didn’t know anything about those particular details until I received the package. I did have a little advance notice of what was in the works, however, because at one point Marshall asked me to choose my favorite uni options from this roster of choices. He also teased me with the occasional progress-update photo.
Incidentally, Marshall ain’t no bobblehead rookie. Here, I’ll let him explain:
When i was in school at Ohio State I did whatever I could to make money, just like any college student. Having just hand-sculpted a “History of the Big Ten” set of bobbles (it had all the trophies, a beat-up U. of Chicago bobble on a stretcher, all as part of a singularly pedestaled piece, it was fantastic), it occurred to me that I could do something similar to sell at football games. So I did that. I made a set of generic scarlet and gray bobbles (I was being careful), put them on a tray, walked around the stadium with them in full bobbling glory, and sold them before the games. They went over swimmingly. “Oh Fred, we need one of those for the camper” was heard often.
I can’t recall which game it was when i finally got snuffed out. But suffice it to say, that some gassed-up sorority gal suggested in a very obnoxious fashion that I would make a lot more money, including money from a purchase she would make herself (yeah right), if I made her favorite player. I decided not to take her advice and more or less told her to go plant some flowers. Two seconds later I was in the clutches of the coppers, who promptly grabbed my individually handmade sculptures and threw them in a trash bag.
I would have been fine, except I was a couple feet too close to the stadium, on university property (I hadn’t violated any school trademarks). I was later offered my bobbles back but they were all broken, so I didn’t bother. Ass-clowns. That “Please donate money” mail I get every year right after the bowl season goes right in the trash, just to say thanks.
With your help, I’d like to get Robert back into the bobblehead biz — in part so he can make some $$$ (or at least recoup his costs from this project), and in part so other people can enjoy his amazing art. We haven’t worked out all the details yet, but the idea is that you’ll be able to order a custom-painted bobble, sort of like you can order a custom-designed Uni Watch membership card.
These plans, of course, are based on the assumption that there will be some demand for the bobbles. I’m fairly certain there will be (did we mention that the heads move?), but hey, I’ve been wrong about that kind of thing in the past. So if you think you might be in the market for this type of product, speak up in today’s comments.
Oh, and about the tunic: “It’s my my alt alt, or altar boy alternate, from the softball team,” says Robert. “I think I told you I had made one but didn’t have photos. I don’t need it anymore, so I thought it would make good packing material and maybe give you a laugh to boot.” And the bird had nothing to do with “Maakies.”
And as if you didn’t already have enough to read today, here’s a really long Ticker: Lots more NFL rookie numbers, this time for the Titans, Cowboys, Colts, Steelers (the guys at the top of the list), and Pats (but what’s with the two different guys wearing No. 91?). … Mike Green’s right glove looks a bit threadbare, no? (As spotted by Kevin Maresca.) … Here’s a Rawlings logo I’d never seen before. Comes from this item. … Friday’s DIY goalie mask entry reminded Matthew Fedorka of a guy in his town who made Dwayne Roloson’s masks. “He has a site where he talks about the inspirations for Roli’s masks and also has a ‘mask museum’ where he showcases all the DIY masks he has made over the years,” says Matthew. … Friday’s Chicago Tribune had a feature that listed the best White Sox and Cubs by uni number. Lots of great old photos (with thanks to Larry Kurtze). … Great find by Scott M.X. Turner, who writes: “If you love baseball, baseball card graphics and typefaces, smart humor, and ‘Casey at the Bat,’ this is the mother lode.” … When you get right down to it, nothing defines the words “under armour” more than an athletic cup. Which is why this story is so funny. … Check out Cal State Stanislaus, looking all fancy in their Bosox-style stirrups (big thanks to John Moist). … Gorgeous old Colts/Packers photo here (great find by Zac Neubauer). … Mike Pelfrey’s Mets logo left-sleeve patch has been missing from his road jersey all season (with thanks to Terence Kearns). … Here’s what Pirates prospects wear at the team’s new academy in the Dominican. Why do teams keep insisting on this bi-level chest logo/number treatment? Looks like shite (with thanks to Doug Keklak). … Bronson Arroyo’s been wearing a double-flapped helmet for years now, but this one looks particularly huge (with thanks to Chris Hilf). … “Was looking at some photos of the Rams minicamp this season,” writes Ricky Foley, “and it appears that the Spagnuolo administration has switched the quarterback ‘no contact’ jersey back to red. Under Linehan, they wore gold. Under Martz, QBs wore red, and Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson wore gold.” … Kyle Pineda says this photo, apparently showing an early-’90s Tigers/Jays game, is the source of much confusion on a Tigers discussion board. What’s with the orange jersey? Could the Tigers have played a game in this BP jersey? … Japanese baseball news from Jeremy Brahm: The Hanshin Tigers are wearing 1985 throwbacks for their interleague games; the Yokohama Bay Stars wore this patch on their pantson April 7th (“part of their pink ribbon campaign that goes with their dance team, yes baseball dance team, for breast cancer awareness”); on Mother’s Day, the Tigers and Bay Stars will wear pink wristbands; and here’s Hello Kitty dressed up in some baseball uniforms, just because. … “I found these jersey pictures in one of my Flickr groups,” says Jennifer Muller. Turns out the guy is called Flagman — he has a web site, but it has really annoying sound, plus it’s a Geocities site, so mute your keyboard and be prepared for an error message. … Major eBay find here by Scott M.X. Turner. Untucked, drop-down school name on the front, drop-down team name on the back, “Crusaders” — it’s all so great, I don’t even mind the purple. … The Rays debuted their boring new navy alts on Friday. I was hoping the Bosox would stick to their stated “We wear our own boring navy alts on Friday road games” so we could have navy vs. navy, but they Sox pussied out and went with their road grays instead. This also means we still don’t know whether the Sox plan to wear red socks/sleeves with the navy alts or if they’ll still with the blue socks/sleeves. … The great thing about college football is how it inspires such intelligent, rational debate to me. … Eyewear observation from Tris Wykes, who writes: “I’ve noticed lately that when high school softball players wear sunglasses in the field, they’re going with trendy styles that make them resemble Paris Hilton. That player is from King’s Fork in Suffolk, Virginia.” … Chris LaHaye was covering the Louisiana high school softball tourney and saw this weird glove, which looks like it might have been designed for Aquaman or something. … In case you missed it in Phil’s post from Saturday, the Pats may wear their throwbacks five times this season! … The Jags’ color-shift helmet looks a lot more green and a lot less black out in the sunlight. … Darrent Williams’s number is back in circulation (with thanks to Chris Flinn). … Small rant about something that bugs the shit out of me: Why do people insist on using the term “Brand Jordan” (as in “Derek Jeter wears Brand Jordan wristbands“)? We don’t say “Brand Nike” or “Brand Puma” — why the fuck should we say “Brand Jordan”? Marketing newspeak like this is just repellant, and I refus to go along with it. Let’s just call it Brand Douchebag and get it over with. … And so it has come to this: a high school team wear caps that are clearly modeled after MLB batting practice caps. Very sad (with thanks to Dominick Carfello). … Coupla interesting things about Manny Pacquaio’s trunks on Saturday night: (1) Very unusual “Q” on his waitband. And (2) He had a swoosh on both legs, which seems like a bit much, even for Nike. And hey, speaking of a bit much, nice to see that the ring ropes were sponsored. … Lots of pics from Saturday’s great Mariners/A’s throwback game here. … Chuck Nolan Jr. was doing some research and came across a couple of interesting high school football and basketball uniforms in the Cleveland Plain Dealer archives. … Alyssa Miller reports that the Geelong Cats (that’s an Aussie-rules football team, mate) are wearing 150th-anniversary uniforms. “They normally wear a uniform (a guernsey, it’s called) with alternating blue and white stripes,” she says, “but starting July 18th they will wear these, with the solid blue stripes being replaced by stripes consisting of tiny text that lists the names of every player ever to represent the Cats.” … Latest Wilponian fiasco: players can’t see the game from Shea’s visiting bullpen. For details, scroll down to the “Mets bullpen alterations” section of Ken Davidoff’s Sunday column. … Incidentally, that portion of Ken’s column included a note that I found interesting: “MLB prefers that the bullpens have no televisions at all.” I assume this has something to do with sign-stealing, but Ken didn’t elaborate in print, so I sent him a note asking if he could explain. He said he’d check. Will advise. … John Muir says he saw this “in a section of DC where hockey players would not regularly be found. Not sure if it’s actually the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) or just an ad. Out of place, to say the least.” … Check out this shot of Jack Kemp. The TV number is 15, but his chest number is either 5 or else a really off-center 15 (good spot by Joel D. Ford). … Randy Brown is being forced to sell his NBA championship rings (with thanks to James Huening). … Beware the pig AIDS, or you could end up like this! Actually, that’s Poró, the official mascot of the FIBA under-19 basketball tourney (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … Also from Jeremy: he Perth Glory of the A-League in Australia changed their logo from this to this. Details here. … Nice 1971 shot of Danny Murtaugh and his grandson Timmy. “Poor Timmy didn’t get the memo about the switch to double-knits the previous season,” notes Morris Levin. … Interesting item regarding Todd Helton’s uni number here (with thanks to Bo Baize, who also sent along scans of an article about the Mt Rushmore construction crew baseball team). … For reasons not worth getting into, I was lucky enough to spend Friday night at Per Se, where I was part of a group of food writers who’d been invited to sample a seven-course tasting menu with Armagnac pairings (yes, it was very, very good). As we all exchanged pleasantries throughout the evening, several people asked me, “So do you write exclusively about food and drink?,” which led to some very entertaining facial expressions when I replied, “Actually, I write primarily about sports uniform design. Could you pass the baguette?” … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Adam Dunn’s typo jersey was auctioned off for charity. It went for $8,500. … My Sunday newspaper’s coupon supplement included this. Looks like the kid’s actually wearing long pants with the stirrups pulled up over them. … Jeremy Brahm liked yesterday’s entry so much that he found some cool stuff in the Life archives, including this great girls’ basketball shot (is that Ricky Ricardo coaching the team?). Love the uni numbers on the warm-up togs. And look at those little shoulder pleat/panel thingies! Looks like they had an inverted pleat on the back, too (additional pics here and here; home uni with similar design here). … Jeremy also found several shots that show the old-fashioned narrow lane. … Last graf of this story mentions that Kansas State used an older uni design for their spring scrimmage. Not sure what this portends, if anything, for their fall uniforms (with thanks to Ben Traxel). … Last week’s ESPN column, in which I trashed the Jaguars’ new uniforms, has apparently been making the rounds among Jags-centric message boards, because I’ve been getting lots of e-mails like this one: “The jaguars new jerseys own, if you think otherwise go fist yourself, fucking moron.” Stay classy, dude. The funniest missives have been the ones accusing me of perpetuating ESPN’s “bias against small-market teams.” So true — that’s why ESPN never covers the Packers. … Interesting shot here of Al Rollins. What’s with all that ruffled fringe on the sleeves — is that what passed for padding back in 1954? (As forwarded by Tris Wykes.) … Hey, what’s this? Houston’s long-lost road grays, which they dusted off yesterday cuz the Braves already had dibs on wearing dumb-ass red jerseys. … No photos, but last night’s episode of King de la Hill, which was all about Bobby being in Little League, was a veritable stirrup-fest. Naturally, most of today’s Little Leaguers don’t wear stirrups, but this just accentuates the fact that when graphic artists depict baseball players, they almost always include stirrups, because they instinctively understand that that’s what baseball players are supposed to look like. … Oh wait, Doug Keklak got a screen grab from last night’s episode after all. … Not uni-related, but this video makes spectacular use of little aspects of urban design (awesome find, Kirsten). … Outmania! … Carlos Ruiz appears to have a new uni number (with thanks to Mike Meech). … Williams and Amherst marked the 150th anniversary of the first college baseball game with some not-very-convincing throwbacks. Further details here (with thanks to Colin Morton).