Ten years ago today, the very first Uni Watch column was published in The Village Voice (if you want to read it, here’s a larger version). It was essentially the first installment of what we now think of as the annual MLB season-preview column, except it appeared in late May. That would be unconscionably late in the season by today’s standards, but there had never been anything like Uni Watch up until that time, so the whole idea of chronicling the season’s uniform changes seemed novel and interesting, even if the season was already nearly two months old.
One reason that column didn’t appear until late May was that I had originally written it (or maybe a shorter version of it, or possibly a longer version of it — I no longer remember) for Sports Illustrated. They paid me for it, but they never ran it. It kept getting bumped for “more important” articles, and I could see that Uni Watch wasn’t going to be a priority for them. ESPN had already passed on the project, so instead I approached the Voice, which at the time had a very, very cool sports section. Fortunately for me, the sports editor liked and admired some other work I’d done in the 1990s, so it was an easy sell.
Looking back on that first column, there are three main things I remember:
• The bit at the very end, where I wrote, “Uni Watch asks: Can the postgame interview cap be far behind?” was a complete afterthought, something I threw in on a whim right before delivering the piece. I didn’t realize at the time that I was creating the template for a third-person voice I’d later be using for phrases like “Uni Watch has issues with that cap” and “Fortunately, Uni Watch has provided a handy breakdown” (which I never use on this site but continue to use over on ESPN).
• The Mets/Yanks comparison chart that was included in that first column had to be written by hand and faxed to the Voice offices, because I didn’t know how to format or e-mail a chart on my computer.
• My agreement with the Voice was to deliver a new column every four weeks, but my editor was a little uneasy about this. “Are you sure you can write about uniforms that frequently? Like, is there really enough to say?” I reassured him that it would be no problem. Deep inside, though, I had my doubts.
If someone had suggested to me at that time that Uni Watch would be durable enough to last a decade, or that I’d be publishing uni-related material on a daily basis, I would have laughed. And yet here we are.
Why am I telling you all this? In part because I’m proud of what we have accomplished here. And when I say “we,” I’m not just referring to Phil, Johnny Ek, and Scott Turner. I mean all of us, all of you — there’s no way I could produce Uni Watch without all the contributions, research assistance, stories, emotional support, and, in many cases, friendship that so many of you provide on a near-constant basis. Together, we’ve essentially created a new genre of research, and a new category of design history. So yes, I’m proud, but you should be proud too. You’re all my partners here.
And that leads me to something I’m not proud of: I haven’t always been on my best behavior with you, my partners, over the past several months. There have been too many occasions in the comments section when I’ve been belligerent or had to have the last word or even picked fights, and I can think of a coupla passages in the text that I now regret too.
I could provide explanations for most of these instances, especially the most recent ones, but they’d just be explanations, not adequate excuses. Because really, there’s no good excuse.
This doesn’t mean I won’t sometimes try to poke you in the ribs, or that I won’t disagree with you if I think you’re wrong, or that I won’t defend my own position if I think I’m right, or that I won’t roll my eyes if you say, “I don’t come here to read about bowling [or DIYing, or childhood uni illustrations, or whatever doesn't quite ring your chimes on a given day],” or that I won’t sometimes end a discussion by pulling rank and saying, “Sorry, but it’s ultimately my web site, and what I say goes.” But I’ll try to do all of these things with more of the generosity of spirit that so many of you show me every day. And if you feel I’m not living up to this ideal, feel free to call me on it.
Thanks again for everything, really. I won’t say, “Now let’s make the next decade even better than the first one,” because I can’t really imagine myself still doing this 10 years from now. But I do think there’s still quite a bit that Uni Watch can accomplish in the years to come. Thanks in advance for your help in that venture.
How a ’Bot That: As many of you know, we were hit by another spambot over the weekend, which set off alarms on many (but not all) of your browsers. Johnny Ek fixed the problem this morning, so we’re good to go. If you’re still getting the warning, reboot your browser or computer — that should take care of it.
Just so you know, Google automatically stops indexing a site if it’s carrying anything dangerous, and at no point in this process did they stop indexing us (I was checking constantly), so we’re fairly certain that the rogue code was annoying but not harmful. John’s increasing our site security at this very moment, which we hope will keep this from happening again.
Sorry for any hassle or stress. Believe me, nobody was more stressed about this than I was!
Live Chat (as opposed to, y’know, dead chat): I’ll be doing a web chat on ESPN.com tomorrow, 1pm eastern. I’ll provide the link for it in tomorrow’s post.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Well, I hope they’re satisfied. … “C’mon,
blue red!” … While looking for something else, I found a bunch of interesting team portraits in the 1908 Spalding Base Ball Guide. Examples: Check out the logo for the Colorado Iron Works team; not sure if “Orphans” refers to an orphanage or if it was just a fanciful name; love the “E Third” jerseys; not sure what’s going on here — caption says the team is from Oxford, Michigan, but the insignia looks like “OJ”; looks like these guys were way ahead of their time, at least judging by the fallout shelter symbol. … Ben Traxel has been imagining how baseball logos and colors might function on hockey jerseys. … The Astros usually put a player’s uni number on the back of his helmet but not on the brim — except for Ivan Rodriguez, who has his number in both spots (good catch by Paul Fontenot). … Reprinted from Friday’s comments: Yikes! … What’s with the blue sleeve ribbon? Details here (with thanks to Sean Clancy). … Discuss (as forwarded by Rob Leavell). … New football helmet for New Mexico State (with thanks to Sam Wasson). … For the many of you who’ve been complaining about the 12-pair minimum order on the Socks Rock site, Robert Marshall has an idea. … Sorry, I don’t mean to dwell on this, but come on, it’s crazy! … So much going on here: purple laces, exposed laundry tags, and, of course, very nice stirrups (with thanks to Greg Riffenburgh). … This video clip from a Bears practice session has a brief shot of Lovie Smith in a Decatur Staleys tee, plus a cap of uncertain provenance (at least to me) — anyone? (As spotted by Rachel Bicicchi.) … Check this out: Japan had a women’s baseball league back in the day — and Jeremy Brahm didn’t even know about it until just now! … Tim Adams notes that Pirates catcher Jason Jaramillo wore white nail polish on Saturday (a phenomenon we’ve seen before). … The NFL has green-lighted the use of team logos on lottery tickets (with thanks to Brinke Guthrie). … Check out this futuristic glove, designed in 2000 by Mizuno. … As noted last week, Robinson Cano’s cap hasn’t had the Yankee Stadium logo on the back, and now Tim Burke has finally provided visual evidence. … Chris Bieniek was watching a 1992 Bears/Packers game and noticed that Chris Zorich was missing a letter from his NOB. … Hmmm, Devils or Dewils? That’s Arizona State’s baseball team (as spotted by Mike Camello). … Maybe Tom Glavine should’ve just retired. Would have spared him the indignity of this (with thanks to Chris Wheeler). … Lots of the Diamondbacks have been inscribing “60” on their caps as a gesture of solidarity with teammate Scott Schoeneweis, whose wife died last week (with thanks to Bryan J. Boltik). … Okay, is it just me or were there more ump arguments than usual yesterday, just to highlight the silliness of the red caps? … Here’s the 1949 Buffalo Bills (AAFC version, not the AFL version). “They were the only AAFC team to go through an entire season without losing to the Cleveland Browns,” says Terry Proctor. “The Bills tied the Browns twice in ’49.” Terry also sent along this awesome program cover. … Sad. … Memorial Stadium in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, is being sold off, piece by piece (with thanks to Bob Gassel). … Rafael Nadal is doing that thing with the French Open title signifiers on his sneakers (with thanks to Brinke Guthrie). … Has any Indy 500 winner ever been lactose-intolerant? … Lots of nice old pro football photos here (nice find by Mako Mameli). … Here’s something I’ve never seen before: tartan plaid softball uniforms, as worn by Greenville High near Dayton. Additional pics here (with thanks to Mike Miller). … Someone over on the Chris Creamer board posted some photos of the Utah Utes baseball team, and lemme tell ya, it ain’t pretty. Under Armour foisted this same design template on Pepperdine, but not on all UA teams. … Here’s an early photo of Mike Ditka, not wearing his familiar No. 89 (with thanks to Aaron Bell) … Anyone know why Phil Hughes had “Jr.” written on the side of his cap yesterday? … The Portland Beavers went solid blue yesterday (with thanks to Nate Becker). … “Hiroshima Sanfrecce defender Tomoaki Makino just got a new haircut,” says Jeremy Brahm. “The red is for playing on the Japanese national soccer team, and the three lines are for Adidas, his sponsor.” … Hey, you know how Juan Pierre wears his cap under his batting helmet? Yesterday he wore a regular blue cap under the helmet, not the red cap that he wore in the field. Not sure if this means he always uses separate caps for hitting and fielding (good catch by David Williamson). … Some very cool vintage Calgary Stampeders images here (with thanks to Defo Maitland). … Rollie Fingers redux! (With thanks to Kevin Rood.) … “You probably heard about the whole WWE/Nuggets scheduling controversy,” writes Mike Miller. “Well, the main event of the WWE show, which was moved to LA’s Staples Center, was a 10-man tag match featuring the ‘Lakers’ vs. the ‘Nuggets.’ But the WWE apparently couldn’t get the right numbers or NOB font for the Nuggets jerseys, so they used Clippers typography.” … The Brewers used a stars/stripes logo on the Miller Park mound yesterday. … “Visited the Tampa Bay History Center over the weekend and wandered across a display celebrating the area’s sports teams,” writes Bob Rios. “Noticed an old Buccaneers jersey with a small but noticeable flaw on its NOB.”