Okay, so I’m probably a bit more obsessed with this particular story than some of you are, but we have a major new development in the saga of the Twins’ early-’60s earflaps.
First a quick recap: We know Earl Battey wore an improvised flap in 1963, followed by his teammates Tony Oliva in ’64 (at least in BP — still not clear if he ever wore the flap in a game) and Jimmie Hall in the ’65 World Series.
But now Larry Wiederecht has come up with a major new piece of the puzzle — dig.
Up until now, our best view of Battey’s flap had been from this illustration, but this new photo is much, much better. For the first time we can really see how the flap was constructed. But the key bit of info is the photo’s date: August of 1961! This means Battey was wearing his flap a full two seasons earlier than we (or at least I) had realized. It also deepens the mystery about why it took so long for ABC Helmet to offer earflapped headwear. If Battey was wearing a DIY flap in 1961, why was Jimmie Hall forced to wear a similarly improvised flap in the ’65 Series, more than four years later? You’d think ABC would have come up with a flap-inclusive design by then, no? It’s still not clear to me exactly when ABC began offering flapped helmets, but that’s just another piece of the puzzle for us to find.
Ricko has been doing his own research on this topic and has given me a small dossier of leads and related info, none of which I’ve yet followed up on (sorry, Ricko — life’s been a little crazy around here!), but I’ll be addressing all of that shortly. Stay tuned.
Getting back to the Battey photo, I love that chunky Twins logo on the helmet (the T looks like it’s in the Pirates font!). Also, I initially thought the helmet was full of scratches, but then I showed the photo to Scott Turner, who explained that it was more likely a “fibre-plastic” helmet, and the scratch marks were actually the spun fibers. I wasn’t familiar with this, so Scott then showed me this hard-hat listing, which includes this awesome logo. Might not be the exact same material as Battey’s helmet, but still plenty interesting.
Meanwhile, Larry came up with two other old wire photos of note:
• Here’s a great shot of Hawk Harrelson with little hawks drawn onto his cleats. The first personalized MLB footwear? Could be.
• More intriguingly, check out this two-fer of Marty Pattin modeling Brewers jerseys one day after the Pilots became the Brewers. Look at that shot on the left — Red Sox lettering! Must’ve been a prototype that was never used. Never seen that one before. Anyone else?
It occurred to me that I also never come across wire service pics myself, so I asked Larry where he was finding them. His response:
They’re from this eBay seller. He has had hundreds of wire photos and stock photos from Sport magazine. I always look when someone puts up wire photo collections, because they tend to document specific events as opposed to the idea of ‘best image’ that most publications/sites tend to use. I haven’t bought any (at $9.99 apiece, it’s a little pricey), but I’ve downloaded dozens just to have for review. It takes a while to view the entire collection, but I always see something great.
So I looked though that eBay seller’s pics. Didn’t find anything as momentous as the ones Larry came up with, but I did spot a few images of note:
• Here’s a cool shot of Sal Maglie trying out a new uniform.
• This is Dave Lewis, who finished second in the 1925 Indy 500. Did auto racers really wear bow ties back then?! If so, when did that protocol change?
• Check out Al Kaline working out at a local high school in 1966.
• Here’s a good view of Keith Hernandez’s captaincy patch.
• What’s going on here? The player is Joe Daley, so I looked up his career stats and found he played for the Memphis Wings in the mid-1960s, so that explains the lettering on the left side of the photo. I couldn’t figure out what was going on in the center of the logo — was that head of cauliflower or what? — until I found this. It’s a cotton boll!
• Love this jersey, but there’s very little background info. The back of the photo says, “Wm. (Bill) Kennedy, hockey player, Oct. 22 1935.” Anyone know more?
• And speaking of cool old hockey jerseys, check out this shot from 1958.
Big thanks to Larry for his groundbreaking finds.
What, no Cookie Rojas?: One of the most wonderful holiday rituals here at Uni Watch HQ is the annual arrival of a package from reader Elena Elms, who takes it upon herself each December to bake me a batch of baseball-themed cookies. Last year it was caps and balls; the year before that it was stirrups. And when I opened this year’s package, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a series of full-body ballplayers, including Dave Parker, Pedro Martinez, Catfish Hunter, Brendan Ryan, and Nolan Ryan.
Nothing I write here can adequately express how special it is to have readers like Elena. Thanks so much for another batch of inspired (and delicious) baking.
Raffle Reminder: I’m currently raffling off a buncha cool stuff. Details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Tour of Spain, one of cycling’s three grand tours, is changing its leader’s jersey from gold to red (as noted by Sean Clancy). … Yesterday’s Yanks/Sox wedding info prompted Ryan Glanzer to send along a few pics from his wedding, which featured MLB team logo table names and placecards. … And then there’s Dawn and Brian — a Yankees fan and Phillies fan, respectively — who got hitched just as the World Series was starting and carved logo pumpkins for the occasion. … And then there’s William Patrick Finley, who ordered a bunch of stirrups from Robert Marshall for himself and his groomsmen. … Oopsie (good catch by Andrew Bartsch). … And get this: Yesterday’s entry got a shout-out on a wedding planner’s site! Granted, the planner is married to reader Dave Plante, but still. … Contrary to what I suggested in yesterday’s Ticker, V-neck basketball jerseys were quite common in the 1920s (thanks for setting me straight, Scott). … Best. Menorah. Ever! (Extra gelt to Chad Todd.) … What’s up with this skate-guard thingie? Do those skates even have laces? (As spotted by Maks Skuz.) … Adam Stoneman points out that the Angels’ Hideki Matsui press conference offered our first look at the Halos’ All-Star Game patch. A better view of the logo itself can be found here. … Bill Radocy has designed some nifto uniforms for his Strat-O-Matic hockey league. … The Reds are giving away a series of throwback caps next season (with thanks to Rob Turning). … Michael Russek notes that the NBA logo was missing from Kobe Bryant’s and Pau Gasol’s jerseys on Wednesday night. Ditto for the night before that. … Here’s what the Chris Henry memorial decal will look like. … In a related item, Chad Ochocinco wore Henry’s practice jersey yesterday (with thanks to Ethan Crooks). … UMass hoops will be wearing throwbacks tomorrow (with thanks to Erik Gallant). … Here’s a great video clip of a young Michael Jordan discussion sneaker design with David Letterman (big thanks to Rick Friedel). … Canucks have a franchise jersey gallery in the hallway leading to their dressing room (with thanks to Adam Hainsfurther). … Steve Johnston tipped me wise to a great photographer named George Brace. “He’s from Chicago and photographed almost every player to come through town from 1929 through 1993,” Steve explains. “Players used to buy photos from him and use them for autographs. There’s a great collection of his photos called The Game That Was. I got Charles Comiskey’s son to sign a page in my copy of the book. We lived in the same town and used to run into one another at a local diner.” … Another good tip: Ben Parker pointed me toward this soccer site. “The guy who runs it basically breaks down loads of soccer kits into their component parts and analyses them. There’s a huge back catalogue of modern day shirts as well as historical entries, which make for fantastically geeky viewing.” … Tons of good stuff from Doug Keklak: (1) Doug has found another school that wore untucked basketball jerseys back in the day — WVU. Also, in that first photo, note the huge space between the two 1s. (2) Clairton High School, which will be playing for the Class A state title today, had some NOB issues during a recent game. (3) I’ve always loved this old Colts photo, for obvious reasons. And (4) According to a small item in this article, “[Penguins] defenseman Alex Goligoski committed a gaffe prior to practice, taking the ice while wearing a game sweater. ‘It was hanging in my stall and I just threw it on,’ he said. ‘They look pretty close — they’re both black and gold. I didn’t even know until some guys came up and told me.” … Twenty-one new images have been added to Andy Moursund’s gallery of vintage program covers and related items, with an emphasis on stadium dedications. … Report from Jordan Wiley regarding last night’s Magic throwbacks: “Dwight Howard’s NOB was in the font of their current road uniform, but everyone else’s NOB was in the throwback font.” Sorry, no images. … Reebok logo problems last night for the Jags, what a pity (screen shot courtesy of Micheal Kinney). … Mike Richards appears to have his nickname on his mouthguard (good catch by Ryan Connelly). … Terence Kearns bought himself a blank varsity jacket in Mets colors, got his hands on some patches, and brought the whole shebang down to his local sporting goods shop, where they sewed the patches on for him. The result: a 1986 World Series jacket. “Only cost $200,” he says. …