Got a DVD in the mail the other day from reader Kevin Gallo. It contained several uni-related baseball video clips from 1983, including one that by all rights should be legendary throughout the uni-verse, although I’d never seen it before.
“I have a decent amount of old tapes I am currently going through and burning to DVD,” he wrote. “I wish I knew how to upload them to YouTube, but I haven’t had much time to figure it out.”
Fortunately, I know how to upload things to YouTube, so that’s what I did with Kevin’s material. Let’s start with this short Giants commercial:
I always hated that design, and I’d have to think an old-schooler like Robbie would’ve hated it too. Does anyone know if he truly had anything to do with the insignia, or was that just not-very-artistic license?
Next up is an A’s commercial:
Not bad, although it would’ve been better if they’d said “green stirrups and yellow sannies” instead of just “green socks.” The decline of stirrups can surely be traced back to small indignities such as this one.
But the real prize is a truly astonishing sequence starring Tom Paciorek, who was then with the White Sox. It’s hard to express how awful — and, hence, how awesome — this clip is, but it’s definitely one for the ages. Dig:
Whoa. You could write an entire Master’s thesis on all the unintentional brilliance in that segment. It’s like a 1970s porn movie without the sex (although sex was definitely in the air, at least judging by the way the interviewer kept gazing longingly at Paciorek).
I asked Kevin where this clip came from. Here’s his response:
I believe this was from an OnTV series called “Inside Baseball” from 1983. I was 10 years old and our family had just gotten our first VCR, so I taped just about everything sports-related. I think there were six episodes from this series. I still have all of them, but I haven’t viewed them in at least 20 years. They just kind of go through the season and touch on some baseball-realted topics. I remember that episode in particular because I’m a White Sox fan and Paciorek was my favorite player. So I always remembered that clip, and I finally pulled it out. I have no idea why Paciorek was targeted for that piece, except he was always a likable ballplayer, so maybe that’s why they chose him for the segment.
Kevin says he may have other uni-related material on his old tapes — hope so. But he’ll be hard-pressed to top that Paciorek clip.
FlapJackie Update: Yesterday I showed a photo of Jackie Hayes wearing a primitive helmet/earflap device. That led Phil to do a bit of digging. He came up with this article, in which Hayes says, “I was the first to wear a batting helmet. They let me wear it because of my eye.”
More intriguing, though, is this letters column from the July 1999 issue of Baseball Digest. One of the magazine’s readers asks, “When were batting helmets first used in the major leagues and when did they become mandatory? Also, when did ear flaps come into use, and are all players required to use them?” The response begins as follows: “Some sources credit Jackie Hayes, a White Sox second baseman who was blind in one eye, with wearing the first batting helmet in 1940. He fashioned a homemade helmet that also covered his ears.”
Good stuff there, but check out the rest of the response:
The New York Giants used a form of plastic helmets in a game against the Pirate on June 6, 1941.
Phil Rizzuto of the Yankees wore a full batting helmet in a major league game in 1951.
On September 15, 1952, the Pirates introduced full temple plastic helmets, with the entire team wearing them in the field and at bat.
Brooks Robinson is credited as the first major leaguer to wear an ear flap for protection.
In 1957, the National League required all players to wear protective headgear (cap liners rather than full helmets were sufficient). Current players who objected were not required to comply with the ruling.
In 1958, the American League followed suit. Ted Williams initially said he would not comply, but later relented by wearing a liner inside his cap.
In 1962, the A.L. ruled that inner linings were not enough and that helmets had to be worn. However, this rule was not enforced until the 1970s.
In 1971, Organized Baseball introduced a rule which required players at all levels to wear helmets, and minor league players to wear ear flaps. The ear flap rule was gradually extended to the major leagues.
Lots of interesting info there, but I’d say it raises more questions than it answers. For example:
• What is the “form of plastic helmets” that the Giants wore on 6/6/41?
• What is the date of 1951 game in which Rizzuto wore a helmet?
• Regarding the Pirates on 9/15/52, what exactly are “full temple plastic helmets”? For how many games (or months, or seasons) did they wear helmets in the field?
• I have never heard Brooks Robinson cited as the first earflapped player before. When did he wear a flap? Did it predate either Earl Battey’s improvised flap or Tony Gonzalez’s premolded flap?
And so on. We’ve touched on many of these issues before, but it’s interesting to see so many of them addressed in one place. Unfortunately, I suspect there’s a mix of fact and misinformation in the Baseball Digest account.
Meanwhile, remember this Tony Gonzalez photo from yesterday? Morris Levin found a newspaper account of Gonzalez being beaned on 4/16/64 and then, two months later, there’s our wire service photo. Cool!
Giveaway Reminder: I’m giving away that Jaguars jersey box. Details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Man, this year’s Super Bowl jersey patch looks really big, no? … Rahaeem Brock wore some interesting socks for Media Day yesterday. … Throwbacks on tap for Colorado State this weekend (with thanks to Patrick Donnelly). … New logo for the Eugene Emeralds (with thanks to Travis McGuire). … Several readers have noted that Syracuse appears to have new shorts for sale (here’s the orange version). Unclear whether this means a new look on the court. … Tyler Mack reports that Terry and Terrance Talbott will likely commit to Michigan today, creating some serious FNOB possibilities for the Wolverines football squad. … The USA’s outfits for the Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver would be nice, if not for a certain not-very-subtle logo. … Here’s how this season’s Dodgers patch looks on a jersey (big thanks to Ben Wideman). … Got a spare $7500 lying around? Good, then you can buy yourself a 1950s Cincy Mohawks jersey (good find by Doug Smith). … Good breakdown of lacrosse gloves here (with thanks to Jeff Brunelle). … Jean-Sebastien Giguere made his Maple Leafs debut last night but was still wearing his Ducks mask and pads (as noted by Corey Davis). … Hey, check out who the Reading Eagle‘s sports editor used to be! (Morris Levin found that one.) … Ken Burns is planning to add a 10th inning to his Baseball film (thanks, Phil). … Here’s a good look at Jared Camden‘s Cleveland Browns “space” blanket, complete with metallic flip side and maker’s mark. “I won it on eBay and hung it on my wall in college, so I have no idea how well this ‘SPACE age technology’ works on Mars or in Cleveland Stadium, but I do know I feel like it would work like shit,” he says. He also has a bunch of other Browns-related items, which you can see here. … Absolutely gorgeous 1961 Milwaukee Braves jersey photo here (with thanks to Make Mameli). … And speaking of the Braves, check out the little handwritten uni number on the very bottom of the stirrup here. … Second bullet point on this report indicates that Kentucky will have new basketball uniforms next week (with thanks to Chris Edwards). … “Found this 1996 NBA rookies phtoo in the SI vaults,” says Nathan Haas. “I’ve never seen the large logo on the Grizzlies’ shorts before. Also, Kerry Kittles is wearing running shoes.” … Newly added to the Life photo archives: dozens of player portraits from the 1939 MLB All-Star Game (with thanks to Lance Smith). … Whoa, Cleveland stirrup-o-rama! (Thanks, Vince.)