Last week I wrote about new bats and batting gloves, and now it looks like we may have a new batting helmet too, at least judging by the new headgear Norris Hopper and Kevin Mench were wearing this past weekend.
I’ve sent e-mails to my contacts at Rawlings and hope to hear back from them soon, but here are a few thoughts to tide us over until then:
• I could be wrong, but I think this helmet looks a bit less bulbous than the S100, which is consistent with what Rawlings said at the end of last season, when they indicated that they’d try to make some adjustments to come up with something a little lighter and smaller.
• Hopper and Mench were not among the six players who wore the S100 last year (those were Ryan Dempster, David Wright, Carlos Guillen, Edgar Gonzalez, Micah Owings, and Shane Victorino), which means the new design already has some new potential converts. Impressive.
• As you can see, Hopper and Mench have both been wearing a double-flapped version of the new design. Righty and lefty versions are presumably still in the production pipeline.
• Mench’s helmet has a Rawlings wordmark above one side of the brim. I’m assuming that wouldn’t be there for a regular season game.
Further details on all of this as soon as I have them. Meanwhile, let me know if you’re aware of any other players wearing the new lids.
(Special thanks to eagle-eyed Aaron Clements and Brian Erni for spotting these helmets before I did.)
Research Project: I’m about to start working on an ESPN column about ticket stubs — stub design, stub rituals, stub lore, stub-o-rama. If you have any particularly nice-looking stubs, or if you have some good stories regarding ticket stubs, or anything else you want to communicate to me regarding ticket stubs, don’t be shy.
Giveaway Reminder: I’m giving away two classic old NFL LPs. Full details here.
House of Hearts Reminder: My continued thanks to those of you who’ve contributed to my House of Hearts Bonspiel sponsorship fund. If you can kick in a mere five bucks (or more, if you’re feeling generous), it’ll go to a worthy cause and help me earn my keep at the charity curling tournament where I’ll be competing later this month. Full details here.
Membership Reminder: The Membership Program is once again open for business. The orders from the past three days are being processed and many of them are already featured in the card gallery. If you want to get on board, there’s no time like the present.
Uni Watch News Ticker: More Wisconsin high school basketball tournament slideshows from Jeff Ash — one apiece for the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Interesting to see how some of the 1970s uniforms were clearly influenced by Marquette. Here’s another example. … Mike Hersh has found one of the greatest auction items ever — a Flying Fathers jersey! Read the item description for details. … Other auction finds from Mike: a very interesting Phillies jacket (note the shoulder inserts, high pocket placement, and unusual sleeve color) and an incredible-looking Red Sox program. … Soccer story from Tyler Ostergaard, who writes: “N. Korea and Venezuela played a friendly match Thursday night, but N. Korea lost their uniforms and had to borrow Venezuela’s away uniforms.” … The Pats will be wearing Grogan-era throwbacks as an alternate look next season. … The Seoul Heroes are now the Nexen Heroes, which of course means new uniforms (with thanks to Dan Kurtz and Jeremy Brahm). … Longtime Uni Watch favorite Mark Penxa is running a contest to give away five illustrations from his latest Stealing Signs art series. For contest details, look here. … Nick Johnson’s recent back injury (presumably the first of many maladies he’ll suffer this year) was the due to wearing the wrong cleats for batting practice. … That crazy Ozzie Guillen wore stirrups on Friday (as spotted by Larry Kurtze). … Latest evidence that we’d all be better off if an asteroid plowed right into the planet: Florida is considering selling ad space on their license plates (courtesy of Jesse Agler. … Actually, let’s just have the asteroid plow into Florida, that would be better. … New uniforms for the Green Bay Blizzard (with thanks to the Rev. Nørb). … Jonathon Binet asks, not unreasonably, why the Auburn baseball team needs six different cap designs. Yes, the second and sixth ones look similar, but the last one has white outlining on the logo and white airholes. Similarly, the first one is white with a navy brim, while the fifth one is gray, not white. … Tom Turner claims that Rocky Blier’s cleats in this shot are actually curling shoes. “They were imported from Canada to use on artifical turf,” he says. “The Univ. of South Carolina also used them (my friend was head manager).” Can anyone confirm or refute? … North Central College’s baseball media guide shows the team’s jerseys from the 1980s through today. Plus the team wears stirrups! (With thanks to Eric Bunnell.) … Good story from Mat Orefice, who plays in the hockey-rock band the Zambonis: “Our lead singer, Dave Schneider, also owns a chain of hip-hop clothing stores in Connecticut, and he recently created a Whalers T-shirt design that he placed in his store window. A few hours later a guy comes in to buy a few for himself and his daughter. Who, you ask? Former Whalers captain Kevin Dineen! Glad to see tons of Whalers gear hitting the streets. Of course, I’m still the only one with a Whalers drum kit!” … People sometimes say I have a uniform fetish. But some people have a real uniform fetish, and those people are apparently creating a brisk black market for Japan Airlines stewardess uniforms (big thanks to Robert Leavell). … Good follow-up story from Mike Edgerley, who writes: “A couple of years ago I sent you some links that explained Port St. Joe (FL) High School’s tradition of wearing striped socks when reaching the state Final Four. Today, however, Tampa Prep finally defeated Port St. Joe and their ‘cat in the hat’ socks for the first time in five tries in the state 2A Final Four. Here’s some excellent video, with plenty of socks action and commentary.” … The Erie Bayhawks of the D-League recently played a game wearing the uniforms of their parent club, the Cavs. But some players had authentic Cavs NOBs while others had bogus-looking nameplate. As Anthony LoPinto explains, “Danny Green and Darnell Jackson were recently sent to the D-League after playing in about 20 games each with the Cavs, so they had their official jerseys.” The other players apparently had knockoff replicas. … College football is along way away, but here’s something to file away: Iowa will wear throwbacks against Ball State in late September (with thanks to Joe Wagner. … Also, when did Riddell go to this logo? I don’t recall having seen it before. … On Friday I asked about the Republic of France’s very Jerry Dior-esque logo. Got a fantastic response from Frenchman Jérémy Crampon, as follows: “I don’t think that republic logo has been inspired by the MLB logo cuz here nobody watch baseball!!! BIG SIGH!!! (I must be one of the only French to watch during warm summer nights some baseball on tv! Thank god i got this european espn version that broadcast games !!!) Anyway i admit we can see a similarity between these two logos!! The French logo is in service since September 1999. It represents our flag color! Blue ,white, red. The white part is Marriane’s head! Marriane is a national symbol of France. And then under the Marriane head there is our moto! I didn’t find yet whom created it and what is the story of the logo! It’s just a official logo that we can see on official papers from governement! When we have to pay taxes or I don’t know!” Merci. … Ooooh, check out these display helmets that Brinke Guthrie found. Amazing, right? What were they for? Also, note that the Saints helmet is black! … Mikey Caldwell reports that NESN did a “Best and Worst Uniforms” segment on a recent Bruins pregame show and used NHLuniforms.com templates without attribution. … Everyone’s gonna like this: Andrew Fladeboe‘s father has dozens of amazing sports-themed Matryoshka Dolls. Where’d he get them all? “My dad works in international law and specializes in nuclear nonproliferation. After the fall of the Soviet Union it was important to make sure all the missiles and nuclear material were accounted for (which is still an issue today), so we ended up moving to Moscow from 1994-97. We would go to these huge outdoor markets where you could buy anything, and he sort of befriended one of the guys who made these Matryoshka Dolls. He kept asking my dad to bring him Street & Smith magazines so he could keep track of uniform changes and get the numbers and names right. The artist was also very particular about flesh color and really liked doing the retro uniforms. They were between $10-$15 apiece.” … Dig this super-cool soap box derby pin. … Just don’t give me the slice with the swoosh (with thanks to Brian Shane). … Omir Santos is wearing those newfangled batting gloves I wrote about last week (with thanks to Brian Erni). … Good to see Jamie Moyer’s stirrups are already in mid-season form (with thanks to Matthew Borda). … Ross Yoshida notes that the 4 in Travis Outlaw’s uni number is the wrong font. … Zack Tanner notes that Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen is still using his old Thrashers catching glove. … Great item up for auction: a pair of Hollywood Stars shorts (excellent find by Al Arauz). … New Poseidon-themed mask for Evgeni Nabokov (screen shots courtesy of Sean Robbins). … The Maryland baseball team is wearing stirrups this season (that good news relayed by Matt Shevin). … The Caps finally got around to wearing that 35th-anniversary patch on Saturday night (photo by Cheryl Nichols). … Also, the Caps had a historical jersey display in the lobby for that game, and Ken Pilpel got a bunch of photos. … Jacob Pomrenke was watching some old footage on the MLB Network and noticed that Kevin Mitchell went NNOB in his first game with the Giants in 1987. … Also: Jacob’s wife, Tracy Greer, has developed a specialty of crocheting baby blankets for friends and family members in team colors, like these Phillies and Mizzou examples. … It’s hard to see, but Rangers goalie Alex Auld is still using his Stars backplate (as spotted by John Muir). … Jubilo Iwata of the J-League are honoring Masashi Nakayama, who had played with the team for 20 years, with a uni-themed seat (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … Also from Jeremy: these NFL children’s pajamas, which he saw at the Kohl’s in Portland the other day. … Still more from Jeremy: Here are the uniforms from the Top League (that’s Japanese rugby) All-Star Game.
Virtue Rewarded: I watched the Oscars for the first time since 1998, mainly to see if Logorama would win. And it did! If you haven’t seen it yet, stop what you’re doing now and watch it here. And be sure to turn up the volume so your boss and co-workers can enjoy the finely crafted dialogue.