By Phil Hecken
Late yesterday afternoon, the Green Bay Packers, they of steeped tradition, unveiled a (gasp) third jersey (also known as an “alternate”) during their annual Packer Fan Fest. Basically, what they have created, at least in theory, is a “throwback” to the 1929-30 uniform (the year they won their first NFL Championship). You see, the Packers didn’t just unveil a new jersey, but a whole new uniform. Again, this is supposedly based on their 1929 uni set. But is it?
Let’s take a closer look. In 1929, the front numbers were about one and one half inches high. It’s hard to tell in black and white, but the jersey was blue — just what shade of blue depends upon the artist’s rendering or the colorizing skills of the photoshopper.
If you look at those color prints closely, you’ll see that both players either wore or held a helmet. Now, helmets of the day were leather, but it’s hard to tell if those were painted gold or if that was just the artist’s impression. For the sake of argment, we’ll assume they were brown leather.
You will also note that the players wore white oversock on top of their (one assumes) blue stirrups. As was the style at the time, the sleeves are full length. The best approximation of what they wore probably comes from this model (which Larry Bodnovich graciously provided to me), showing a brown helmet, blue shirt and socks, and khaki pants, with white, rolled up socks.
This was the look the 2010 Packers were trying to recreate for their first ever “alternate” jersey (aside from special games like those played on Thanksgiving and the 1994 75th Anniversary games). So, how did they do?
Well, if the jersey on the left is any guide…not so well. First of all, due to NFL regulations, they couldn’t keep the numbers at an inch and a half high in the front — so, they made them big…like, REALLY big. While that’s in order to conform with uniform regulations, my first impression was “jeez, that looks really stupid. Unfortunately, first impressions are often lasting. I mean seriously, do these two even remotely look similar?
Yes, I know they’re not going to make a modern jersey with full length sleeves. And I know they can’t use the tiny bullseye with the even smaller numbers, but this isn’t a “throwback,” it’s approaching a “fauxback.” And with all the great uniforms in the Packer history, this is the one they chose? Yes, I realize they wore the jersey on the left for their first championship, so it makes sense, but damn…I’m just not liking the execution here.
OK, so the jersey is a little lacking, but what about the rest of the uniform — did that come close to the 1929 version? Well, they went with a brown helmet and tan pants. Those fairly well replicate the 1929 uniform. Unfortunately, the helmet appears to have a glossy finish, when they could have made it matte, but it does have a gray facemask…and a giant warning label. I know they’re required (right?) to have that, but they couldn’t have removed it for the presser? And, obviously facemasks weren’t worn in 1929, so we’ll just accept that the gray is the color of choice. I have no problem with that. They could have made it blue…or worse, black.
Finally, the socks are solid blue. Whether or not this will be how they take the field remains to be seen, but tradition dictates that they should be wearing short white socks over the blue leggings. Another anachronism.
I’ll leave the “is it good or stupid” test to Paul, but based strictly on how this uniform looks, I have to give this a grade “C”. First of all, the giant yellow circle on the front looks stupid. A brown helmet, with a blue jersey and tan pants? Um, no.
But this is a fauxback, and I’ll give them an “A” for effort. This is an absolutely welcome change in a day and age when third jerseys are becoming either alternate colors (or exact replicas otherwise) of the team’s home jersey, or some godawful neon snot thing. It’s refreshingly simple (if not downright gorgeous) at least when viewed from behind. Even the Reebok vector isn’t too annoying. And if they only wear it once or twice a season, I think I can grow to like it for what it is: a harkback to the past.
The official Packer’s website offers their own spin on the new uniform. They explain all the “problems” I alluded to above, and after reading it, I completely understand the effort that went into this. It’s a great effort. It’s just that strictly as a uniform, I’m going to have to learn to love it. It certainly blows away a lot of third uniforms out there. The local TV station, Fox 11 (from which those stills were taken) had a poll at the end of the segment. The poll asks the viewer their opinion on the new uniforms. If I were “voting,” I think I’d go with “I’ll have to see them in action.”
In case you missed it, Paul was interviewed by the ESPN radio station in Wisconsin, and you can listen to that segment (zip ahead to the 27:00 mark). In that, he discusses the new Packer unis. Also, there is about a five minute or so video segment showing the full uniforms as they were unveiled at the Fan Fest. Definitely worth a look-see.
Now, I think I will come around to really liking this uniform, but for now, I’m a bit disappointed. If they had wanted a third jersey so badly, they could have considered this. That’s Ricko’s creation, by the way, and while he didn’t enter it into the “design an jersey” contest, it might have done very well. Here’s how Rick describes it: “Worn once a season (first day game after Autumnal Equinox, to celebrate long history of Packer football in the fall in Wisconsin). Huston-era inspired, but not a true throwback. Vintage sleeve logo. Yoke high enough in back so NOB is white letters on forest. TVs white to not visually break up the yoke too much.” But that’s for another time — maybe in five years, when the blue jersey with yellow bullseye runs its course.
Back to the new uniform: What say you, Uni Watchers? How do you feel about the new uniforms? Did they score a six, or did they fumble? Or somewhere in between. Let’s hear your thoughts.
UPDATE: Here’s the best view yet of the unis on the players.
Back to the Future, Part 2
By Phil & Rick Pearson
Last weekend, it all started. We got to talking about the return of the striped sock (but not a stirrup) for the Giants, as seen on one Barry Zito. One thing led to another, and I played around with how the Giants might look if they added a teensy stirrup and lowered the stripes. Then, how might that look if I raised the stirrup and lowered the stripes a bit more. Looks great, right? Like a real baseball stirrup should!
Rick Pearson, ever the resident baseball historian, privately remaked to me that “That’s how stirrups used to look” and how that look wasn’t new at all, but rather, a throwback to the 1947-48 stirrups worn by the New York Giants. Then, on Tuesday, Paul posted a ticker item showing that, indeed, Giants Minor Leaguers are actually being outfitted with those very stirrups. A new hope.
Now, the foremost expert on stirrups is, of course, Paul. But Ricko’s a pretty close second. What follows, then, is a very important history lesson on how we’ve almost come full circle on the stirrup. What was once good and glorious can and will be again — provided styles continue to evolve. What’s old is new again.
So, without further ado, I give you Ricko, and a brief history of the stirrup, as we go Back To The Future again. Here’s Rick:
Let’s begin with an as-brief-as-possible look at the whole origin of stirrup socks.
Starting back more than a hundred years ago, dark color full socks just plain weren’t worn. Dyes were not colorfast and players had to protect against blisters and athlete’s foot and all manner of things getting infected. So they wore white “sanitary socks” under colored socks with a “stirrup” that extended under the arch (football and basketball were the opposite: White crews worn OVER stirrup socks). White had no dye in it, so either way the idea was the same.
In the early years, then, stirrups were ultra low and pants ultra high, like knickers. So stripes originally were quite often positioned really high.
Then as the game moved into the ‘30s and ‘40s, stirrups got slightly higher, probably more to do with socks stretching from use than for “style” purposes. But, players DID begin blousing their pants a bit—or a lot–lower. That meant the pants covered some of any sock striping there was, and left a lot of solid (void) space between the stripes and the stirrups. In the case teams like the Red Sox, for example, the navy above the stripes didn’t show at all.
So manufacturers moved the stripes down a bit, but through and after the World War II era, players came right back by pulling the stirrups even a bit higher.
About that time, manufactures figured out it was best to position the stripes always the same place relative to the stirrups. The idea was to have (hopefully) roughly equal amounts of the base color showing between the stripes and the front stirrup and the stripes and the bottom of the bloused pants.
That created arrived at the look shown on Johnny Mize in 1947 here at UW yesterday, a look that continued through the 50s and most of the ‘60s.
(Also about that time, manufacturers separated stirrup sock designs into two camps, and they stayed that way until the the mid-’70s), when one-piece striped white socks showed up in football, basketball…and on the White Sox.) The ‘50s also marked at the beginning of the “Common Visual Era” (meaning TV), during which far more people than ever before actually got to see unis live and in use.Some see that as the glory days of stirrups simply BECAUSE so many people actually saw them. Others point to the 20 and 30s as the best, holding up Ruth and Gehrig and others in their shorter pants and lower stirrups as the “Golden Age”. Maybe, but other than in still photos, that look was seen by comparatively few fans.
I prefer the “balanced” stripe position of the ‘50s — with not such a huge area of solid above the front stirrup and some of the base color showing above the stripes — because it was the result of a refining process, and has at least a HINT of symmetry, something missing entirely from earlier incarnations (ever see any early sketches on Darth Vader?) Not even CLOSE to as menacing and magnificent as Luke’s old man looked by the time filming began).
I also see it as great because as the ‘60s were winding down was when it started to get weird.
Frank Robinson hiked his stirrups way up, showing lots of sani, even combining two pair of socks into one. Hawk Harrelson did the same, as did others. Even Willie Mays was part of “pull ‘em up; way way up” group. Vida Blue went nuts with it, both with the A’s and, later, the Giants.
Some socks even allowed for that, with the stirrups actually interrupting the stripes.
Before long, there was nothing but ribbon for some.
Then there were the ghastly “knit-in” vertical stripes. Bill Buckner introduced high tops, but they didn’t look so good with that ribbon business. With Eric Davis’ high tops, the low Reds stirrups just looked like solid stirrup-less socks so that became a “look”.
Barry Bonds (and others), though, just wore their pants right down to the shoes.
Guess what THAT evolved (devolved?) into? And now the new Giants are bringing back striped socks stirrups, apparently both as strirrups and black full socks. First exposure, not so good. What Barry Zito’s wearing in this photo is a soccer sock. Plus, pants bloused that high is a look that we have to go back at least 80 years to find. It IS, however, understandable. Doubleknit doesn’t blouse worth a damn. Certainly not as nicely as flannel or cotton blends did.
Okay, so we’ll accept the high pants, not anything hinting at biker shorts football high, but high. Can’t fight city hall, or fabric-dictated difficulties. But let’s add a bit of stirrup, move the socks down to a sensible position (from a design standpoint if nothing else; let alone that MILLIONS saw that look when TV first allowed them to view live action baseball) position with some balanced space above and below the stripes. And recent photos indicate many of the Giants who show socks are choosing that version.
Well, there ya go. Them are some good-lookin’ socks. BASEBALL socks.
The President of the Hockey Wing, Teebz checks in (pun firmly intended) with this little nugget about his hometown Manitoba Moose, who’ll be wearing a very special jersey this evening. I’ll let the Chancellor of Canuckistan explain:
The Manitoba Moose welcome the Rockford IceHogs to MTS Centre tonight, but they won’t be wearing their normal home whites. And Mathieu Schneider won’t be there either. Instead, the Moose will be holding their annual Salute to the Military, and they will have military-inspired jerseys on. The front of the jersey has the Canadian Military Services logo on it in silver as a tribute to the three branches of the Canadian military. The brown on the sleeve stripes and hem stripe has been replaced with silver.
The back of the jersey has the standard military-esque font for the name and numbers, but there is an additional logo just underneath the numbers. That logo is the 100th Anniversary logo for the Canadian Navy and Marines. 2010 is the 100th year since their formation, and the Moose will be helping that group of brave men and women celebrate the Navy’s 100th anniversary. The yellow ribbon on the hem is there to signify the hope of the safe return of all the Canadian troops serving abroad which, to me, is a very classy move.
Honestly, I’m always happy to see teams honour the men and women who provide us our freedoms that we seemingly take for granted day in and day out, so I applaud the Moose for their efforts. I’ll be at that game tonight, so I’ll try to get a few pictures of the military jerseys, and maybe even try to get my hands on one! Go Moose Go!
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: Another guest scoreboard today, and it’s brought to us from reader Chris Mayberry. It’s extremely difficult, but two obvious clues are the teams and the location. One more clue: Tugboat. If you’re unable to guess, I may drop in another clue to two as the day progresses. Ready? Guess The Game From The Scoreboard. Date, location and final score, please, and be sure to link to your answer. And, as always, if you enjoy the game, please send me some new scoreboards! Drop me a line. Thanks!
Well, it is baseball season, so the Boys of Benchies are back at it. Here’s Rick Pearson with a two-fer:
So you went to Florida, watched some Spring Training. Know what happens then, if you’re even remotely human? You start…thinking.
Back again with more Uniform Tweaks, Concepts and Revisions today. Lots of different sports being represented today, and if you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
Kicking off the show today is Matt Sajna, who has tweaks for two sports, MLB and the NFL:
The first set is a redesign of the San Diego Padres. I kept the current script but tweaked it slightly and changed the colors to navy and orange. I also changed the road script to match the home, and added a navy blue alternate with an alternate cap.
The second set is a redesign of the Washington Redskins. I darkened the burgendy on both the jersey and the helmet. I changed the helmet logo to add the “R” in the middle instead of the redskin head. I also added the spear on the side shoulders of the jerseys as well as adding yellow pants.
Hope you enjoy them, I’ve got more I’ve been working on too that I’ll send along soon.
Next up is Jeff Shirley, who also has some multi-sport tweaks:
Thanks for including me in your NFL jersey contest (even though I don’t have a prayer of winning). Here are some other uniforms I’ve been working on, usually when I should have been doing work around the house or something ‘more productive’ as my wife would say. My first submission is a tweak of the Bucks’ green jersey of the late 90’s. I wondered what red would look like as an accent to the green, and liked how it looked, although it’s much too 90’s for today’s NBA. My next tweak came from Nate Robinson’s video you posted where he said he wished the Knicks would incorporate the NYK logo onto their uniforms, so I created a home, alt, and road uniform using that logo, while ELIMINATING the black (if only the Mets would do as well). The next tweak is for the Atlanta Hawks, who have never looked good in blue and gray, along with that awful brown on their court, so I replaced their colors with a more tradiitonal red, black, and yellow from the 80’s and 90’s. My next submission is for the Memphis Grizzlies, who’s numbers on their light blue jersey are impossible to see on t.v., so I altered them a little bit, along with their home uniforms to match the same template.
In addition to the NBA designs, I included an altered Cowboys jersey that is similar to the one I included in the NFL contest, only with a royal shade of blue for a road uniform, along with white pants and a white helmet just for fun.
Thanks again for all your hard work.
And our last set of concepts today comes from The Jeff, who has a few NFL redesigns Ricko is sure to love:
I’ve been working on my vision of the league and all 32 teams… I thought I’d send in a few of the more noticeable changes I’ve come up with.
Jets — basically I tried to merge the mid 90’s uniform with the current one. Lighter green, added black. I’ve been pondering the idea of home & away helmets so I’ve got both a green and a white helmet. I think it works either way.
Ravens — 4 words: black and purple gradient.
Bills — got rid of the extra colors and things that bug me about their current uniforms, but tried to keep a modern look. Again I’ve got both a red and a white helmet in use.. it’s all mix-n-matchable.
Patriots — sorta revisted the 1993 uniforms only with their current color scheme, and used a silver jersey instead of white, because I really don’t like white jerseys that much.
Thus concludes the tweak show for today. Back with more next time.
One last thing: Don’t forget, you can still vote in the Uni Watch Design A Uni Poll, which will remain open until next Friday, after which time, the winner will be announced. If you’ve already voted, sorry — one man, one vote — but if you haven’t, be sure to check out the 11 finalists and pick your choice for the best contestant.
That’ll wrap it up for today. Have a great Saturday.
The most rewarding things you can do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done. — Arnold Palmer