[Editor's Note: Today we have a guest entry from David Battafarano (that's him talking to the ump), who recently had an interesting experience designing his team's uniforms. -- PL]
By David Battafarano
I’m a Social Studies teacher at Delcastle Technical High School in Wilmington, Delaware, where I’m also an assistant football coach and head baseball coach.
I’ve had the unique opportunity to design the uniforms for the varsity football and baseball teams. Our high school has traditional colors for me to work with (navy, gray, and white), which works out wel, bcause I’m uni traditionalist, as you can see in these photos of our football team.
When I took over the baseball program nine years ago, the team wore the typical high school baseball uniform: dark jersey, white pants, solid blue soccer socks (usually obscured by the pajama or “sloppy joe” look). Within two years I was able to transform our home uniform to a more traditional look, which really stands out compared to our opponents. We maintain a mandatory high-cuffed look and wear solid navy stirrups at home and striped stirrups on the road.
By the time these players have hit high school, they’ve already developed horrible uni habits, so I give each player this handout at the beginning of the season. I actually have to hold a practice session on how to wear the uniform, why we wear it a certain way, and how to cuff the pants. There are no other teams in Delaware that wear stirrups, stripes, and sanitaries, and also no teams who have a mandatory high-cuffed policy, so we receive quite a few comments and questions every time we take the field.
This winter I was informed by my Athletic Director that it was baseball’s “turn” to order new uniforms. Having no intention to change either our home or road designs, I decided to create and design a Negro League-based throwback look for an alternate uniform. My concept was that the uniform would be gray with a navy blue collar and wide stripe running down the placket (along the lines of the 1910 Dodgers, 1912 Pirates, and, especially, the 1910 White Sox), with our team name “Cougars” stitched in white down the placket. The pants would also be gray with navy belt loop piping, a navy stripe down the sides of the pants, and navy pocket flaps, much like the Brewers’ Negro League throwbacks. I envisioned an old-school waving American flag patch for the left sleeve, à la the 1917 White Sox wore.
Or at least that was the idea.
My first lesson in specialty uni design was that it’s essential to sit down with a representative from the manufacturer — in this case, a Rawlings rep named Bill Murray, who works the entire mid-Atlantic region. I presented him with all my diagrams, details, and specifications. After 45 minutes, he looked at me and said, “In 16 years on the job, I have never experienced what we just went through. I’m going to order an extra one of these for myself. You weren’t kidding about being a ‘uniform guy!’”
Unfortunately, my next few conversations with Bill did not go as well. He informed me that Rawlings was not able to reproduce the pocket flaps and did not have the old-style American Flag patch I wanted. The most disappointing news was that Rawlings didn’t have the capability to do the vertical placket lettering. I couldn’t understand how this could be — how come they were able to stitch lettering across the chest but could not go vertical down the placket? I was exasperated. Honestly, I believe that they just didn’t want to go through the hassle.
Undaunted, I went to Plan B. Here is the result. As you can see, the major change is the lettering across the chest. On the actual jersey, the “DT” will be on the right chest and “HS” on the left. I chose the “bridged arch” layout for the lettering, 5″ high and 14″ across. The white lettering on grey will look sweet, and I’m hoping the overlapping “T” and “H” on the navy placket will provide something like this classic look.
I kept the numerals navy blue on the back and was hoping to use the McAuliffe font to achieve this effect, but I was informed that Rawlings cannot do that style at this time either. I also had to settle for a standard yellow-trimmed American Flag patch on the left sleeve. Despite all the disappointments and challenges, I still believe I have created an incredibly unique jersey.
For the pants, I made some minor adjustments to accentuate the white used on the jersey lettering. The belt loop piping will be 1″ in width and will feature a navy-white-navy striping pattern. (You can see the pant striping if you click the arrow on the uniform-builder graphic.) The same 1″ piping used down the pant legs, which have 27″ inseams to eliminate any chance of low-cuffed pajama styling.
The final two components of this throwback uniform are the hats and hosiery. Our hats are navy blue with a white D logo. The brims this season will be white, as will the button and six eyelets on top, like so. For legwear, we are going with white stirrups, a 4″ cut with this style. The thin stripes are gray and the thick middle stripe is navy. I couldn’t find navy sanitaries, so we will wear our white sanitary socks under the white stirrups.
The uniforms are currently in production and should be done by the middle of April. I let the team know what was in the works and they are extremely excited. I’ll send photos as soon as we suit up in them.
Paul here. Big thanks to David for giving us a peek inside his team’s uni-creation process.
Culinary Corner: Why is this week different from all other weeks? Because Passover started at sundown last night, which has beneficial effects that ripple throughout the food chain, even if you’re not Jewish.
Here’s the deal: Observant Jews (a group that definitely does not include me) only eat Kosher food, but there’s a higher standard of Kosher-osity during Passover — called, simply enough, “Kosher for Passover.” Many foods that are Kosher during the rest of the year don’t pass the Passover test. This especially applies to foods sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, because corn is one of the Passover-prohibited grains (a category known as chametz). Some food companies using high-fructose corn syrup simply accept that observant Jews won’t purchase their products during Passover. But a few brands make special production runs of Passover product sweetened with cane sugar.
The most notable of these brands is Coca-Cola, which makes Kosher for Passover Coke each spring — a godsend for foodies who believe cane sugar results in a crisper, fresher product than corn syrup. (Mexican and Canadian Coke are prized year-round for the same reason.) Some folks — including the Coca-Cola company itself — say there’s no difference in the flavor; others maintain that the sugar-sweetened version is superior. If you want to decide for yourself, look for Coke bottles with the telltale yellow cap and a Hebrew seal of approval.
Personally, I’m a Diet Coke guy, so I don’t get too excited about the Coke thing. I do get excited, however, about the Passover version of Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup, the classic component of a New York egg cream and other chocolaty drinks. It’s normally made with corn syrup, but they switch to cane sugar for Passover. The special product is easy to spot.
Of course, the best food-related aspect of Passover is matzo brei. I’ll have more to say about that later in the holiday.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Campbell Soup product with the old NFL logo is still on the shelves. Shaun Kuter bought that can just the other day. “Even though the logo is expired, the soup is good until November 2011,” he writes. … Jason Hillyer recently got this book about the Browns and scanned a few relevant passages, including one about Greg Pruitt’s tearaway jerseys and a bit about longtime team trainer Leo Murphyt. … Jason’s wife, Alison, also got him a Rob Ullman pin-up illo of herself for his 40th birthday. Nice! … Eric Greenwald has created a superb site devoted to Michigan State uniform history, called SpartanJerseys.com. Click around — highly recommended. … Firefighter-themed uniforms on tap this summer for the Brooklyn Cyclones. Further details here (with thanks to Terence Kearns). … Eddie Brewer reports that the University of the Pacific baseball team wears camo jerseys for Sunday home games. … Here’s a video clip of the last portion of the Yankee Stadium upper deck coming down (with thanks to Terence O’Donohue). … Brian Fitterman sent along some pics of the 1919 Little Rock High School baseball team. “At first it was the vertical lettering that caught my eye,” he writes, “but upon closer inspection the dual-buckle belts were also pretty cool. Also: Similar to your fascination with stirrups by the old hats worn by non-uniformed managers/coaches.” … If you watch this 1982 Bills/Bengals game footage, you’ll see the Bills wearing blue facemasks — except for Joe Cribbs, who’s wearing gray (good spot by Bill Hoppe). … What makes a bad NBA team logo? The folks at The Orange County Register think they know (with thanks to Tim Erney). … Here are what the season ticket presentations look like for the Pirates and Mets (big thanks to Dan Cichalski). … You’ve heard of color vs. color? How about Angels vs. Angels? That odd situation happened when two small SoCal Little League programs — Saddleback and Lake Forest — got together from some interleague games. Both leagues had an Angels team. While the uniforms were largely identical, there were a few differences (with thanks to Matt Stern).