Last week I wrote about Eugenio Velez’s jersey typo. I’m often the only writer who covers glitches like these, but not this time — the media world was buzzing about the misspelling, mainly because it had been called out in this AP story, which was picked up by just about every media outlet in the country. The AP also mentioned the typo in this photo caption.
I was impressed by the AP’s work on this one (they even called Velez on his cell phone to get a quote from him after the Giants had left the stadium and were on their way to the airport) and said as much in last week’s post. That caught the eye of Rick Freeman, a Uni Watch reader who’s also a copy editor on the AP’s sports desk in New York.
“I wasn’t involved in [the story] myself,” he told me. “However, I do know that it was a classic bit of AP teamwork journalism. … First our photographers noticed it, alerted the desk, who got hold of the reporter at the ballpark in Houston, and then got hold of our Giants writer — she’s one of the best reporters we have. … A lot of journalistic legwork for a 275-word story with no byline — quintessential AP.”
Rick said he’d get back to me with the full story once he was able to piece it all together. He’s now done that:
Sometime that afternoon, after the Giants/Astros game ended, someone called out from the photo desk that they’d just moved a photo with “San Francisco” misspelled on the jersey.
Our editor who was handling baseball right then — longtime ball writer Ben Walker — immediately called up the photo in the system. There it was: “San Francicso.” He got on the phone to the ballpark. One of our Houston sports writers, Kristie Rieken, had just gotten back up to the press box to work on her optional (that’s an AP term for the later version of the story that moves on the wire about an hour after the game, following on the heels of two earlier versions that move immediately after the final out).
Ben told Kristie about the uniform, so down she went to the clubhouse, only to find it deserted. She came back up and went down again, hoping to find a clubhouse attendant, but was told that the Giants and their uniforms were already gone on the bus.
She was ready to head out to the parking lot, but a call to the Giants indicated that the bus was already on the move.
So we had to find another way. Another one of our baseball writers, Ron Blum, managed to finagle Velez’s cell phone number, and we got that to Giants writer Janie McCauley (who also covers just about everything else in the Bay Area for us). Janie also speaks fluent Spanish. So she and Velez chatted for a couple minutes, Janie sent her notes to Ben on the desk in New York, and he put the story on the wire.
If you’re counting, that’s five people working on this story (six if the original photographer is the one who noticed the typo, not the editor; eight if you count the two of us who walked in the door and gave one last look at the copy to check for tragically ironic typos) in three different locations. It wasn’t ever going to be an award-winner — it didn’t even have a byline because Janie reported from San Francisco but it was datelined Houston.
It was some old-fashioned AP team journalism, although as far as I know, no one in the newsroom was wearing stirrups (or a fedora with a press card in the hatband).
Amazing stuff! And it’s nice to see AP people get mentioned by name, instead of being saddled with their usual anonymity.
Speaking of AP people, I had mistakenly thought that they had beat writers who traveled with each team, but Rick says that’s not the case: “Nah, we don’t do it that way. We’ve got bureaus all over the country. The game was in Houston, so Kristie (one of two sportswriters in the city) was there. Janie covers the Giants (and A’s) when they’re at home, along with another writer in the Bay Area.” Interesting.
Big thanks to Rick for providing this excellent backstory, and my repeated kudos to the AP team for their fine un-watching.
Too Good for the Ticker: Paul here. As you may recall from a recent Ticker mention, a scrapbook of old hockey photos and newspaper clippings (including some amazing uni shots) showed up on eBay a month or two ago, and reader Jake Doyle won it. He’s created a guided tour of the scrapbook in the form of a slideshow with captions. To get the full effect, start here and use the thumbnails on the left to click through the rest of the slideshow. Tremendous stuff.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Baseball Hall of Fame curator Tom Shieber has done some research into the 19th-century police medal that’s usually cited as the source of the Yankees’ interlocking NY logo. As usual, he’s produced an extremely readable account that raises interesting questions and reminds all of us not to take party lines at face value. I strongly recommend that you check it out here. … Fred Couples sported some atypical footwear at the Masters. Further details here (with thanks to Ethan Ganot). … Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is a lifelong Phillies fan. In this Q&A session, he mentions his first Phillies uniform: “I think my mother actually made it from scratch. I still have it someplace. I have a picture of myself and my sister and we both have Phillies uniforms on. But I asked her to put the ‘1’ on the back [for Richie Ashburn]” (with thanks to Morris Levin). … Great stripes! That’s the 1949 football team from West Aurora High School, in Aurora, Illinois (with thanks to David Lewis, whose children now attend that school). … “New Uniforms for us at Potomac State College in West Virginia this year (first time in over 11 years with a new set),” writes Don Schafer. “Very nice basic grey set from our sponsor Rawlings. The unfortunate part is the Manny-style pants. In fact, the style number from Rawlings is PP350MR — I think the MR actually stands for Manny Ramirez.” … Lance Smith found some great old photos of Wilt Chamberlain’s Kansas team. Love those warm-up jackets! … The Knicks are reportedly pondering some uni tweaks. … The Blackhawks’ video archives include lots of segments featuring players discussing why they chose their uni numbers. Here’s Patrick Kane’s installment (with thanks to Steve Johnston). … Matthew Hackethal visited the Hockey Hall of Fame last weekend and photographed a bunch of cool stuff. … The Hanover (N.H.) High School softball team is wearing pewter this year. “As an alum, I really prefer our traditional colors of maroon and white,” says Tris Wykes. … Here’s a site — new, I think — devoted to women’s soccer history, including good coverage of uniforms (with thanks to Peter Kurilesz). … The Twins opened their new stadium by wearing their awesome new throwbacks. Lots of additional photos here, here, and here. … Scroll down to the “Indians Chatter” sidebar on this page for some depressing info regarding Tribe players altering their pants (with thanks to Harlen Rife). … Oooh, dig these very cool boxing glove-shaped ticket stubs (great find by Dan Cichalski). … Doug Keklak reports that with the Civic/Mellon Arena’s days numbered, FSN Pittsburgh put together a half-hour Igloo retrospective. It’s currently available on YouTube, at least for now, in four parts. Start here, and then move on to parts two, three, and four. … Also from Kek: “Mars, Pennsylvania, is a small town about 30-45 minutes from Pittsburgh. The sports teams of their school district are aptly named the Planets and Fightin’ Planets, and most of their uniforms have a planetary motif.” Cool — although you’d think one of their school colors would be red, no? … Georgia State will finally have a football team this fall, but the uniforms weren’t exactly worth the wait (here’s the road version). Yeesh. … Here’s a rare example of the tequila sunrise uni being upstaged. Details here (great find by Andrew McNeel). … Andrew also came up with the best contribution of the day: this awesome montage of old Astrodome scoreboard animations. Not to be missed. Enjoy.