By Phil Hecken
Last evening the Milwaukee Brewers played host to the Philadelphia Phillies in the first of several of the Brewers’ planned season-long 40th anniversary celebration “Retro Weekends” (there will be four in all), each one harking back to a specific decade in Brewer history. Last night was billed thusly:
1970s Retro Weekend (May 14-16 vs. Phillies): May 14 — Brewers to wear reproductions of the home 1972-77 uniforms with “BREWERS” in royal blue block letters on the front of the jerseys and the yellow “M” logo on the cap. The Phillies will be wearing light blue uniforms worn on the road throughout most of the 1970s. Alumni Gorman Thomas and Jim Colborn are scheduled to attend and participate in a pregame autograph session.
Sounded good. If we take a look into the ‘way back machine,’ we’d see the match-up should have looked something like this. While no specific “year” for either team was indicated, the Brewers of that time-period were wearing their mid-70’s polyester pullover tops with thick blue-gold-blue sleeve stripes, and matching beltless pants with blue stirrups and white sanitaries. The cap was royal blue with gold “M” in block style (despite the bad photo reproduction). Generally, a pretty plain uniform — their second generation, after having worn their inherited “Seattle Pilots” uniforms from 1970-71. In 1971, they would lose some of the sleeve stripes.
From 1972-1977 the Brewers would wear the style they were attempting to replicate in last night’s game. As you can see in this Bill Henderson graphic, these unis were NNOB, with radially arched “BREWERS” stitched across the front, with a “v” neck. Some additional explanation of this style, and those that followed, can be seen here.
The Phillies, their selected opponents for this retro game, wore their 1972 powder blue (according to Henderson) road uniforms. We know this to be so, because while the Phillies wore powder blue roads from 1973-1988 (according to Marc Okkonen), they only wore button downs for 1973 (although the would return to them for 1987-88). In between the wore a zipper front jersey. Despite the popular misconception that they wore maroon/burgundy as an accent color, it was a dark red that might appear burgundy. Trim and stirrups were dark red, with stripes having a white-dark red-white pattern. As mentioned, in 1987 & 1988, the Phils returned to the button down style. These, as noted by Bill Henderson, can be identified by the “closed loop inside the front ‘P’ logo.” Those jerseys also had nameplates containing radially arched lettering (as opposed to the earlier style which had VAL). In 1972, the Phillies had no NOB.
Both teams had previously played throwback games wearing the style of uniform they were supposed to emulate last evening. In 2003, the Phillies played the Orioles, but then, they were supposed to be approximating their 1983 version of the powder blues. They came close, but still didn’t quite get it right. The Brewers had done better in their attempts.
So, how did they do last evening?
I realize I sound like an old fart when I complain about teams not getting throwbacks right, but dammit — it really doesn’t require that much effort or research to get uniforms from the 1970s correct. I’ll even discount the apparent missteps of both teams because they weren’t wearing the specific uniform of a certain year. For example, it is my understanding that the Phils were merely representing the “decade” of the 1970’s, so I’ll forgive their transgressions from the proper uniform. And by and large, it was nice to see them break out the powders (wish some teams, but not the Phils, would bring those back). But on the other hand, at Uni Watch, we cannot help but spot the glaring mistakes in the uniform replication.
The Phillies, for the most part, got it right. They went with button-down jerseys (so, 1972-3, if we’re talking the period they were representing), but didn’t spring for the retro helmets. OK, it’s a one-off, no big deal. They wore period-correct caps in dark red (almost burgundy). Well done there. It’s tough to tell, but it appears they went with the closed loop logo on the jerseys, more closely approximating the 1987-1988 jersey. Meh. And they elected to go not only with NOB, but they again went with the 1987-88 radially arched nameplates. OK. Not a big deal, to be sure, but how difficult would it have been to get those details correct.
But what really eats at my craw is the complete and total reluctance of the teams (for the most part) to even attempt to wear the uniforms in the style of the period they were throwing back to. Giant, oversized jerseys and pajama bottoms were in evidence all over the place. C’mon, man. Does this remind anyone of the 1970s? (Also note skip Charlie Manuel wearing the modern dugout jacket, for a rather anachronistic look.) Seriously, pajama pants aren’t a good look in any era, but they look particularly atrocious when sported in the powder blues.
The Brewers did pretty well on their throwbacks, but they too had mostly pajama-clad-and-two-sizes-too-big jerseys. But as far as replicating the 1972-77 uniform, they get high marks (although the appearance of the swoosh on the undershirt is annoying). But they did get the jersey and pants style (pullovers and beltless pants) correct, and had proper helmets with a big block “M” on them. I’m not sure if they ever wore that big an “M,” (my memory is somewhat faulty), but I always thought it was more like what Hammerin’ Hank sported. Still, not a big deal. All in all, not too bad (there’s that swoosh again).
A few of the Brewers wore blue socks, but I didn’t see a single stirrup-clad player, which was disappointing. Two of the Phillies, however, did break out the sweet hosiery (although the rups, while period correct, are a bit too high for my liking). Shane Victorino, who looked a bit like a kid who’d never worn stirrups before, played along. Of course, the best-attired player of the whole evening was the only player who may have actually played during the 1970s, pitcher Jamie Moyer. That uniform never looked good, but at least Moyer knew how to wear it correctly. (Big thanks to UW Prexy Paul Lukas for the screen grabs.)
I’m honestly not really enjoying these TBTC or retro or throwback games anymore, and it’s simply because the teams involved either don’t care, or think the fans don’t care, or don’t really want to get it right. All my nit-picking is just that — but it’s not enjoyable to watch a game like this, at least to me. I can overlook the minor uniform screwups and omissions, although those are easy enough to correct, but what bothers me more is the way the players insist on wearing the uniforms in today’s cuts. I lived through the 1970s, and grew up watching the teams playing in these, and they look NOTHING like what I remember. And that’s because it’s not what they dressed like back then. Again, call me an old fart, but I really don’t think it’s too much to ask for the uniform manufacturers to at least get the details right and give the players a properly fitting uniform. It’s not like they’re speed skaters or sprinters who might be adversely affected by wearing an old style uniform, and I really doubt what they wear today is so much more comfortable that they’ll be detrimentally affected by looking like their predecessors did.
Tonight, the Civil Rights Game takes place between the Cardinals and the Reds. I really don’t know if I can bear to watch.
Got an E-mail from reader David Freeman this week that should make every red-blooded American male
drool extremely jealous … and even our Canadian, European and Asian friends as well. Let’s just say what you are about to see is, in a word, awesome. I’ll let David describe it:
Hey Phil –
I thought you may be interested in my on-going project of getting my bar built inside my new house … of course I jumped the gun and put all my helmets (well , not ALL of my helmets, just the most valuable) on display first BEFORE building the actual bar, but I couldn’t help myself — ahahahhahahah … all the helmets are built from scratch — what I like to call “era-perfect.” I built the display shelves as well … next to the Rams display (the white & red helmet w/the “LS” on it is my High School helmet from ’82 — La Serna High in Whittier , Ca. w/the team photos from Jr./Sr. year in the frame).
I also had ALL of the USFL helmets made, but ran out of room, so I sold off the less meaningful ones, and the special items are kept in my studio/office (sorry, some of the pix are a little dark, but that room just floods with light and it’s hard to get things perfect). The Hershel Walker helmet is supposed to be “his practice helmet,” and it came with a LOA , but I can’t really picture his head fitting in a Large helmet. The original logos (which seem to be authentic) are framed below it.
I have a Eric Dickerson display with EP helmet & Mitchell & Ness jersey, shoulder pads, and neck-roll all ready to be put up on the wall next to the Rams display, but haven’t had the time to put it up yet — hopefully soon before the summer pool parties start. The Alan Page helmet I just finished over this past weekend, and the other (2) Rams helmets are getting ready for sale: the one yellow/blue Rams helmet with the 2-bar mask is actually a 1978 Punt Pass & Kick helmet used by a kid that was a friend of my dad’s friend who knew a guy that had a kid that used it for 2 years.
I hope you enjoy the pix. I love this hobby — it’s all about the hunt, and finding treasures in what other people call junk!
David Freeman (djmff)
Wow, David. That’s pretty freakin’ sweet. I followed up with David about the USFL helmets and the “Dickerson Display,” and here’s what he had to say:
I have more in the same room/bar but in a bookshelf, but it looks kinda tacky (even for a guy, that set up is just temporary until the bar’s built — I just keep it there to bug the wife) so I didn’t take any pix. If anyone else wants to see the USFL helmets, or the Dickerson display just let me know.
I usually pop on to your site once a week or so since I’ve found you guys. Thanks again — I still need to join so I can get my #9 card!
I’d say so. You could take out a dozen or so memberships and put them up all over the room ;). One for each helmet!
As a bonus, in a separate E-mail, David sent along a photo of his Steve Young USFL LA Express helmet.
Great stuff. I’ll have more from David in the future. He’s a pretty interesting guy with a TON of memorabilia and some fantastic stories. Stay tuned!
What did you have for breakfast this morning? Was it serial? The Benches theme continues…here’s Ricko:
Mick is still trying to get a handle on this “baseball joins the generations” thing. Y’know, looking for that elusive common ground where time is irrelevant and we are all just kids. Under the circumstances, good luck with that…
Here’s your Saturday Bencies.
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: Baseball’s back for the scoreboard today, and this one might prove a challenge for those of you playing along at home. But the only clue you’ll need is right there in front of you. 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!
Back again with more Uniform Tweaks, Concepts and Revisions today. Lots to get to, and if you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
Leading off today is Bowen Hobbs, who knocked the cover off the ball with this Pirates set:
My name is Bowen Hobbs. I am a graphic designer from Oshkosh, WI, as well as a lifelong sports fan. I write a blog called 44th & Goal (my boss is cool enough to pay me for it, as it gets our agency’s name out there), which is dedicated to sports design and branding. Anyways, the purpose of this email is to show how great the Pittsburgh Pirates could look if they embraced their history. I have attached a logo sheet, as well as home, away, “faux-back” alternate, and batting practice uniforms. The concept embrace a modified pill box hat, and applies the striping from said hat to the sleeves of the uniforms. They primary home and road jerseys feature a vest with the undershirt having the stripes, while the black jerseys have sleeves containing the stripes. Although the model in my concept isn’t wearing stirrups, I would envision the stirrups (or sock) making use of the three-stripe pattern.
Thanks for taking the time to look at my concept,
In the two-hole today is Robert Montenegro, with some cool concepts for some teams across the pond, rendered in low-tech:
I’ve been living in Germany for the past few months and being away from baseball so long got me to bust out the good ol’ Crayola markers and think about some “what-if’s…”
Second, a Denmark jersey, with the Danish spelling across the front.
Then, a UK concept, which admittedly looks like a wearable Reebok billboard.
In the three hole, we’ve got an NHL tweak from Stephen Brookman, who has a couple new looks for the golfing Capitals:
Attached are two small tweaks I made for the Washington Choking-Dogs, er, I mean Capitals. I really like the retro looking font used in their logo. Since there is a “C” and an “A” in the logo, why don’t they use that same typeface for their captaincy patches? Here’s what I came up with.
There are other tweaks I would like to work on, namely the piping, but I’m too depressed to think about the Caps anymore than I have to. haha
Have a good one buddy!
And closing down the show today we have Anthony Rodriguez who, like so many, thinks the Bills uniforms need tweakin’:
Thanks for humoring all of us wannabe uni designers!
Here’s my take on a Bills revamp. I decided to take the most reviled football uni and approach it with elements from the most revered (Da Bears). Plus, I had some time on my hands and felt like designing them a new logo.
And with that, we’ll close down today’s edition of All Sport Uni Tweaks. Check back next time for more.
Everyone have a great Saturday. It’s possible, but not likely, that I won’t have Internet access this evening, so there may not be any reports on the Civil Rights Game tomorrow. Then again, I may be too upset with what they wear to want to write about it anyway.
If you’re associated with the Philadelphia media or town, you look for negatives. I don’t know if there’s something about their upbringing or they have too many hoagies, or too much cream cheese. — Michael Jack Schmidt