Pretty funny illustration, right? It was done by a guy named Joe Petruccio, and it’s from a new blog he started producing last month. The concept is simple: After each Mets game, Petruccio summarizes the game’s events with a cartoon-style illustration. He’s really, really good, and this blog is only the latest project in his very interesting career. You can learn more about him in this interview I conducted with him for ESPN.
But here’s the beauty part: When I first contacted Petruccio, I didn’t realize that he also designed the Mets’ mid-1980s uniforms. Pretty amazing coincidence, no? I’ve separated out that part of our interview, which you can read now:
Uni Watch: Now, when I first got in touch and wanted to know more about your blog, you mentioned that you had designed the uniform that the Mets wore from 1983 through 1990. I’m a Mets fan and I write about uniforms, but I’ve never come across your name. What’s the story there?
Joe Petruccio: It’s kind of weird. When I was in high school in the 1970s, I loved the Astros’ uniforms, and I basically noticed that all the teams were changing their uniforms except the Mets. So I called the Mets and said, “Who’s in charge of uniforms?” and they said it was this guy named Jim Nagourney. So I would do drawings of new uniform designs and send them to him. I did this for a couple of years.
UW: Did he ever respond?
JP: No. But I kept sending them in anyway, until I went to college. Then, after college, I was working for Della Famina, the ad agency that had the account for lots of Mets advertising. One day I was up at Shea Stadium, and they said, “Why don’t you take a shot at doing a new uniform for us? Nothing too drastic, but see what you can come up with.” So I did a few sketches and brought them back to Shea for them to see, and they bring in this guy to take a look at them — Jim Nagourney.
UW: That’s hilarious! Did he realize who you were?
JP: Not at first. They said, “Jim, this is Joe Petruccio from the ad agency,” blah-blah-blah. And he looks at the sketches and he says, “Why does your name sound so familiar?” So I tell him the whole story and he can’t believe it. Like, what are the odds, right?
JP: Yeah, other teams were doing it, so I thought it would be a good thing to try. And I also added the stripes down the shoulders and sides.
UW: Right, the racing stripes, which some other teams had been using around that time.
JP: Yeah, I was trying to get them looking a bit more modern, like the other teams.
UW: Did you have to go through several versions and revisions of the design before it was approved?
JP: No. They sent that drawing to Major League Baseball, and they took it from there.
UW: Now, on the one hand, that’s the uniform the Mets were wearing when they won the 1986 World Series. But on the other hand, are you aware that some fans think of it as kind of a loud, almost tacky design?
JP: Yes, I know that many people don’t like it.
UW: And how do you feel about that?
JP: I think it was fine in the context of the ’80s. But I’m so happy they’ve gone back to the old button-front uniform. Whether it’s sports or rock and roll, I’m into the classics.
UW: Have you ever worked on any other uniform or logo designs?
JP: At one point I did a hockey design for Phil Esposito. He put a team together called the Masters of Hockey, which was going to be a traveling team of retired all-stars, and I designed the uniform for that.
It continues to amaze me how stories like this — and uni designers like Joe — almost never come to light. Makes you wonder how many other designers have never gotten or claimed credit for their uniform designs.
Anyway: Joe’s a peach of a guy, and I think you’ll enjoy the rest of the interview when it goes up on ESPN later today.
Too good for the Ticker: Okay, so we all know how obsessed I’ve been with the striped undersleeves worn by the 1956 Portland Beavers. But it turns out that’s nothing compared to what the Beavers wore in 1941.
Va-va-voom! Those shoulder stripes. Those pants stripes! And don’t overlook the undersleeve stripes, although they’re not exactly up to the level they’d reach 15 years later.
That photo, like all the 1956 photos we saw several months ago, came my way via Pacific Coast League baseball historian Dave Eskenazi, who recently found it in a collection of PCL photos. “I guess being tucked up in the northwest corner of the country allowed for some creative uniform design elements 60 or 70 years ago,” he says.
Dave says he doesn’t think he’s ever seen those pant stripes before (and I certainly haven’t). He’s double-checking to see if he can find any other photos. Meanwhile, we need to give the Portland Beavers some sort of franchise achievement award.
Membership Update: A fresh batch of designs has been added to the membership card gallery. That includes Britton Thomas’s Dominique-era Hawks design, shown at right, the latest confirmation of my long-held belief that the worst uniforms make the best membership cards. The printed versions of these new cards should go out in the mail tonight or tomorrow. As always, you can get in on the membership scene by signing up here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Francisco Cervelli is, to my knowledge, the only MLBer currently wearing the S100 helmet. Now Ricardo Leonor points out something I hadn’t noticed: “It seems like the helmet bothers him. When he gets a hit or a walk, he takes his helmet off as soon as he gets to first base. He will keep it off as long as possible, like it’s heavy or something. Someone pointed this out to me, and I have been watching him closely since, and he definitely does it. The other night in the game against the Red Sox, he actually took it off while running out a triple!” Hmmm. Rawlings had told me that a lighter version of the S100 would be available right about now, so I checked in with them yesterday. Now they’re saying the new design is being targeted for mid-July. … Jeff Barak has written a good blog entry about giant hockey jerseys on public display. … Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami has gotten some new shoes to help with his high arches (with thanks to Jonathon Binet). … Tons of spectacular photography available at Walter Iooss’s site — highly recommended (big thanks to Lance Smith). … We all know there are several different brands of official college footballs currently being used. But I didn’t realize (or maybe just forgot) that the laces were sometimes white and sometimes black until Paul Watson pointed it out to me. Seems like a surprising inconsistency, no? … Meat is murder? Nope — meat is for murder (big thanks to Jon Hammer, who also co-edits the excellent new digi-zine Grade “A” Fancy). … Heartening news about Generation Baby from Eric Trager, who writes: “A friend’s baby started going through my gym bag and showed a special interest in my striped stirrups. Obviously, she has a bright future ahead of her.” … New uni number for Jason Taylor (with thanks to Kurtiss Dilley). … Interesting stripe pattern for Inter Milan. “It will surely polarize opinion, but I think it’s a pretty daring and cool,” says Kevin Hastings. … The National Trust for Historic Preservation has released its annual list of America’s 11 most endangered historic places, and it includes one of the three remaining Negro Leagues ballparks: Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey. … Paul Wiederecht reports that the Giants’ striped socks — but not the stirrups — are now available at team dugout stores. “The retail price is $15, and they’re made by an outfit called For Bare Feet, although there dosen’t seem to be any info on their site about these socks yet,” says Paul. … Whistle Stop, Part 1: Doug Keklak likes the whistle-based logo on this old NHL rulebook cover, and so do I. … Whistle Stop, Part 2: Brett Crane notes that NBA ref Joey Crawford has his uni number on his whistle. … Follow-up on yesterday’s entry: If we get rid of button-fronts, we won’t have to see stupid-ass Velcro patches on Brandon Phillips’s jersey (screen shot courtesy of Sam Graves). … Remember the London Olympics logo that looked like Lisa Simpson giving head? That’s nothing compared to the new Olympic mascots. Interestingly, these guys seem to have a Simpsons connection too. … “Simpler is usually better, but not this time,” opines Adam Brauner. … Loads of great photos from the Topps vault currently being showcased at the Fleer Sticker Project.