If you build it…

vilk's field of dreams hed 1

By Phil Hecken, with Jim Vilk

Here on Uni Watch, we often kid Jim Vilk on his lack of fashion sense and general and unwavering ability to make bad jerseys look worse, (and his seeming irrational desire to be photographed in closets and doorways), but it’s all in good fun and Jim is absolutely a stand up guy with a love of short shorts and high socks, and an aw-shucks/get off my lawn (in a good way) demeanor. I consider Jim a good friend.

So, on this Memorial Day weekend, it is my absolute great pleasure to present this beautiful article. While it’s not quite uniform related, any of us with a love of uniforms can certainly appreciate what follows. Really, just a special, feel-good story from a great guy, about a “sport” that doesn’t get much play on UW, but one which, much like the Memorial Day weekend itself, kicks off summer for America. And as much as it’s the story of a sport and where it’s played, it’s the story of a father and son, and his son. And it’s wonderful.

Is that heaven, Jim?

No, it’s Akron.

Enjoy.

~~~

Plastic Balls, Real Grass and Spare Parts
By Jim Vilk

Growing up as a typical red-blooded American child, I loved the game of baseball. I still do, but early on I realized I wasn’t exactly cut out for playing the game at a high level. Since my dad and my uncle played in the minors, I figured I’d give organized ball a shot anyway. It took one season to confirm my suspicion before I went back to playing wiffleball with my friends. At first I thought it was just the fear of getting hit by a hardball, but once I started playing softball, I found out I have a slight depth perception problem. After a few years of slow-pitch, I hung up my glove, to be used only at picnics.

When I got married and we had our son, I wanted to play ball again — partly because I missed it, and partly because I was looking forward to playing with the boy as he grew. Instead of joining a team, though, I took advantage of our big back yard and decided to build a wiffleball field. To me, it was a great idea. I now had a real reason to mow all that grass in the back, friends and family could come over to play, and maybe we could even play a whole season as I did in junior high and high school. Plus, I could face fast pitching and curve balls again without worrying about my depth perception causing a concussion or worse.

Despite a limited budget, I had big plans for the field. I definitely wanted a home run fence, but all I had were a bunch of metal temporary fence posts, some peg board and a little bit of tan woven fabric. That wasn’t enough to make a whole fence, so I put the peg board in center field as a sort of batter’s eye background. For left and right fields, I went to an unusual source: my wife’s crafting room. It turned out Mrs. V had yards and yards of old yarn she didn’t need, so I strung it back and forth across the posts. Then I draped the tan fabric on each side of the peg board (with retired jerseys, which I’ll get to later), spray painted some bases and foul lines and I was ready for Opening Day. A close-up of me on the mound shows the makeshift fence, and my makeshift uniform, in greater detail.

Obviously, yarn was not a good long-term solution for fencing material. It lasted for one or two more games, but little by little it started to break and leave gaps. Left with few options, I decided to splurge on some real wire fence. To reinforce the top of the fence and each post I covered them in lots and lots of duct tape. I also bought some plastic bases (later replaced with stepping stones I sunk into the ground), lined the field and added broomsticks for foul poles. For finishing touches I wrote the distances for the foul lines, power alleys and center field on cardboard and clothespinned them to the fence. Then I made a crude scoreboard, as well as some wind socks for the foul poles using plastic newspaper bags.

As for the retired jerseys, they were moved to left and right field and pinned to the fence. I made those out of some super-strong paper a former co-worker gave to me from one of his other jobs. I’m not sure why he gave it to me, but after years of sitting in my basement it finally came in handy. I made four jerseys, two with black and gold trim for the Pirates, one in red and blue trim for the original Senators (the organization Dad played for in the minors) and one in brown and orange trim for the St. Louis Browns (the club who held the rights to my uncle).

I honored my favorite Pirate, Willie Stargell, along with Roberto Clemente. The other jerseys had Dad’s and Uncle Joe’s numbers on them. Getting their numbers were a little tricky, as I wanted to surprise Dad. One day before I started building the field I casually asked what number he wore in the minors. He told me in spring training they gave him 50, so I put that on his jersey. Later, I had to fix that, as Dad told me once the season started he wore 19. I then took my last scrap of the special paper and taped the new number over the old one. Dad didn’t know Uncle Joe’s number, but he gave me the address of John G. Hall, who wrote extensively on the old KOM (Kansas Oklahoma Missouri) League where Uncle Joe pitched. Mr. Hall didn’t know his number either, but suggested I use 27. That’s the number of wins he said Uncle Joe had in 1952, while pitching for the Iola Indians. Baseball Reference has him with 26 wins, but I can’t say who’s right or wrong there. It doesn’t matter now, as the jerseys wore out and had to be tossed anyway.

People came and played for a few years, but not as much as I had hoped. Around the time I got rid of the jerseys, I thought about dismantling the field. I was putting a lot of extra yard work in for only a few days of playing, so I went ahead and took out the fence. The pitchers mound became a bonfire circle, but I kept the bases in the ground for the occasional family gathering. We just pitched in front of the circle for a few years.

Finally, this year I decided it was time to re-do the field. I dug up the bases and moved them closer to the house, away from the bush line and in conformance with Major League Wiffleball rules. I also put foul poles back up, along with a pole in center field. Yes, that’s purple you see on the poles. I know it’s an act of Uni Watch treason, but I believe in using what I have on hand. Those are foam pads from my son’s old swing set. The things you see on the ground are my wife’s old planter boxes. Maybe I’ll put some plants in them for a different type of “fence,” but now they are there to mark the home run line. The gaps and the foul lines I spray painted in light blue paint. My wife got four cans from work for free, so again, I use what I have.

So far, we have played one game on the new field, and hopefully we can get another one in this weekend. I don’t think I’ll put up another fence, but I would like to get back to playing more frequently. So, if there’s ever another Uni Watch gathering in northeast Ohio, you now have a place to come and play some ball.

~~~

Oh, people will come, Jim. They’ll come.

Thanks for that fantastic story.

As a followup, Jim wanted to “explain” his dress.

One more thing: even though I’m a fan of uniforms, you may have noticed things are a little casual here in that regard. I would like to wear uniforms, and sometimes I come close to doing so, but most of the time we just wear whatever. One thing I do like to break out, though, is the first souvenir I ever got at Three Rivers Stadium, my old Pirates helmet. I’ve had that for 40 years now, and even though it’s a little rough and worn it’s still in decent shape — just like its owner and his field.

Indeed.

~~~~~~~~~~

ten nisThere used to be a ball park here… As a followup to this past Monday’s terrific piece by Mike Styczen on Jarry and The Ex, reader Paul Wiederecht contacted me with some more…much more…on Parc Jarry. Here’s Paul:

Phil,

I never had a chance to see a game live at Jarry, but did see tennis there during an 80’s mets trip. These photos show the changes over time — 60’s pre-Expos showing the wooden baseline benches and 3rd to 1st stand and winter 68/69 expansion in deep snow.

An overhead shot from above the pool in the 80’s tennis set-up with the baseball field overlaid, as well as pix from right field side looking back to the plate area in the 1960’s, 1980’s and 2000’s that shows how the original press box and home plate seating areas remain despite the changes all around.

An AP picture from the 1st game ceremony shows the full house that day despite large mounds of snow that were removed earlier that day (no pix of snow).

Then, there are more photos of the current configuration with overlays.

An interesting part of the Jarry “experience” was the active organist – Fernand Lapierre, who was interviewed on CBC radio during a game vs. mets in 1973. His last year with the Expos was 2003 in a cameo appearance at the big “owe” but more recently he played some of his well known baseball pieces like the “expos sont l’a!” which were added to you tube.

Here are some items that appeared in Sports Illustrated in 1968, the giles story is the most interesting:

* Expos and Autostad;

* 9/68 Warren Giles impressed by crowd at Jarry, scorecard pg.10;

In addition, Paul sent along numerous more articles on Jarry Park in the newspapers…

* Montreal Gazette 1/31/76, “Olymipcs at Jarry?”

* Montreal Gazette 3/4/77, “Jarry faces sandlot fate

* Montreal Gazette 4/14/69, Jarry Opening Day (pg.13-19)

* Montreal Gazette 4/15/69, 1st Jarry game stories (pg. 10-13)

* Montreal Gazette 9/27/76, Last Jarry game/1st football at The Big O (pg. 13-18)

* Montreal Gazette 4/19/72, Opening Day 1972 (pgs. 14-16)

~~~

Great, great stuff Paul. Thanks so much for the followup!

~~~~~~~~~~

mets as cubans 2This one they got right. The Milwaukee Brewers Bears and New York Mets Cubans played a throwback game in the Cream City last night, and unlike previous throwback games this year, the two teams did a tremendous job with the throwbacks. Almost every player wore baggy unis with visible hosieryalmost.

The Milwaukee Brewers were throwing back to the 1923 Milwaukee Bears, who played in the Negro National League (NNL). Their logo was a royal blue, radially arched “BEARS”, and their cap insignia was a royal blue block “M” on a white diamond, both of which were well represented on the throwback. Sporting royal blue raglan sleeves on an off-white jersey, the Brewers even went the extra mile of creating a matching batting helmet (which of course, did not exist in 1923). Very nicely done, although (and I watched about 4 innings) some players appeared to go really baggy. With a ’23 throwback, obviously the players should have been NNOB, and NNOB they were. Really, just a just a good looking game on both sides of the ball.

The Brewers looked good, and with good reason — they’ve paid hommage to the Bears on 4 previous occasions: In 2006, the Milwaukee Brewers wore Bears throwback uniforms in games against the Washington Nationals (at Miller Park) and Kansas City Royals (on the road) as part of a tribute to the Negro Leagues. On June 23, 2007, the Brewers wore the Bears’ uniform against the Royals (who wore Kansas City Monarchs uniforms). On July 5th, 2008 the Brewers also wore the Bears’ uniforms against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who sported the uniforms of the Pittsburgh Crawfords. Last night they took on the Mets.

The uniforms worn in the games from 2006-08 were white with black pinstripes, black letters spelling Milwaukee (on left), black socks, and a white pinstriped cap. In 2009 and 2010, the Brewers the version sported last evening. Resident Cream City expert Chance Michaels wrote a nice piece on his blog last year which provides a great background on the Milwaukee Bears. Good reading.

The visiting Mets, whose pitchers made for good guests in hitting many Brewer bats, wore the uniforms of the New York Cubans, who had a much longer history in the Negro Leagues than the Bears. They played in the 1930’s (1936 to be exact) through 1950. Like the “New York” Jets and Giants, the Cubans didn’t actually play in New York State, with their home games played in Hinchcliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey (this name “New York” can be traced to the fact that earlier versions of the team, such as the “Cuban Stars” and “All Cubans” had played in New York). Future MLB star Minnie Minoso (seen in a closeup here) played for the Cubans before entering the bigs. I’m not entirely certain what year the Mets were throwing back to, but suffice it to say, it was probably as close to 1923 as they could get.

For their part, the Mets wore a red cap with black brim, a gorgeous gray faux flannel uniform with red piping on the placket, shoulders, sleeves and pants. They wore solid black socks, red numbers and NNOB, and got lots of practice viewing balls leave the field. While they didn’t create an anachronistic batting helmet (certainly no need to), they had red belt loops and red rear pocket flaps to complete the look. I’m curious as to what material Majestic used to create these uniforms, as they definitely bore a resemblance to the “legend gray” being sported by several college teams using Under Armour. It is MOST DEFINITELY a look I would love to see recreated for the bigs current roads.

I don’t want to editorialize too much on the uniforms in this game, but I can’t but wonder WHY the teams and the players went to such effort to “get the look right” when they’ve been so lackadaisical in so doing for other throwback games this year. Were these uniforms “cut” differently? After all, I was criticized when I bemoaned earlier efforts of teams who insisted on wearing pajama pants, with those defending that look offering many reasons for their appearance. Arguments such as “they just use the players current measurements to make the uniforms” and “we don’t want them too uncomfortable wearing a uniform to which they’re not accustomed,” to (for the 70’s throwbacks) “we don’t want them wearing skintight uniforms.” Fair enough, but the players didn’t look particularly comfortable in some of the play I observed, with many players fidgeting with the uni, or hiking up/lowering pant legs slightly. But last night, they looked great, as almost everyone wore properly exposed hosiery.

Was it because this was a Negro League tribute? I can’t imagine the players would treat any game any differently than any other (although I am pleased if they did). But if their comfort is paramount and looks be damned, then why did they all (except for maybe 2 or 3 players) go high cuffed? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but I just don’t get it…why not dress “appropriately” for all throwback games? I can only imagine the uniforms HAD to have been cut differently, but why on earth would that be? Anyone want to take a guess or have an answer?

Anyway, just a great effort by both teams, and a beautiful game to watch (from an aesthetic standpoint anyway). If the next batch of throwbacks are going to look this good, then I say, “Let’s play two.”

BTW…if you’d like to read more, there is some great Negro League history here if you’re interested.

~~~~~~~~~~

Benchies HeaderHere’s an oldie, but a goodie from Mr. Pearson. A day early, perhaps, but it still sums up the real meaning of Memorial Day. Here’s Rick:

Don’t you love a three-day weekend? Always good to remember WHY it’s a three-day weekend, though. Isn’t about special navy blue hats, or red hats or white hats. It’s about people who aren’t here anymore. And we are.

Enjoy your full-color Sunday Benchies.

~~~~~~~~~~

uni template 2Back 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.

~~~

First up today is Tim Holding with a redesign for the Phoenix Coyotes:

Just been working on uni tweak given the Coyotes are going to have new owners and their 15th anniversary this year.

~~~

Our second set of tweaks comes from Michael Jaszewski, who has a new home and road for the Gophers:

Phil,

I’m a lifelong U of M football fan (it’s a rough gig) and I HATE the current uniforms, so I thought I’d have a go at redesigning them.

The first thing I wanted to do was get back to the classic uniforms – the uniforms the team wore when it was national champions – with some modern updates. The helmet reverts back to white, but unlike the helmets from the early 60s, which had numbers on the side, I stuck with a block M. I bumped up the size of that block M, however, and I made it gold, with maroon outline. With the exception of the home jersey, the maroon is de-emphasized so that the nickname “Golden” Gophers makes sense. The away jerseys have gold numbers with thick, maroon outlines. The sleeves themselves are gold with thin maroon piping on the shoulder (that’s the most modern element of these uniforms) and the numbers in white with thick maroon ourlines. The pants are solid gold. The socks are maroon with what I’d call a “half Northwestern stripe.”

It’s probably too late to hope the team dons something like these for the 2010 season, but one can always hope 2011 sees them harkening back to their glory days — both in their record and their uniforms.

~~~

The third concepts today come from Ryan Raggio, who, like so many others, doesn’t like the current Mets uniforms:

Greetings!

I really can’t stand what the Mets have done to their unis in recent years. I figured their black phase would blow over as just another trend of the 90s, but boy was i wrong…thirteen years strong and only getting worse. At least I can find happiness in Microsoft Paint. I copied and pasted off of Wikipedia, and then just adjusted colors and fonts etc…

Take care,

Ryan

That will do it for today. The tweak submissions are seemingly slowing down, so everybody step it up! (or not). But the tweak section (I’m sure, to the relief of some) may just end up being a once-a-weekend type thing…and you guys don’t really want me to start up again, right? Anyway, keep the tweaks coming! Send them my way. Cheers.

~~~~~~~~~~

That’s another one in the books, everybody. Thanks again to Jimmy V. and Paul Wiederecht for their wonderful contributions, and to the Bears and Cubans for providing a wonderful looking game. Congrats to Cy Halladay on his perfecto. Get well to David Huff. And maybe, just maybe…we’ll see a bit less celebrating after a walkoff.

Have a great Sunday everyone.

~~~

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come. — Terence Mann (Field of Dreams)

 

53 comments to If you build it…

  • scott | May 30, 2010 at 7:13 am |

    How often have the Mets been a part of Negro League tributes? I know they participated one in Pittsburgh July 9, 2005.

  • BurghFan | May 30, 2010 at 8:40 am |

    From yesterday, about the bumblebee Pirates:

    Too bad Mike Princip wasn’t doing a Buc Tracker back then…

    Jim, I guess we could put one together now. I spent some time with the Pittsburgh papers from April 1977 last night, and they’ll provide a reasonable start. (If people are interested, I’ll volunteer to coordinate.)

  • Johnny O | May 30, 2010 at 8:44 am |

    I had some screen shots of the “faux flannel” look in the comments yesterday:

    http://s147.photobuc...

    http://s147.photobuc...

    What I really liked about the game last night, aside from the final score, was there was no Majestic tagging anywhere. I have noticed that on the few Negro League tributes the Crew have done in the past as well.

    I also think the players do in fact dress properly during a tribute rather than a “normal” throwback. Surprisingly they are very aware about uniforms and traditions and all of that. I think it was either last year or the year before, the Crew started the season on the road, and their first home game fell on the first Friday of the month. Usually that means Retro Friday night, but they sported their standard home whites. I e-mailed my contact from the Brewers asking if the throwbacks were dismissed for the year, and she responded something to the effect of, “The Brewers understand the importance of Opening Day at Miller Park, and chose to wear their home white uniforms for the fans.”

  • Ricko | May 30, 2010 at 9:03 am |

    Haven’t seen both Missouri’s “legend” grays and the “Cubans” on TV, but first reaction is that Legend look is a bit darker.

    If so, that would make the “Legend” more like the old Yankees (Ruth-Gehrig) and the Cubans more like what was most common.

    But again, haven’t seen them “side-by-side” so to speak.

    —Ricko

  • JB Early | May 30, 2010 at 9:07 am |

    Muy mucho gracias for pics of the Mets v. Brewers throwbacks. They looked GREAT! I’d never get to see stuff like that w/o UW. Some MLB team needs to get a reg uni based on the Negro League creativity – they had style.

  • Jeff | May 30, 2010 at 9:52 am |

    Some notes about those throwbacks worn by the Brewers, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel …

    They were hot, as in uncomfortable.

    Brewers pitcher Todd Coffey had to put on a black glove because his usual glove, which is cream-colored, blended in with his uni and the Mets complained.

    And this, seen on TV …

    Brewers pitcher Marco Estrada had trouble with his sleeve, which kept coming down as he threw. He had to keep rolling it back up. That apparently was the subject of a visit to the mound by the Brewers pitching coach and the home plate ump.

  • Goalie007 | May 30, 2010 at 10:14 am |

    Jim,

    Very, very cool!

  • Joel | May 30, 2010 at 10:39 am |

    I really like the Gophers’ away tweak.

  • Gusto44 | May 30, 2010 at 10:48 am |

    [quote comment="392218"]From yesterday, about the bumblebee Pirates:

    Too bad Mike Princip wasn’t doing a Buc Tracker back then…

    Jim, I guess we could put one together now. I spent some time with the Pittsburgh papers from April 1977 last night, and they’ll provide a reasonable start. (If people are interested, I’ll volunteer to coordinate.)[/quote]

    Good idea, but keep in mind the Bucs switched uniforms during doubleheaders in that era, making it even more difficult to obtain the accurate numbers.

  • Pretty Boy Paulie | May 30, 2010 at 10:48 am |

    Hmmmmmm….I hope it’s the first step to seeing “Legend Grey” on MLB road unis.

    I think the Cubs “Turn back the clock” game in 2008 was the last game where EVERYBODY rocked proper hosiery.

    http://i.pbase.com/o...

    http://i.pbase.com/o...

    http://i.pbase.com/o...

    http://i.pbase.com/o...

    http://assets.sbnati...

  • Chris in Nashville | May 30, 2010 at 11:01 am |

    Are MLB teams wearing the new ice cream man patriotic hats tomorrow?

  • Adam | May 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm |

    [quote comment="392228"]Are MLB teams wearing the new ice cream man patriotic hats tomorrow?[/quote]

    Reds are wearing their red flag hat. (not that anyone could tell from more than 3′ away)

  • LI Phil | May 30, 2010 at 1:01 pm |

    [quote comment="392228"]Are MLB teams wearing the new ice cream man patriotic hats tomorrow?[/quote]

    yes

    13 games (26 teams)

    i’ll have a rundown of all the possible looks tomorrow

  • Mike Engle | May 30, 2010 at 1:09 pm |

    [quote comment="392230"][quote comment="392228"]Are MLB teams wearing the new ice cream man patriotic hats tomorrow?[/quote]

    yes

    13 games (26 teams)

    i’ll have a rundown of all the possible looks tomorrow[/quote]
    I’m watching the Jays right now. Obviously, it has a red brim and it is Canadian-ized. However, the logo is practically invisible.

  • rpm | May 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm |

    after 4 days away from the watch, and an uber busy week, this was a good one to come back to. mothervilker and his wiffle field story, and an awesome looking throwback game. aaaah, that feels guuuud on my aching bones.

    spent the last few days moving a studio and home into my studio and storage, so i now have a fresh fruit roomy. today’s big project will be building an additional “closet” space into the “clubhouse”. the clubhouse is sort of the walk in storage space that i sleep on top of. anyway, i look forward to slowly getting back to normal, and reading all the stuff i missed, no doubt it was high carat phil gold.

  • pflava | May 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm |

    Excellent work on the Jarry Park stuff. The pics with the overlays are just fantastic.

  • Jim Sherbert | May 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm |

    The Red Sox and Royals are wearing their “patriotic” hats, and dare I say, they actually look pretty good. Then again, I almost always love white/gray hats with dark bills, and both the Sox and Royals’ colors match their hat’s colors (or come close enough).

  • Miles | May 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm |

    Jim Vilk’s story is one of the best articles I’ve seen posted here. Pieces like that keep me coming back to UW.

  • Gusto44 | May 30, 2010 at 3:37 pm |

    [quote comment="392235"]Jim Vilk’s story is one of the best articles I’ve seen posted here. Pieces like that keep me coming back to UW.[/quote]

    It was a very interesting piece, to be sure. I do have to ask Jim about that photo of him wearing Washington Nationals gear. Is Washington his second favorite baseball team?

  • M.Princip | May 30, 2010 at 3:47 pm |

    Always a pleasure to see Jim in that superb green Tatupu jersey.

  • Thomas Clark | May 30, 2010 at 4:46 pm |

    Watching the SEC baseball title game and LSU has matte finish purple helmets…and I LOVE THEM. No photos online yet though, sorry.

  • Patrick M | May 30, 2010 at 4:47 pm |

    Thanks for the links about the Expos and Parc Jarry. Until reading those old SI.com stories I hadn’t realized how close baseball came to missing out on Montreal altogether. I confess that I miss Montreal being in the big leagues.

  • Ricko | May 30, 2010 at 4:57 pm |

    [quote comment="392240"]Watching the SEC baseball title game and LSU has matte finish purple helmets…and I LOVE THEM. No photos online yet though, sorry.[/quote]

    Big 12 Championship was on Fox Sports North.
    Entire Texas A&M team in stirrups. Guy who homered in 10th to beat Baylor had a facemask on his batting helmet.
    Also, the Aggies helmets were matte. So much so that they looked more black/graphite than maroon.
    On espn, Florida Gator softball team in BFBS jerseys.
    (Things that garner attention at UW).

    —Ricko

  • JGoodrich | May 30, 2010 at 5:35 pm |

    Jack Nicholson shows his Purple Pride at the Indy 500.

  • Natron | May 30, 2010 at 5:36 pm |

    Jim, as a fellow wiffleballer myself, I have to say that I really enjoyed your story. You did a great job of keeping it the backyard game that it should be, but still gave it a little more of a kick to add some structure and make it more legit than just goofing around.

    There are obviously many Minnesota Uniwatchers here, but they may not know that the Twin Cities is home to one of the largest wiffleball leagues in the country. We currently have 20 teams spanning 2 cities (Eagan and Hopkins). Unlike Jim, who obviously put far more passion and love into his field, our fields are already in place for us… We put two fields on a single hockey rink that would otherwise be dormant during the spring and summer, although a bar in Chaska actually has a wiffleball field, and we played a handful of games there as well. We do add scoreboards, foul poles and pitching rubbers, but otherwise, the rinks are left as/is.

    Our uniforms might be a little more “uniform” by team, but each has their own twist on them. The league has used everything from MLB replicas, to t-shirts, to pink bowling shirts. Lacking creativity, the best my team could do was go with home, road and alt jerseys (yes, the alt is BFBS – many apologies).

    Anyway, we play late April through Labor Day, and we obviously have a great time with it. Something about wiffleball sticks with you – just ask Jim. We’ll have to see if we can send a gaggle of our guys out your way, Jim. We’ve been known to travel to others that have the wiffle jones like we do. We’d love to see your park in person.

    On a side note, for all of you Minnesotans (or even if your not from here and like to travel or play wiffleball) We actually hold a charity open tournament every August that benefits Make-A-Wish Minnesota, so come out and play! Just think, it’ll give you a reason to design a uniform for yourself (although, competition can be pretty tough. There are some doozies. Anyway, check it out, we’d love to have you (Uniwatch team maybe?!)! WifflinForWishes.com

  • JGoodrich | May 30, 2010 at 5:38 pm |

    I\’ll try again, but just once:

    http://photos.indyst...

    If this didn’t work, then I apologize & give up…

  • Ricko | May 30, 2010 at 5:51 pm |

    [quote comment="392244"]Jim, as a fellow wiffleballer myself, I have to say that I really enjoyed your story. You did a great job of keeping it the backyard game that it should be, but still gave it a little more of a kick to add some structure and make it more legit than just goofing around.

    There are obviously many Minnesota Uniwatchers here, but they may not know that the Twin Cities is home to one of the largest wiffleball leagues in the country. We currently have 20 teams spanning 2 cities (Eagan and Hopkins). Unlike Jim, who obviously put far more passion and love into his field, our fields are already in place for us… We put two fields on a single hockey rink that would otherwise be dormant during the spring and summer, although a bar in Chaska actually has a wiffleball field, and we played a handful of games there as well. We do add scoreboards, foul poles and pitching rubbers, but otherwise, the rinks are left as/is.

    Our uniforms might be a little more “uniform” by team, but each has their own twist on them. The league has used everything from MLB replicas, to t-shirts, to pink bowling shirts. Lacking creativity, the best my team could do was go with home, road and alt jerseys (yes, the alt is BFBS – many apologies).

    Anyway, we play late April through Labor Day, and we obviously have a great time with it. Something about wiffleball sticks with you – just ask Jim. We’ll have to see if we can send a gaggle of our guys out your way, Jim. We’ve been known to travel to others that have the wiffle jones like we do. We’d love to see your park in person.

    On a side note, for all of you Minnesotans (or even if your not from here and like to travel or play wiffleball) We actually hold a charity open tournament every August that benefits Make-A-Wish Minnesota, so come out and play! Just think, it’ll give you a reason to design a uniform for yourself (although, competition can be pretty tough. There are some doozies. Anyway, check it out, we’d love to have you (Uniwatch team maybe?!)! WifflinForWishes.com[/quote]

    Hey, Natron…

    Based on the Blue Jays jerseys, you play in Hopkins. Where, when and what time’s your next game? I’m in Eden Prairie. So odds are it’s about 10 minutes from me. Or less, depending.

    —Ricko

  • Natron | May 30, 2010 at 6:04 pm |

    [quote comment="392246"]

    Hey, Natron…

    Based on the Blue Jays jerseys, you play in Hopkins. Where, when and what time’s your next game? I’m in Eden Prairie. So odds are it’s about 10 minutes from me. Or less, depending.

    —Ricko[/quote]

    We actually play at Central Park which is on Excelsior Blvd. about half a mile west of 169 (if you know where the Hopkins Ice Arena is, we’re right outside the door). Our next game is Thursday, and ironically, Fox 9 is coming out to cover us (the league) and the charity tourney for that game.

  • Ricko | May 30, 2010 at 6:28 pm |

    [quote comment="392247"][quote comment="392246"]

    Hey, Natron…

    Based on the Blue Jays jerseys, you play in Hopkins. Where, when and what time’s your next game? I’m in Eden Prairie. So odds are it’s about 10 minutes from me. Or less, depending.

    —Ricko[/quote]

    We actually play at Central Park which is on Excelsior Blvd. about half a mile west of 169 (if you know where the Hopkins Ice Arena is, we’re right outside the door). Our next game is Thursday, and ironically, Fox 9 is coming out to cover us (the league) and the charity tourney for that game.[/quote]

    That’s what I’d have guessed. Thought it looked like the pavillion in background. What time?

    I’ll wear a Blue Jays gray home hat from a few years ago. Pretty sure no one else will be wearing one.
    (It’s either that or a bigass flower behind my ear and that just isn’t my my thing).

    —Ricko

  • Ricko | May 30, 2010 at 6:50 pm |

    Here’s the link for the Twin Cities Wiffle Ball Tournament for Make a Wish…
    http://www.wiffgems....

  • JimV19 | May 30, 2010 at 6:55 pm |

    [quote comment="392236"][quote comment="392235"]Jim Vilk’s story is one of the best articles I’ve seen posted here. Pieces like that keep me coming back to UW.[/quote]

    It was a very interesting piece, to be sure. I do have to ask Jim about that photo of him wearing Washington Nationals gear. Is Washington his second favorite baseball team?[/quote]

    Correct, Gusto. No one can accuse me of being a front runner when it comes to baseball – my favorite teams are the Pirates, Nationals and Orioles. I also like the Twins and Cards along with a few others, so at least I’ll have something to look forward to in October.

    Miles, thanks. Means a lot considering the stellar company I keep on this site.

    And Phil, right back at ya, buddy.

  • JimV19 | May 30, 2010 at 7:03 pm |

    [quote comment="392244"]Jim, as a fellow wiffleballer myself, I have to say that I really enjoyed your story. You did a great job of keeping it the backyard game that it should be, but still gave it a little more of a kick to add some structure and make it more legit than just goofing around.

    There are obviously many Minnesota Uniwatchers here, but they may not know that the Twin Cities is home to one of the largest wiffleball leagues in the country. We currently have 20 teams spanning 2 cities (Eagan and Hopkins). Unlike Jim, who obviously put far more passion and love into his field, our fields are already in place for us… We put two fields on a single hockey rink that would otherwise be dormant during the spring and summer, although a bar in Chaska actually has a wiffleball field, and we played a handful of games there as well. We do add scoreboards, foul poles and pitching rubbers, but otherwise, the rinks are left as/is.

    Our uniforms might be a little more “uniform” by team, but each has their own twist on them. The league has used everything from MLB replicas, to t-shirts, to pink bowling shirts. Lacking creativity, the best my team could do was go with home, road and alt jerseys (yes, the alt is BFBS – many apologies).

    Anyway, we play late April through Labor Day, and we obviously have a great time with it. Something about wiffleball sticks with you – just ask Jim. We’ll have to see if we can send a gaggle of our guys out your way, Jim. We’ve been known to travel to others that have the wiffle jones like we do. We’d love to see your park in person.

    On a side note, for all of you Minnesotans (or even if your not from here and like to travel or play wiffleball) We actually hold a charity open tournament every August that benefits Make-A-Wish Minnesota, so come out and play! Just think, it’ll give you a reason to design a uniform for yourself (although, competition can be pretty tough. There are some doozies. Anyway, check it out, we’d love to have you (Uniwatch team maybe?!)! WifflinForWishes.com[/quote]

    That’s great stuff, Natron! Wish we had that around here.

    I’d definitely wear that powder Blue Jays jersey of yours. I also like the idea of playing on a hockey rink. There’s an indoor soccer field near my house – if I ever get around to signing up for a league I’m going to see if they could host wiffleball there as well.

    Gotta find me some socks like this guy’s:
    http://i47.tinypic.c...

  • JimV19 | May 30, 2010 at 7:08 pm |

    [quote comment="392226"][quote comment="392218"]From yesterday, about the bumblebee Pirates:

    Too bad Mike Princip wasn’t doing a Buc Tracker back then…

    Jim, I guess we could put one together now. I spent some time with the Pittsburgh papers from April 1977 last night, and they’ll provide a reasonable start. (If people are interested, I’ll volunteer to coordinate.)[/quote]

    Good idea, but keep in mind the Bucs switched uniforms during doubleheaders in that era, making it even more difficult to obtain the accurate numbers.[/quote]

    Check with Doug Keklak. He did some uni-tracking last season; this sounds like a project tailor made for him. I may dabble a bit with this in between projects.

  • nate | May 30, 2010 at 7:22 pm |

    I think those might be real flannels from Ebbets Field Flannels. It looks more like flannel than polyester, and I don’t see any Majestic logos. Could be wrong though. In any case, I can say with reasonable confidence that their ballcaps are made by EFF, just from looking at the photos.

  • Natron | May 30, 2010 at 7:36 pm |

    [quote comment="392249"]Here’s the link for the Twin Cities Wiffle Ball Tournament for Make a Wish…
    http://www.wiffgems....

    Thanks, Ricko. I obviously had a couple of coding errors there.

    By the way, did I mention that we have a mascot too?! ;-)

  • LI Phil | May 30, 2010 at 7:50 pm |

    [quote comment="392250"]
    And Phil, right back at ya, buddy.[/quote]

    did you get to play today?

  • Ricko | May 30, 2010 at 8:08 pm |

    [quote comment="392253"]I think those might be real flannels from Ebbets Field Flannels. It looks more like flannel than polyester, and I don’t see any Majestic logos. Could be wrong though. In any case, I can say with reasonable confidence that their ballcaps are made by EFF, just from looking at the photos.[/quote]

    Wondered about that when players said they were uncomfortbable because they were hot. Also would explain the slight difference in color from the “Legend” doubleknits.

    –Ricko

  • Ricko | May 30, 2010 at 8:12 pm |

    Seeing as tomorrow’s Memorial Day…
    Look who fought for the cause on the homefront during WWII…
    http://www.youtube.c...

    As a “serial freak” I can tell you it’s one of the best ever made. He’s not bad as a leading man for the genre, and the music is superb. Really got the kids going in theaters back then, I imagine.

    —Ricko

  • jesse | May 30, 2010 at 8:26 pm |

    [quote comment="392257"][quote comment="392253"]I think those might be real flannels from Ebbets Field Flannels. It looks more like flannel than polyester, and I don’t see any Majestic logos. Could be wrong though. In any case, I can say with reasonable confidence that their ballcaps are made by EFF, just from looking at the photos.[/quote]

    Wondered about that when players said they were uncomfortbable because they were hot. Also would explain the slight difference in color from the “Legend” doubleknits.

    –Ricko[/quote]
    How is that arrangement made anyway? Does Majestic do all the throwback unis and EFF do the hats? Any ideas, anyone?

  • Andy | May 30, 2010 at 9:11 pm |

    [quote comment="392230"][quote comment="392228"]Are MLB teams wearing the new ice cream man patriotic hats tomorrow?[/quote]

    yes

    13 games (26 teams)

    i’ll have a rundown of all the possible looks tomorrow[/quote]

    I saw your response to my comment yesterday. Just wanted you to know I didn’t mean to single you out or put words in your mouth. I was under the impression that the nominees for yesterdays post were the opinion of many, not just you. There seems to be a universal dislike of monochromatic uniforms in football, and I was making a comment in regard to the apparent opinion of the many, not of the few (or you).

  • Mike Engle | May 30, 2010 at 9:35 pm |

    [quote comment="392259"][quote comment="392257"][quote comment="392253"]I think those might be real flannels from Ebbets Field Flannels. It looks more like flannel than polyester, and I don’t see any Majestic logos. Could be wrong though. In any case, I can say with reasonable confidence that their ballcaps are made by EFF, just from looking at the photos.[/quote]

    Wondered about that when players said they were uncomfortbable because they were hot. Also would explain the slight difference in color from the “Legend” doubleknits.

    –Ricko[/quote]
    How is that arrangement made anyway? Does Majestic do all the throwback unis and EFF do the hats? Any ideas, anyone?[/quote]
    I’ll guess that all throwback MLB articles have to be done by Majestic, but any other throwback articles (Negro Leagues, historic minor leagues, etc) may be outsourced to EFF.

  • Fuzzy Dunlop | May 30, 2010 at 9:37 pm |

    FYI – Majestic doesn’t do all of the throwback jerseys. There is another company (I didn’t think it was EFF, at least for the jerseys, but I could be mistaken) that is contracted to do the really old flannel-era throwbacks. The only catch is that they’re not allowed to put their logo on the jerseys. So if you see a throwback sans Majestic logo, it ain’t a Majestic jersey.

  • Shaun | May 30, 2010 at 10:05 pm |

    didnt the brewers wear these same throwbacks last july against atlanta? and amazing story Mr. Vilk!

  • Mike2 | May 30, 2010 at 10:21 pm |

    Great work on the Jarry Park photos.

    The one thing that struck me about the Expos and some of the earlier expansion teams is that they came into the league without ballparks and then winged it.

    Imagine applying for a franchise today and saying “Yeah, there’s this municipal park with wooden stands, kids play t-ball there, we’re going to expand it. We’ll build a real stadium later. That okay?” And getting a team!

  • The Hemogoblin | May 30, 2010 at 10:49 pm |

    Nice work, Ricko.

  • Nick | May 30, 2010 at 10:52 pm |

    [quote comment="392262"]FYI – Majestic doesn’t do all of the throwback jerseys. There is another company (I didn’t think it was EFF, at least for the jerseys, but I could be mistaken) that is contracted to do the really old flannel-era throwbacks. The only catch is that they’re not allowed to put their logo on the jerseys. So if you see a throwback sans Majestic logo, it ain’t a Majestic jersey.[/quote]

    I believe that the other company doing Throwback baseball unis is AIS (Action in Sports) based in Culver City, CA. They do a great deal of uniforms for sports movies – they do both vintage and current unis. They also do Minor League baseball and hockey unis and did some NCAA baseball Throwbacks. I have a few of the surplus jerseys from certain movies, and in my contact with them I believe that they have talked about some work for the MLB Dodgers.

    For a long time the company was known as SportsRobe, now it goes by AIS. And I do not believe that they put their logo on any MLB items.

  • JTH | May 30, 2010 at 11:17 pm |

    Good stuff, Jim.

    Reminds me of the “ballpark” my friends and I set up in the vacant lot across the street from my parents’ house. As you can see in that pic, it’s pretty much shaped like a ballfield, so it was perfect.

    We mowed basepaths in the grass and my parents’ chain link fence running along the front yard was the left field fence. There were other natural boundaries that we used. For example, the NO DUMPING – $500 FINE sign next to the creek was our left field foul pole and anything hit to the right of the yield sign (later replaced by a stop sign) in right-center was an out.

    We measured from home plate to a couple spots on the fence and painted the distances on wooden planks. We’d hang those up every time we played.

  • JimV19 | May 30, 2010 at 11:29 pm |

    [quote comment="392255"][quote comment="392250"]
    And Phil, right back at ya, buddy.[/quote]

    did you get to play today?[/quote]

    Nope. For the best, as I had some unexpected things crop up anyway. Going to the parents’ house tomorrow, so I might have to wait for another weekend.

  • Chris from Carver | May 30, 2010 at 11:33 pm |

    [quote comment="392266"][quote comment="392262"]FYI – Majestic doesn’t do all of the throwback jerseys. There is another company (I didn’t think it was EFF, at least for the jerseys, but I could be mistaken) that is contracted to do the really old flannel-era throwbacks. The only catch is that they’re not allowed to put their logo on the jerseys. So if you see a throwback sans Majestic logo, it ain’t a Majestic jersey.[/quote]

    I believe that the other company doing Throwback baseball unis is AIS (Action in Sports) based in Culver City, CA. They do a great deal of uniforms for sports movies – they do both vintage and current unis. They also do Minor League baseball and hockey unis and did some NCAA baseball Throwbacks. I have a few of the surplus jerseys from certain movies, and in my contact with them I believe that they have talked about some work for the MLB Dodgers.

    For a long time the company was known as SportsRobe, now it goes by AIS. And I do not believe that they put their logo on any MLB items.[/quote]
    From my understanding, Majestic gets the first crack at it and if they pass it up, teams are free to go to any manufacturer they choose. But, as was said above, they cannot display their maker’s mark.

  • JimV19 | May 31, 2010 at 12:03 am |

    A big “I’d wear that” to Michael Jaszewski’s Gophers uni:
    http://farm5.static....

  • JimV19 | May 31, 2010 at 12:04 am |

    And thanks to Ricko for keeping this weekend in perspective.

  • Nick | May 31, 2010 at 1:00 am |

    [quote comment="392270"]A big “I’d wear that” to Michael Jaszewski’s Gophers uni:
    http://farm5.static....

    Great uni. I’d work in a bit more Maroon – maybe a Maroon stripe on the side of the pants, a thicker Maroon stripe seperating the White jersey from the Yellow sleeve, and maybe, maybe a Maroon “M” on the helmet – maybe. I’d give it an “A” you don’t see many “A”s on modern football unis.

  • Mike | May 31, 2010 at 9:33 am |

    Jim and Nick-
    Thanks much for the kind words on the Gopher tweaks. Much appreciated. And Nick, you might be right about the pants stripes.