By Phil Hecken with Rick Pearson
For the past couple of weeks, Ricko and I have been trading E-mails with regard to a topic which we rarely broach on Uni Watch, yet which is entirely germane to the entire raison d’être of this board — which is the aesthetics of athletics. To wit, we discuss uniforms all the time, and we often debate which uniforms look good, bad, awful, and what have you. But we rarely discuss those athletes who, for whatever reason, can make a uniform — any uniform — look good.
It’s an entirely subjective exercise, of course — now, we can spot those who don’t look so good in a uniform, applying any number of criteria to make that determination — even those not usually directly related to the actual uniform being worn.
There are probably dozens of examples of athletes who just look perfect in a uniform. Whether through having a body that supports the uniform, or just the way they take care of that uniform, or because the tailoring (if applicable) was perfect — the attention to detail is just right; not overly fussy but nothing is left unchecked. Whatever it may be, who “wears it well”?
Rick and I tossed a few names about, and while I could undoubtedly come up with more, I chose four baseball players from four different eras. Ricko took a slightly different approach. Just to show you my choices aren’t “predetermined” to be “old school” guys who only wear striped stirrups, one of my choices doesn’t even wear ‘rups at all — but he does know how to wear a uniform well. Let’s take a look at the four gentlemen who, in my opinion, know how to wear a uniform and who wear it well. After that, Ricko has a bunch of his own (and many of those photos come directly from the “Ricko Files”, always a special treat):
Stan Musial: Stan “the Man” Musial played his entire career for the St. Louis Cardinals, but did sport several different uniform styles throughout that time. But whether it was the post war uniform with thick red piping, or the almost contemporary later version of the birds on bat, Musial’s uniform was always perfectly fitting, his undershirt always perfectly complementary, his stirrups perfect. Everything just looked good. You saw Musial in uniform and you just knew “THAT’S a ballplayer.” Even years later, when the Cards went to the poly pullover and sansabelts, Musial still wore it well.
Ernie Banks: Moving to a sometimes-overlapping era, Mr. Cub was another guy who always looked just right in a uni. Whether it was the properly bloused pants or the turtleneck worn just right or the stirrups showing just the right amount of white sani, “Let’s Play Two” just seemed to belong on a diamond. Whether the style of the time was a baggier fit or later on, when tailoring dictated a much tighter fit, Ernie Banks looked as good as he played.
Rickey Henderson: For the third “examplar” of a guy who knew how to wear a uniform, there was probably no finer physical specimen than Rickey. And he played his uniform tailoring to those strengths. Whether it was during the ribbon stirrup era, he simply looked like he could steal a base at any given time. Even when the uniform styles sent many guys to the pajama bottom length, Rickey even made that style look good, with his ability to just look good in a uniform. When he wore his uniform in a style I personally detest, even I will admit, he wore it well. Not many people can make that style look good. Rickey did.
Derek Jeter: The Yankees’ captain is another guy who plays in the ‘pajama’ era, but yet, his uniform always is impeccably well worn, like he was born to wear it. And as much as it pains this Mets fan to ever pay a compliment to anyone wearing the enemy colors, you just can’t help but appreciate the way “El Capitain” wears those pins. I should hate this look: the the hightops, the long pants — but yet, I don’t. If only he played across town. Unfortunately, I see this enough thanks to interplague. But while I may not be enamored of Jeter the Yankee, I can’t but say the guy looks like he belongs on a baseball field.
That’s about all I have to say on my end. I could have picked some football players or other sports, but it being baseball season, I spanned the decades to bring you four guys who just know how to wear a uniform and wear it well.
I’ll now turn the rest of the article over to Ricko, and meet back up with him at the conclusion.
I decided not to think too much when Phil asked about this, just go with the first guys who came immediately to mind…because I’d noticed them for “wearing it well” over the years. And I dug the images out of The Ricko Files, in hopes it would be stuff not commonly seen.
Say what you will about Jackson, he knows the history of the game and has a sense of history, too. Maybe that’s why he was so productive on the big stage. The mammoth home run in the Detroit All-Star Game, the playoff and World Series performances than earned him his “Mr. October” moniker…things like that made it obvious Reggie knew when folks were looking.
That seemed to manifest itself in the way he wore his uni, too. Never did anything “over the top,” simply kept everything “just so.” Pants height varied little, but stirrup height did change a bit over time.
From the beginning with the A’s you could see it. When the three-color jersey era came in (along with wristbands becoming big) he had apparently a strict personal policy: Gold bands with Gold jerseys, kelly with Kelly jersey and white (or sometimes Gold) with white.
With Yankees it was White or Navy bands at home, Gray or Navy on the road. When taped cleats got to be “in” for awhile, he gave that a try, although there was unfortunate unbuttoned jersey thing he opted for in New York from time to time.
Moving to the Angels, the bands were usually Red and occasionally Blue, although not the best of matches (may I say here that, as sansabelt unis go, that Angels set was damn fine…too bad they’ve wandered so far from that basic look and color distribution).
Anyway, you get the point abut Reggie. He gave a damn.
Always thought he looked like was born to wear a football uniform. And, while he messed around white high socks and spatting (not negatives in my book, but they’ll get him clobbered by many here…and they WERE part of the era when he played), he always looked as though he had a precise idea of how he thought a football uniform should be worn…and looked that way wherever he played. At Oregon, while still Bobby Moore, with the Cardinals, the Bills, and the Vikings. Even in training camp in shorts or football pants.
There is, of course, no science to this at all. It’s just about guys who stick in your mind because they always looked good for the styles of their era, and because they always seem to care about how the wore the uni, and did it a certain amount of style, restraint and respect for both the uniform itself and the traditions of the game.
That said, I’ll just offer up a few others…
Thanks Ricko! OK folks, there you have it. Just two guys’ opinion of some athletes (and obviously, not only are there many we didn’t mention, but the ones we did had longevity as well as talent on their side) who just knew how to wear a uniform. There have got to be more. And you may disagree with our selections.
So what say you, Uni Watchers — who do you think wore (or still wears) a uniform well. Who did we miss? And did we include guys you’d disagree with?
Of course, even though we didn’t nominate (except for a couple guys at the very beginning) guys who DON’T wear a uni well, feel free to make note of the guys who just don’t get it, uniform wise.
“Redskins” not racist? You guys may recall a segment of the “Worst Uniform Combo” post (scroll down to “Teebz Hates Cox,”) in which the Hockey Wing President made a very impassioned argument that the Blackhawks logo is not, in any way, shape or form, racist. Reader Brad Steiner enjoyed Teebz’ piece, and feels similarly about the name of the Washington, D.C. football team. While I may not necessarily agree with this, I felt his E-mail was certainly worth posting, in the interests of allowing all viewpoints on the matter. Sit back, then, and please allow Brad to explain the origins of the “Redskins” name, and to give perspective to its continued use today:
I was reading your blog (which is a weekly must read in this house) and I was struck by your defense of the Blackhawk name stating that it “was not offensive”. I absolutely agree. I also appreciate you going into some detail about where the name came from.
Unfortunately, I wish you would have done the same homework to defend the use of “Redskins”. It is amazing to me the broad brushstroke that gets used when talking about the “Redskins”. Everyone seems to think the term is offensive, without even knowing the history as to why they are named what they are named. I can only guess it is because we are all so racially sensitive that combining the use of a color with the word skin can’t be good.
The true story is quite the opposite of what gets portrayed. It is true that George Marshall was the last to integrate his team. It is true that George Marshall has been called a racist by former members of the franchise. And it is true that the name of the team is the “Redskins”. Unfortunately, none of those things have anything to do with each other.
In 1932, George Preston Marshall became the sole owner of the Boston Braves. The city was in a financial mess and he couldn’t get the support he needed from the people of Boston. He tried to change the look/identity of the team to fuel interest. He changed the name to the “Boston Redskins”. Why? At the time, the coach of the team was a Native American named Lone Star Deitz (ironic, considering 40 years later their biggest NFL rival would turn out to be from the “Lone Star State”). The two men were dear friends. Lone Star was a Sioux and had the nickname “Ole Redskin”. A nickname that he used in referring to himself. So, George Marshall, in honor of his friend, named the team after Ole Redskin. Unfortunately, Dietz wasn’t very successful as Head Coach and was eventually replaced. His legend though, would shape the team for decades. Up until a decade or so ago, the Redskins held training camp every year at the college that Deitz starred, Carlise College in Carlisle, Pa.
If not a sexy story, it surely is not a story of racial impropriety. I wish it were told more often.
Thanks for your time…and as always, keep up the great work on Uniwatch. I am a big fan…
Thanks, Brad. Very interesting story, and certainly one I’m sure not a lot of readers have heard. Clearly, many people feel differently towards the name and its continued use today, but it lends a bit of new perspective on the matter. While it may or may not justify the continued use of the term today, it does shed new light into the origin of the term.
Junior couldn’t have waited two more days to retire? And, in Seattle, they partied like it was 1995 again yesterday, with the Angels and Mariners throwing back. Interesting that the Angels would agree to it, since those of us who remember the AL West race that year remember how the Angels choked big time, losing a one-game playoff to the Mariners, and allowing the Yankees to gain the Wild Card in Don Mattingly’s final year (and only playoff appearance) in the pins.
Not too much to say about the uniforms, with Seattle draped in teal tops and the Angels in gray, complete with 35th Anniversary patch. Navy NOB’s and numbers, with red outline, and a radially arched nameplate — actually, a pretty good looking uniform for the Angels, who also went with interlocking “CA” on the cap and sleeve
The M’s were resplendent in teal tops and a navy crowned/teal brimmed cap. Clearly, Jim Vilk’s choice for “uni of the decade,” we’re quite sure he’d wear that. Unfortunately for the Mariners, a close game became a blowout, which led to…well…tears.
It’s really a shame the Kid decided to hang up his spikes earlier this week. Perhaps he could have lasted until yesterday, and the M’s could have signed the Unit to a one day contract. Bet they could have moved a couple dozen more of those jerseys that way.
Remember the ways we used to distract the hitter, back in the day? “Hey…battah-battah” and such? We had nothing on the boys from Benchies. Here’s Rick:
Yeah, your batbag’s a portable locker room. Among other things, you’ve got an Ace bandage and training tape and a glove-lacing tool and extra batting gloves and band-aids, a couple balls, some shoelaces and a small jug of Ibuprofen. But that doesn’t mean it’s EVERYONE’s portable locker room. Or does it?
Enjoy your Sunday Benchies.
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: Reader and guest scoreboard provider Andrew Ross sent in today’s GTG, which according to Andrew is a “scoreboard shot that will probably be next to impossible for Uni Watch readers.” I’d agree. 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. Still finding the tweaks have slowed to a trickle, so if you have something you’d like to show, give me a shout.
First up today with an NFL tweak is Jonathan Brent, who have five different looks for the Titans of Tennessee:
I’ve included some tweaks to my beloved Titans’ unis… Unfortunately, I’m only savvy enough with computers to use Teambuilder, but I hope you enjoy, regardless.
Next up, also with NFL concepts, is Charlie Charnigo, who has some Ravens redesigns:
Here is a concept I did a while back. I revamped the Ravens. I always liked their number treatment, so I just made some slight modifications. I added purple pants and dropped the black ones. I also gave a unique treatment to the pants. For the helmet logo I kept the B and the Raven, but used the full face Raven logo. For the jersey I created a USC type wedge with contrasting sleeves and piping. Since sleeve length is a variable thing, I moved the numbers to the shoulders, and left the sleeves logo free. I wanted it to be modern and classic at the same time. I think I achieved my goal.
Closing down the show today we have Amos Miller, who picked up the gauntlet I threw down requesting more tweaks. Boy…did he ever:
Well with your signal that the tweak submissions are slowing down I figured now would be the time to throw out some ideas I’d been working on for a long time.
The first one isn’t even really so much a tweak as it is a outright creation. Shortly after the winter Olympics last winter I began to think about what it would be like if there was Olympic American football. So with that in mind I created just a few teams for a few nations. I’ve compiled a US team, a Swedish team, a Canadian team, a Russian team, a German team, and a throwback Soviet Union team.
My second one here is more based on the articles that have been running the last month about black for the sake of black. And while I rarely agree with teams that go BFSB I do have to say I found a few that I personally like with the darker hue. Anyway I’ve got the 49ers, Packers, Bears, Vikings, Seahawks, Rams, Cowboys, and Broncos all decked out it BFSB gear.
Thanks as always for the fine weekend read.
*Note to self: be careful what you wish for. I kid, I kid. Thanks to everyone for their submissions. Back next time with more. Keep ’em coming!
OK. Today’s smorgasbord is complete. Everyone have a great Sunday. And don’t forget, a lot of fine men in uniform began Operation Neptune some sixty-six years ago today.
After Jackie Robinson the most important black in baseball history is Reggie Jackson, I really mean that. — Reggie Jackson