By Phil Hecken, with Doug Keklak
It’s been a while since I did a post with UW’s favorite yinzer, Doug Keklak, but Douggie’s back and he’s got a great piece for us today, on the All-American Amateur Baseball Association, or AAABA (“Triple A-B-A”) for short. Those of you who know (or know of) Doug, know he was born and raised in Johnstown, PA, and as you’re about to learn, Johnstown and the AAABA are almost synonymous — every year since 1947, with the exception of 1977, when a bit of bad weather forced its move to nearby Altoona, the city has hosted an annual baseball tournament. Doug will have more on the history of that tournament, via the first three links, and particularly the uniforms of this year’s participants, below. So now, without further ado, here’s Kek:
A few weeks ago, I spent the week back in my hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania attending the 66th annual AAABA Tournament. I won’t bore you with the history of what that is, but I will point you to three fantastic websites that tell it better than I can:
Note: this is not the first mention of the AAABA tourney in Uni Watch history. Back in 2008, Matt Bachovchin got mention of it and provided some links. I appreciate him doing this, bringing the tournament to light, and I am only expanding on what he started.
Now that you know what it is, I’ll get to the point of what’s near and dear to readers of this blog: the unis! There are plenty of stirrups to go around, which is always a good thing.
From a uniform standpoint, there are winners and losers, studs and duds if you will. I’ll give a brief synopsis and grade of uniform. So, in no particular order, here are the members of the 16-team, double-elimination bracket:
Johnstown-Martella’s: The runner-up from the Johnstown league sports a color theme you Mets’ fans might enjoy: blue, orange, white…and NO BLACK! They also have a very distinctive font that they adopted from the franchise’s time when they were known as the Johnstown Grays. They wore a blue BP-looking jersey and a very nice vest set. Grade A: always liked that font and the color scheme update is better than the played out red-white-blue look used by so many teams.
New Brunswick: The Matrix team brought this uninspiring uniform to the tournament and their style matched their play, the were eliminated in two days. Grade D: just too plain for me.
Philadelphia: I saw the Philly Bandits in two principal unis: this black one and this awful red camo thing. There is a player in both those shots, Dillon Moyer. That’s Jamie Moyer’s son. The elder Moyer was in town taking in the games and I got a brief chance to meet with him and say hello. He seemed like a nice enough guy. Grade D: the camo was awful (although Philly gets credit for having a legible number, more on that below) and the black over white was pretty dull. The saving grace to these kits was the hat as it appeared to be a slight take off on the Quad City River Bandits look.
Altoona: The Johnston Realty team made the short trip from Blair County for the week’s festivities and brought a black over white look that left a lot to be desired except the red accents gave it a little flair, albeit not much. Grade D: the gear looks kind of cheap, at least on the jersey. Also, white shoes with high red socks, not a good look.
Buffalo: Buffalo was represented by Team New Era. I had no idea that was their tie-in, I saw a few gentlemen wearing this hat around and honest to God, I thought they were reps for New Era! Of course, two seconds of Internet research will show you the company is based in Buffalo. I saw them in this blue over white. Grade C: I like the Twins-like blue jersey with red piping but the font doesn’t work for me. What about that cap? Is that logo creep?
Zanesville: Although the Junior Pioneers went 0-2 in the tournament, I’m sure they’ll be winners in the Uni Watch world. They were one of the teams that wear proper pants and stirrups as a team. It’s a nice uniform, all gray with hints of the Braves and the stirrups sort of remind me of the pre-silver and black White Sox. It’s always neat to see a “Z” on a ballcap too! The only negative were players that opted for red spikes. Grade B: good not great.
Toledo: The Lake Erie Monarchs brought a nice blue/gold motif. Grade B/I: jersey is good, I like the font and the scheme but didn’t get a good enough look at the hat or a look at the socks/stirrups (or lack thereof) to make a full judgment.
New Orleans: the NORD Boosters are one of the storied franchises in AAABA history. They won the tournament in 2009 and it was the 13th time they won it. For years, the squad sported the red-white-blue theme that so many had but around ten years ago or so, they switched up too a Oakland A’s scheme. They traditionally brought many different sets for the week, but this year, I only saw them in this crisp all-white home look and this gold over white. Aside from the white cap they do wear a green crown/yellow bill cap as well. Grade A-: I’ve always love their look but if I have to nitpick, you have to go yellow sani under those green stirrups! I won’t even ask the entire team to go with white shoes either (although I’d prefer it).
Baltimore: the Youse Orioles are AAABA royalty as they are the 2010 champs and the team has won tournament seven of the last eight years and 27 times total since its inception (I guess you could say they’re the Yankees of the AAABA!). As Matt mentioned back in 2008, they are the best team with the best unis. They went black over white, orange over white and gray vested. All with stirrups and three different styles to boot. Plus, EVERYONE got it, as in wore their uniform proper. Just look at that team photo, thing of beauty. Grade: A. I would have given these guys an A+ but I just can’t with them rocking that “O’s” cap. I would prefer the old cartoon bird but even would have accepted the current one. As an aside, I tried to convince a friend of mine that’s close with the team to sport the all-orange for the championship game. No luck!
As an aside, I was going through some old photos and found some I took during a family vacation that involved a stop at Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. For years, the Baltimore team was sponsored by Johnny’s Auto Sales. Imagine this Johnstown boy’s surprise when I saw a AAABA uniform on display at the Hall! Of course, that cap has a special place in my heart for obvious reasons.
Maryland State: Calvert American Legion wore these awful camo unis complete with white numbers on the back, making them hard to read. Grade: F. I’m just not a fan of the camo.
New York: The Long Island Astros rocked the Houston cap with a pretty basic blue over gray look. Phil, you know of this squad? If so, you’ve got to convince them to get a tequila sunrise throwback in the mix (complete with striped hosiery of course!) Grade: C. Doesn’t wow me, but I can’t say I hated it either.
[I don't follow them, but I've definitely heard of them. They made the local papers the week before they left for Johnstown. -- PH]
Chicago: The Des Plaines Patriots brought a gold over white and blue over white look. Again, I like blue-gold schemes, but they may becoming the new red-white-blue in this tourney. I like the wordmark/logo. I’m unsure if the arches denote a local bridge or perhaps are a tribute to McDonalds (as Roy Kroc opened the first restuarant of the chain there). Perhaps some midwestern peeps can help out. Grade: B-. I like what I mentioned about, not crazy about the white panel cap and not a fan of teams going with gold batting helmets.
Livonia: Coach’s Corner/Canton Sports appeared to be wearing Under Armour compression shirts rather than actually baseball jerseys or BP jerseys. I like the blue-gray and that they didn’t go with red (or a lot of it, there might be some trim) but it’s a pretty cheap design with one sponsor on the sleeve, one on the chest. I like the hat, mainly because the logo reminds me of the old interlocking Mississippi State logo which I loved.
Columbus: I couldn’t find a better shot of the Columbus Braves (the fielder here) so they’ll have to get an incomplete.
Johnstown-Delweld: the league champs brought with them a variety of looks this year. They have long incorporated the Tigers’ style “D” in their look. I saw them in gold over white, gray vested, white vested and blue over blue pins. Notice they have three different caps too: blue/gold bill, gold/blue bill, white/blue bill. Grade: A-. Yeah, I know, call me a homer! Love those striped stirrups, just wish everyone would rock them. Minus grade because, as I’ve said before, I hate gold batting helmets.
Cleveland: the Old Brooklyn Hurricanes came to town with what looked like an interpretation of something the U would wear. However, too much BFBS for my liking. Grade: D. I appreciate the Olde English style lettering on the cap but would preferred a more liberal use of orange and green. Plus, from certain angles and lighting, the letters didn’t get picked up at all and it appeared as if players were simply wearing plain black shirts.
So there you have it. If you’re ever in Johnstown, PA in early August, you must check out this tournament. It’s good old-fashioned wood bat baseball played hard by 17-20 year olds. If you do, let me know. I’ll give you a food tour that will have your mouth watering: Murphy’s (wings), Orchard (pizza and wings), Ann’s Pizza, Coney Island Lunch, Rey Azetca (Mexican), Scott’s by Dam (tacos) just to name a few!
Special thanks to Brian Varmecky for the great photography. If the photos aren’t linked from the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat website, they were snapped by Brian.
Awesome Douggie! Looks like a great time. There are few things in life better than baseball played for the love of the game. And maybe next August I’ll take ya up on that baseball and food odyssey. Road trip anyone?
MLB Jersey Contest, Day 2
Moving along, today we look at the second batch of entries in the “Design-A-Baseball-Jersey Contest” (if you happened to miss yesterday’s article, refer back there for the full writeup). Another great batch today, so let’s get right to it:
Mike Duncan: Seattle Mariners. Our goal was to create a clean and simple retro upgrade for the Mariners. We reinstate the blue/gold color scheme, but use the darker blue they currently feature. The stripes on the sleeves and socks reference the original Pilots uniform. And, of course, the trident is back! — Mike & Brandi Duncan
Mike Engle: Chicago White Sox. Chicago city flag gets adapted for use as a White Sox jersey. Wrap-around stripes, Old Roman font, and a riff on the current sleeve patch.
Danny Finocchio: New York Yankees. My concept is a New York Yankees pullover road jersey. It has a retro 80’s feel to it, and I feel as though a concept like this could have been a completely viable option in that era.
Mason Fiske: Houston Astros. We all know many people want to see the Astros to return to its glory days with the 1970s color-splashed uniforms. BUT I think the organization wants to maintain its current traditional mindset, so I don’t foresee that happening. With that in mind, I wanted to create a more traditional design with current script and logos as well as eliminating the NOB, but return to its original color palette to give some distinction to the roots of the organization.
Mike Forman: Philadelphia Phillies. My take on the Phillies alternative. As an aside, the Liberty Bell logo is criminally underused by the Phils organization.
Darnell Frazier: Chicago White Sox. I picked the White Sox since they’re my fav team. I’ve loved their uniforms, but they needed more. So I called upon the jerseys of the 50’s to help. I melded their road grays with their black alts an added red trim on the logos and numbers to really help them standout.
J.R. Gain: Chicago Cubs. The Cubs’ home pinstripes are a signature style. However, they’ve never had a signature style for the road. This alternate design hopes to fix that. It takes influences from the juggernauts of the 1900s, NL champs of the 30s and 40s, and a team that broke a 39-year post-season drought.
Bruce Genther: Toronto Blue Jays. A traditional style jersey with raglan shoulder seams and button front. The design trades in the ugly black and gray uniform of today and brings back the bright columbia blue of the past. A new script of columbia blue trimmed in navy across the shirt front with a small underline and the introduction of a new Blue Jay logo placed above the team nickname. I have also brought back a traditional varsity style full block four inch number on the left shirt front below name. navy on columbia trim on each sleeve end, 1/2 inch sleeve end. The back of the jersey displays the player’s name in three inch plain block navy vertical arch letters above a seven inch varsity full block player’s number of columbia blue trimmed in navy.
Alex Giobbi: Philadelphia Phillies. Front: a. P (based off the Tigers D) b. Numbers on opposite chest (like the Reds) c. Black pinstripes (like the Yankees) d. Liberty Bell Sleeve Patch (like the Rays patch); Back: No name on back (Yankees). I also added blue as a secondary/accent color. That’s the New Phillies concept.
Chris Giorgio: Colorado Rockies. I chose the Rockies because A) I’ve always hated their colors (mostly the purple) and B) never liked their generic font. I redesigned their logo to update the mountains and made a classier script logo for the home jersey. I kept the pinstripes at home.
Clint Glaze: San Diego Padres. This is a redesign of the current San Diego Padres road jersey, replacing the odd “San Diego” wordmark with a script that matches the “Padres” wordmark of the home and alternate jerseys. The sky blue color from the primary logo has also been added to supplement the gold and navy.
Chris Gough: Baltimore Orioles. I wanted to do a team where I could do a new script so I chose Baltimore. Then I realized to change the script would mean I had to change everything. My favorite would be the home white but the gray one is cool too.
Robin Griffiths: Colorado Rockies. I’ve tried to get a more classic look for the Rockies so changed the font for the CR logo as the current one doesn’t say “baseball” to me, adopted more traditional piping, ditched purple (yuck) in favour of a deep blue and simplified the sleeve patch.
Andrew Grinberg: San Francisco Giants. The Giants are my favorite team and have the best uniforms in MLB, so no drastic changes. I have always loved the San Francisco script from the old batting practice jerseys and the sleeve patch is the perfect place to put the best logo ever in sports.
Mike Hass: Milwaukee Brewers. My entry is for the Milwaukee Brewers. This uniform has sparked much debate in the UW community, so I used a yin-yang approach to make both sides happy. The logotype contains elements of old and new. Barrel Man, the Wisconsin silhouette, and cream color palette felt very appropriate for Milwaukee.
Kevin Hastings: Washington Nationals. I abhor the home uniforms of my home town Washington Nationals. So I thought I’d look to the past and give the jersey a cleaner look. The Capitol dome logo was used by the Senators in the 50s and 60s. Sorry I didn’t get a side view in there, but it would be plain white. Great contest, thanks!
James Huening: Chicago Cubs. First off, I wanted to limit the red to the primary logo, the way it was when I was a kid. Logo: I’ve never been crazy about the current logo, but this harks to that in a way. Plus, it’s fairly unique in that the tail goes from right to left. (This is actually a modified version of an old Orlando Cubs logo that I scanned from a jersey.) Classic sleeve patch: one of those “got it right the first time and have gotten it wrong ever since” things. Number on front: balances things a bit, otherwise it’s a “left-heavy” jersey. What? No pinstripes? I wanted to do pinstripes AND piping, but my artistic skills are rudimentary at best so I couldn’t make it work.
Michael Ivall: Toronto Blue Jays. For this design, I wanted to bring the Blue Jays back to the best years, and create something “Classic Old School” if you will with a up to date feel. Staying with “Jays” as opposed to “Blue Jays” and using a similar look to the Blue Jays of the early 90s. I think it taps into the popularity of today’s marketing of the team. The logo itself is all new again taking elements from the past, and coming away from the newer cartoony logo.
Jake BC: Atlanta Braves. I couldn’t be more proud of my hometown Bravos right now, and i really enjoyed seeing them in the powders earlier in the season so my submission is more or less just a small tweak of that. Powder blue top, 3 stripes (blue-white-blue) on the sleeves and collar, and the current script “Atlanta” logo from the navy blue tops.
Ed Johnson: Washington Nationals. A design for a Washington Nationals road jersey, an update of a design I originally submitted to Paul for his “Design a DC Baseball Jersey” contest in 2004. Inspired in part by the 1910s-30s Nationals, the 1956 Reds and the 1953 Nationals yearbook cover.
Great work on those fellas! OK — the second batch of contestants is now in the books — make sure to check back tomorrow for the third set. Don’t forget to post your thoughts in the comments below, and give props to all the contestants for their efforts.
by Brinke Guthrie
This summer, Baskin-Robbins rolled out an MLB helmet promotion. And it got me to thinking, no one does that anymore, do they? Free sports stuff with a purchase? Everything’s all so…so licensed. Slurpee always did a lot back in the day. Gas stations also used to be great places to get sports stuff, from the classic Sunoco NFL 72 album, to Union 76 Nick Volpe Dodgers prints from ’64 and Marathon Oil Kentucky Colonels prints from ’71. Volpe even did the Beatles. This great artist passed away in 1992.
• Big set of WHA Slurpee cups from 73-74. Three hundred bucks and they’re yours.
• Great set of Dairy “Qween” NFL helmets.
• Get your 1950 ESSO NFL handbook here.
• Cub Power, baby.
• A complete set of Tudor Bengals from the 70’s.
• Reds World Series mugs from ’75 and ’76, 2 of the greatest teams in history. Had both of these, too.
• Now this is what real football players look like. Ray Nitschke getting ready to kill a QB.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Starting off today is Marc Nelson, who thought it might be a good idea to emulate the infamous Billy Ripken baseball card by
creating one of his own *Photo has been removed by request*. Says Marc, “Although my daughter’s tee ball team was the Yankees, I couldn’t resist making an homage to one of the all-time great baseball cards.” OK, then. I’m sure your daughter and her friends appreciate the gesture. … Ryan Perkins asks, “What can purple do for you? Joe Webb takes a breather late in the 4th Quarter of Sunday night’s preseason game.” … More news on the Rangers new Third Jersey comes from Terence Kearns, which will be unveiled this November. … Paul Bielewicz has a theory about the Yankee batting helmets: “it appears the Yankees are phasing out the use of the ‘Batting Helmet’ logo in favor of the ‘Print’ logo on helmets. I’ve collected some evidence (see attached photos of Granderson and Pena). Approximately half of the team are using helmets with the ‘print’ logo, including A-Rod, Granderson, Cervelli, Kearns, Pena, and some of the recent call-ups. It appears that anyone who gets a new helmet gets one with the ‘print’ NY logo. My guess is that by next season, the ‘Batting Helmet’ logo will be history.” For a comparison of the Yankee logos, click here. … An interesting bit from the New York Times was noticed by Phil Johnson. Last week the NYT ran an obit on Harold Connolly (former Olympic hammer throw champ) and they have a pic of him throwing the hammer in ballet shoes. Here’s the full obit. … Adam Soclof notes that last Wednesday, Hapoel Tel Aviv forward Itay Shechter earned a yellow card when he celebrated a goal by pulling a yarmulke out of his sock, which was crocheted with the Hapoel Tel Aviv logo. The Champions League game was in Austria, sparking speculation that this was a thumb in the nose to the Nazi history of Austria’s past. A rematch is scheduled tonight and Schechter is questionable due to injury. Says Adam, “The Ochocinco-esque stunt has a precedent: Ghanaian player John Pentsil brandished an Israeli flag during World cup play in 2006; he also hid it in his sock. … Awesome stuff from Aaron Duncan, who went to a KIT League game back this summer between the Farmington Browns and the Marion Bobcats. He sent a link to the photo set. The browns are wearing uniforms based on the 1953 St. Louis Browns. They play at Wilson-Rozier Park in Farmington, MO. If I’m not mistaken this facility is an old WPA project from the 1930’s but it is maintained very well including some more modern updates such as seats. “Here is a link to a photo of pitcher #24 Branden Eaton who was kind enough to let me take a photo of his uniform.” … Michael Orr sends along more EPL kit reviews. … Yesterday’s “Design-A-Jersey” post triggered something in Jason Fuller‘s brain~pan. You see, he had a website back in college that paid homage to the Rainbow-guts. “This goes to show that I was/am very dedicated to Astros nostalgia, and that back then I kept my massive beer consumption just barely at the level where I could somehow perform low-level html coding. It was last updated 11 years ago.” Now how’s that for repressed memories. … Alan Kreit snapped this picture in Lakeside Lodge and Grille, Bolton Landing, NY. No other ID provided, but it’s a great shot. … Yesterday featured a ticker item on male and female mascots of minor league teams, with a few also being mentioned in the comments. Add one more: Greg Netherwood notes the Rochester Red Wings have had a male mascot (Spike) and female mascot (Mitsy) for the last few years. … Chris Maples, while flipping through rookie pictures of the Sacramento Kings, noticed they have centered the number on their jersey, as well as a new collar. … And a whole mess of good stuff from Terry Duroncelet: “Upon looking for action shots of the uniform the Knickerbockers wore from 1952-1961, I found a BFSLS (Black For Spike Lee’s Sake) version made by Nike, a pic of the original uni obscured by an equally awesome warmup, a black and white pic of the jersey with a huge ass number, and a strange Duke uni with red trim. I apologize for this next pic being so late, but here is the Juventus FC road shirt for 2010/2011. Last but not least, I found this twitpic of Chris FastGuy wearing a customized Nike Pro Combat Hyper Strong girdle. The thing that makes this girdle cool is the knee padding, which encourages the traditional padded-below-the-knee look of yesteryear (note the Chucks). In short, I had a pretty good weekend.” Nice — that Marion Motley pic is worth the price of admission. Here’s a larger shot I had saved a while ago.
Phew. Apologies on the length of this post, but we had a lot of stuff to get to. Back tomorrow with round three of the Design-A-Baseball-Jersey entries.
Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets. — Yogi Berra