First, a quick programming note: My ESPN column on NHL goalie gear — originally slated for yesterday and then postponed until today — has now been bumped to tomorrow. Hopefully that’s the last time it gets rescheduled.
Now then … I don’t think of myself as a jersey collector. Two years ago I even wrote a blog entry about that. But as many readers have pointed out, I periodically mention acquiring old jerseys on eBay, so doesn’t that make me a jersey collector after all? Oh, I suppose — I just like vintage clothing, and some of that clothing includes old uniforms from high school teams, factory teams, softball leagues, etc.. I think that’s very different than collecting, say, dozens of NFL jerseys, but whatever — several of you have asked me to do an entry showcasing my collection, so here we are.
We’ll begin with my old wool flannel baseball jerseys, starting with this one:
I bought that in May of 1999 — right around the time the first Uni Watch column was published in The Village Voice. Got it for $5 at a Binghamton discount store that had leased some space to a local thrift/vintage operation. I can distinctly remember walking in, seeing the jersey, and falling in love. I even loved the slightly moth-eaten uni number on the back — still do, in fact. It was the first time I’d bought a vintage jersey. (And for those who don’t know, Saugerties is a town in the Hudson Valley.)
This is easily my favorite jersey. Bought it in a vintage shop just outside St. Nazianz, Wisconsin, in 2001. Wasn’t cheap — I think I paid $100, although that included the pants and the heavy woolen stirrups. It’s blank on the back, but I love the vertically arched lettering, the gorgeous ticking stripes (look at the slightly lighter/brighter threads in between the blue stripes), the Spalding tag — what a beauty! The “Aluminum Goods” insignia refers to the pots and pans company currently known as Mirro, which was formerly known as the Aluminum Goods Manufacturing Company. By coincidence, my Wisconsin photographer friends/heroes Julie and Johny used to take all the product photos for Mirro’s packaging (they had a little studio in the Mirro building where they’d take carefully staged shots of saucepans and such), so this jersey ties together a lot of my personal interests.
Got this one at a shop around the corner from my house about seven or eight years ago, I think for about $15. No idea what the “SG” stands for (or is it “GS”?), but sometimes I like to hypothesize: St. George? Gotham Scholastics? School for Girls? Whatever the team was, I also like to imagine that Dave Parker played for them.
That’s an eBay find. Don’t recall what I paid, but it was probably in the $40ish range. Although it doesn’t quite come through in the photo, those colors are pure Redskins — burgundy and gold — and they go together beautifully. Kinda wish they’d included a period after the “St” and the apostrophe before the S, but whaddaya gonna do (at least they were consistent in omitting both of them). Very nice number on the back, too. This is the only zippered jersey I own, which is no small thing — on a button-front jersey, the two front shirttails overlap, but on a zippered jersey they just sort of hang there next to each other. Doesn’t matter if the jersey is tucked in, but if you wear it untucked, the shirttails flap outward a bit as you walk, and the effect sort of looks like a skirt. So I’m more apt to wear this one in situations where I know I’ll be spending most of my time sitting down.
Another eBay find, I think for $30ish. The lettering and trim are all one color, and it’s blank on the back, but that’s okay — fits like a glove. I’ve gotten interesting reactions while wearing this on at least two occasions: (1) A few years ago I was doing some hot dog research in eastern Pennsylvania and figured that was a good region for wearing a Kutztown jersey. But at one point I stopped at a bar in a town that apparently has a big rivalry with Kutztown (can’t recall the name of that town now, alas), and they thought I was fucking with them or looking for a fight or something. Kinda had to talk my way out of that one. (2) I wore this jersey to a New Year’s Day party this past winter, and someone at the party got all excited because she went to school at Kutztown. She got even more excited when she realized who I was, because she had been a big fan of my zine back in the 1990s. That someone was Amy Fritch, who’s now my good pal and ended up being my Scotland travel partner back in May. Might not have happened if I hadn’t worn the jersey to the party.
That’s it for my baseball flannels. We’ll now move to a different category: basketball warm-up tops. I’ve only recently discovered how much I like these (never occurred to me that a little fella like myself could fit into any kind of basketball gear, frankly), but I’ve acquired a few nice pieces. This was the first one I got:
When I got this on eBay, I didn’t even know which sport it was from — I just knew I liked it. Frankly, the use of “Telco” on the back still seems a bit fishy to me (Americans have never used that slang term, have we?), but in all other respects it seems like a classic mid-century hoops warm-up pullover. I love the way the Durene fabric drapes, love the number sign on the back, love the barber pole striping — a great find.
Here’s another great example of Durene-wear:
True story: I wore this warm-up top two years ago in Minneapolis for the first-ever performance of the Forewords. A few minutes before we were about to go onstage, my friend Claudia Gonson (who plays in the Magnetic Fields, the group we were opening for) took one look at me, smiled, and said, “Darling, you look like a fag.” She meant it as a compliment. Fag-y or not, it’s a great shirt. I totally dig the ribbed trim at the bottom, the simple lettering on the back (note to self: Must repair that serif on the 7), and the striping. The weird thing is that the sleeves are neither set-in nor raglan — they’re made from the same piece of cloth as the torso. Never seen tailoring like that before.
One more of these:
Just got this one back in July. It was part of an Etsy lot that included two jerseys, two sets of shorts, some socks, etc., but I convinced the seller to let me buy the warm-up top separately for $25. It’s a beauty, especially once you see the back — look at that great felt lettering! As for Marvin Geoglein, the insurance agent listed on the back, I tried Googling his name but came up empty. Dang.
Okay, one last category: Simple softball/baseball pullovers. We’ll start with my most recent acquisition:
Just got that on eBay about six weeks ago for like 12 bucks. The listing said it was Durene, but it’s actually a miserable polyester that doesn’t breathe even a little bit (I wore it while bowling the day I got it and nearly suffocated). Still, I love how the colors pop, and it’s not every day you see a team sponsored by a funeral home. Interestingly, the company appears to be in Little Rock, Iowa, not Arkansas. I hadn’t even realized there was a Little Rock in Iowa. Just another example of how uniforms can be edumacational.
I don’t tend to wear much orange, but this great shirt is a happy exception. eBay again, two summers ago, very inexpensive. My graphic designer friends Shane and Fritz always hate when I wear this one, cuz the uneven kerning bugs the shit out of them, but I kinda find it endearing. Can’t even begin to express how much I love the stripes on the side and along the shoulders. Blank on the back but that’s fine with me.
Yet another eBay score. I love the simplicity of this one. Totally plain both fore and aft, but the stripes are great and the Durene provides a really nice drape. This is what I wore while posing for my ESPN column mug shot.
And just one more:
No idea if this was actually a uniform top or just a piece of Cubs merch, but there’s something really perfect about its various imperfections. The small holes and tears, the uneven arching on “Cubs,” the fact that maroon isn’t a Cubs color. Totally worth the $11ish I paid for it. Looks particularly good when paired with Uni Watch-patterned stirrups during a bags tourney.
I also have a bunch of old varsity jackets, bowling shirts, and one very special curling sweater that someone was nice enough to give me, but I’ll save those for another time. Thanks for letting me play show-and-tell today.
Too good for the Ticker: Aaron Rich sent me a wire service photo for the ages yesterday. That’s heavyweight boxer Max Baer getting down with some prime ribeye in 1937 (two years after he lost the title to James Braddock). As Aaron notes, Baer was Jewish, so it makes sense that he was chomping down on beef, not pork.
And there’s a great little prize waiting on the back of the photo. Check out the caption on the clipping at the top. Nice of them to put that “left” directional in there, just in case we didn’t know which was which.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Here are two of the new dugout jackets, along with a press release. … Icethetics is reporting a possible leak of L.A. Kings prototypes. Further coverage here. … New logo for the Gap. … New hoops uniforms for UCF. … Ramon Herhandez wears No. 55, so why do his knee-saver pads have “70” on them? And in case you’re wondering, there’s no No. 70 on the Cincy roster. … Wanna see something really beautiful? Look at this. It’s one of the many spectacular cycling illustrations in a 1984 book commemorating the end of the 6 Day Races at a French Velodrome. Plenty more if you click through this slideshow (wonderful find by Sean Clancy). … Jacob Pomrenke sent along one of the best Shorpy photos in a while — so much to like! Naturally, I’m partial to the striped undersleeves, but I’m intrigued by the guy standing third from the right — contrast-cuffed undersleeves. Never thought about that before, but I like it. … Check out this cool bowling shirt sample/catalog thingie I just won. Lots of photos to follow once it arrives in the mail. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Why did that Ryder Cup raingear end up leaking? Because of the NOBs. … Also from yesterday: Here’s how the Mets fared this past season on a uni-by-uni basis. The big news is that they wore blue caps for 52 of their 80 home games (not counting the one where they had to wear the stars/stripes cap), which I’m sure is by far their highest blue-capped tally in many years. … According to the next-to-last graf of this page, Josh Hamilton has been wearing rib padding under his jersey (with thanks to Rachel Johnson). … The NBA has instituted a new dress code for coaches. For details, scroll down to the “Collar and All” section on this page. … When the Rangers wear their third jersey, they’ll pair it with this helmet (John Muir again). … David Brown tipped me off to a new site about collections. Scroll down to the Oct. 1 entry to see a good one: baseball cards featuring guys with big chaws in their cheeks. … As had been rumored, Washington is apparently boarding the BFBS train, and boy is it ugly. Not clear, at least to me, exactly when or even if this design will be worn on the field, however (with thanks to Jeremy Repanich). … Back in March I reported that Rawlings was planning to get back into the football helmet biz. As Rawlings exec Mike Thompson told me at the time, “Most likely we’re going to seed some to high school programs around the country in the latter part of this year, but we won’t have a comprehensive program until 2011.” I’d forgotten all about that until Jordan Pope sent me these photos of a new Rawlings helmet, which his coach recently procured. It’s supposedly one of only 250 such helmets that were distributed to high school programs. … Tom Brady may be signing a deal with Under Armour.