[Editor's Note: It's been a while since we've had a DIY entry, so today we have a guest-written piece from Steve Dodell, who wanted to match the dugout jacket NOB font used by the 1986 Mets, 1989 A's, and 1990 Reds. Enjoy -- PL]
By Steve Dodell
I bought an authentic Starter Mets warm-up jacket in 1988 at Gerry Cosby’s at Madison Square Garden, one of the few places at that time that sold authentic team apparel. It’s the same one they wore in 1986. I bought an authentic 25th Anniversary patch on eBay and had it sewn on at a uniform store a few years ago. This summer, after seeing this on eBay, I decided I had to have my name on back of my jacket, but only if I could match the font exactly.
The font may seem conventional, but it’s actually fairly unique. I have seen similar fonts, but none exactly like it. And every picture I’ve ever seen of the font has been on a Starter jacket, so I assume they had some embroidery machine that had this font. If you’re interested in embroidery techniques, I know that this font embroidered a white outline first. In the case of the Reds and Phillies, they stopped right there.
For a team like the Mets, the machine would then embroider an orange letter over the white to make a two-color letter. This second layer changes the look of the font a bit, because the initial white outline is covered slightly and thus looks thinner, but it is the same basic shape. (Unless we find someone who worked for Starter back in the day, I guess I am now the world’s foremost expert in the font. I don’t know its official name, so for now let’s called it Starter Old School Varsity.)
The font hasn’t been used in years. To help recreate it, I was lucky enough to buy a Starter jacket worn by coach Rich Miller on eBay. That was key, because it gave me the E and the L that I needed for my own name (I love how the serifs on those letters are slightly slanted), and the R gave me the corner I needed to figure out how to do the D and the O.
The next step was to find an embroiderer. Or, rather, the right embroiderer. Embroidery is a tough skill — different fabrics and designs react differently, and I was trying to match a 20-year-old font. There are many stock alphabet fonts available, but none exactly matched Starter Old School Varsity to my obsessive need for accuracy.
The first embroiderer I went to I found by accident. I was getting a trophy engraved and saw they were also doing embroidery at the shop. I brought in my Miller jacket and my bitmap file of my name in MS Paint and asked them what they thought. The guy seemed very good, but he wanted to do things using modern techniques (embroidery machines use a special file format — your artwork needs to be digitized in their software so the machine can sew it out, and it won’t look right if they don’t digitize it properly), plus the guy was was too gruff. I could tell he would not put up with the multiple tweaks I would probably end up asking for.
I then looked online for other embroiderers in Westchester and came across America’s Stitch. The woman I spoke with was very nice, a perfectionist, and seemed flexible. She digitized my art and ran a sample. They charge by the number of stitches in the design — mine came out to $120, double what the first guy charged, but I was more comfortable with them. She called me in a week with the sample. The sizing of the letters was slightly off — the seams of the orange letters weren’t quite right, and we fiddled with the letter E a bit. After making the fixes, I cajoled her into doing a second sample and it looked great, so we went with it on my jacket. She played with the density of stitches a bit to give it the old-school look of a vintage baseball jacket.
My jacket is almost a perfect re-creation of the original. The only difference is that embroidery machines and software today are much more sophisticated and it was hard to get the embroiderer to give it the rough-and-tumble feel I wanted. Today’s machines produce embroidery that’s too perfect — I called it baby pillow embroidery — but we eventually got the desired effect and I’m very happy with how it turned out.
This font was also used by the Mets on satin jackets up through the early 1990s. I’d be interested if anyone knows the full history of the font. If someone wants to use the font to embroider, I may be able to help them.
SNADU: Situation normal — all Ducked up: Paul here. Today should be a very interesting day, because it’s the day Nike will be unveiling the new bowl game uniforms for Oregon and
three other schools nobody really gives a shit about TCU, Florida, and Boise State. But exactly when today will that unveiling take place?
Good question. Over the past several days I sent communiqués to several folks at Nike, Oregon, and the Oregonian newspaper (because they first broke the story about the unveiling) — no response. Yesterday afternoon I figured I’d simply call Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, because that’s where the event is happening. I was told — and this is a quote — “The guests will be arriving at 5pm and leaving by 11pm [both times Central].” That suggested an evening event.
But then last night the Oregonian posted this story, which says, “The proceedings begin at 7:30am Portland time.” So maybe it isn’t an evening thing after all. (Duck-tracker Michael Princip tells me he’s confirmed the morning start time via a Nikeblog representative.)
I’m hoping for the morning slot, in part because it’ll give me more time to write my Wednesday ESPN column and in part because I have an important appointment this evening that simply cannot be rescheduled. (No, it’s not with an oncologist, a bankruptcy attorney, a hot chick, or Wayne Hagin, but feel free to speculate.) I’ll be getting home around 11pm. So if the unveiling turns out to be in the evening, I’ll miss the whole thing and then will have to sit down after I get home, paw through a few hundred photos that everyone will have sent me, and stay up until 2am-ish cobbling together tomorrow’s ESPN column. Ugh.
Anyway: Watch this space for details, as I’ll update it as I learn more. Update, 12:18pm Eastern: Unveiling now in progress. I’ll have a short piece on ESPN within the hour or so. Full-length ESPN column tomorrow.
Further update: Here’s today’s short ESPN piece. Full-lengther tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Auburn — remember Auburn? — will just be wearing their regular uniforms for the big game (or they’d better be, because that’s what several Auburn and Under Armour people have told me over the past week). But they’ll have special gloves and cleats. Those designs were released yesterday. In the evening. On the web, with no live event. So much easier.
Line dancing: Yesterday I mentioned that the snowy conditions at the Pats/Bears games were wreaking havoc with CBS’s first down stripe. For those who want a fuller explanation, reader Adam Seabury has provided one:
First, a few basics of how the whole system works. I know this is obvious, but the line is computer-generated. Any camera that’s going to have that line projected onto its image pretty much needs to be bolted to the floor, so that it doesn’t move. When the exact location of the camera is entered into a computer, a program can then figure out exactly where the camera is pointing and can create a line that appears like it’s actually right on the field.
That’s all well and good on its own with an empty field. But when there are people running around down there, the computer needs a way to tell the difference between the turf and the people. To do that, they use the same method used on movies and TV when they use a green/blue screen. You pretty much see it every day when the weatherman stands in front of his big map. In a studio, a very specific pure-green is usually used. That color can be “keyed out” and replaced by a different image.
On a football field, it’s a bit trickier. There isn’t any pure color tone. Usually, though, they do a pretty good job of finding the field’s exact tone, and the computer will only show its line on those areas. But when it snows, the field is much lighter. In order to still have that yellow line on the field, the color they need to project onto is nearly white. That creates issues when one team is wearing white jerseys. (Once in a while a weatherman will accidentally wear a green tie, and the same type of thing happens.)
If you want to learn even more, this page goes into a bit more detail.
Fascinating stuff. Meanwhile, one item regarding that game that I neglected to mention yesterday: The grounds crew painted the yard lines red so they’d be more visible in the snow. Never seen that before.
Blast from powder blue past: A while back I posted this photo of former UCLA start Gary Beban posing with his old jersey. Someone out there liked the jersey so much that he commissioned Alain Nana-Sinkam of Classic Old School to make a reproduction of the jersey. Unfortunately, Alain’s customer — you know who you are — turned out to be a deadbeat and stiffed him on the fee for the jersey, so Alain sent it to me.
It’s a very nice piece of work, and it actually fits me quite well. But the most interesting part is the crotch extension (or “diaper,” as Joe Skiba likes to call it). I’d never tried on a jersey with one of those before. Feels a bit odd, but it certainly succeeds in keeping the jersey tucked in. Glad I finally got a chance to see what one of these feels like.
So here’s an idea: When I do one of my “Uni Watch Profiles” interviews, the transcribed text is usually really long, and I don’t mind telling you that the transcription process is pretty much my least-favorite Uni Watch-related task. So Johnny Ek has proposed an idea: What if we posted these interviews as audio podcasts, instead of transcriptions?
The pluses: You wouldn’t have to slog through a really long stretch of text; I wouldn’t have to transcribe everything; you’d get to hear the nuances of voice and inflection that are inevitably lost when a conversation is transcribed; I’d get to feel like I’m at least vaguely tech-current, even though I don’t actually own an iPod myself (yes, really).
The minuses: I sometimes link to things within the transcripts, and that would no longer be possible; maybe some of you prefer reading over listening.
I’m sure there are other pluses and/or minuses I’m overlooking, so I’d be curious to hear what you all think of this idea. Speak up, please.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Ladies and gentlemen, your new Big 10 conference logo. Can’t say I’m in love with it (and neither are the people behind this Facebook group), but the real issue isn’t the design itself. R. Scott Rogers, posting in yesterday’s comments, said it better than I could: “Not worth protesting the particular design of the logo as long as the name of the conference continues to be ‘Big Ten’ and it has any number of member schools that does not equal 10. As long as the message being communicated is in and of itself wrong, then the aesthetics of the thing are moot. It’s one of those deals where there’s no right way to do it.” Indeed. Further info here. … Annual disgrace rolled around last night in Houston, as the Texans trotted out their Halliburton blood-clot uniforms. … Latest example of cross-dressing: Cal volleyballer Robin Rostratter has been wearing a martial arts helmet since suffering a concussion last year. Further details here (with thanks to Ken Singer). … Here’s a nice little item about why Cardinals placekicker Jay Feely wears gloves (big thanks to Tom Nawrocki). … Hmmm, could this be where the Rays got the idea for their Braysers? (Nice find by Scott Little.) … Check out the sensational chain-stitching on this old Oregon hoops warm-up. I’d totally be bidding on that, but the seller says the pit-to-pit measurement is 24″, which is too big for me (great find by our own Scott M.X. Turner). … St. John’s is called the Red Storm. And before that they were called the Redmen. So of course it makes total sense that they wore black uniforms a few nights ago. Another milestone in stupidity from our friends at Nike (with thanks to Dylan Jenkins). … Color-on-color alert: Kansas and Colorado State got in the Xmas spirit on Saturday night (with thanks to Adam Yarnevich). … With all the current concern about concussions, ProCap inventor Bert Straus is back in the news. That article doesn’t add much that we haven’t already covered regarding Straus, but it does include a great Steve Wallace ProCap photo that I hadn’t seen before (with thanks to Paul Hirsch). … Fergie Jenkins is being commemorated on a Canadian stamp. I wonder how many other people busted for cocaine have received that honor (with thanks to Mike Hersh). … Ryan Connelly has taken his long-running Invaders DIY project into the T-shirt realm. … The Cubs will add a memorial patch next season for Ron Santo, but no word yet on what it will look like. … Really weak all-star uniforms for the AHL. … In a related item, the NHL All-Star logo has been applied to the RBC Center ice. … Good to see that Comcast is staying up to date on the NFL logo (with thanks to David Ross). … Check out the NOB on the guy in the center. Never seen that letterform before. “That’s Gregor Łomacz of Poland,” says Jeremy Brahm. “Wikipedia calls that character an L with a stroke.” … Interesting case of possible logo copycatting in the political realm. Recommended reading. … Oh, great: Look what logo showed up at yesterday’s Man U/Arsenal game. “I have a buddy overseas who sent me that screen shot,” says John Sobotka. “I think he put it best when he said, ‘Please tell me the US isn’t gonna corrupt our football with those shite kits that you guys like.'” … Latest team considering going to colored turf: Alma College, a D3 school (as reported by Colin Wasiloff).