I’ve had some very good eBay luck lately, scoring a bunch of excellent uniforms and related items. Let’s take a look, beginning with this beauty:
I wore this one while emceeing last month’s Open Mic Show-and-Tell at the City Reliquary and got several nice comments. I paid too much for it ($40), but I couldn’t resist the barber pole striping on the sleeves. Same design on the back. The numbers are screened, not sewn, but it’s really heavy-duty, high-quality screening, so I don’t mind so much.
One thing that interests me: the Durack label. I’ve seen this brand name a handful of other times, always on durene shirts. Given the obvious similarities between the two words, did Durack specialize in durene? I asked Terry Proctor, who said: “I remember them — a small cut-and-sew house from Phila. that made your basic T-shirts and softball-type jerseys. Looked very similar to the maroon shirt w/ white sleeves you bought a while back. I don’t know about their company name. It could be from ‘durene’ or it could be part of a contraction.”
This one was $24. Durene again — tasty. The numbering is sewn tackle twill, as is the lettering on the back. Great bar name, right? It’s near Eau Claire, Wisconsin. And although I generally prefer woven tags rather than printed ones, there’s something very nice about this Russell Southern tag design.
A steal at $20. Durene yet again. As you can see, it’s very similar to the early North Stars design, except the white yoke doesn’t extend onto the sleeves and the collar doesn’t have the gold trim. Blank on the back. Printed tag is slowly fraying to death. Goes reallyreallyreally well with the vintage Pro Keds I bought earlier this year. One odd annoyance: The collar opening is a bit snug, so I’m always afraid I’m gonna rip a seam when I pull it over my head. Hasn’t happened yet, though.
This one wasn’t from eBay. Warren Humphrey, who runs the awesome Both Teams Played Hard site, sold it to me for a mere 30 clams. I love everything about it, from the ribbed mini-check pattern to the tackle twill lettering on the back and the “Action-Tailored” Rawlings tagging. A real prize.
And now, as you’ll see, I’ve saved the best for last:
Bargain of the century at $52 (and yes, in case you couldn’t tell by now, I really like the color green). This one has so many interesting details, we’re gonna need a bulleted list to go over all of them:
• This is by far the softest, most comfortable wool jersey I’ve ever owned. It’s definitely wool, but it feels more like cotton — almost felt-like. Even the sun collar feels nice and cushy against the back of my neck. Remarkable.
• Pretty rare to see green and orange on a uniform, right? The only two examples I can think of, both from the world of college football, are Colorado State and Miami, and they were both orange with green trim instead of the other way around.
• The green jersey came with green pants and orange/green stirrups (the latter with some very nice hand-darned repairs), which combine to create a tremendous green-orange-green color-blocked effect on the lower legs. Too bad I didn’t have an orange undershirt to use for those shots.
• I love the vertically arched felt lettering, which appears to have been hand-cut. What does “Warsaw” refer to? Well, the uniform came from a now-defunct sporting goods shop called R.S. Elliott Arms in Kansas City (here’s an obituary for the shop’s president), and there’s a town called Warsaw about 100 miles southeast of KC, so that might explain it.
• The left sleeve has this groovy Phillips 66 patch.
• The back has a big Osage Oil Co. patch. At first I thought that must have been a subdivision of Phillips or something like that. But then I noticed a buried treasure: On the inside of the jersey, you can see that the uniform was originally for a team called the Phillips Flyers, and then the Osage Oil patch was added later on to cover up the Flyers team name. (You can still see a little bit of the “P” peeking out from under the patch.) It’s super-tempting to remove the patch and see the original lettering underneath, but I worry that I’d damage the jersey in the process. Meanwhile, if you google “Osage Oil,” you learn a lot about an Indian tribe in Oklahoma. And if you google “Phillips Flyers Missouri” (among several other terms I tried), you don’t come up with much of anything. So I can’t quite figure out the story behind the path that this uniform took, at least for now.
In case you haven’t been keeping a running tally, my total expenditures for these five items was $166. If you add in the shipping charges, the grand total is $193 — less than you’d pay for a single “authentic” jersey in any of the four major sports (plus way cooler, natch). Still can’t understand how anyone shells out for those overpriced polyester things, but hey, different strokes and all that.
And here’s a bonus item — not really a uniform, but similar in spirit:
Picked this one up for $20 last weekend at a vintage sale that my friend Liz McGarrity was running out of her apartment. It has nothing to do with sports, but it still has a uni-related feel to it, no? Nothing on the back, but that’s okay. A nice one to go out on.
ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, here’s my latest ESPN column.
Year-end giveaway reminder: Remember, the annual reader-appreciation giveaway is now in progress. Details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Sometimes a blocking sled is really a sled. That’s Bill Willis and Lin Houston at a Browns practice, circa late 1940s. And that’s one sweet-looking jacket (great find by Dan Smith). … Did you notice that Brett Favre’s towel had a backwards “4” the other night? Here’s why (with thanks to Nicole Haase). … Here’s another case of an expansion team pulling a uni switcheroo in spring training: The 1977 Mariners’ powder blue road jerseys featured the city name on the front, but in spring training they had the team name. Both of those shots were taken at the M’s spring training facility on 3/6/77, and the guy on the right is original team owner Danny Kaye. “Seems like a pretty significant expenditure for a first-year team to change out their entire set of road unis right before the season,” says Michael Turner). … Here’s a breakdown of ugly cycling jerseys, although some of them don’t seem so bad to me (with thanks to Stephen King). … I’m not sure of the story behind this, but check out this 1939 shot of Teddy Ballgame wearing No. 5. Mark Weinstein sent it to me but says it’s “of unknown provenance.” Anyone know more? … Here’s a new one: a rugby game postponed due to missing shoe inserts (with thanks to Chris Bisbee). … Yesterday I ran this photo of a New York Female Giants player. Kirsten was intrigued, so she found some additional shots of the Female Giants, including a killer team portrait. … Don’t think I’ve ever seen this before: a Canadian five-pin bowling sweater. … If there are any North Dakota State alums out there, you really need to buy this shirt. … You can just barely see it in this photo, but Sasha Vujacic was still wearing his Lakers sneakers when making his Nets home debut on Sunday night. Here’s a fuller but smaller view (with thanks to Will Rausch). … Michael Thompson normally wears No. 22 for Northwestern, but his gear was lost in transit on the way to the Wildcats’ recent game at Madison Square Garden, so he had to wear a No. 2 jersey (and Nike sneakers, instead of his usual Adidas) with NNOB (with thanks to Matthew Robins). … Marty Hick sent along pics of the various croquet socks he’s worn this season. … The Ravens and their fans like the all-black look (with thanks to Bryan Starkey). … The mighty Fleer Sticker Project has come up with a major coup from the Topps archives: a rare shot of Julius Erving in a Hawks uniform. … If you skip ahead to the 7:30 mark of this Super Bowl XLIV video recap, you’ll see an interesting discussion about cleats (good find by Caleb Borchers). … Huge find by Jerry Wolper, who came up with this article about how the original baseball cap buggies were introduced in the 1971 World Series and were used in Baltimore but not in Pittsburgh. The article includes lots of info about the carts themselves — did you know, for example, that the seats were cushioned with bases? … Phil and I will both be off the grid for most of today. Johnny Ek will be checking in from time to time, but I’m sure you’ll all play nice anyway, right? Right.