Many of you know that the White Sox sponsored a contest in 1981 to have fans help design and choose the team’s 1982 uniforms. If you’ve been reading Uni Watch for a while, you’ve probably seen these drawings, these prototype jerseys, and this prototype lineup, all of which have appeared here on the site multiple times.
But what I bet you haven’t seen — and what I myself had never seen, or even been aware of, until last week — is this.
Calling it an “album,” as it says there on the front cover, is a bit of a stretch. It’s just a single 8.5-by-22-inch sheet folded in half. You’ve now seen the front cover, and the back cover is just a pair of ads. Ah, but inside — an embarrassment of riches. (You can see closer views of the two interior pages here and here.)
Pretty great, right? And it raises at least as many questions as it answers. Por ejemplo:
• Was the album distributed in the community, or only at the ballpark? I’m assuming the latter, but I’d like to get confirmation on that. (For the record, the Sox played at home during the entire date range listed on the front cover, Aug. 27 through Sept. 6.)
• I assume the album was used in conjunction with fan voting, but there are no voting instrux (or any other text, for that matter). Were fans supposed to circle their favorite and then drop the album in a box? Was there a separate ballot included with the album?
• The uni illustrations in the album are very similar to, but not exactly the same as, the uniforms in the prototype photos. Look at the proto with the striped black sleeves, for example — it’s similar to home design No. 6 in the album, except the colors don’t match up. Similarly, the star on home design No. 4 is a different color than the proto, and the black proto with the white “Sox” bar across the chest is similar to design No. 2 but doesn’t quite match. I suspect this is because last-minute tweaks were made to the protos and/or to the album, but it would be interesting to know the full chronology of each one.
The more I pondered these questions, the more I realized I didn’t actually know that much about the design contest that was the source of all this material. When was it announced? What was the procedure?
So two nights ago I started digging around in some newspaper archives, where I found some interesting material. I haven’t put all of the pieces together yet, but I’ve learned some good stuff, including the following:
• The White Sox’s untucked leisure suit uniforms — the ones replaced by the winner of this contest — had been designed by Bill Veeck’s wife. I hadn’t been aware of that.
• I found one article referring to the leisure suits as “gravedigger uniforms.” Never heard that one before.
• The contest winner was 26-year-old designer named Richard Launius. He later became notable as a game designer, which is the field he still works in. He now lives outside of Atlanta, where I tracked him down on the phone yesterday. He said he has a lot of old materials relating to the contest — possibly including his original artwork — so he’s going to put together a little package for me to see. Once I’ve seen what he’s got, we’ll do an in-depth interview so I can present the full story of how the 1982 Sox uniform evolved, from concept to reality.
I am so stoked about all this — it’s gonna be good. Meanwhile, if anyone out there has recollections relating to the album, the contest, etc., you know what to do.
(None of this would have been possible, incidentally, without reader Mark Peterson, who spotted the album on eBay and brought it to my attention. As you can see, I got it for a song. Thanks, Mark!)
Even deeper down the rabbit hole: Yesterday I suggested that maybe the white caps worn by the 1967 A’s had gold brims. I based that bit of speculation on this photo taken back in ’67 by Dave Starbuck, where you can see a hint of gold edging on the brims. But now Dave has posted an additional photo that provides a better view. So the brims were definitely white. But is there still a hint of gold edging? Tough to be sure. Curiouser and curiouser.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Here’s a really nice Bears/Packers historical slideshow. It includes a rare shot of the 2002 Monday-night game when the Bears went solid navy for the first — and only..? — time in their history (with thanks to Nicholas Law). … Reggie Jackson wore Nos. 9 and 44 for most of his career — except during his rookie year, when he wore 31 (big thanks to Peter Nash). … Total fucking genius: Pantone swatch cookies! “One of those ideas I’d like to steal and call my own,” admits Kirsten. … A few days ago I ran this photo of Dolphins-branded socks. But Brady Phelps noticed something I overlooked: “It appears that his shoes are completely covered in athletic tape and then they added an upside-down Champion logo sticker.” Hmmm. Thoughts..? … Sensational story out of Philly, where the original artwork for the Flyers’ logo has been discovered — highly recommended (big thanks to Scott Marakovits). … Ho. Lee. Shit. Those are the 1935 Packers, and hot damn do they look good. They even seem to have had a disproportionate number of redheads on the squad, just to make things extra color-coordinated (massive find by the Rev. Nørb). … New mask design for Kari Lehtonen (with thanks to Marcus Ramsey). … Bowling Green has rolled out some men’s and women’s hoops throwbacks (with thanks to Tom Konecny). … Susan Freeman has some old brochures that show all the cartoon mascot “group portraits” for the various conferences — look here, here, and here. … Attention MISL fans: The Missouri Comets will be wearing throwbacks on Jan. 28 (with thanks to Jeff Husted). … A DC-area high school basketball team called the Riders — after the Rough Riders, Teddy Roosevelt’s brigade — has been wearing jerseys misspelled as “Ryders” all season long. Even better, when the school complained, the uni supplier (who isn’t named in the story, alas) responded, “That’s the cool way to spell it.” … An observant Sabres fan who prefers to remain anonymous notes that Marc-Andre Gragnani, just recalled from the minors, was wearing a current sweater but with the slug-era NOB font. … “I take classes at my local college in Blythe, California, and one of them is at an on-campus gym called the Clancy Osborne Physical Education Center,” writes Terry Duroncelet. “Clancy is best known for being a 49er — here are some SI illos of a 1960 game between the Niners and the Rams that the SI editors sent him.” … About a year and a half ago I linked to a shot of Rick Upchurch wearing a blank Broncos helmet but didn’t have any explanation for it. That explanation comes in this video clip (excellent find by Tom Nawrocki).
Looking ahead: Tomorrow I’ll be flying to Ohio, where I’ll be shooting a video report about the Super Bowl footballs being made. Won’t be home until Monday night. Not sure yet how this will affect Monday’s and/or Tuesday’s content — I’ll definitely have something, although it might be small, and time constraints will probably force me to be much more selective regarding Ticker material (apologies in advance for any submissions I end up not running). OK? OK — see you next week.