As I think most of you know, late last year the Indians announced that their Bob Feller memorial patch would look like this. Everyone here seemed to like it (although I thought the Hall of Fame induction date and maybe even the uni number were superfluous). But then in early February it turned out that the team had gone with a much plainer design, which was not well received in our comments section.
Why the switcheroo? The answer, or at least a portion of it, came on Friday, buried toward the bottom of this article (which was sent my way by reader Mike Menner). Here’s the key passage: “The Indians want to honor Hall of Famer Bob Feller by wearing a silhouette of him pitching, including his high leg kick, on the sleeve of their regular season uniform jerseys, but they’re having trouble getting copyright permission.”
I wanted to know more, so I contacted Bart Swain, the Indians’ PR director, who explained that the silhouetted image on the patch is based on a photograph that’s owned by Photo File, and the team hasn’t been able to strike a licensing deal with them.
My initial thought was, “Eh, big deal — so you find a different photo and make a silhouette of that.” Like, the Indians must own the rights to some good photos of Rapid Robert, right? But then I did a bit of Feller photo research, and there’s no getting around it: The Photo File image really does seem to be the best, most iconic shot of him. There are a few similar images, but they’re not quite as good. It’s easy to see why the Indians might think, “If we can’t have that one, let’s just scrap the whole concept and come up with something else.”
Photo File, of course, is in the business of selling and licensing photos, so it’s not as though the primo Feller image is off-limits to the Indians — it’s just a matter of whether the team is willing to pay a licensing fee (as others have done). Swain, the Tribe’s PR guy, told me that negotiations with Photo File are ongoing, so it’s possible that the silhouette-based patch design may end up being used after all. Either way, this is probably one of the most convoluted design processes ever for a memorial patch. Which I guess is what happens if you don’t just go with a black circle, right?
Feller, incidentally, was somewhat notorious for being an autograph mercenary in his later years. He’d show up anywhere, anytime, for an autograph session — if the price was right. On some level, he’d probably be amused by the haggling going on over his likeness. And he’d also probably wonder why he isn’t getting a cut.
Heckuva project: Remember Bethany Heck, who I featured here on the site last month? She’s moving ahead with her Eephus League merchandise line, beginning with a specially designed Eephus scorecard, but she needs a bit of financial support, so she’s partnered with Kickstarter to raise some capital. Please consider making a pledge to support Bethany’s project, which deserves to become a reality.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Two college baseball teams wearing striped stirrups: Abilene Christian University and East Central Oklahoma (with thanks to Britt Bonneau). … Wait, here’s one more: Valdosta State (with thanks to Taylor McGinnis). … Aaron Baddeley’s caddy had a Rangers logo on his hat on Sunday (as noted by Mark Kaplowitz). … Here’s a little item about why Brandon Inge likes to go high-cuffed (with thanks to J. Cristiano). … John Moist recently got back from a Cubaball tour and sent in a bunch of photos. … AHL news from Steve Cook, who writes: “The Hershey Bears have won back-to-back Calder Cups, so some lamebrain got the idea to engrave two cups onto this year’s ring. And two apostrophe catastrophes!” … Whoa, look at this crazy old baseball-themed sweater (nice find by Mike Hersh). … Yahoo Sports reported on Sunday that Justin Duchscherer had been victimized by an NOB typo. But I guess nobody with the Orioles reads Yahoo Sports, because on Monday he had the same typo on a different BP jersey. Scott Marcusky took that photo at O’s camp yesterday. … Here’s an interesting story that raises questions about the practice of shipping phantom-championship T-shirts to impoverished nations (thanks, Brinke). … Remember Friday’s post about Joe Smith and his many uniforms? Smith’s MLB counterpart appears to be Matt Stairs, who’s worn at least 46 different jerseys — or at least that’s what Dan Cichalski came up with after crunching the numbers. Check out Dan’s full analysis on his blog. … Ashley Kimel says this is a pair of the purple football pants LSU wore against Kentucky on October 14, 1995. “It is the only time they have worn purple pants,” he says. “Unfortunately it isn’t a game picture, but it’s still a rare thing to see.” … Eric Trager’s all proud of his wife, Alyssa Saunders. Here’s why: “She spotted a mini-baseball helmet collection with the Nationals included twice — in the NL East, where they belong, and mistakenly replacing the Cardinals in the NL Central.” … Here’s something I don’t think we’ve mentioned yet: Ohio State hoops is wearing a “3407” patch. Explanation here (with thanks to Doug Keklak). … Reprinted from last night’s comments: a big story about the Brewers’ equipment manager. … Who’s that plucking on the old banjo? None other than Uni Watch favorite Jerry Reuss. … Two items from David Merrill: Negus Webster Chan of Huntington High School in West Virginia has a massive double-decker NOB, and Oregon and Oregon State went color-on-color on Oregon’s wacky court the other night. … It isn’t yet clear what Carmelo Anthony’s new uni number will be, but it almost certainly won’t be 15 or 22. … Lots of great photos from Dave Eskenazi’s archive in this story about how Seattle University beat the Harlem Globetrotters in 1952 (with thanks to John Doodigian). … Keeping my fingers crossed for the people of Christchurch, New Zealand, a really lovely city that was hit by a deadly earthquake last night. I visited there twice in the 1990s (this was when I was deep in the throes of my obsession with the NZ music scene) and still know a few folks there. Just hoping everyone’s okay.