Pretty nice shot of Dick Allen’s HSNOB (high school name on back), right? Reader Andy Chalifour sent it to me yesterday. I’d seen it before — hell, I’m pretty sure I’ve even linked to it before — but this time it got me thinking.
“Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “Allen wore a nickNOB, plus he wore a helmet while playing the field, plus he wore glasses, plus he’s among the relatively few players to have worn white shoes for two different teams, plus smoked while in uniform. How many other players can claim that many uni-related distinctions?”
And that’s when it hit me: We need to identify the most uni-notable player of all time.
I immediately started thinking of other examples (none of them as good as Allen, but I’m just presenting them here to get the conversation moving):
• Juan Pierre goes high-cuffed in a low-cuffed era (mildly notable), wears stirrups in a non-stirrups era (more notable), and is the last player to wear his cap under his batting helmet (highly notable).
• John Franco was one of the few captains to wear a “C” and also wore his father’s orange New York Sanitation Dept. T-shirts under his jersey.
• Jorge Posada doesn’t wear batting gloves and gunks up his helmet with pine tar.
• Manny Ramirez gunks up his helmet, wears one of the baggiest uniforms of all time, pioneered the use of the snood on the diamond, wore that little cherub pin on Opening Day of 2006, and once wore Oakley Thumps on the field.
• Wayne Gretzky routinely hiked up his shirttail over one hip, was victimized by a jersey typo, and had his number retired by an entire league.
And so on. I’m sure there are much, much better examples than these, so let’s start brainstorming.
Aside from identifying uni-notable players, I think we need to establish some sort of point system (1 through 10, say) and then assign a value to each of a player’s distinctions. If we go back to Dick Allen, for example, his uni-notable quirks might break down like this:
• NickNOB 8 (might rate higher if it had been more than a one-season thing)
• Helmet in the field: 9
• Eyeglasses: 2
• Smoking: 2
• White shoes with two different teams: 5
I also think we should focus on player-specific quirks, not team quirks. Looking again at Dick Allen, if he had only worn white shoes for one team, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about that, so it would fall out of the equation. (You could argue that he shouldn’t get credit for his nickNOB either, since many other Finley-era A’s also wore nickNOBs. But those nickNOBs were optional — it was a trope but not a rule. Also, each player chose his own nickNOB, and Allen’s was particularly distinctive because it was a shout-out to his hometown high school, so I think that definitely counts in his column.)
There are other factors to consider. Does something like Gretzky’s typo or Manny’s cherub pin count less because it was only for one game? Does Franco’s orange undershirt count more because it led to the trend of other Mets wearing orange undershirts (something David Wright continues to do to this day)? What about things we know about but can’t see, like Adrian Beltre not wearing a cup — does that count at all, since we can’t see it?
I suspect this is going to be a very lively topic. Go ahead and discuss it at length in today’s comments, and also feel free to send player nominations and further commentary directly to me. I’ll do a follow-up entry soon, and then maybe we can establish some specific rules, protocols, and so on, OK? OK!
Attention NYCers and/or aspiring journalists: On Monday I’ll be a guest speaker at NYC11, which is a convention for college journalism and media students. The session I’ll be part of is called “Making Your Own Job in 21st Century Journalism,” and will be moderated by Uni Watch reader Richard Craig, who teaches Journalism and Mass Communication at San Jose State in California.
Although convention attendees are supposed to have a badge, Richard says it’s easy enough to just waltz on in, so feel free to join us if you’re so inclined.
Uni Watch News Ticker: I didn’t even realize the Orioles had a facial hair policy, but now it’s been relaxed. … Mike Hersh just noticed that the famous 1939 Play Ball baseball card wrapper design includes a uni-history timeline. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The Southern Miss baseball team will wear “Jimmy Buffett-inspired jerseys” on April 15. … Some nice, reasonably priced cardigans now available from Mitchell & Ness (with thanks to Nicholas Hall). … New soccer jersey for Real Madrid (with thanks to Alberto Sanchez). … Got a note from Clay Harvey yesterday, saying, “You’re gonna love these.” He was right! … Kelly Johnson of the D-backs forgot his jersey on Tuesday, so he had to wear a teammate’s jersey — and went 3-for-4 (with thanks to Joshua Exline). … “The Brewers’ BP jersey is ugly enough on the hanger,” says Eric Trager. “But it is somehow even uglier when somebody plays baseball in it.” … Love this photo of Bobby Bonds with all the caps he’d worn. … If you paint your face or otherwise act like a total moron, you can appear on the Jags’ season tickets (with thanks to Chris Flynn). … Chad Smith notes that the Florida baseball team is mixing Nike uniforms with New Era caps.