By Phil Hecken
My greatest thrill in baseball is winning the World Series in ’81. Without at doubt, because that’s what everybody wants. And you know why the no hitter isn’t Number 1? They don’t give you a ring for a no hitter. But they give you a ring when you win the world series. — Jerry Reuss
Last weekend I brought you a portion of my recent interview with Jerry Reuss (you can read that here). I’m back with Jerry today with more from that interview. In Volume I, we primarily discussed his playing career, and in particular, his appearances in the 1975 and 1980 All Star Games, and his no hitter in 1980. Jerry would rank the no hitter at #3 in his list of “Greatest Achievements in Baseball,” following his first day in the big leagues at #2. But Jerry’s greatest thrill, then and now, is winning the World Series in 1981.
But this is Uni Watch, so of course Mr. Reuss wanted to discuss that which draws all of us here: uniforms. We won’t get to everything we discussed in this article, because we sure did discuss a lot. So pull up a chair and enjoy Volume II:
Many of you already know this, but Jerry Reuss is an everyday reader of Uni Watch. He hasn’t commented (yet), but he does check out our comments. He seems to rather enjoy some and others, well…
Uni Watch: You obviously have quite an interest in uniforms.
Jerry Reuss: I always have. When I was five or six, I would draw team logos on my white undershirts. I can’t tell how many times I attended Sunday mass proudly wearing my own design underneath my coat and tie.
I took pride in my baseball uniform through Little League, High School, American Legion and my professional career and how I wore it. I learned in my younger years that there will be good days and bad days on the field, but you can always look good everyday in your baseball uniform!
The respect for the uniforms worn in every sport is why I enjoy the articles, comments, tweaks and the passion that everyone brings to the UW site. I understand where you’re coming from. I just have a different perspective. From the point of view of wearing a uniform every day, I can see where some ideas presented would work in a practical sense while other ideas would work in a different context.
Some ideas look great on paper. They don’t always translate to a baseball uniform. Now, I don’t know much about football, basketball, or hockey uniforms. When the topic turns to other sports, I just skip over that. I have no idea what our uni brethren are talking about.
UW: A lot of times I don’t either…
JR: But I know what baseball uniforms should look like, what looks good and what’s practical. So, with regards to some of the designs that are sent in — I think they’re good designs and they’re well thought-out — but for one reason or another, they won’t work. Especially the way the uniforms are worn today, which is another discussion.
In fact, some of the designs that are outstanding on paper, and put on a t-shirt, a golf shirt, or a novelty shirt that looks like this Hawaiian shirt, it becomes something special.
UW: Sure, I know exactly what you’re talking about.
JR: And I think some of these designs, for instance, the tattersall designs that appeared last summer, would be perfect for the novelty shirt and but not for a uniform. On some hi-def TV sets, the patterns, if displayed on a uniform, would be distracting.
Recently the site ran a link to a design by a well-known clothes designer whose name escapes me. He designed a Yankee uniform.
UW: Tommy Hilfiger. That was in the comments and Paul “tickerized” it.
JR: I took a look at it and I thought “Terrible baseball uniform, but a nice golf shirt.”
UW: And of course he (Hilfiger) did it to the Yankees — and I don’t know if there’s any “untouchable” uniform out there, but I would have to imagine between the Dodgers, Yankees and Cardinals, and maybe the Tigers, they’re the one’s that…
JR: Let’s call them “DCAT”
UW: Yes! — “Don’t Change A Thing”
JR: There are many major league uniforms that fall into that category and you just named four of them.
UW: Who else?
JR: The Phillies, with the red pinstripes, chain-stitched script, red hat, belt and shoes. The uniform, when placed in the ballpark setting against that green grass and the blue sky, creates a perfect picture.
The Pirates current home uniform is the best they’ve ever worn. The yellow highlights bordering the black numbers and lettering and black and yellow piping frame the uniform perfectly.
When I worked as an instructor at their fantasy camp in January of 2010, I wore the most comfortable uniform I ever put on. It was a lightweight knit, lighter than anything I’ve ever worn. It wicked the moisture and allowed complete freedom of movement. Twenty years ago, uniforms would lose their shape and elasticity with countless washings. I wonder how well today’s uniforms last by comparison.
UW: That’s six. What other teams are DCAT?
JR: Here’s the remainder of my list: The Red Sox, Orioles, Rays, Braves, Cubs, Royals, Twins, Mariners, A’s, Giants (love that cream color!) and the Padres.
The Angels and the White Sox just miss.
UW: What about the rest of the teams?
JR: All good but for whatever reason, I’m just not “feeling the love.”
UW: How many uniforms were you given for a season?
JR: I was always given two sets of home and away uniforms. The Reds, Angels, White Sox and the 1990 Pirates also wore batting practice tops. The everyday players always had extra pants made and used them as needed.
UW: Makes sense. And how often did you get a new cap?
JR: I always had two hats available…one for the game and the other for the rest of the time. I usually asked for new hats after the All Star game.
UW: Were you ever superstitious about your cap?
JR: I never had any superstitions. They always caused bad luck!!!
At the start of the season, I chose a glove, sleeves and shoes that were the most comfortable and I wore them only when I pitched or during my work in the bullpen between starts. I considered that combination to be “work” clothes.
UW: How about stirrups? Did any of the clubs you played for try to control how they were to be worn?
JR: I remember Red Schoendienst, manager of the Cardinals, reminding players to show the stripes on the stirrups. I don’t think Red cared. That order came from the front office.
The Astros had all the stirrups removed from the lockers and replaced them with stirrups with openings of about four inches. That lasted for a day as Cesar Cedeno, who was ticketed for super-stardom, bitched about it. We had our regular stirrups back the next day.
Larry Himes, as GM with the White Sox in 1988, threatened fines if the stripes didn’t show. He, too, tired of being the “stirrup police” and, in 1989, the White Sox wore solid blue stirrups.
UW: The Cardinals, at one time, required all minor league players to wear their pants high to show the stripes on their socks.
JR: I saw that during the years I was a minor league coach. How the uniforms are worn is a big deal in the minor leagues. I remember during minor league spring training with the Mets in 2004, Jeff Wilpon, called a meeting with the minor league staff just to discuss the Mets policy on how the pants should be worn. We had just finished another 12-hour day and he wanted to discuss the merits of pants worn at all lengths.
UW: How did it end?
JR: I still shake my head recalling this meeting. We couldn’t reach a consensus. Some coaches wanted high, some low. I just wanted to shower, eat dinner and go to bed. I didn’t care if we wore the damn socks over our pants — just make a decision.
Finally, Jeff spotted two posters of Mets players on the wall. Al Leiter wore his pants six inches above his shoes. Jose Reyes wore his just below his knees. So, Jeff announced proudly, “The official minor league policy of pants length for the New York Mets is from below the knees to six inches above the shoes. Gentlemen, thank you for your time.” He then walked out. I sat there in total amazement. It took forty minutes that I’ll never get back to determine that revelation!
UW: In most of the pictures of you during your playing days that are posted on your Flickr page, you wear your pants bloused with a large portion of the stripes or colors showing. Was that your choice or the teams’ directive?
JR: My older brother taught me when I was playing little league ball how to blouse my pants. Pull the elastic on the bottom of the pants to an area just above your calf and roll the excess material to the top stripe. I wore my pants that way from little league through my entire pro career with only brief exceptions
To me, the stripes on the stirrups are an important part of the look of the uniform. They gave the uniform a finished look with balance from head to toe. Because of my height (6’5”), I could show more of the white “sanitary” socks underneath the stirrups and still proudly display my “colors.”
UW: You’re preaching to the choir here. And Paul obviously feels the same way, although he prefers the 7” or even the 9” stirrup. You know, the ribbon ones, whereas I prefer the 4” with the much smaller opening front and back.
Did you have a preference for stripes or solids?
JR: No preference at all. I preferred to show more white by wearing them about 7” high. Here’s the breakdown on the stirrups by the team I played for: The Cardinals had stripes on their stirrups. The Astros had a blue star on the orange stirrups, the Pirates wore stripes from 1974-1976 and went solid in 1977-78, the Dodgers and Reds were solid, the Angels had the “A” logo on red, the White Sox wore stripes in 1988 and solid in 1989, the Brewers were solid and the Pirates of 1990 were solid black.
And on that note, we’re going to end this portion of the interview. As you can see, Jerry is clearly “one of us.” I’ll be back with Volume III next weekend. In the future we’ll be discussing more of Jerry’s uniform likes and dislikes, his own tweaks, and much more!
Big thanks, once again, to Jerry Reuss for taking time out of his busy schedule to bring us his uniform vision, expertise and sage advice.
by Rick Pearson
Spring. Good time to improve your surroundings. Right?
And, of course, the larger version.
We have just one very special set of tweaks today.
If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
Remember, if possible, try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per tweak. You guys have been great a keeping to that, and it’s much appreciated!
And so, lets begin:
Just one tweak-set today, but it comes from Mark Peterson, who I hope to be profiling at some point in the near future — he posts as “concealed78,” and aside from his awesome Padres tweak and logo/wordmark submissions, which he sent in for the “Design an MLB Jersey” contest, these are his first set of tweaks. He’s done a tremendous job:
Alright, I might as well give you the goods to my first batch of Tweaks. Even after the hours I put on this, it still doesn’t feel like it’s good enough, and I’ve included a few pieces of the process as well. Here’s my written explanation. Included should be:
“Basically pulling a Uni Watch version of “the Doors on the Ed Sullivan Show”, some Rockies concepts featuring purple as the predominate color, and wanted to avoid using any metallic silver or black, going for one color & white clean look. I’ve never really liked the Rockies look other than the mountain part of the logo. The font seems kinda generic and boring, and they haven’t really changed much since they came out in 1993. I’m also making these purple because why do we need another team in black when so many other teams sport it? They should had been primary purple in the first place. After sketching out some ideas which were mostly to get them down to see & get past them to avoid any obvious looks or mannerisms. The Rockies wordmark is some bizarre custom hybrid of block & cursive letters that may have looked cleaner but didn’t invoke the detail I was striving for, and some other cap logo ideas. The primary mountain logo has some really awkward lettering but decided to just go with something that looked like points.
Finally, I decided on the Rockies should wear ice cream man caps at home with sleeve piping. The roads are gray with sleeve & pants piping & a logo on the left sleeve & a solid purple cap. The obligatory alternate jersey is solid purple with white wordmark & numbers, with either cap.
And if that wasn’t enough, I also wanted to create something really retro looking, I created some plain rounded block home & road scripts vertically arched, cream home / gray roads, added some placket, sleeve & pant piping, pinstripes for the cap & full uniform. And a non-pinstriped version featuring cap stripes on the homes and the roads with a solid purple cap. No alternate jersey and all numbers & wordmarks with no trim.
At this point I would still change and mix a few things, and prefer the cream pinstripe homes but the road version with no pinstripes.”
— Mark Peterson
Thanks Mark. That will be the only tweaks for today, but back tomorrow with a full slate.
And that’s IT for today. Make sure you guys thank Mr. Reuss for all his time and efforts. He’s really, really been just a gem to work with, even serving as my copy editor for a good portion of today’s segment.
Have a great Saturday, and I’ll catch you folks tomorrow!
It would have little impact if, say, Phil went to a Mets game with a sign reading,
PLAY HARD, MEN; PHIL IS HERE. — “No, shit? Phil? Damn, we’d better hustle, Phil expects a lot from us.” — Rick Pearson