[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from reader Keith Goggin, about the unusual jersey pictured above. Enjoy. — PL]
By Keith Goggin
Paul’s article about the creation of the beach blanket White Sox uni brought back some memories about a jersey I once wore. I had to dig through an old bin to see if I could find it, and there it was — my own beach blanket uniform. Notice it doesn’t say “SOX,” though. Let me explain.
While growing up in Queens, New York, I played JV baseball during my freshman year of high school in the spring of 1989. Most of us also played on a weekend team, which then became our main team once the summer started and the school season ended. My weekend team was comprised of players who mostly came from three local Little Leagues: Mid-Queens/Fresh Meadows, Little Neck/Douglaston, and Bay Village. I guess our coaches felt it would be a good idea to give credit to all three of those Little Leagues, so the resulting jerseys were LIOF — leagues’ initials on front.
The jerseys were cheap v-neck pullovers with heat-pressed graphics. All I could think of was the White Sox, and even they had moved on to something better by then — these were not cool. And the initials on the front were absurd. We all looked at them and were like “What the hell is this?”
Then the season started, and things really got annoying. Other teams with normal names would see us on their schedules and think it was a misprint. Then we would show up and they would squint at the shirts and point. Catchers would ask guys about it when they were leading off; it was brutal.
I played first base, so anyone who reached would inevitably ask me what all those letters were when I had to hold him on. It was so bad, I just started saying things like “I don’t know” or “Who cares?” We became known throughout the league as the Alphabet Team. Fortunately, we were pretty good, so the jokes stopped there.
The following year, 1990, returning players had a preseason meeting with the coaches. By now, they were sick of the Alphabet Team references as well, since they were trying to build a local program that quality kids would want to try out for. We voted on a new name and were rechristened the Northeast Queens Cardinals. Much better! But the biggest thrill was that these jerseys had sewn-on graphics and button fronts. That was huge to me and most players from that era, since we grew up in Little League with the generic pullovers and screened-on logos. Having buttons made the jerseys look and feel legit.
We still had a screened-on Alphabet Team sleeve patch (they added JEH for Jamaica Estates-Hillside, another feeder league), but the questions at first base stopped, and we went out and did pretty well once again. One teammate, Peter Munro, even made it to the bigs for a little while. His claim to fame was pitching for the Astros as one of the six guys who threw that combined no-hitter against the Yankees a few years back.
New sponsor shout-out: As you may have noticed, the top of the left sidebar now features an ad for Heritage Sports Art, which is the site where Maple Leaf Productions founder Scott Sillcox is selling off the original watercolor paintings used for the assorted “uni timeline” posters he’s produced over the years. (In case you missed it last fall, I did a big interview with Scott in which we discussed the artwork in considerable detail.)
Scott’s a real gentleman, and the watercolors are unique pieces of uniform art. Definitely worth checking out.
Here’s the beef: The Brooklyn Beefsteak guys are throwing another beefsteak event at the Bell House. The date is April 10, and there will be two seatings: 1pm-4pm and 5pm-8pm. Music will once again be provided by the mighty Susquehanna Industrial Tool and Die Co., who will again be joined onstage by Beefsteak Betty.
Tickets are $50 a head (a bargain, considering it’s all-you-can-eat and -drink), or $45 if you’re buying at least four tix. You can buy them here.
ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my annual MLB season-preview column is now up on Page 2.
Contest reminder: I’m currently sponsoring a design contest to create a logo for the Baseball Project. Full details here.
Membership reminder: The membership enrollment fee will go up to $20 at the end of this month. If you want to sign up at the $15 price, there’s no time like the present.
Uni Watch News Ticker: What’s the story with this Miller Park 10th-anniversary logo (aside from the fact that it’s a really miserable piece of design)? “It was on the envelope that my 9 pack of tickets came in this year,” says Daniel Schulz. It isn’t being used as a patch, doesn’t appear in the MLB Style Guide, etc. Just as well, because it’s a stinker. … Meanwhile, Dave Tobener pointed out an error in yesterday’s ESPN column. I had written that Catfish Hunter, Tug McGraw, and now Sparky Anderson were the only three people in the past 85 years to be memorialized on two different MLB uniforms at the same time. But I didn’t account for Tim Crews, whose No. 52 was worn by the Dodgers and Indians in 1993. Good catch! … Here’s an interesting story about the first professional female ump. Look at that jersey! (Great find by Jay Prouty.) … Never would’ve guessed that the Rays’ plain-Jane jersey design would be copied by so many teams, but here’s yet another one. That’s Lake Nona High School in Florida (with thanks to Nathanael Kurant). … While we’re at it, here’s a high school that copies the Brewers’ design (with thanks to Benjamin Tully). … Eric Read reports that Washington State will unveil its new football uniforms on April 11. … Eephus League commish Bethany Heck has opened up an online shop full of Eephus merch. … Coupla great contributions from photo archivist Dave Eskenazi: First, check out this old Toronto cap. And you can’t go wrong with a guy who’s wearing a flamingo sleeve patch while milking a cow. … Dave has also written an article about the team that wore the greatest hockey jersey ever. … The PawSox are adding a memorial patch for late owner Ben Mondor (with thanks to Ryan Harrington). … If you think being an equipment manager is rough, try being in charge of the stage costumes for Kiss (fun find by Skott Daltonic). … Weird coincidence: While stuck in a waiting room yesterday morning, I skimmed last week’s New Yorker, which included an article about Spanx (which, in case you don’t know, is the hottest brand in female foundation garments). Then I came home and found a note from Tom Mulgrew, informing me that doctors are now telling teen athletes to avoid Spanx. … Remember our recent discussion of the Hale American “Health” logo? Here it is on the cover of a 1942 football equipment catalog. First time I’ve ever seen it used in print. … Hmmm, is that an intrasquad scrimmage? Nope, it’s the Braves and Twins, who wore exceedingly similar outfits last night (screen shot by Alex van Dyck). … “This picture was taken in Lawrence, Kansas, during the VCU/Kansas Elite Eight game this past weekend,” says Jack Wilson. “I think they jumped the gun a little bit.” … Early contender for MLB giveaway of the year: this Angels wrestling mask (major thanks to David Lassen). … I’ve previously noted that Orioles catchers have been wearing retro-style catching helmets. But I didn’t know the base coaches were wearing them as well (at least not until Chris Mayberry told me). … Hmmm, is Michigan football scrapping the wraparound stripes on the road jersey, or is that just a spring practice thing? (As noted by Mike Thompson.) … Mike Styczen reports that the first person ever to wear a Blue Jays uni was apparently scout Al LaMacchia. That shot is from the 12/8/76 edition of the Montreal Gazette, so the photo was presumably taken on Dec. 7 or 6. Not bad, although I’d still like to know who the first player was, since LaMacchia doesn’t really qualify as uniformed personnel. … During Spain’s 3-1 victory over Lithuania on Tuesday, Fernando Llorente mistakenly wore the shirt from the WC’10,” says Carlos Jalife. … WFL helmet cart! (Great find by Jonee Eisen.) … My Mom’s birthday is in a few days, so my brother and I are taking her out to lunch today. Enjoy your last day of spring training, and I’ll see you on Opening Day.