By Phil Hecken
We’ll begin today with Jerry’s take on the infamous “Bumblebee” uniforms the Pirates wore during two of Jerry’s seasons on the Bucs, 1977 and 1978.
Uni Watch The Pirates have obviously worn a bunch of uniforms over the years, and I’d have to say the one that they’re in right now is pretty fine. But honestly, I really did like what I’m calling the mustard uniform from ’70 to ’76. But for all of 1976, and I guess a few teams wore it sporadically — you had to wear, for the centennial, the pillbox. And, you wore it again from ’77 to ’78 too.
I don’t want to say, “did the players laugh at you” but were the other teams like, “What’s going on here?” or were they like, “Oh, OK, that’s Pittsburgh’s deal.”
Jerry Reuss: Probably the first thing they thought was “Whoa — look at that!” And the second they thought is, “Well, I’m glad you’re wearing it and not me.” Because other teams wore hats in the same style, it lessened the impact. Surprisingly, the fans accepted them and the style became part of the uniform when the club changed to the “combination” uniform style. Personally, I never liked any of the pillbox hats.
UW: OK. Tell me about the combination uniforms. The Pirates had a black, yellow and pinstripe uniforms that were interchangeable. You wore the first combination of pinstripes on Opening Day of 1977.
JR: The pinstripes were wider than pinstripes that you see with the Yankees. These were triple width with two thin black stripes sandwiching a double-size yellow one. And the pinstripe-look with “PIRATES” lettering was tough to read even with the larger size font. But added to the pinstripes and lettering, were the large stripes on the end of the sleeves and around the neck — that was a whole lot going on!
UW: I’m looking at a photo you have your website with the pinstripes. I really wasn’t a fan of those. But I love the black and gold, not so much the mix and match part of it — I prefer it when it’s one or the other — but I was never a fan, honestly, of the wide pins, and I guess maybe because its a pullover, and you know, the “PIRATES” almost gets lost in there.
JR: It did. With the collar colors, the sleeve colors, the waistband, plus the piping on the pants legs on the solid-colored pants, there was just a lot happening there. Add the pillbox hats to the mix — the look was more about visual impact and less about the traditional history of the Pirates.
You mentioned the pullover uniform tops. With the combination style, there was no way a button-top could be used. Buttons would have added another set of lines to a look that was too busy.
With regards to the solid color uniforms, I never liked the black ones. They just didn’t look right. The yellow uniforms were OK because the visual interest when placed with the green grass or turf was pleasing to the eye.
UW: I imagine on a summer day in the sunshine, the black top/pant combination was probably very hot, too.
JR: I never noticed it because I never had to stand on the hot turf when I pitched. The mound dirt didn’t hold the heat the way the turf did. The uniform colors holding the heat weren’t nearly the problem as the turf was. I remember what Lou Brock had to do in St. Louis, trying different materials as inner soles or soaking his feet in ice water between innings because the metal on the spikes of his shoes burned imprints on the soles of his feet. Once he switched to soccer shoes, he never had that problem again.
JR: Those uniforms represented a certain time and place. Looking back on those days, I wore all of the uniforms with pride because it was a major league uniform and it represented the Pirates. But it certainly wasn’t a look I embraced.
UW: And yet, they keep bringing them back. I have a whole flickr set of all the bumblebee throwbacks and they definitely screwed up a couple of them. When they did the pinstripes, which I’m sure you’ve seen, they made them much too thin — both in terms of their actual width and in terms of the spacing relative to one another.
JR: I didn’t see the throwbacks until Uni Watch carried the pictures. To capture the impact of those uniforms, it’s important to not only accurately reproduce them, but wear them in the style that was worn in the late ’70s. It just doesn’t ring true unless the pants are tighter-fitting, with stirrups and bloused pants bottoms.
A bit later on, we discussed some of the uniforms that Jerry didn’t wear:
The Giants were just featured on MLB and I noticed the black had a tendency to pick up some of that orange coloring which creates a brown cast.
UW: It’s funny that you say that, because for years, I thought that the Giants colors were, or had been changed to, orange and brown. It definitely has that look to it.
JR: With different types of lighting, the black, especially on HD TV’s, appears dark brown. The same issue happened with the Pirates uniforms. The black on the Pirates uniforms had a yellow cast. But the black highlighted in orange on a cream uniform kept the colors true.
UW: I’ve done some stirrup research, and that is a historical stirrup. It didn’t stick around very long. We’re talking about from the mid-’40’s I believe. We’re talking Polo Grounds, like Johnny Mize years — that did not last very long. They did have that look at one time, but to my knowledge, they’ve always had just the plain black stirrups for a long time. And of course, during the Jack Clark years, they had the orange sanitaries there. That was kind of an interesting look.
JR: Granted..it is an interesting look. But, it doesn’t work. What does work are the stirrups the Orioles, another orange/black color combo, wore for years. The Orioles had some nice stirrups. Especially from the years of Cuellar, Dobson, Palmer and McNally— those were a perfect compliment to that era of the Orioles uniform.
UW: Well those are almost the same pattern as what you had with the Pirates (with the old gold). I think the Red Sox had that as well. It’s an old school kinda common pattern. You had one color, and then a white stripe or two, and then the opposite color was on top. That’s a good look.
With the three-stripe Giants and the early ’70s Orioles, we have orange and black about as good as it gets on a baseball uniform!
JR: It’s a great look…for halloween! But, for baseball uniforms, let’s not go there. White is the only color for sani’s.
UW: OK, we won’t.
JR: The only exception to the rule on white sani’s is Oakland. It’s because there’s something about those uniforms — the colors of yellow and green in that ballpark — I’ve broadcast games with ESPN, and with the Angels, and looking down at those uniforms…I don’t know why I like them but I do. It just seems right in that context.
Part of my interview revolved around Jerry’s appearance on the MLB-TV special, “40 Most Unforgettable Uniforms,” in which he discussed the Padres 1975 brown & gold unis, the Pirates Bumblebee era, and the Astros ‘rainbow’ era.
On the Padres, Jerry was quoted thusly: “A lot of ballclubs in the 1970s got confused about fashion. The San Diego Padres were as garish as anybody.”
UW: Lets talk about the MLB-TV stuff. What about your Padres comment?
JR: It was in reference to the Padres’ uniform history featuring brown and yellow. From 1972 through 1979, the Padres tried numerous combinations but they still had to contend with brown and yellow. It went from bad to worse.
And I have yet to find a way to make brown and yellow look good on a baseball uniform. I don’t know how to do it.
JR: Maybe the Pads took their cue when they saw pictures of those St. Louis Browns colors. In 1980, the Padres added orange to make the uniforms tri-colored. When Steve Garvey joined the Padres in 1984, the look was a little bit better as they toned down the brown. Still, they had yellow sani’s and white shoes.
UW: Then this and later they had the orange drop-shadow going on. I’m not a big fan of that, not on that particular uniform. Now the original Padre uniform, from 1969 to I guess maybe 1971 or so — before they started wearing the solid gold, that was pretty nice.
UW: Because you weren’t overwhelmed with the brown. It was an accent, not a feature color.
JR: Historically, the evolution of the Padres uniforms had some missteps. But I like the Padres uniform that’s worn today.
There’s still much more to the interview, but we’ll end it here for today. Big, nay, HUGE thanks again to Mr. Jerry Reuss for sharing with his take on uniforms. Make sure you guys thank him for his time.
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Very small set again this week.
We start off with some suggestions/requests, which should get the colorizers’ blood really pumping. These are some good ones:
First up is Jack Wilson, who thinks this shot of Williams, Musial and Mantle would be superb for colorizing. I agree.
Here’s my idea for Colorization. I’ve always thought that it was an awesome picture.
I also received two fantastic hi-res photos from “BSmile”, who does a tremendous job with the restoration of old baseball photographs. These also scream out for colorization:
I just posted this pic on my BB-Fever, Baseball Photography page (in Vintage Panoramics)
1913 Chicago Cubs Team — I attached the full resolution version. (2000 x 1586 (2.93mb))
It needs some colorizing in a big way!
I find the pics, I clean them up, sharpen them, etc, etc. I just don’t have the time to colorize them.
I’m guessing somebody on Uni Watch would tackle it.
I’ve also attached a drop-dead gorgeous image of the 1919 Chicago White Sox (Black Sox). It’s a very large/hi-res pic I’ve worked on that would be relatively easy to colorize.
Anyways…onward to the baseball season.
The last two spots today are occupied by the big guns. Up first is Gary Chanko, who has three beauties for us:
So back to the Wire Service photo archives this week to find a former Phillies player to work with. Got lucky on a first try and found Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones in the Phils 1948 uniform, the style on which their current home day game version is based. As a kid, I actually saw Willie play at Connie Mack Stadium.
I’m not old enough, however, to have seen Shoeless Joe Jackson. This Wire Service photo (There’s No Service Like Wire Service, Vol. 14) shows him as a minor league player for the Savannah Indians. The B&W original print is small and in pretty rough condition, so I cropped it remove some of the damage and add focus on Shoeless Joe. Not much success in determining colors, so I’m just guessing the sweater was red.
My last submission was suggested by my son, 1st Lt. Ryan Chanko, US Army and currently deployed in Kuwait. He designated this famous shot of Rick Monday saving the American flag at Dodger Stadium as The Greatest Play in Baseball History. The original image was not that suited for colorization, but you have to work with what’s available.
We actually made this into a poster last year and I’ve attached a copy.
Fantastic job on those Gary!
And the last colouriser, of course, is George Chilvers:
A late one this week!
You had an article on cars last week, so I found this on Shorpy.
Donnie Moore (who? – not the Cubs player) in a Duesenberger – the plate is 1920 DC.
And also outstanding, George
OK, colorizers — you have three wonderful photos for this week — two of which are hi-res. Let’s see what you can do!
As always, if you have any suggestions or submissions, you know what to do.
by Rick Pearson
Sunday in the park is one of the real joys of Spring. Clear blue sky. A little casual fun. Maybe try a new game.
And if that’s too small, the full-size.
Last day… to enter Ricko’s “Design an outfit for Mick” contest — Here’s A Template. Just give the Mick a nice golf outfit (you can enter as many as you’d like) and the “winner” will receive either a signed original “Benchies” or be written into a future strip — possibly both. For full details, you can refer back to the contest. Remember, the deadline is today.
We have another nice 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:
Up first is Hyatt Werling, back with a bunch of “concept” football tweaks:
My name’s Hiatt Werling, with four more tweaks that follow the theme of changing an NFL team’s color scheme based on something that I can in some way relate to the team or the city. I’d like to made such a tweak for all 32 teams. As a disclaimer, obviously I don’t think any team should ever use any of these, they’re just for fun and to see what I can come up with. Here’s 17-20:
Patriots – New England Set: I felt that the Patriots could represent more of the region they’re named after. I gave them blue and yellow, which I found to be the most common colors amongst the flags of the New England states, including the anchor from Rhode Island’s flag.
Browns – Decision Set: So those in Cleveland still upset about Lebron James leaving can feel like they have their own Miami Heat to go watch.
Chargers – In-N-Out Set: In-N-Out Burger is my favorite fast food chain, and they have a very nice distinctive logo with good colors. They’re headquartered near San Diego, so I gave the red and yellow to the Chargers, and combined the Chargers lightning bolt with the In-N-Out arrow.
Titans – Flag Set: This is most drastic change in any of my tweaks thus far. Like all of us who read Uni Watch, I’m quite interested in graphic design, and the graphic design I’m most interested in after sports logos and uniforms is state flags. Tennessee has one of the best flags, so I gave them a uniform set based on it, with the Packers throwback as a base.
Next up is Michael Hull who brings us some pretty cool Illini football tweaks:
My little brother plays Safety for Illinois and since we enjoy discussing uniform-related items, I decided to try my hand at a couple designs for the Illini using the Nike Pro Combat template…
Design #1 carries the classic helmet stripe throughout the uniform.
Design #2 is loosely inspired by the Hyper Elite uniforms for Illinois’ basketball team.
In the three-spot is Paul Lee with another league logo concept:
Since the NBA has a logo for St. Patrick’s Day, how about one for St. Valentine’s? Also attached is a cheesy, crossover logo.
And closing out the weekend is Andrew DeFrank, who has a few more NFL concepts, some of which may have Chuck Noll and Bud Grant rolling in their graves (I kid, I kid):
Here are my last set of revisions to my first set of tweaks.
Hope you all enjoy!
Thanks to all of today’s tweakers. Back next weekend with more.
• Just want to remind everyone who might not have known (or seen posted here yesterday) that MLB Extra Innings is offering a free preview through April 11th. So that means the first week of the season will allow you (if your satellite or cable provider carries it) to watch almost every game played. Which is nice.
• Don’t forget — today is the last day to participate in the Benchies contest. See above for full details.
• Quick NCAA Tourney Trivia: A) What is the lowest seeded team to officially win the tournament, who was it and in what year? B) How many Final Fours has John Calipari been to? How many has he been to officially? C) What school has won the most NCAA tournaments? What school has had the most different coaches win at least one NCAA tournament? Who were they?
• Congrats to Butler and UConn. Kudos to the mid-major (and 2 Finals in a row) and the Huskies, for keeping my Big East faith, for at least one team.
Thanks again to Jerry Reuss, the colorizers and tweakers. Great stuff again this weekend.
If you’re the Atlanta Braves, and your road jerseys are navy lettering on a navy jersey, never, ever wear your alt jersey. Not on Opening Day, not on any other day, not at home, not on the road. The Braves manage to make the Mets and the Blue Jays look like classy, well-dressed teams by comparison. — R. Scott Rogers