By Phil Hecken
No, the team you see listed above in today’s splash photo isn’t some kind of crazy “cross sport concept uniform” by one of the many tweakers who contribute to Uni Watch. What you’re looking at is an outstanding graphical representation of the 1936 Pittsburgh Pirates, who finished that season with a record of 6-6-0, good enough for Second Place in the NFL’s Eastern Division.
“Wait,” you might say, “wasn’t Pittsburgh’s football team called the Steelers?” Not in 1936, they weren’t. The Steelers were founded as the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 8, 1933, by Art Rooney. The ownership of the Steelers has remained within the Rooney family since its founding. It was actually somewhat common practice at the time for NFL teams to take on the names of their MLB counterparts. The NFL team from Pittsburgh kept the name “Pirates” for seven years, from their founding through the 1939 season.
Today, I am pleased and honored to bring you a look at the beginning of an historical research project which may only be exceeded by the incredible work of Marc Okkonen, whose seminal work “Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century” is basically the “bible” to which uniform historians turn for their reference. Many of you are familiar with Uni Watch Uniform Historian Tim Brulia, whose White at Home in the NFL and Pro Football Uniform History Project are staples of the Uni Watch “Research Projects” found in the tab bar at the top of this page.
Tim is now embarking on a much grander project in both historical importance and scope, and for this project he has enlisted the able assistance of Bill Schaefer, who is the graphical genius behind Tim’s work. Basically, what the two of these men have done is to chart the entire NFL uniform history since 1933, and put those uniforms into graphical form, a la Okkonen, or the now defunct FUPP (Football Uniforms Past & Present) project.
Today, I’m going to officially introduce the Uni Watch faithful to the second half of the “Tim & Bill” tandem, Mr. Bill Schaefer. He and Tim have made tremendous strides in this long, on-going, and immensely important project, and they’re almost ready to reveal it to the world. I’m privileged to be able to bring you a taste of what lies in store. We’ll begin today with “Bill’s Story”:
By Bill Schaefer
When I was 5 years old, my Dad became a season ticket holder for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He still is to this day at age 66. From 1977 to 1990, I attended a minimum of 5 home games per year with only college attendance in Florida and moving to South Carolina eventually breaking the string. Getting to attend the Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa with him was a first for me. It was my Dad’s fourth (XII, XIII, XXX, and XLIII).
When I moved to Florida in 2002, I got my first job that required work on a computer. This was actually my first run-in with the Internet. During some down time, I discovered “Football Uniforms: Past and Present” and began using its images as screensavers. I noticed that some of the Steelers’ images were missing anniversary logos that I knew had been worn. I was there! I found the images (and photographic proof) and sent them to Craig Wheeler. He made the appropriate corrections in short order. I was so proud of my tiny contributions!
However, soon after the completion of the 2003 season, the site ceased updating. I tried my darnedest trying to revise the 2003 images each year to suit the changes that ensued over the next half-decade to build upon my ‘screensaver cache.’ The problem that I continued to have was that Craig’s templates were asymmetrical. This made alterations extremely difficult to make, as well as getting them to simply look good, but I kept at it.
Over Spring Break in 2009, while conducting online searches for then upcoming AFL 50th Anniversary Logos, I came across Tim Brulia’s column posted on “Uni Watch” outlining the research he had done for the 20+ years previous to the decades covered on Craig Wheeler’s site. In it, Tim mentioned that if anyone would like to take up the task, for them to contact him. As a high school math teacher with the upcoming summer off, I figured I’d try my hand at it during my ‘spare vacation time.’ If I sucked at it, no one had to know.
Working with a much more user-friendly, 2-dimensional template, I began work on constructing images from Tim’s vivid descriptions. Using the color samples I found on “The Society for Sports Uniform Research,” [since renamed “ColorWerx” — PH] I was able to achieve better matches to Tim’s words as closely as possible while utilizing the correct shades described. Over the course of the summer, I constructed several leather helmet templates and from there first drafts of almost every team and year listed from 1933-1958. I was pretty pleased with my product. As I neared completion, I emailed Tim to introduce myself and send him a small sample of what I had done.
The next several months became a whirlwind of emails sending comments, suggestions, revisions, and even more revisions back and forth between Tim and myself. When this stage was completed we decided to ‘up the ante’ and decided to tackle the renovations to the images in FUPP — additions, alterations, exclusions, etc. Now, after more than 24 months of work, nearly everything we set out to accomplish is ready to roll — and then some.
As with Craig Wheeler’s original site, Tim and I will welcome any contributions as far as corrections to errors we have made given that precise and (to borrow from NFL lingo) ‘indisputable’ photographic proof can be provided. Since we are dealing with images that are, in some cases over 70 years old, there are still a few inclusions that we know need to be fixed. We have, as yet, been unable to execute these few corrected renditions due to a lack of availability of the necessary proof. Otherwise, we are now at a point where every professional team from 1933 to 1958, including the AAFC teams of the late 1940’s and all ‘defunct’ NFL teams of the era, is represented as accurately as possible.
We are truly fortunate for the research Tim Brulia has put into this project. Without it, there would be no project. He is a stickler for detail, but that is exactly what is needed for organizing a task like this. Throughout the process our motto has been “Just get it right.” I feel fortunate that my recently discovered graphic skills are worthy enough to become an integral part of something that has never been orchestrated before. It is my hope that this site will provide the opportunity for many of the NFL’s fans who may never get the chance to visit Canton, Ohio, to not only see, in color, where the game came from in its humblest of beginnings but to also develop a true appreciation for professional football’s founding fathers, earliest warriors, and the characters of the game upon whose backs the NFL was built.
Thank you Bill. Just outstanding, outstanding work so far. But Tim and Bill’s story isn’t complete — its ending has yet to be penned. Tim & Bill still don’t have a home on the Interwebs yet. We’re hoping that will change in the near future. But for now, that’s Part I of Bill and Tim’s NFL Uniform Project. I’ll be back next weekend with Tim’s story.
by Rick Pearson
An email request flooded in. Mike re-assumed the position, saying, “Run it Sunday…for the divorced soccer moms.”
And, for all the mothers out there, here’s the full size, suitable for downloading and framing.
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:
We start with Chet Gole who brings us a LA Clippers redux:
This design is how the Clippers should be re-vamped. It is a combination between their San Diego colors and their present day LA colors. It seems like every team in the NBA is going to red white and blue so here is a tweak that sets the Clippers apart from just about everyone.
Our second player today is Eric Zrmhal who delights us with some White Sox tweaks:
I’m a long time reader and a long time White Sox fan (so it was heartbreaking to see Liriano throw a no-no tonight) and saw all the different uni tweaks for MLB teams and thought I would throw mine out there. The Sox definitely have gone through some major uni issues over the past century, but that doesn’t stop me from cheering them on. So, attached are my minor tweaks on their current uni’s, with Ozzie’s number on each, of course. They are a bit rough (I did them in Microsoft paint) and the logo on the stirrups is a bit preschoolish (I had to make it myself), but you get the idea. I tried to go conservative since Reinsdorf is a conservative guy who doesn’t want to change the uni/logo since they’ve gone through so much crap in the past 35 years. I removed the NOB, changed the font of the numbers, went back to a previous logo, added the alternate logo to the stirrups and tweaked the hats. Let me know what you think.
Back again with more tweaks is Terry Duroncelet, who has a bunch of MLB tweaks (and one NBA):
I’m back with more ideas for the Uni Watch faithful.
Reds: I made an alternate home white concept uniform aimed at those with poor vision… or just can’t figure out who the home team is…
Celtics: A while back, someone in the UW comments proposed the idea of making the Celtics’ St. Patty’s Day greens their permanent road alts, so I went for it. I also gave their primary home and roads the retro treatment *snickers X)*.
Phillies: As much as I HATE the Phuckin’ Phillies, their uniforms are notch. That being said, I had to fix a couple of things, and I’m extremely happy with the result, particularly the road uniform because there’s something very… organic about the road tweak. I hate white graphics on grey uniforms other than the unis worn by Georgetown and the Yankees, so I fixed that.
Angels: I erased the white twill from the jersey scripts on both jerseys. I don’t see the reason for using white twill as the outermost outline when you can barely see it on a white jersey (if at all), and I already stated my feelings about white-on-grey. I also gave them new (halo) socks, to emphasize their ‘Halo’ moniker and to signify their 2002 World Series title.
Mets: Something old, something new, something that only involves the colors white, orange, and blue… and grey.
I’ll be back with more soon.
Our final concepter today is Dave Elbrecht, who goes a bit lengthy on his description, but since he has about 10 tweaks, I guess it works out:
I’ve been reading Uni Watch for about two years and this is my first attempt at tweaks.
I love my alma mater, because of this I’m saddened that Valparaiso has managed to embrace almost every awful uni concept that has come out in the last decade (most notably: BFBS, awful bumper stickers, and now grey-for-grey’s-sake). The Crusaders are the collegiate BFBS equivalent of the New York Mets. Mercifully, the Valpo basketball team abandoned the all-black road uni 6 years ago. However, losing the black jersey didn’t mean losing the black accents. It is to the point now that every Valpo team (except football) has completely abandoned brown in favor of black accents. My goal in this rebrand is to eliminate the BFBS and bring brown back to Valpo unis.
I started with basketball. I really like the design of the new uni that debuted in the middle of the 10-11 season (with the notable exception of the GFGS uni that showed up against Purdue). The only adjustment I made to the white and gold unis was making the black accents brown. The most obious change I made was the addition of a brown road uni (something Valpo baseketball hasn’t used in quite a while). Keeping white at home and brown on the road would make the gold an alt used for weekend and other “important” games (such as the BracketBuster against Missouri State with Dick Vitale on the call).
The baseball team underwent the most significant redo in large part because they are currently Valpo’s worst offenders when it comes to BFBS. They currently wear white at home (with awful black bumper stickers) and a black softball top on the road. They sport and all black hat and a white crown/black bill cap (both with “VALPO” as the logo). I really like the script lettering on the baseball unis, so I kept them. The rest of the unis are inspired by the Cleveland Indians and Ole Miss Rebels. The white uni is the primary home, and the grey one is the primary road (something we don’t see nearly enough of in collge baseball**). Given the university’s brown and gold color palette, I figured it would be a perfect candidate for a cream home alt. My least favorite uni is the brown softball top with cream pants, but I figured they would need a road alt for double-headers. I felt having “VALPO” on the hat was too busy, so I replaced it with a gold script “V” while also re-coloring the hat brown.
As for the softball and volleyball unis, I replaced the black with brown (smilar to what I did with the basketball unis).
Instead of sending you an unnecessarily large e-mail, I posted all the pics on a flickr account.
Love the site,
Thanks to today’s tweakers. Back with more next weekend.
From The E-mail Bag
After yesterday’s fantastic main article on Brooklyn caps, reader Peter Trunk sent me the following note:
I’ve been following your Uni Watch site faithfully, enjoying all your posts, for quite a while now.
The latest stories regarding the Brooklyn Dodgers’ uniforms and caps has both my full attention and interest. I am “penncentralpete” who worked along with Will at CooperstownCapCo (ballpark.com) to try and replicate the Brooklyn “B.”
The results were great on the letter, but not so much on the color of the created product.
I am an administrator at Brooklyn Dodger Memories, where 100 or so fans of the old Dodgers discuss this and more about the old Bums.
Included in my email is a photo of the caps that were eventually produced for me. As you can plainly see, the letter is fine, but the colors are “off.” Sadly, the company went out of business before anymore work could be done.
I have not reached out to any of the large, present-day companies, as I feel they wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about authenticity of a half-century old Dodger cap. Hell, the (LA) Dodgers themselves have worn bogus Brooklyn caps during their “throwback days.”
Thanks Pete, for the kind words and for all the information!
Ok, folks. Have a great Sunday and a wonderful Mother’s Day.
MLBers wearing pink on Mother’s Day… you know who won’t be wearing pink on Sunday? My mother! And my sister, for that matter (she’s a mother as well). Both of them hate pink clothes, and do their best to avoid that color whenever possible. — Rob S.