One very hectic week later, and with apologies for the delay, here’s the full rundown on the St. Looey shindig. This was one of the best Uni Watch gatherings ever, with a big turnout, tons of great people, and a unique setting at the Corner Bar and Grill in St. Charles. Here are some of the very friendly folks who were in attendance:
• Here’s our host, Jason Bibb, who co-owns the bar with his sister, Libby. They were both super-friendly, super-accommodating folks.
• I really liked Shaun Kennedy’s Twitter-Cards T-shirt. (Shaun and Tony Pellegrino pulled me aside for a few minutes to interview me for their excellent Cardinals Diaspora blog, but they haven’t posted the transcript yet. I’ll post a link once they put it up.)
• Even better: Gary Streeting’s “What the fuck are YOU looking at?” Cards tee.
• James Poisso wore an awesome Tampa Smokers jersey, plus he tried to butter me up with his choice of undershirt. (As an aside, I’m told that the Rays will be wearing Smokers uniforms for a throwback game later this season!)
• Here’s Kurt Keller in a “victory blue” Cards T-shirt. I asked him about the sticker, and he simply replied, “Logo creep.”
• Here’s the pride of St. Louis, Marty Hick, and his lovely wife, Holly, both of whom are teachers in the St. Louis public school system. I stayed with them for my last two nights in town — awesome, awesome people.
• Who would be crazy enough to drive clear across Missouri for a Uni Watch party? Robert Marshall, that’s who. He made the drive from KC, plus he had a little bit of Baltimore in the form of his tie clip. As usual, he was the life of the party.
• Another guy who went the extra mile, literally, in order to attend: Ben Traxel, who drove up from Poplar Bluff. “The stirrups were given to me by the assistant baseball coach at Three Rivers College in Poplar Bluff,” he says. “The team started going high-cuffed on the road this year (but not at home, where they still wear jammy pants). The jersey was bought at Goodwill for $3 and already had the name and number screened on. I bought the A’s elephant patch on eBay and made the KC sleeve patch myself. I gave it to Marshall as a Missouri-warming gift and he brought it for me to wear at the party. I gave it back to him that night!”
• Ben brought along his co-worker Aaron Duncan, who wore a mish-mash of uni elements: Cards jersey, Browns stirrups, Ditka tee, and — get this — a Winnipeg Goldeyes cap.
• Jeff Taylor was super-friendly right from the moment I walked in the door, plus he looked sharp in his St. Louis Browns jersey and cap.
• Accompanying Jeff was his cousin, Jay Taylor, who was sporting the rarely seen double-decker NOB.
• One of the real treats of the party for me was getting to meet Bill Garbe, who works in the art department at Rawlings. He brought a bunch of old Rawlings catalogs and was nice enough to let me photograph them. (That sound you just heard was Mike Hersh drooling).
• Bill’s cousin, Mike Whalen, wore a game-used Rick Zombo Blues jersey, which included an interesting detail: Until now, I hadn’t realized that the “St. Louis” on the front crest was embroidered onto a separate strip of fabric.
• We all owe a debt of thanks to Kevin Henderson, because he’s the one who suggested the Corner Bar as our party venue. Since it was Cinco de Mayo, he wore a Mexican soccer jersey, which he had actually purchased in Mexico.
• Jonathan Karberg wore a beautiful old flannel jersey that he said had belonged to his grandfather or something like that. It’s hard to see in the rear-view photo, but some other attendees and I spotted some ghost lettering on the back, which Jonathan said he’d never noticed before.
• My apologies to Nick Werner, who I somehow neglected to photograph. He was wearing a 1998 game-worn Tom Pagnozzi Cards jersey, and we had fun discussing how the birds on the bat had red beaks that year, not yellow beaks.
• As for me, I wore an old softball jersey with SRDNOB (some roofer dude’s name on back), which I recently scored on Etsy for $18.
And then there was the cocked hat bowling. As you can see from those pics, there are three only pins, and the idea is to knock the headpin into one corner pin and have the ball deflect into the other corner pin — even trickier than it sounds. Marshall, of course, was very good at it (he’s really good at just about anything sporty and competitive), and everyone else, myself included, was pretty much hit-or-miss.
Here’s some video of the women’s league that was on the lanes before we started bowling (it’s a little loud, so you may want to turn down your volume):
As for the rest of the trip, it was a blast. Here are some highlights:
• The food: I ate really well on this trip, and not just because my hotel was next door to a Waffle House (the only chain eatery I like). When I had a few hours to kill one afternoon, I visited the very wonderful Crown Candy Kitchen. It had been 10 years since I’d last been there, but the booths and the hand-painted menu and mirrors were just like I remembered them. So was the hot fudge/caramel sundae I had. Mmmmmmm.
The next day, Robert Marshall, Marty Hick, and I had a sensational barbecue lunch at Bogart’s Smokehouse. We started out with a simple ribs and pulled pork combo, but then the owner took a shine to us once he realized I’m friends with some of his ’cue pals here in NYC, so he started bringing out all sorts of meaty treats for us to sample. No additional photos, but it was first-rate ’cue.
Marty hosted a big-ass cookout on Saturday. It was Kentucky Derby day, so I contributed a Derby Pie. Alas, I was too busy eating pork steaks and side dishes to take any photos of the event.
• The fine sporting activity: Marty and a bunch of his friends have developed a fairly intense croquet scene at a local park, and I was invited to participate. As you can see in these photos (the first 10 of which were taken by Marty’s friend Andy Holman), Marty and his crew adhere to some very strict uniform protocols: Everyone wears beige Chucks and khakis, and your shirt color, ball color, and mallet color all have to match (plus I took the additional liberty of going high-cuffed, which Marty said was permissible). The shirts are all thrifted and the mallets were actually DIY’d by Marty’s pal Adam, who’s a carpenter — all very cool.
• The animals: Marty and Holly have three cats and two dogs, all of which are amazing. Shame on me for not getting photos of them, but Andy Holman got some pics of Adam the greyhound and Cappy the cat. When we gathered around Marty’s TV for the Kentucky Derby and watched as the race was won by a horse named Animal Kingdom, it seemed very appropriate.
• The appliance with the really unfortunate logo: Marty and Holly have a combination vacuum/steam cleaner called the Vac Then Steam. First of all, that’s a really awkward name — shouldn’t it be Vac & Steam, or Vac ’n’ Steam? Even worse, it has a logo that’s easily misinterpreted in a rather gross way unless you’re looking at it right up close. I mentioned this during Marty’s cookout, at which point his buddy Adam quipped, in his best Missouri deadpan drawl, “Sounds like a mighty big gadget just to clean yer cooter.” And that’s the part where I spit out my beer.
• The reason I was there in the first place: Can’t tell you about that yet. But it’ll end up as an ESPN column in a few weeks.
And there you are — a really fun, productive trip. Thanks for letting me play show-and-tell.
ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday afternoon, my latest ESPN column — which tells the inside story on how the Mets added black throughout their graphics program in the late 1990s — is here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Uni number news for the 49ers (with thanks to Terry O’Donohue). … Congrats to Micah Hudgens, who got married yesterday — and wore these under his pants. … Kyle Napiontek spotted a Mississippi State softball player wearing an Under Armour wristband with her Adidas uniform. … Brandon Acee sent along two sets of old NFL-themed Sears catalog pages — one batch from the early ’70s and one from 1987. … Mike Hersh was at a flea market on Wednesday when one of the dealers said to him, “Hey, do you know anything about jerseys and uniforms? I have this old Dodgers uniform, but I don’t think it’s real because it’s not the usual fabric you see jerseys made of. This one’s shiny.” What the guy had — and what Mike got to fondle and photograph — was a Dodgers satin uni. As you can see, it’s not the baby blue design that’s the basis for this years throwbacks, but rather the more infrequently seen royal satins (which are not shown in Okkonen but are definitely out there). Interestingly, the tagging indicates that the jersey and pants were originally issued to different players — the jersey to pitcher Art Herring and the pants to John Corriden, whose entire big league career consisted of a 1946 pinch-running appearance. Mike says this mis-matching is common for old Dodgers satin sets, because the Dodgers tended to recycle the pants due to the satins’ high price point. … Shaun Tunick notes that Jim Riggleman appears to be wearing two-in-ones.