Almost all of today’s photos all come from the Sporting News archives. With one exception, which I’ve noted, all were contributed by the increasingly indispensable Mike Hersh. Some really good stuff this time around, so off we go:
• One can never have too many satin uni photos.
• Here’s an excellent look at the Cards’ 1927 “World Champions” jersey.
• Look at the two unusual belt styles in this shot.
• The Rochester Red Wings appear to have had some very unusual sleeve panels back in the early 1930s.
• Here’s a later Red Wings jersey, with the chest insignia seriously askew. Sensational stirrups, though.
• Here’s a great shot of Lefty O’Doul wearing the 1933 National League all-star uni.
• We’ve seen the Columbus Red Birds’ cap before, but once more won’t hurt, since it’s such a beauty. Interestingly, an editor had given instrux for the cap logo to be painted out, presumably because the player had been traded or called up.
• Back in the days when more Americans worked on farms (and therefore more ballplayers came from farming families), milking promotions like this one were fairly common. Good notes on the back of the photo.
• Several interesting things here: (1) It’s rare to see a ballplayer roll up his jersey sleeves like that. (2) Such a teeny chest emblem! Almost looks pinned on, no? (3) The cap logo is a chain-stitched patch.
• And if you don’t want to roll up your sleeves, you can just tear them off.
• Here’s a tremendous shot of a Cardinals player getting fitted for his uniform. Not sure who the player is, though. Anyone..?
• For years I’ve thought that the most absudist team name ever was the Atlanta Black Crackers. But that was before I knew about the short-lived Columbus (Georgia) Confederate Yankees. Wow. Even worse, the team only existed from 1964-66 (that photo is from ’65), which makes the team name and the sleeve patch seem like a very intentional statement about the civil rights movement. (My thanks to Alan Tompas for finding this one.)
• Here’s a first-class view of the old Hale America patch being worn in the minor leagues. Also, note the contrast-colored placket on the undershirt.
• Wish we could get a full-body shot of this jersey. Looks like it was a pullover, not a formal jersey, but it also appears to have had a chest insignia and a uni number. Very odd for that era.
• Oooh, check out the absolutely dynamite sleeve patch on this Montreal Royals uni. I bet that patch was at least partially purple, and I don’t even mind.
• And speaking of Canadian teams with noteworthy sleeve patches, yowza! That’s the 1949 Toronto Maple Leafs.
Joy of Sox, Part 1: Due to a coding error on my part, one of the items in yesterday’s “Collector’s Corner” section didn’t display properly for part of the day. Here it is again — a great shot of the prototypes from the White Sox’s 1981 uni design contest. I’d seen other photos of the prototypes before, but not this one.
As you may recall, I wrote an ESPN column about that design contest a few months ago. During my research for that piece, Richard Launius, who ultimately won the contest, told me that the White Sox had also showcased the six prototypes in a glass display case near the Comiskey Park entrance, so fans entering the ballpark could examine the designs before voting on them. I’d never seen a photo of that display — until now.
Paul Weirderecht sent me that shot yesterday. Very, very cool. I love it when we can fill in some of the blanks in these old storylines.
Joy of Sox, Part 2: Barry Zito wore his striped socks last night in Chicago. That’s standard practice for him, and the striped hose have been part of the Giants’ official wardrobe since last season, but all that was apparently news to Cubs broadcasters Bob Brenly and Len Kasper, who proceeded to play Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumber (as transcribed by reader Patrick Karraker):
Len Kasper: Not really sure what to make of Barry Zito’s style in terms of the way he wears his uniform because, you know, he’s got the striped socks, and bottoms, around the bottom of the knee, and that’s all old school, but, you know, if you really went old school, you’d wear the baggy pants.
Bob Brenly: Going a combination of old school and new school, I guess.
Kasper: I never knew the Giants’ stirrups had the orange stripes. You occasionally see guys with the Cardinals, the stripes at the top of the socks.
Brenly: I didn’t know the Giants ever had orange stripes on their socks. (Camera shows Cody Ross wearing plain black socks.)
Kasper: Look, those are different. Different socks!
Brenly: Just a Barry Zito thing. Might’ve worn them for one of those throwback days, where they wear the old unis. He decided he liked ’em, and continues to wear them.
Kasper and Brenly’s cluelessness notwithstanding, their basic point — that Zito wears one kind of socks while most of the Giants wear another — hints at the larger problem regarding MLB lower-leg regulations, namely that there aren’t any. Obvioulsy, I prefer the striped hose, but it’s ridiculous that the Giants don’t have any consistency on this uni element. Of course, it’s also ridiculous that some players don’t even show their socks to begin with, which is just part of the same larger problem. Sigh.
In which everyone gets worked up over nothing (again): About a dozen people in a one-hour span sent me the link for this Nike/NFL story yesterday. Most of the e-mails had a panicked tone and used terms like “Our worst fears realized” and “There goes the league down the toilet.”
The source of all this consternation was this passage:
Nike’s NFL contract begins next April and that’s when Nike will start pumping out products for retail.
So I asked [Nike Brand President Charlie] Denson the all-important question: How much will you change it up?
“We’re going to be aggressive,” Denson said. “Some teams are willing to go further than others.”
Wow. If that doesn’t get the NFL fan base hurting for good product excited, I don’t know what does.
Yeah, wow. Some marketing suit gives a boilerplate quote and some mouthpiece posing as a journalist — in this case CNBC’s Darren Rovell, who never met a merchandising initiative he didn’t like — basically blows a load all over it.
But there are two important points here: First, they’re not talking about uniforms. They’re talking about “products for retail,” which can mean T-shirts, fashion jerseys, wristbands, caps, etc. (And boy, it sure would be a shame if Nike came in and ruined the integrity of classic Reebok product lines like this one.)
Secondly, Denson himself admits that the Swooshkateers can only go as far as a team will let them — which is exactly what I’ve been saying all along. Will some teams go for a full-on Lifestyle Inc. overhaul? Sure. I can see the Panthers or Bengals going that route, for example, and maybe one or two others. But most NFL teams have way too much invested in their brand identities (and have way too conservative owners) to put their visual systems in the Nike centrifuge. Bank on it: When the NFL hits the field in 2012, the vast majority of the teams will look no different than they look now.
Membership update: The good news is that we’re now caught up on every membership card order (including Nick Werner’s Notre Dame marching band treatment, shown at right), with one exception (we’ll get to you momentarily, Murray). The bad news is that if you’ve been thinking about signing up, you’ll have to think a little longer, because Scott is in the middle of some big projects and some long travels, so we won’t be taking any new membership orders for the next month or so. I’ll let you know when we’re ready to reopen for business.
Speaking of summer breaks: As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ll soon be taking my annual summer sabbatical from the site, which will run from July 11 through August 7. I’ll still be doing ESPN work during that period, but Phil will be running this here site — a big job to handle on a daily basis, so get ready to be really nice to him and stuff.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Here’s our first look at the new Penn State jersey on a player. I’m surprised by how many people have already said, “I really miss the white trim” or “Looks like shit without the white trim.” Personally, I’m fine with it either way, but it’s interesting to see how many of you apparently feel quite strongly about it. … Here’s a hexbreaker I’ve never seen before: Evan Longoria has attempted to break out of slump by not wearing batting gloves (big thanks to Don Gale). … Want to order yourself a Dodgers “Chapter 11” jersey? Too late — you can’t! … Not sure if I’ve ever seen a tequila sunrise-era Astros jacket with a wordmark quite like this one (good find, Jet). … Douglas King notes that this video footage from NCAA Football 12 appears to show new uniforms for Hawaii and USF (but not, unfortunately, for UCF, as you can see). … Several good hockey finds by Mike Hersh: a set of promotional photos featuring the Flyers in Cooperalls, and three sensational-looking old scrapbooks — look here (scroll down to see some primitive headgear), here (scroll down to see a young, pre-Bruins Bobby Orr), and here. … Also from Mike: Scroll down on this auction listing to see a very interesting cap-enlargement modification. … Who’s that in the stars and stripes? None other than a very young Alex Ovechkin. It’s from a fun site devoted to hockey players as kids (with thanks to Mark Kaplowitz). … Women’s World Cup note from Mike Styczen, who writes: “A Canadian forward broke her nose in the first game and is now wearing the most awesome mask I’ve ever seen.” … “I coach a sixth through eighth grade baseball team,” says Scott Sidor. “This past season, the other coaches and I decided to go old school and get our players striped stirrups. All but one player even knew what stirrups were.” Nicely done — but now you have to get the kids to stop wearing mid- and high-top shoes. … In a vaguely related item, Mike Caldwell did a bit of stirrups/high-tops commingling himself the other day: “I got married this past Sunday (6/26). I didn’t tell anyone beforehand, but I thought it would be cool to wear my Red Sox stirrups with my formalwear (if you can call it formal). They didn’t go very well with the Columbia blue of the shoes, but the idea was to bring some good luck to the day, as well to as my favorite baseball squadron. They seemed to do the trick — the weather was perfect, ceremony and reception went off with nary a hitch, and the Sox actually won an interleague game. And yes, we were both wearing custom-designed Chucks.” … Reminder for all you Philly folks: Mitchell & Ness’s Peter Capolino will be speaking about the throwback biz tonight. … N.C. State hoops will wear a Lorenzo Charles memorial patch this fall. … Kentucky will unveil new football uniforms on Thursday. … There’s something very endearing about this chest insignia. … What’s even better than a stereotypical cartoon Indian on your sleeve? How about a stereotypical cartoon Mexican on both your sleeves. Yikes. … Matt Harris alertly notes that Prince Fielder appears to have something stitched to the underside of his jersey collar. Maybe some Velcro, for when he goes unbuttoned..? … Three new Japanese basketball teams for the B-J League, all with new logos: the Yokohama B-Corsairs, Iwate Big Bulls, and Chiba Jets (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … Unusual squared-off uni number font for Brazil’s Copa America kit (with thanks to Kenny Loo). … What’s this? It’s an X-ray of an upholstered sofa. Lots more here (great find, Kirsten). … Strange development in the fly fishing world, as the feathers used to tie flies have become popular as women’s hair accessories, leading to an acute shortage.