Paul here, taking a rare weekend turn. And I’m glad to be on the job today, because the Rangers and A’s did something really unusual last night: They wore ribbons on their jerseys.
Now, you may think MLB teams wear ribbons all the time, like on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. But you’d be wrong, because those aren’t ribbons — they’re adhesive patches that look like ribbons. A symbol of a symbol. Then you’ve got all the secondary and tertiary ribbon representations that are even further removed from actual ribbons. Perhaps none of this is surprising in a country that’s somehow gotten the idea that a ribbon is something you put on a hunk of metal, but the cumulative effect is that most of us have forgotten what a ribbon — a real ribbon, a genuine ribbon — actually is.
Last night the Rangers and A’s reminded us. Those are genuine strips of black ribbon, which both teams wore in memory of the fan who fell to his death during Thursday night’s game. They had depth and texture — light shone through them, they cast shadows, they stuck out at odd angles. Sometimes you could even see the little pin that affixed the ribbon to the jersey. In other words, these things were real. Compare that to something like this — it’s isn’t even a fair fight. (As an aside, the umpires wore the ribbons too, but they were very hard to make out. Just another reason for the umps to go back to wearing blue.)
These black ribbons, incidentally, are very much in keeping with the way baseball memorials used to be. If you check out the “Patches and Armbands” section of Dressed to the Nines (which is currently having major technical issues, so I can’t link to it at the moment — I’ve alerted curator Tom Shieber), you’ll see that the standard uniform memorial for several decades was “black crêpe” — basically a small strip of black fabric.
The last time something like that was worn, at least that I can think of, was in early 1973, when the Pirates memorialized Roberto Clemente by wearing a strip of black fabric during spring training (they later switched to a cover-up patch and then a more legit “21″ patch; further details on all of that here), but maybe there are some other instances I’m forgetting. In any case, I totally dug the ribbons last night.
Speaking of which: Among the various things I collect are salesman sample catalogs, and one of my favorites is this 1940s ribbon catalog, which is filled with cool swatches. You can see additional photos here, plus I wrote a short article about the catalog a few years ago, which is available here.
Summer break reminder: I’m going on summer break starting on Monday (but will be covering for Phil again tomorrow), which has a few implications for the site. Details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Speaking of that Rangers/A’s game, Gio Gonzalez apparently couldn’t wait to wear his All-Star sleeve patch (screen shot courtesy of Cody Canafax). … Some uni number changes for the Blues (with thanks to Mark Richter). … Coupla great finds by Bruce Menard: First, dig the amazing-looking uniforms worn by the 1933 Greensboro Patriots. That chest logo! Those sleeve panels! And second, you knew about the Houston Colt. .45s, but did you know about the Moultrie Colt .22s? They were a Houston farm team. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: A baseball glove manufacturer is recalling 131,000 gloves due to mold. … Also from yesterday: Here’s a Pirates bumblee-era uni combination I’d never seen before. I showed it to Jerry “BucTracker” Wolper, who said, “The only instance of that combination that I have in my records is from 9/22/80, which is before Thompson was a Pirate, so I’ll assume it’s a spring training shot.” … A KC writer has taken the Royals to task for holding a Negro Leagues promotion without wearing Negro Leagues uniforms (with thanks to Dennis Anderson). … John Choe won a charity auction to be a minor league for a day with the Normal CornBelters. “When I got to the stadium, I was assigned a clubbie,” he says. “I asked for stirrups, but he said that they don’t have them. Just long pajama bottom pants.” Sigh. He made good contact in his lone at-bat, grounding out to first. … Good job by Steven Little, who scored an interview with NFL designer Mark Verlander, who’s done logo and uniform work for the Titans, Falcons, Bengals, and Cardinals, among others. … The recruiting scandal at Oregon apparently has a Nike-related subplot (big thanks to Joel Horn). … New rugby uniforms for French Top 14 (pro league) club Toulon. “It would look fantastic if it weren’t for the VW logo,” says Eric Bangeman. … Check out this shot of Dave Parker with a TV number on his helmet! That’s a new one on me (great find by Scott Little). … Lots of All-Star cleat designs on display here and here. … And here we have some All-Star batting gloves. Additional info here. … Houston football will wear throwbacks for homecoming. Additional photo here (with thanks to Perry McDaniel). … The Pirates use nameplates for their NOBs. But Michael Williams alertly points out that recent call-up Josh Harrison appears to have been wearing direct-sewn NOBs on his road and alternate jerseys lately. He has a nameplate on his home jersey, however. … In a related item, last night’s Angels throwbacks had nameplates, except for rookie Mike Trout, whose NOB was direct-sewn (good catch by Casey Gross). … Speaking of last night’s Angels game, Seth Moorman asks, quite reasonably, why they didn’t get throwback helmets for the base coaches. … Those of you who masturbate to photos of torn uniforms (I know you’re out there) will totally get off on this shot of Miguel Tejada from last night’s Mets/Giants game (screen shot by Mike Mattison). … Here’s a piece, including some video footage, about Washington football using helmet cams in practice (with thanks to Kyle Hanks). … Additional news regarding that new Western Kentucky football design, courtesy of WKU alum Gary Moore: “According to a contact whose daughter works in the athletic department, those may be the new unis — or may not be. No official announcement yet. He did say WKU signed a new deal with Russell Athletic (which is owned by Fruit of the Loom, which is world-headquartered in Bowling Green, which is where WKU is) and said WKU is sort of Russell’s ‘lab’ for new designs and fabrics.” … Here are the newest Florida Panthers, in their new jerseys (with thanks to John Muir). … Cal is soliciting fan input on the design of its football field (with thanks to John Furstenthal). … Why I’ll Probably Never Write for Grantland: Deep in the middle of this piece, Bill Simmons suggests solving the NBA lockout by, among other things, “getting sponsors for every team’s jerseys and every team’s half-court logo.” … For those who didn’t get the reference in today’s headline, it’s a nod to my Very Favorite Musician Ever: