[Editor’s Note: Morris Levin will be contributing an article each Friday while Paul takes his break. Enjoy! — Phil Hecken]
“No, I just meant Miami….. what did you just say?”
By Morris Levin
The Phillies host the San Diego Padres tonight at 7:05pm at Citizens Bank Park and will wear 1984 turn back the clock uniforms. I told Phil I would write an entry about the Phillies’ gradients of red and maroon to coincide with tonight’s game. Thinking about 1984 however led me to think about the 1980s and one idea led to another and there I was in Miami and it was 1989. It was either the Marlins or Orwell.
(If you just want to read about the Phillies, skip down to the Phillies logo).
The Florida Marlins plan to move into a new ballpark next season. The ballpark is being constructed on the site of the Orange Bowl which, while known as a football venue, was home to the AAA International League’s Miami Marlins in the 1950s. With their move from [I’m just calling it] Dolphins Stadium to the new ballpark in 2012, the Marlins will rename themselves the Miami Marlins.
The Marlins are leaving a stadium that we consider ill-suited for baseball today but which Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie’s construction with baseball specifically in-mind enabled the Marlins existence as a Major League franchise. The Dolphins had played at the Orange Bowl since their 1966 inception. They left for Robbie’s new football stadium, which he built for the Dolphins, but in such a way as to be adaptable for a Major League Baseball team. This was in 1985. Robbie succeeded and Miami, along with Denver, were awarded National League franchises to begin play in 1993.
Thinking about the Marlins led me to thinking what someone would have made of these contemporary changes back when the stadium was built in the 80s. This led me to think about Back to the Future Part II because it came out in 1989, looked to 2015, and brought to the wider public the possibility of Miami Major League baseball. Now here we are in 2011, looking towards 2012, which means that 2015, if all goes according to plan, will be here in three plus years.
The film is not generally considered a sports film although Gray’s Sports Almanac, and the correction of the dystopian 1985 created by Biff’s sports-gambling profits, drives the plot and has plenty for the Uni Watcher to deconstruct.
Let us review: The film was the second installment of a planned three-part Back to the Future trilogy. The original film was released in July 1985 and took Marty McFly from 1985 Southern California back to 1955 in a flux capacitor-modified DeLorean DMC-12. The second film was released for Thanksgiving 1989 and commences in October 1985, where the first film ended.
In Part II, Doc Brown brings Marty and Jennifer thirty-years into the future to 2015 to rectify a future family problem. But in 2015, Biff discovers the Delorean, steals it to travel back to 1955 to give his teenage self a 1950 to 2000 sports almanac thereby creating an alternative 1985. Therefore, Marty and Doc have to travel back to November 12, 1955 to correct the disruption in the time-continuum from which Doc is transported to 1885. Exeunt.
As Marty is walking through 2015 Hill Valley, (around 21:00 in the film for those keeping score at home), a hologram video reports that the Chicago Cubs have swept Miami in five games to win the 2015 World Series. It is October 21 after all in the film, World Series time.
From a baseball fan’s point of view in 1989, this was serious sports predictions: Cubs winning the World Series, placement of team in Miami, and even a new Miami team logo!
The film’s production and release coincided with significant progression in the placement of a Major League expansion team in Miami. Many expected a team by the 1990s, giving ample credence to the idea of future Miami Major League team.
In July 1985, Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie had announced that he would pursue a Major League Baseball expansion team to share the new stadium planned for the Miami Dolphins in Dade County. By November 1985, Robbie had appeared before commissioner Peter Ueberroth and baseball’s Long Range Planning Committee on behalf of bringing an expansion franchise to Miami. Through the late 1980s, talk of baseball expansion was of Denver, St. Petersburg, Buffalo, Washington, DC, and Miami. In 1990, Wayne Huizenga purchased fifteen percent of the Dolphins and set himself to bring an MLB team to Dolphins Stadium. In June 1991, Huizenga won approval for his group to place a team in Miami to begin play in 1993.
On the 2015 hologram news, the Miami team is represented by an alligator. This is difficult to imagine given the University of Florida’s identification with the mascot since at least 1920, if not earlier. In July 1991, a month after being awarded the franchise, Huizenga announced the team would be called the “Florida Marlins” combining the state’s identity with the historic name of Miami’s top professional baseball clubs. When the Marlins move to their new ballpark next season in 2012, the team plans to change its name back to the Miami Marlins. (Dear Baseball-Gods, Please bless and direct Mr. Loria to change the team’s uniforms to this and this for the 2012 season. Guide Mr. Loria by your stadium lights that he miss not this historic opportunity to embrace Miami’s baseball past and instantly have a classic uniform. Thank you and baseball gods bless, Morris)
On the occasion last October of the Universal Studios release of a new remastered Back to the Future trilogy set, Gawker.TV reviewed Part II’s predictions about 2015, “14 Things from Back to the Future II That Actually Came True, and 5 That Haven’t — Yet”
That the Cubs could win the Series in 2015 perhaps seemed just as likely in 1989 as the Red Sox, Cleveland, or White Sox winning. It would have been hard for many baseball fans to believe that by 2011, the Red Sox would have won two World Series or the White Sox their first since 1917. Despite the continued proliferation of folk legends in 2011, the Cubs have not yet not-won the 2015 World Series and stranger things have happened in the post-season than the Chicago Cubs putting together a winning club in four and a half seasons. I am not ready to write off the Cubs’ 2015 season just yet. Cust kayin’.
Under the current Major League Baseball structure, the Cubs would not face Miami in the World Series as referenced in the film. But talk is aflutter about realignments in which we could see such a Series. In the film’s 2015, the Cubs sweep Miami in five which infers a best of nine game series. Major League Baseball played best of nine as recently as 1921.
Of comfort, the 2015 Cubs logo is our contemporary Cubs logo. The team has used this since 1979 in its current weight, and one could argue that it is an evolution of the logo seen on the 1937 home uniform. What the film writers could not have known was that by the film’s release in November 1989, the Cubs would be fresh off a 93-win season, the National League East Division win, and loss in the NLCS, lending greater resonance to the Cubs-finally-win in 2015 gag.
Other sports elements in the film have been previously covered. The self-lacing Nike Air Mag worn by Marty in 2015 had been reviewed in 2008 when Nike released a limited edition style inspired by the film sneaker. In August 2010, Dime reported on Nike efforts to produce the sneaker with an actual self-lacing system. Futurepedia details the Kirk Gibson Jr. Slugger 2000 adjustable bat wielded by Griff in 2015. (A replica is being produced and offered for sale.)
Snopes, in the business of confirming the veracity of internet rumors, easily addressed a false claim that the film had predicted the Florida Marlins’ 1997 World Series victory. Similar rumors arose regarding the Cubs in October 2003 when the Cubs did face Miami’s team in the 2003 National League Championship Series.
Back to the Phillies tonight. The team will call themselves the 1984 team and wear uniforms that look more like their 1987 unis. The Padres will wear their 1984 road unis. From 1975 to 1986, the Phillies wore a zipper-front; Majestic’s reproduction substitutes buttons for the zipper. The Phils switched to buttons in 1987, which they have used since. The back of Majestic’s reproduction will have the players’ names in standard arch whereas the team wore vertical arch name until 1986 as well. Paul highlighted the same oversight when the team wore variants on the 1974 uniforms in May in Atlanta.
This is the first time the Phillies will wear retro uniforms at Citizens Bank Park. The Phils wore approximations of their 1971 uniforms for the last home opener at Vet Stadium in April 2003, the last time the team wore throwbacks at home. The Phillies also wore the 1970s-1980s pinstripes during a July 2002 series against the Braves who wore their 1974 unis.
By my count, the Phillies have played seventeen games wearing turn back the clock uniforms since their first in June 1991. The Phils are 1 and 6 at home, and 6 and 4 on the road in retro. The Phillies are 4 and 6 wearing permutations of the 1971 to 1991 uniform; 3 and 2 dressed as pre-1970 Phillies, and 0 and 2 dressed as the Philadelphia Stars.
Morris Levin is an alumnus of Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. between 1993 and 2006 and edited MLB Game Worn Jerseys of the Double Knit Era. He is a proud booster of the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia and supportive of efforts in West Philadelphia to honor the legacy of the Philadelphia Stars.
Thanks for that wonderful article, Morris. On Fridays during Paul’s sabbatical, Morris will be treating us to an interesting look at a variety of subjects.
Benchies from the Beginning
By Rick Pearson
For nearly three years, “Benchies” has been appearing most weekends at Uni Watch. While Bench Coach Phil fills in for Paul Monday through Friday during August, we present a retrospective. New strips will continue to appear on weekends. For further background, here’s the “Benchies” backstory and bios on the regular Boys of “Benchies.” Enjoy.
And here is the full-size version.
Friendly reminder: Paul is on his summer break from the site from now until Aug. 8 (although he’ll still be doing ESPN work, which we’ll link to as it comes up). That means there are a few changes regarding where you should be sending e-mails:
• Phil is writing the lead entries while Paul’s away. You can contact him at his usual address.
• The Ticker is now being compiled by webmaster John Ekdahl. You can still send submissions to the uniwatching at gmail address, but they will go to John, not to Paul.
• If you absolutely need to contact Paul during his summer break, the best way is to send a note to his plukas64 at gmail address. But he may take a little while to get back to you, especially during the period from July 16-21.
• Finally, if you hear about any new college football uniforms during Paul’s break, please send that info to this address. Thanks.
Uni Watch News Ticker (mostly compiled by John Ekdahl): Baylor has unveiled their new 2011 football uniforms. “The Bears will have two jersey colors (green and white) to choose from, as well as three different colors of pants (green, white and gold) and two helmets (white and gold). All told, Baylor will have 12 different uniform combinations (jersey/pant/helmet) at its disposal this season.” (Tony Baldwin) … Here’s a photo gallery of a vintage baseball game played by 1861 rules in Waltham, MA (Andrew Merritt). … The AHL Grand Rapids Griffins hockey club is holding a design competition for their alternate jersey to be worn during the New Year’s Eve game (Jason Chaimovitch). … Georgia will be wearing new uniforms for their opener against Boise State this year, and they’re staying pretty tight-lipped about the design. Georgia coach Mark Richt: “We’re trying to honor (Nike) by not describing what it looks like, they want to present that. We’re like death threating on the cell phones. ‘I better not see anything that resembles you saying what it looks like or somehow having an image of it.” (Jameson Adams) … From Dan Graham: “Just wanted to let you know that BYU has redone their floor design in the Marriott Center for basketball. Added was the stretch Y logo at mid-court as well the new West Coast Conference logos.” … Is this the largest last name lettering in baseball history? (Gary Streeting) … Forget the subtly of painting a room pink, Nick Saban is going to come right out and tell you how he feels. Here’s the door to Alabama’s visiting locker room (Ben Traxel). … Kansas State is looking to officially rebrand themselves as “K-State” (Ben Traxel, again). … From Michigan Live: “Michigan State plans to don its ‘fully integrated uniform system’ by Nike against Michigan when the Wolverines visit Spartan Stadium on Oct. 15.” (Cassian Wykes) … The Cleveland Browns will be wearing white uniforms for all their home games this season (Joseph Gerard). … This is not Bert Blyleven looking his best (Jimmy Lonetti). … James Huening wasn’t sure whether anyone was aware of Marlon Byrd’s facemask contraption. As a bonus, here’s a good shot that also features a gazoo. … Dan Cichalski spotted this banner at Shea this past Saturday. The caption? “Stay Classy, New York.” … Shaun Tunick asks, “Any idea what the writing on O-Dog’s wrist wrap is for?” … Late breaking news? Saw this posted on Twitter late last night: “Winnipeg Jets new color scheme: White, black and steel blue. Source is one of the guys repainting MTS Centre.” White, black & steel blue? Say it ain’t so.
And that’s all for this week folks. Thanks to Johnny Ek for the ticker, Morris Levin for today’s main article, and all the great guests who helped me this week. If you have an idea for a UW article, give me a shout. John will take you through the weekend, and I’ll see you guys and gals on Monday. Have a great weekend!
“I’m no Luddite (well, not a total one anyway), but I just don’t see technology solving the problem.” — Jim Vilk