What you see above is 49ers QB Steve DeBerg getting wired up with a speaker for a game in 1980. Deberg had been stricken with laryngitis, so the San Francisco staff wired a little microphone to his facemask and connected it to rig on his back so his teammates could hear him calling signals.
I first mentioned the DeBerg situation in the Ticker last week but didn’t have any photos or other substantiation. Now a bunch of readers have come forward with a flood of good material. In addition to the photo shown above, check out this shot of DeBerg bending over, which gives a good sense of just how much gear was strapped to his back:
Can you imagine? Like, what if he got hit from behind, or just landed on his back? Jeez. As for the microphone that was connected to all this gear, there’s a pretty good shot of it in this football card:
But the money shot is here in this video clip — skip ahead to the 2:27 mark to see DeBerg talking about his unusual set-up:
The funny thing is that I’m a Niners fan who grew up on Long Island, and DeBerg first wore the amplification gear during a game against the Jets, which means I would’ve been able to watch that game. I was always desperate for any chance to see the Niners in those days, so I must have watched it. But I have no memory of this episode.
Epilogue: Three years later, while playing for the Broncos, DeBerg was struck again by vocal problems, so they contacted the Niners and had his old rig sent over:
Now we just need to find images of DeBerg wearing all this gear while playing for Denver.
(Big thanks to Jay Braiman, Dan Clark, Douglas Ford, and Eric van der Burght for their contributions to this entry.)
By Brinke Guthrie
Last week I mentioned those 1960s Technigraph plaques. Sadly, haven’t turned up any info on them. I even wrote to the Technigraph company — at least the one I could find online — but no response. Might not even be the same place. But I did find another great plaque: a Browns version with the phantom CB logo!
In non-Technigraph finds:
• Here’s a nifty 1970s Wilson NBA basketball lamp.
• You could have listened to Bart Starr on this 1968 Packers Action Radio (with David Boss artwork on the box!). Worth buying for the name alone, if you ask me.
• Ah, here’s a game-worn Rams jersey complete with a pink captaincy patch.
• There’s a different take on the Baltimore Orioles logo on this 1950s O’s pin.
• I like this excellent-looking 1960s Expos bobblehead.
• Paul came up with this set of five old baseball-themed pocketknives.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Winter Classic jerseys have supposedly been confirmed, although I’m also hearing some chatter that those aren’t the real designs after all. Whatever — it’s one freakin’ game, and neither team has a good historical design to use, so almost anything they choose is going to be a disappointing compromise on some level. We’ll find out what the jerseys really are when they officially unveil them. … And while we wait for that, we can check out something more enjoyable: NHL logos made out of food! Total fucking genius (big thanks, Brinke). … College football detail that the rest of us missed: Tulsa changed its red helmet stripes to pink on Saturday (from Matt Spencer). … And Art Kerdmanee has spotted an in-season uni adjustment for UCLA: The Bruins’ NOB lettering had been white this season, but now it’s gone back to gold, like it had been in previous years. “This change happened between the Texas and Washington State home games,” says Art. … As you may have heard, an upstate New York high school football player named Ridge Barden recently died. The other team on the field that day, Homer High School, is wearing Barden’s school’s colors as a memorial tribute (from Jude S.). … Bruce Menard sent along the amazing cover from the 1948 NFL championship game program. Look at those team mascot caricatures! “When I first saw the patriot character, I thought ‘Isn’t that too early for the Boston Patriots?'” says Bruce. “Then I checked and found that the NFL had a team called the Boston Yanks back in 1948.” … Also from Bruce: the press pin from that same game. … Did you know that the Niners have an assistant coach who likes to expose his chest hair? The whole world’s gonna know now (thanks, Brinke). … Did you know NFL Films had a blog? They do, and their most recent entry is about uniforms. … What’s that just below Chelsea’s collar? Explanation here (from Joe Hollomon). … College Hockey Inc. is holding a fan vote to determine college hockey’s best goalie mask. … Nike engaged in a big of chest-thumping yesterday. “Flat-out irritating,” says Ryan Hess. … Joseph Gerard was talking with some guys at the Steelers Sideline Store, and they told him a bunch of stuff: (a) The Steelers will probably wear their throwbacks against the Ravens in Week 9. (b) The throwbacks will not be worn next season. (c) The throwbacks will be replaced next season by a new throwback uni — the 1930s design one that was worn in 1994. None of this is confirmed, so take it with a grain of whatever. Personally, I’m rooting for a return to the Batman uni, but Joseph says he asked about that and was told it ain’t gonna happen. … As you’ve probably heard, a 100-year-old man basically made the rest of us look like lazy-ass saps by running a marathon in Toronto the other day. What you might not have known was that he had a custom Maple Leafs jersey made up for the occasion (from Zac Neubauer). … Jonathan Quick of the Kings is the latest NHL goalie to be wearing solid black socks instead of his team’s regular socks. We’ve seen this before on other goalies, but John Livewell suggests a reason for it that I hadn ‘t thought of before: “I assume that’s so nobody can see the puck in case it gets lost under him.” Interesting theory — can anyone confirm or refute? … “In a recent Funny or Die spoof, celebrities are stuck in a room brainstorming ideas for Bill Clinton’s foundation,” writes Adam Yarnevich. “Matt Damon’s idea is to start an office softball team. He even did a quick uniform sketch.” … Moon over Foxboro! That’s Dez Bryant, from Sunday’s Cowboys/Pats game (from Villaroman Santos). … Junior Hemingway of Michigan had a chipped helmet decal on Saturday (screen shot by Carter Hempstead). … Oh, this is pure gold: In 1966 the NFL and Birdseye published a “Ladies’ Guide to Football.” Mike Hersh recently got his hands on a copy and has posted the entire thing (click on the thumbnails to see larger versions). … Lucas Devoe is compiling a uniform history of Quinnipiac University hockey. … Let’s hear it for Zack Belsky, whose Jose Valverde jack-o-lantern is likely to go down as one of the best pumpkin designs of the year. Here are some previous pumpkin carvings he’s done. … Peter King theorizes that Harbaugh and Schwartz wouldn’t have behaved like 12-year-olds the other day if they were wearing suits. … Wanna see something odd? Watch this play from 1987 and look at the end zone. The end zone itself is blank, and the Pats logo is printed outside the end zone. Weird! (Good spot by Andrew McKillop.) … Remember how I covered the Puppy Bowl’s kitten-themed halftime show last winter? I’m doing it again this season, and the taping is this morning, so I’ll be off checking that out for a few hours today. Kittens!