If you become a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame (not an inductee, but a paying supporter), one of your perks is a subscription to the Hall’s magazine, Memories and Dreams. The Summer 2004 issue of M&D had a uniforms theme, and Hall curator Tom Shieber recently provided me with a copy, the cover of which is shown above. About two-thirds of the issue’s articles are uni-related, so I’ve scanned those sections and will be sharing them with you here today.
One of the interesting things about the magazine is, frankly, how weak some of it is. I don’t mean that to sound harsh — a lot of my own uniform coverage was probably pretty weak back in the summer of 2004 (I hadn’t yet made the jump to ESPN, and this blog was still nearly two years from its inception). In the eight years since then, the availability of online information has grown exponentially, and the growth of web communities like Uni Watch has raised our level of knowledge and our standards for research and verification. We’ve also raised the profile of uni-watching in general. What was once viewed as a novelty is now taken seriously. I’m very happy about that, and you should be too — it’s something we’ve all accomplished together.
Okay, here we go, one article at a time, beginning with a small message on the inside front cover (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):
Not much going on here, but I included it for two reasons: First, it begins with the word “Fashion.” We never use that term here at Uni Watch, and I daresay that the magazine’s editors wouldn’t use it if they were planning a uni-themed issue today. It’s a good example of how the perceptions of uniform research and documentation have shifted.
Also, the text on this page mentions “the wool knits of yesteryear.” Actually, the old wool flannels were woven, not knitted. Again, this is the type of error that was common back in ’04, but less so today.
Next up is a note from the Hall’s then-president, Dale Petrosky:
A nice enough essay, although it includes two bad factual error: Spike Lee’s character who wore the Jackie Robinson jersey in Do the Right Thing was Mookie, not Mars Blackmon (that was his character in She’s Gotta Have It), and the White Sox wore shorts multiple times, not just once. In 2004, however, I too believed that there had been only one Sox-in-shorts game. Again, we know a lot more now than we did eight years ago.
The next article is a piece on memorial patches and armbands by Tom Shieber:
As usual with Tom’s work, this piece is very strong. Still, I bet he’d add some additional details if he were writing the same piece today, because we’ve discovered a few things in the past eight years. For example, we now know that the Pirates initially memorialized Roberto Clemente with a strip of black cloth during spring training before switching to the more familiar “21” patch.
Next up: an overview article about baseball’s evolving uniform styles:
The headline, with its references to “Dior on the Diamond” and “the Fashion Runway,” is embarrassing — another measure of how uniforms weren’t really being taken seriously, even in an article devoted to them. The article is peppered with seamstress-themed groaners like “Threaded throughout this period…” and “the idea swiftly came unsewn,” but the basic information being provided is generally solid enough.
Next is an article on the history of women’s baseball uniforms:
I was excited to see this one, since it addresses a topic that most writers have largely neglected, myself included. And while it’s not exactly a scholarly research paper (it’s hard to cover 150 years’ worth of history in 800 words), it’s still a good primer. I wish the magazine had included more treatments of niche uniform topics like this.
Here’s another niche treatment, and a good one — a look at Little League uniforms:
This is an excellent piece, full of good information and featuring one of the best photos in the entire magazine. Highly recommended reading.
Continuing with the youth uni theme, the next piece is a reminiscence by Hall PR director Brad Horn, about his first tee ball jersey:
This is basically a heaping platter of goodness topped with awesome sauce. The story, the voice in which it’s told, the photos, the works — home run.
Finally, there’s a piece about what Jackie Robinson’s jersey represents:
This piece was written several years before MLBers began wearing No. 42 on Jackie Day, so it doesn’t address the most obvious uni-related storyline of Robinson’s legacy. It’s basically a standard Robinson tribute — strong, powerful, but probably nothing you haven’t read before.
And that’s it. Well, that’s almost it — there was one other uni-related article in this issue, but I’m not sharing that one with you today, because it figures heavily in another piece I’m working on. More details soon.
Start ’em really young: Jon Springer, who runs the excellent Mets by the Numbers site, was recently a guest speaker at his son’s kindergarten class in Brooklyn. “I spoke to them about uniforms and why they have numbers on them, with the idea of teaching about organization and using numbers in a non-arithmetic way,” he explains.
Jon brought along a bunch of blank jersey-shaped cut-outs and some number cut-outs, which he invited the kids to use as the basis for their own uniform designs. “They had a good time with it,” he says. “For a bunch of five- and six-year-olds, they did pretty well!” True enough, as you can see in this slideshow (or, if you’re reading this on a device that doesn’t support Flash slideshows, click here):
Uni Watch News Ticker: Yesterday was Father’s Day, so MLB players wore blue ribbons and and blue accessories for prostate cancer awareness. … Reds skipper Dusty Baker took things further by wearing red, white, and blue wristbands. He had them on his other arm, too. … “My Atlanta-area adult baseball league has a team called the Eskimos,” says Steve Vibert. “An Eskimo in Georgia is rare enough, but a baseball uniform with purple pants? Now that’s rare.” And thank goodness for that. … Fun story about how the old Chattanooga Lookouts stadium is being repurposed as an Ebbets Field stand-in for the movie 42. “The city of Chattanooga is hoping this will attract other filmmakers to come use the stadium, as it was sitting in a pretty bad state of disrepair before being upgraded for the current film project,” says Chris Holder. … Italian midfielder Daniele De Rossi has been wearing one short sleeve and one long (from Ben Humphries). … New kits for Aston Villa (from Nick Popczun. … I see London, I see France, I see Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner’s underpants, complete with the logo of a betting company printed on them. Key quote: “The Danish Football Association could also take action, because it had an exclusive deal with another company.” In other words, expose yourself all you want — as long as you keep it in the corporate family. Douchebags. … Speaking of branding douchebaggery, Adidas is the exclusive sponsor of Euro 2012, one result of which is that a member of the grounds crew in Donetsk had to put duct tape over the logos on his Nike footwear (from Christopher Peterson). … Here’s more info on Brian Roberts’s double-flap helmet. … The Lakeland Flying Tigers were rained out on Thursday — and how (from Wayne Koehler). … Small note at the very bottom of ths article explains that Rockies pitcher Alex White wears No. 6 because “it’s just always been what I wore growing up.” And while we’re at it, here’s why Kyle Drabek wears No. 4 (both of these from Stefan Fatsis). … Bob Gassel sent along this great shot of the White Sox Soxettes, from 1969. Can anyone tell what’s on their caps? … In a related item, here’s what the Redskins cheerleaders used to look like. “Maybe it’s an early pic of Elizabeth Warren?” quips Brendan Slattery. … Here’s an infographic on the colors of the shirts and shorts worn by French Open winners (from Jay Sullivan). … New basketball floor for Michigan State (from Mark Miotto). … Joe Caito points out that Arizona has two bare-handed hitters. That’s Seth Mejias-Brean on the left and Alex Mejia on the right. … This is interesting: On Friday night, Josh Reddick of the A’s was wearing either green stirrups over gold sannies or green socks over gold socks. We can’t be sure, because he’s a pajamist. Doesn’t make sense that he’d wear stirrups under his PJs, and even the two-sock format would be surprising. Either way, I love the gold undersock (from Mark Murkhardt). … Early last week I Ticker-noted that Daniel Murphy was using Tim Byrdak’s bat. By Friday he had switched to using Jason Bay’s bat, which is like getting a blood transfusion from an anemia patient (from Brooks Baker). … In a related item, Bryce Harper was using Tyler Moore’s bat on Friday night (from André Torres). … Terence Kearns’s girlfriend, Cynthia, looks sharp in her blue/orange hoop socks and Mets Chucks! … New away kit for Juventus (from Leo Thornton). … Cycling news from Bernie Langer, who writes: “Buried in this article it says that when Andy Schleck received the 2010 yellow jersey this May (since Alberto Contador was stripped of the title), it was the yellow jersey of the 2012 Tour, not from 2010. The noticeable difference is the new jersey doesn’t have a swoosh like the 2010 version did.” … Nike has unveiled the Olympic uniforms for China (from Leo Thornton). … Rafael Furcal went up to bat left-handed on Saturday while wearing a right-handed batting helmet. After one pitch, he realized the mistake and went to the dugout for the proper lid (from Jeff Scott). … Here’s something I’ve never seen before: a memorial on the cap brim. That’s Kent State, and the “CM” is for catcher Jason Bagoly’s mother, who died on Thursday (from Timothy Burke). … Dante Bichette showed up in Cooperstown for Saturday’s Hall of Fame Classic game in a TATC jersey (from Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz). … Terry Proctor used Ripon Athletic’s online uni builder to create a nice Uni Watch baseball uniform (we’ll forgive the hyphen). “You can access this feature yourself by going to Ripon’s site and clicking on ‘Uniform Designer’ in the toolbar,” says Terry. “You can do football, baseball, softball, and both genders of basketball among others. In the baseball section you can make the Astros’ ‘Tequila Sunrise jerseys and pants in any combination you want. The lettering and graphics choices are limited to the pull-down menu, but it’s great fun to play with. In the men’s hoop section under the “Concept Looks” the old favorite UCLA/Celtics uniform with just braid on the shorts is shown. Also the old 1950s’ NY Knicks barberpole-striped jersey and shorts look can be created.” … Tyler Greene suffered a torn pant leg for the ages on the last play of Friday night’s Cards/Royals game (from Caleb Yorks). … New uniforms for the Argentine national rugby team. “The new design is from Nike instead of Adidas,” says Benjamin Blum. “It gets rid of the horizontal flag-themed stripes (which I liked because it’s a classic rugby design and it’s a nice connection to the striped jerseys of the national soccer team) and replaces it with a generic design that has no connection to Argentinian sports. Thanks, Nike.” … Here’s a doozy of an ugly uniform. That’s the Binggrae Eagles, a Korean team from the late ’80s. You can see the uni in action here (from Scott Walker). … The Rangers wore 1980s throwbacks on Saturday night, including batting helmets with a red “T” logo. But Ian Kinsler’s helmet had a white logo (from Kyle Johnson). … Opening Day throwbacks on tap for the Billings Mustangs (from Kenn Tomasch). … Speaking of throwbacks, Southern Miss will wear this design for the homecoming game against Marshall and possibly one other game. Interesting that they’ll be wearing white at home. … The Beatles played Metropolitan Stadium in Minnesota on 8/21/65, which explains why Paul McCartney was warming up with a Twins footlocker in the background (nice find by Matt Harris). … Crocs are becoming popular among prison inmates (from Tris Wykes). … Willie Harris has always been a double-flapper, including his first stint with the Reds earlier this season. Then the Reds sent him down to minors before recalling him this past Friday, and now he’s going single-flapped. Might just be because the Reds are on the road and didn’t have a double-flapped helmet on hand for him, so I’m not taking his name off the list of double-flappers until I see him play in Cincy. … We’ve seen JrOB, but here’s a real rarity: SrOB. That’s Brandon Johnson, who plays for the Amarillo Venom of the Lone Star Football League, a small-time arena operation (big thanks to A.D. Fowler). … Elian Herrera of the Dodgers is usually a pajamist, but he wore some picture-perfect stirrups on Saturday (from Marcky Marc). … Ah, crap: The trademark symbol has reappeared on David Dejesus’s jersey. That photo is from Friday — two days after our blog entry about the symbol’s disappearance — and his jersey logo was “®”-adorned on Saturday and Sunday as well. Someone at Majestic must have been reading. … In a related item, John Sheehan took the “®” issue into his own hands over the weekend — literally. … A Connecticut high school is changing its Indian-based logo (from Kurt Esposito). … Japan’s wrestling uniforms for the Olympics have a tiger’s head (from Jeremy Brahm).
Looking ahead: I’m going to be off the grid for most of today, because I’m teaching a class at the School of Visual Arts. But I have something big slated for tomorrow (although it could be pre-empted if anything uni-notable happens today or tonight, of course). See you then.