By Phil Hecken, with Rick Pearson and Jim Vilk
Two throwback games. Two cities. And the differences couldn’t have been greater if they were played in different decades.
You’re all probably aware the Minnesota Twins (playing as the Minneapolis Millers) and the Kansas City Royals (playing as the KC Blues) hooked up in a minor league throwback yesterday, in beautiful Target Field in Minnesota. Concurrently, the Tampa Bay Rays (playing as the ‘1979’ Tampa Rays, a team which did not exist) played the Detroit Tigers (playing as, well, the 1979 Tigers), in cold, dank, and anticeptic Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. One game, outdoors in the sun, the way baseball should be played — the other, inside a sterile dome. The beautiful throwbacks of the Millers and Blues contrasted with the garish “created” uniform of the Rays; and then there were the Tigers, playing along (hopefully without laughing and pointing).
Actually, I jest about the St. Pete game. The Rays did go out of their way to give it a 70’s vibe.
Unfortunately for me, both games were “Fox Game of the Week” games, so I saw neither (I did get to see Johan Santana and the Mets shut out the Dodgers for the second straight night).
Fortunately for me, two of UW’s stalwarts — Rick Pearson and Jim Vilk each watched one of the games (Rick the Twins/Royals and Jim the Rays/Tigers). And fortunately for you, they’ve each filed reports for our enjoyment. Vilk will be doing his corresponding live from
St. Pete Akron, Ohio.
So, recognizing that age trumps beauty, we’ll begin with Ricko, reporting live from somewhere in Minnesota:
An endless parade of all of the fathers and all of the sons
By Rick Pearson
Well, that was fun.
Kansas City Blues at Minneapolis Millers of 1951. Ah, 1951, the year of Willie Mays’ short and wondrous time as a Miller. Like a kind of baseball comet, Mays flashed through here and then was gone. So spectacular was he that the Giants took out a full page in the Minneapolis newspaper apologizing/explaining his call-up to local baseball fans.
Okay, regarding the unis. Hat logos were bigger than the originals, but otherwise they were accurate and almost universally worn to show the stirrups. Yes, I know, no wool flannel. Seriously, anyone expected that? It’s not an historic re-creation, it’s a ballgame that asks, “What if the uni designs were the same as 1951?” Not, “What if we wore exactly what these teams wore in 1951?”
Twins helmets were repainted black and re-lettered to match, Royals were not. That meant the game looked better when the Twins were hitting because Royals’ royal headgear didn’t match the Blues’ navy.
Likewise for the Royals’ blue cleats and extras such as batting gloves, wristbands, et al. They were royal, too, and looked a bit off.
Personally, was great to see the Millers uni I remember from kidhood, back from the decade from 1947 to 1957 when they were the New York Giants’ AAA affiliate and worn unis styled after the big club. Twins were selling their merchandise, too. Likewise for the Blues, who were a Yankees farm team.
Without getting into the cream vs. white discussion again, I will tell you the Twins’ Millers unis probably should have been the same slight cream as the current Giants. The ‘50s Giants were one of the teams back then that didn’t adopt the new whiter-white flannel that was coming in. They kept with the slight cream, and that trickled down to their Minneapolis farm club.
Okay, now I’ll throw in a few memories here, if I may. The last Giants’ Millers team (Minneapolis became a Red Sox farm in ’58 because the Giants had usurped a Red Sox AAA team by moving to San Francisco) provided something like five or six position players to those first Bay Area Giants. Bob Schmidt (C), Orlando Cepeda (1b), Eddie Bressoud (SS), and Jim Davenport (3b) all started for the ’58 Giants after spending ’57 in Minneapolis. Former Miller Willie Kirkland (OF) was on the ’58 Giants, too. And Felipe Alou also spent time with the Millers in ’57. Actually, the entire ’57 Millers infield started in the Majors on Opening Day of 1958. Wayne Terwilliger (2b) was owned outright by the local team, and was sold the Kansas City Athletics during the off-season. Not a lot of times a kid in a minor league town sees his entire infield start in the Majors the next year.
Nicollet Park, where the Millers played before Met Stadium opened in 1956 was a little bandbox in the middle of a neighborhood at 31st and Nicollet in South Minneapolis. There’s a bank there now, and I’m always struck by what a tiny plot of land the park encompassed. Right field was short, and even though the fence was high, it didn’t stop home runs from breaking windows in the café across Nicollet Avenue. Lighting wasn’t exactly the same as in ballparks today, either.
My first recollection of what Jackie Robinson’s arrival had meant to baseball and America came in my dad’s recollections of Ray Dandridge, an aging, bowlegged Miller third baseman (now in the Hall of Fame) who is credited with mentoring Willie Mays during that 1951 season. Dandridge, Dad informed me, never got the Major League shot he deserved because when he was in his prime, blacks weren’t allowed to play.
So, yeah, the game made me think about my dad. And that in turn made remember a beautiful observation made by, I believe, baseball writer-historian Donald Honig. “Baseball is, after all, nothing more than an endless parade of all of the fathers and all of the sons.”
Thanks, Rick. By the way, Ricko’s weekday Senior Softball League takes its team names from the 1946 American Association, so he has recently played for both the Millers and the Blues. Daylife was pretty wonky last night, so it was tough to grab good pics. Hopefully it’s working today — you can go here for more photos, as well as good old ESPN.
We now move on to Jim Vilk, who has his own unique take on the Rays/Tigers:
For all the Children of the Me Generation
By Jim Vilk
If you’re a fellow child of the ’70s, last night’s Tigers/Rays game should have made you smile. Older readers were probably cringing and younger readers were probably laughing (at us, not with us), but that’s alright. For one night, we got a ballgame that took us back to our childhood – a time when we believed in better living through plastic and polyester. On the fake grass of Tropicana Field, Detroit and Tampa Bay sported some happening V-neck pullovers with some very ’70s-inspired styles.
The Tigers were reunited with their ’79 unis, and it felt so good. They pretty much nailed it, too, right down to the white-outlined orange D on the caps. The only thing they didn’t wear were the striped stirrups of that era, but then again, only a few guys showed off their socks. Before we get on their cases, though, let’s remember that ’70s ballplayers weren’t exactly the poster children for conformity, either.
One thing you can say about the Rays: they didn’t mess up their throwbacks one bit. How could they, when the team wasn’t around in 1979? I’m not usually a gimmicky guy when it comes to baseball, but in this case I thought it was a great idea. It seemed even better once I saw those groovy unis in action. I absolutely loved them. Sure, they looked like a different-colored version of the ’70s Padres, but I liked those, too. Double blue has always been a favorite combo of mine, and I especially loved the Little Tikes font they used for the numbers. You may call it minor league-ish, but I call it playful…and isn’t that what the ’70s were, after all? I also loved that the numbers and NOB were in yellow. It really made for a nice contrast with the blues. Even the traditionalists had something to enjoy, as everyone I saw wore blue stirrups with yellow sanitary socks.
The Tigers ended up being the sultans of swing, winning 6-2, but they had to hold the line as the Rays made a valiant attempt at a comeback in the ninth. Between the action on the field and the uniforms, I really enjoyed watching this game. Thankfully, the Rays plan to wear these unis next year. Hopefully their opponents play along again and we’ll have some more good times.
And, thank you Jim. I think.
While I’m not really a *fan* of the Rays unis from yesterday, I get what they are going for, and I do appreciate their efforts. Personally, I think what they wore was one of those “so bad it’s good” type things. It was really bad — and it was fun, quirky, and fits in with the Rays whole style. I’m not so sure I’d ever want to see them again (kind of like those Turn Ahead The Clock uniforms). Fun once…and now lets lock those away and bury them in the ocean.
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
I have a real nice set, with a great variety, of colorizations today.
And we welcome a newcomer to the Colorize This! segment. Let me introduce him to you now:
I have been doing colorizations for some time now and want to share a new project with the readers. It may be a stretch to some to suggest that hunting is a sport, but I have been fascinated with old photos showing individuals enjoying the sport and doing so in their “uniforms.” Attached today is a young boy fishing for Shad in the Potomac circa 1920. Original photo is attached. Hope everyone enjoys this image as I do!
Nice job Dan! Welcome aboard.
Next up is a man who needs no introduction. George Chilvers, who has a pair for us today:
You might have seen this on my Facebook page, but I’ll share it with the UW community.
It’s my team again – Wigan Athletic – this time in a 1973/1974 training session. I enjoyed this because it gives the opportunity to be a bit more free-ranging with kit worn – for training sessions everyone doesn’t have to be “uniform”.
Third from the right at the back row is Micky Worswick, who wrote on my Facebook wall “George I am not sure if we have met, but what a great job you have done with the latics pic.Is there any chance you could restore Albert Jackson & JK to their real height? Regards Mick.” It’s nice to get feedback from someone in a picture I do.
The allusion about Albert Jackson and JK (Johnny King) is to the two jokers fourth and fifth from the left at the back who are crouching down – possibly to Micky’s height!
And the second:
This is another Wigan legend, but in the other sport that is well-known as being played in Wigan – rugby league.
This chap is Joe Egan who played for Wigan RLFC in the 1940s and 1950s.
Here he is wearing his Great Britain jersey and cap. While many will know, I am not sure if all your readers are aware that when players in various sports are picked for international duty (football, rugby etc) they are presented with a cap. The phrase is used “X has won 45 caps for England”. To reach 100 caps in any sport is considered a great achievement.
Beautiful George, as always.
And we have one from the prolific John Turney:
Kenny Washington on an end run in the LA Coliseum. Colorized and then filtered to simulate a Fall day in LA
Great stuff John.
And we conclude today with one from Larry Bodnovich:
Colorized 1934 Iowa football players
Dick Crayne is the back getting the ball from QB Russ Fisher. Iowa with the classic friction strips many teams had in the late 1920’s to mid 30’s.
Thanks Larry — wonderful!
And that will do it for this round of Colorize This! Back with more next time.
Apparently, they believe if you DON”T work out you’ll feel the burn…
Click to enlarge
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
You folks heard the call for concepts, and you’ve responded with vigor — one huge set today, and one for Canuckistan Day.
And so, lets begin:
We have my buddy, and our NCAA Football correspondent, Terry “TJ” Duroncelet, who brings us the first batch of (a pretty huge set) on NFL uni concepts:
I heard that the concepts have been slowing down as of late, so I thought now would be a good time to share some of the designs that I’ve been doing since last August. Here’s the first batch:
This was my very first attempt using the GUD template. The general idea was to A) Go back the uniform that the Jaguars should’ve never left, and B) Accent specific colors more, so that each look has more balance between team colors. The home and roads have striped socks that serve different purposes: The gold striped socks w/teal featheredging adds more gold to the home uni, while the inverse version of the socks shown at the right of the tweak adds more teal to the road, which BTW, goes back to the teal numbers last seen in 2003.
I kept the home and roads fairly untouched, except I gave them black shoes (which is what they should be wearing, as they’re called the Silver and BLACK). I added a throwback uniform replicating the unis worn by the original Oakland Raiders. I liked their AFL unis from 2009, but silver numbers on the road aside, there was no real difference. I prefer throwbacks to look at least somewhat radically different than their current unis.
Basically what they have now, but with significantly less navy in the powder blue home (as it was intended) and white road unis, with the face-full-of-navy uni being reserved for alternate use. I know, no helmet numbers, but I feel that they should only be regulated to throwbacks. As you can see, I have black cleats for the home and roads, but white for the alt. Reason being is because I wanted balance between the navy facemask and everything else (with the NFL’s recent rule [assuming that it's true] of allowing team-colored cleats, we can pretend that they’re navy), but the navy uni allows me to use white cleats for that particular uni. Goodell probably wouldn’t allow it, but it’s still worth a shot.
I really like the Rams’ current template, and while I like the current colors, I miss the old royal and yellow that I remember seeing for most of the first 8 years of my life. So I simply used old colors and socks on the current template. Yes, I kept the white pants, and I understand that some people don’t like them, but on the bright side: no blue pants!
I did a ‘Boys concept before, but I wasn’t really happy with it, so I gave it a second go. In a nutshell, it’s their 1971 uni (the year they won their first Super Bowl), but with the current “COWBOYS” wordmark on the front and white cleats. I really like the second attempt: the blue is not too navy, and not too royal (lest we piss off Giants and Cowboys fans equally). Just right. And you can’t go wrong with the Turkey Day uni =3
Now, before a giant discussion starts about this, please note that I did this concept on Sep. 27th, 2011 (about half a year before the Native American imagery discussion on Uni Watch started), I chose not to enter the Washington Football re-brand contest, and I’m more than willing to rename it a Washington Warriors or a Washington Redhawks uni (
can somebody tell me what font is used for this ‘Skins wordmark and where I can download it for free? Please and thank younevermind, I found it). I used the “Lombardi” stripes from the socks of the 2002-2003 uni, the feather helmet and true burgundy and gold from the 1958-1964 unis, the current chest wordmarks, and had a little fun with making a pant stripe out of the aforementioned feather. ________________
The modern wings are the only small tweak on these 1960 NFL Champion-inspired unis.
I remember THE saying something about almost every Vikings concept being — more or less — a throwback. I wanted to do something that was classy, but not just another fauxback. I tried to my best ability to mimic a Norseman’s braid, with offsetting white lines. I could’ve added sleeve-matching stripes to the socks, but that would be kinda predictable. Not every uniform needs striped socks, and striped socks would actually downgrade specific uniforms a bit *coughyankeescough*.
While my main goal for this concept was to bring back the Pats’ 1960s look, I didn’t want to repeat their early mistake of sticking Patriots in Redcoat colors on a regular basis. I kept Flying Elvis to preserve the special feeling that is Pat Patriot’s occasional appearance, and added a navy jersey top with navy socks. I have four looks: blue primary home, blue primary road, and the red tops, belts, and gear will be reserved for Monday Night Football games (modern 60s Pats with red tops, red belts, and red socks at home, modern 60s Pats with white tops, red belts, and red socks on the road).
And one from Shane Schubbe, in honour of Canada Day…
Monday’s article discussing the Canada Day jersey for the Blue Jays got me inspired. I figured I’d give my hand at a little tweaking, myself. I feel the use of colored raglan sleeves with a white body, and red in between evokes the feel of the Canadian flag, same with using a white panel on the red hat. An all red jersey is so bland. The Blue Jays organization could have done so much more with this concept, but what they made just seems lazy, and a waste of what I fell is one of the best uniform designs in the league. In 20 minutes, I managed to create a mock up for something that I feel is exponentially better than what they’re doing.
Thanks TJ and Shane. That’s it for today. Back with more next time.
We’re not quite done with the made up jerseys, as today the Milwaukee Brewers will be wearing the jersey you see on your right — according to this website, “the Brewers will honor Italian heritage during their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, again changing their name for one game. The Brewers will become the ‘Birrai,’ the Italian translation of Milwaukee’s nickname, and the red, green and white colors of the Italian flag will become Milwaukee’s colors.”
Not content to let the
Brewers Birrai have all the fun, the D-Backs will become i D-Backs as well. If you thought the Rays fake uniforms were bad, today’s game promises to be the worst looking game of the entire season. It isn’t often we get the two worst looking games in the same weekend. But at least the Rays’ unis were done in fun — this is just stupid.
We’ll also get to see another one-shot deal today, although it has a history (which Paul covered this past Monday). Yes, Canada Day has arrived, and the Jays will be donning the red tops. I agree with Paul’s assessment that most of the Canada Day jerseys in the past have sucked, but I kind of like this one. I’m not sure it’s really necessary, but for a one-time deal, it’s fine. Unlike the Brewers, who in a few years will have created a jersey for every ethnic holiday (and probably some there aren’t), at least the only Canadian team is celebrating its own national holiday. Good on them.
That’s all folks. I’m going to be taking next weekend off, although I do have a special article that was going to run today (but the special uni’s bumped it) — and which Paul will run this week (hopefully tomorrow) — a really great piece authored by Jason Bernard featuring hockey sweaters, baseball jerseys…and meat. Stay tuned.
For those of you who are
soccer football fans, someone said there’s kind of an important game today?
Everyone have a great week, 4th of July (for all of us Americans), a great Canada D’eh for you folks in the Great White North…and I’ll catch you in a couple weeks.