By Phil Hecken
I love it when readers approach me with an idea for a story — even more so when they don’t have one but still want to help out. Today’s guest writer, Jose Coria approached me in just such a way this past July:
Good Morning Phil,
I’m writing to express interest in helping to write a column for Uni Watch. I’ve been a reader for about 4 years now. I can’t even remember how I first stumbled on it, but I’ve been loyal since.
It’s actually been a bit since I wrote a proper column, back to my high school days. My ten year reunion is in November, so that gives you an idea; however, I’m confident I could produce some quality stuff if given the chance. I have a small Spanish language blog I updated sporadically over at gigantesbeisbol.blogspot.com, which is more of an exercise in keeping up with Spanish than anything else, but on the chance you can read Spanish, that’s a reference.
I don’t have a ton of ideas on what to write about, but if you think I am someone who can contribute, I can run with any ideas you have, and do some additional brainstorming on my own to submit something.
Thanks for you time.
As fate would have it, I was currently reading Willie Mays’ biography, by James Hirsch, so his request couldn’t have come at a more propitious time. I replied that Jose might want to explore something along the lines of the San Francisco Giants and their use of “Gigantes” (Latin heritage) jerseys, since we needed a uni-theme. I also knew from that book that the Giants had been on of the more progressive teams (mostly in New York, but also in San Francisco) at integrating black and Latin players, actually employing the first all-black outfield in professional baseball. A few e-mails later, and we were set. Jose even went a step further and interviewed Erwin Higueros, the Giants’ Spanish-language broadcaster, for some details and background. What follows then, is Jose’s first article on Uni Watch, fittingly on…
Los Gigantes de San Francisco
By Jose Coria
This year will mark the 8th season the San Franciso Giants have donned their Spanish-language Gigantes jerseys. It’s a practice that’s grown increasingly popular among other major league teams, as we saw the team across the bay debut an “Atléticos” jersey themselves last year. While many might consider this gimmicky, or another ploy to sell more jersey to us suckers, I like to think that it has a lot more to do with the organization paying homage to the Giants history and the fans they represent.
The Giants first donned their Gigantes jerseys on May 21st, 2005 during the unveiling of Juan Marichal’s statue outside of then SBC Park (now AT&T Park.) This had never happened in the team’s 122-year history. They in fact became the first team in Major League Baseball to translate their name to Spanish and wear it on their jerseys, not including the Padres of course. It was a decision the organization took to brand the Gigantes name, said Erwin Higueros, the Spanish language radio broadcaster for the team, in a phone interview. “I wasn’t just one time for the Giants to do it. We had to get approval from MLB to not only translate the name but to be able to wear them during Major League baseball games.” Since then, the Giants have worn them for a variety of occasions, from the Cinco De Mayo game, to Latino Heritage Night.
The San Francisco Giants’ cultural history can be traced to July 8th, 1949, when Hank Thompson and Monte Irvin became the first black Giants. Later in 1951, during Willie Mays’ rookie season, the three of them teamed up to form the Major League Baseball’s first all-black outfield. These three athletes paved the way for other black and Latino greats to become a part of the Giants history. Players like Juan Marichal from the Dominican Republic and Orlando Cepeda from Puerto Rico have had their numbers retired by the Giants and are in Cooperstown, along with Irvin.
Since that time, baseball has seen a surge of of international talent integrating into MLB. This year’s opening day rosters consisted of nearly 25% players born in Central and Latin America. This number has been consistently rising and will likely continue to grow as the sport continues to gain popularity internationally. In 2003, two years before the Gigantes jerseys came to be, the Giants had 10 Latino-born players on their opening day roster. Currently, the Giants again have 10 players on their 25-man roster from Latin American countries, now that Pablo Sandoval has returned from the disabled list and with the recent acquisitions of Marco Scutaro and Jose Mijares. If you include Latinos born stateside, such as Sergio Romo, the Giants are at 11. It’s clear that Latino players compose a large part of the Giants ballclub.
Today, the Gigantes jerseys continue to be a fan favorite. One reason may be that San Francisco fans feel they can identify with fans on a cultural level. A good example is last year, when the Casa Hispana de Bellas Artes in the Mission District of San Francisco sent Giants CEO Bill Newcombe a letter proposing the Giants to wear their Gigantes jerseys during their series against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves, as a way to show opposition to their respective states recently passed anti immigrations laws. While the Giants ultimately decided not to wear them, choosing not to take a political stance on that issue, it’s an example that reflects the mutual relationship between the Giants and the community it represents. According to Higueros, translating the name is a way of trying to have the Latino community be part of the Gigantes tradition. “They wanted to brand it. We’re branding the Gigantes. We have the Gigantes jerseys, we have the Gigantes website, we have the Gigantes facebook, we have Gigantes twitter, and now we have fans wearing them… they are committed to the Hispanic community.”
These jerseys sometimes ignite controversy with some feeling that it panders too much to the Latino fans and point out that not every other culture is represented. Higueros also states that there are those who believe that you shouldn’t translate the name, the “purists.” The same people who hate the DH, who hate interleague play,ask why the name is being translated when it’s not the team name. But Latino players are such a large part of the Giants tradition, and Latinos are a large part of the city of San Francisco, that it makes a lot of sense to pay a homage to that with these threads. Not to mention that the Giants’ record with them is 8-4 so as a San Francisco fan, bring on the Gigantes unis!
Gigantes Jersey Appearances
⚫ May 21st, 2005. The Giants first wore them against the Oakland Athletics, winning that game 3-2. They were worn in honor of Juan Marichal’s statue dedication. [1-0]
⚫ May 22nd, 2005. The jersey was next worn the next day against the A’s, winning again 3-1. They were worn again at the player’s request. [2-0]
⚫ September 12th, 2005. The Gigantes jersey was worn one more time in 2003, the same day as the 1st Annual Fiesta Gigante. They faced the Padres and won, 4-3. [3-0]
⚫ May 5th, 2007. It took another year before the Giants switched to the spanish jersey again, in honor of the Cinco De Mayo. They beat the Phillies 9-4. During the game, Barry Bonds hit his 744th homerun. [4-0]
⚫ September 7th, 2007. The 3rd Annual Fiesta Gigante brought the Gigantes jersey out once more. The Dodgers fell that day, 5-4. The Giants won it in the 9th on a walkoff homerun from Daniel Ortmeier. [5-0]
⚫ September 6th, 2008. The Gigantes jersey was worn for Orlando Cepeda’s statue dedication, as well as the 4th Annual Fiesta Gigante. They beat the Pirates 7-6. [6-0]
⚫ June 27th, 2009. The Giants only time wearing a road Gigantes uniform came against the Brewers on Hispanic Heritage Night in Milwaukee. It was their first loss with the Gigantes name, losing 7-6. [6-1]
⚫ August 25th, 2009. The second times in 2009 that the Gigantes jerseys were used was during Latino Heritage night in San Francisco was against Diamondbacks. They won, 5-4. Fans got a Carlos Santana bobblehead, who was also rocking a Gigantes jersey. [7-1]
⚫ September 12th, 2009. The Gigantes jerseys made an appearance for the 5th Annual Fiesta Gigante against the Dodgers. They lost, 9-1. [7-2]
⚫ September 18th, 2010 – The Gigantes jerseys made an appearance for the 6th Annual Fiesta Gigante against the Brewers. They lost, 2-1 [7-3]
⚫ September 10th, 2011 -The Gigantes jerseys made an appearance for the 7th Annual Fiesta Gigante against the Dodgers. They lost for the 3rd straight time with the jerseys, 3-0. [7-4]
⚫ May 5th, 2012. For Cinco de Mayo, the Gigantes took on the Cerveceros and beat them 5-2. [8-4]
The Giants will use the Gigantes jersey one more time in 2012, on September 8th against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It coincides with the 8th Annual Fiesta Gigante.
Great job, Jose, and congrats on the interview. Also, tip of the cap to the Giants for their continued progressivity and furthering of race relations in baseball. Well done, sir, well done. You can follow Jose on Twitter and be sure to visit his Gigantes Spanish Blog!
Tuesday Morning Football:
Our resident Brit, uni watcher, and colourizer extraordinaire George Chilvers has prepared for our edification a final review of the
uniforms kits in the finals (and bronze medal game) of the men’s soccer football at the Olympics. No photos from his son, Stefan Chilvers, this time around, but here’s one last look at the absolutely breath-taking tilt-shift photography seen from the quarters. And now, for the last time…
here is George’s review:
Well, that’s it from me – the Men’s football tournament comes to a close. Now, I said the other day that I had seen 12 of the 16 teams. Sod’s Law says that I would not see the winners. And so it proved as Mexico shocked Brazil with a goal in the first minute, and then added a second. Brazil seemed to think they only needed to turn up to win their first ever Olympics gold in the event. They were wrong. They only did turn up in the last few minutes when they netted right on the 90 minutes, and Oscar headed off target in the last seconds when it would be easier to score than to miss.
Satisfyingly both teams wore their first kits for this game which attracted an Olympics football record attendance of 86,612 at the Home of Football, Wembley, which also was the highest attendance for any event in this Olympics (the Olympic Stadium holds a mere 80,000). Mexico wore their quite stylish all dark-green kit with shadow Aztec design and red shoulders. Atletica, previously little known, have not done themselves any harm with this design.
In contrast, although iconic, Brazil’s Nike-produced shirts looked a trifle bland. The combination of colours of course makes this a winner – but it won’t win any fashion awards.
The bronze medal match the previous night in Cardiff saw a Far Eastern tussle between the ultimate victors South Korea and Japan. South Korea, with Nike kits, had their all white kit with the now distinctive twisted ribbon sash of red and blue. No matter what one thinks of Nike this is one that I think will appear again. Japan wore their increasingly favoured Adidas design all blue with a narrow red stripe (the women’s team had a pink stripe). South Korea gained the final medal with a fairly comfortable 2-0 win.
It would be churlish of me not to extend a word of congratulations to USA’s women’s team who took gold in their final . The attendance of 80,203 is absolutely stunning for an event which, to be honest, has not had a high profile in this country. The standards have hugely improved over the last decade, and many football supporters, like myself I will admit, who have been entrenched in “old thinking” (and if you wish to criticise – consider what you think about women’s baseball or women’s American football) now see that the game has moved on considerably.
Two slightly more negative things though from an outsider aspect. USA’s kits were dull dull dull. Nothing to enliven the dark blue with white sleeves. No –we don’t need logos, swooshes, or whatever. But this is 1970s design – surely you could have added something.
And I’m sorry to tell you that those t-shirts at the end – whether Nike or Team USA originated – did not go down well amongst the rest of the world – including your closest allies over here. “Arrogant” and “that’s why no-one likes USA” are a couple of the comments I have seen around. I am just reporting this – but a little humility in victory would have gone a long way further than “Greatness has been found”. Yukh!
However – never end on a sour note. The team played really well, and won on merit.
Well done USA and Mexico. But we’re looking to hunt you down next time ☺
Thanks (again) George! Bloody good reporting. Thanks for ALL your great reporting and for sharing your son’s very excellent photography with us as well. It’s been a pleasure.
Jim Vilk’s Olympic Hoops 5 & 1
Now that the Olympics have concluded, the one and only Jim Q. Vilk is back with his final run-down of the good (and bad) of the Olympic hoops matchups from the past week. Here’s Jim:
In case you missed last week’s comprehensive-ish roundup of the tournament, it’s in here (scroll down). And now, on to Part Two. Or, as they say in London…well, they say Part Two, too:
5.Argentina/Brazil (men) – Brazil could have used some yellow somewhere.
4. Russia/Turkey (women) – Font-tastic!
3. Canada/USA (women) – There was a LOT of red in this tourney, if you hadn’t noticed yet.
1. Lithuania/Tunisia (men) – Same template, but great contrast.
And the bad one (Sorry, London…): China/Great Britain (men) – However, I’ll take this over a game with ads on the jerseys, Mr. Stern!
Only two years until the winter games. See you then…and maybe a few times before that.
Good job Jim. Looking forward to the Olympic Winter Games review in 2 years. And of course, the NCAA 5 & 1 coming soon.
By Brinke Guthrie
• Take a look at our lead item this week, eh? One of the “Disco Collar” Chicago White Sox jerseys. The ad says this one was team-issued. What, no clam digger pants?
• Never seen a red hockey puck before. Looks like this was possibly going into use for televised games?
• Love the retro look of this 1971 NBC NFL football manual!
• Did I say…retro? This Padres jacket is…brown. And orange. And yellow.
• Nice set of what appear to be mid-1970s NFL drinking glasses.
• When I look at this sweater, I think Jimmy Johnson, pre-Apex.
• Chiquita Banana NFL sticker alert!
• Nice vintage late 1960s pennant for the Boston Patriots.
#NoUniAds Campaign…Day 26
This will be a regular feature on Uni Watch until the NBA rescinds its incredibly offensive and stupid proposal to place corporate advertising on uniforms.
And now, a personal note from Paul:
It’s important that we keep making our voices heard: Call the NBA’s publicly listed phone number (212-407-8000), ask for Adam Silver’s and/or David Stern’s office), e-mail deputy commissioner Adam Silver at his his publicly listed address (email@example.com), and tweet to @NBA with the hashtag #NoUniAds. Do it now.
More of your letters to the NBA:
Seriously? Your service reps are comparing the NBA, a worldwide powerhouse, to the following?
“It is also not a new concept in American sports. NASCAR, Major League Soccer, professional golf, the WNBA, and the NBA Development League all feature sponsored uniforms.”
NASCAR and Golf are individual sports, who the competitors do not get proceeds from the tickets and stadium revenues.
MLS, WNBA, and NBADL are watched by, as far as I can tell, a very select few people, and maybe the players families. I am an avid sports fan, and I could not even tell you where to find those sports on television. Are they even on TV?
When you look at the big picture now, there is not a big 4 in sports, there is a HUGE 2, and a big 2. NFL and NBA completely overshadow MLB and NHL.
Please read my original email at the bottom of this post. Is it not enough that I have to be exposed to tv ads and in stadium ads shown during games? Can’t I at least see a close up of LeBron without seeing a big McDonalds “M”, or buy a jersey without a corporate logo??
I was a HUGE NBA fan in the 90s, and when those greats left and the game changed, I stopped watching as much. Now due to the last 3 years playoffs being spectacular, I am a nightly watcher if there is a game on. Doesn’t even matter the teams. Ill watch Toronto vs Charlotte because I like watching the game. Please don’t ruin the image of the NBA by reducing it to a non-stop advertisement extravaganza. I will not attend, or purchase any more items if this happens. As a mid-30s father, who has been getting his kids into basketball, do you have any idea how much I spend on merchandise? Kids jerseys aren’t cheap, and they grow up REALLY fast, so I have to buy new ones every year.
Please reconsider this and find another revenue stream.
I’m writing to express my fervent hope that the NBA will NOT add any advertising elements to its players’ uniforms, in any form, including “sponsor logos.”
By way of introduction, I’m a 38-year-old father of two boys, ages 4 and 8, all of us sports fans, and we live ten minutes from an NBA arena, the Rose Garden. I believe we represent a very desirable demographic for the league. And I’m steadfastly opposed to the inclusion of advertising in any form on any professional team uniform.
Advertising has proliferated in American culture, and that is demonstrably unhealthy for us as a people. Having attended numerous NBA games over the years in person and enjoyed many more on television and radio, advertising has utterly permeated the NBA experience, more and more over time, to the point of a near-constant visual and auditory bombardment. You’re already beyond the saturation point. There are advertisements almost everywhere they could appear, in the stadium experience and during a radio or television broadcast. Trust me, I understand how important this is for the NBA and its broadcast partners from a revenue perspective. But I do think there is something to be said for leaving some stones unturned. The uniforms themselves should not be used as advertising platforms. The uniforms are sacrosanct.
Player uniforms serve a practical purpose, to differentiate competitors during a game (colors) and to identify individual players (number and name). They are also the core of the fans’ identification with the team. I don’t root for the team’s sponsors, I root for the team. Even as I acknowledge how sponsor revenue contributes to the team’s bottom line, I don’t associate the team with that sponsor. And I certainly do not think any sponsor, at any price, deserves to be included in the visual identity of the team. That’s what on-uniform advertisements accomplish. They dilute the team identity in an unhealthy and perplexing way, saying that this advertiser is now a part of our team identity. I understand how valuable that may appear to a potential “jersey sponsor,” but it perplexes me that the league would choose to compromise its franchises’ very identity for an incremental boost to the bottom line.
Part of the issue is more straightforward: design, and space. The NBA is special in that its uniforms are the smallest of all the major sports, in terms of total fabric. A sleeveless jersey simply does not have a lot of space for anything beyond the player’s number, team name, and player name. (Aside: I consider the league’s logo to be superfluous and unwelcome, and absolutely pointless to include on both the jersey and the shorts. But I understand it’s not going anywhere.) Basketball jerseys are small; it is guaranteed that any advertisement, no matter how small or innocuous it is claimed to be, will be a significant defacement of the player jerseys. To be clear, no ads are welcome, and any ad on a basketball uniform is going to be a very, very big deal.
As a final point, I noted above how the NBA game experience has steadily degraded over time thanks to the proliferation of advertising. There is no reason for any of us to believe that ads on NBA jerseys would start small and stay small. The desire to always increase revenue, at any cost, will win out. In time, ads will expand until finally the city and nickname are sacrificed — and much more space besides, until all the available real estate on the jersey and shorts is used as ad space. It would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for me to watch such a game, let alone consider supporting it by buying any authentic or replica uniform. And I see no compelling reason, aside from flat-out greed, why an established league such as the NBA would start down that precarious path.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Thanks for keeping the faith readers! We can stop the NBA if we can keep up the pressure.
Thanks to Tim E. O’Brien and Chris Giorgio for the image in the upper right of this section!
“Benchies” first appeared at U-W in 2008, and has been a Saturday & Sunday feature here for the past two years.
Yes, but will he come get us if Timmy falls down a well?…
Click to enlarge
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Pacific Coast League) returned to the past on Sunday with players sporting jerseys with the old Socko logo. (Thanks to Alan D. Poff). … Here’s more on those VA Tech chicken feet helmets (h/t to Jim Weber). … Ryan Perkins asks, “What kind of helmet is this???” Since neither Paul nor I are helmet guys, perhaps the fine readership can answer. … Some UConn soccer uni notes from Gregory Koch: “Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos because my cell phone camera decided to delete them, but here are some interesting notes from the men’s and women’s UConn soccer exhibitions yesterday. 1. The women wore their gray practice jerseys for the game. I have been assured on Facebook here that the gray jerseys are just practice jerseys (there’s a picture there too), but I don’t know why they wore them for the exhibition. 2. For the men’s game, UConn wore their road blues and UMass their home whites, even though the game was in Storrs.” … Jordan Jones sends an intro video for the Madden 13 Demo: Seahawks vs. Redskins. “The Redskins are wearing throwbacks but the uniforms are different for every other player. Some players have the ‘Skins logo on the left shoulder while some don’t.” … Jay Sullivan shares a tweet: Signs you know @PENNfb camp is coming… Every Quaker’s favorite ride is out for a tune-up and bath. … Two bits of interest from Reuven Szleifer: “Before Stony Brook University joined D1 athletics and became the Sea Wolves, they were the Patriots. This was the club hockey team jersey from the late ’70s – thought you would get a kick out of the stripes (red, but faded to pink over the years) and the classic Pats logo. Just an aside, as a Wisconsin alum I am really disappointed with the adidas alternate jerseys for the Nebraska game. They really screwed that one up, which is a shame, and just a few years after they wore their beautiful 1960s throwbacks.” … Joseph Bailey has a question: “Bradley Cooper is in a movie where he plays a huge Eagles fan. I don’t know if this photo does it justice, but it shows him in a Reebok jersey, but the NFL Shield logo is whited out as well as the jock tag on the bottom of the jersey. Do they need permission from the NFL to show their stuff in a movie? Does this have anything to do with the Nike deal? Did Ice Cube get permission for this?” … My buddy Mike Styczen was at Friday’s Cubs/Reds game and
the lucky bastard he and his wife were seated in the front row. So he snapped this photo of Mike Leake’s stirrups. Says Mike, “It was pretty obvious I’m person that the socks were ordinary sweat socks, not sanitaries. Not sure if it shows up in the photo.” … Looks like the Army Black Knights will have a new gold(?) helmet for the coming season (thanks to Leo Thornton). Or, as Walter Ford points out: “A little less metallic and a little more burnished, with an extra-wide black stripe down the center. Looks good, albeit not too much different.” … “Not sure if we’ve seen these unis,” says Jay Sullivan, regarding these awful camo things VT will be trotting out for Military Appreciation night. What has been seen cannot now be unseen. … “Are any other teams doing this?” asks Brian Manganaro. “Stripes in the middle of quarterbacks’ extended sleeves? Result of new Nike unis?” A similar hue and cry was heard from Dustin Hall who writes, “NOO!!! The new Nike Jerseys have the sleeve stripes not at the bottom of the sleeve but some where arbitrarily up from the bottom. Seems like on a “standard” jersey there is about a 1-2 inch gap between the stripes and the end of the sleeve. This is very disappointing it looks previous years crummy knockoffs when the sleeve stripes were normal. We wont even go into the whole stripes not going all the way around) As you know various positions have different cuts and for years this has caused the whole stripes not going all the way around phenom, now the different sleeve cuts can minimize how glaring the gap between the stripes and the end of the sleeve is.” … Ryan Nuber notes the Falcons have listed their 2012 throwback games, “uni schedule, including their two throwback games. The NFL shop posted a photo of the Nike throwbacks, and they appear to have to modern logo on the sleeve. Can’t tell if they are planning on using clashing helmet and sleeve logos or if we can expect a red helmet with the modern logo. Either way, not an upgrade.” … Colin Melcolnic says Nike has confused Russia for France. … Ryan “Ry Co 40” Connelly checks in with this: “I just realized, and I don’t remember seeing this detail on UW, that the camo area of the new era hats is actually material and not thread. Check out the pics I took this weekend. I assumed it was stitched.” … The subject line reads Nebraska’s balloon tradition.…..pop..ppffffffffffffffff — David Westfall‘s e-mail body continues, “So, due to a shortage of helium in the USA, Nebraska will stop the balloon sales after the 1st game against Southern Miss.” … Brian Haines attended the Colts vs. Rams game Sunday and wondered if anyone knew why they wore white @ home? “I have been to a lot of games and this is the first time I have ever seen this.” … This weekend the Omaha Storm Chasers (triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals) will play as the OmaHogs, according to Mike Vamosi. … Utah goes with Black helmets, its official, says Ben Hatfield: “This was released by the team. Not sure what it will look like but something like this.” … Check out these pictures of an 1860s style game that took place in Dexter, Michigan last weekend. Click here for more pictures and information about the baseball clubs (thanks to Jim Polacek). … Reason #234 why softball tops suck, courtesy of Alex Rocklein: “Seriously? Seriously. This is an abomination.” … “Raider Fans Scare Me,” says Terry Duroncelet, “And it’s only the first preseason game.” … RIP Mr. Paveskovich.
And that does it for this fine Tuesday. Big thanks to Jose for that nice lede, and also to George, MoVi and Brinke for their bits, plus Ricko for the Benchies, and of course to everyone who is keeping the faith by writing to the NBA and protesting the sponsor logos. Great stuff all around today.
“Y’know, people make fun of “Old Baseball Guy” as a generic character, some kind of odd comic figure who hangs around, even if it’s just in the neighborhood to watch American Legion games or something. But, guess what, a whole lot of baseball’s extraordinary place in the American consciousness—not to mention the game’s history—leaves us when we lose someone like Johnny Pesky.”
— Rick Pearson