[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Greg Allred, who’s going to tell us about a very unusual project he recently undertook. Enjoy. — PL]
By Greg Allred
I collect sports memorabilia but am really collector of sports history when I can find it and obtain it. I was lucky enough to find some history in February of 2010, when I went to run an errand at the old baseball stadium here in Birmingham, Rickwood Field. While I was there I noted several pieces of turf lying around that had obviously come from an old football field. I inquired as to their origin and was told the history: The turf was originally installed at Legion Field in 1975 (when the Birmingham Vulcans of the WFL played there), removed in the mid-’80s and placed on a high school field for a few years, and then removed again, with most of it brought to Rickwood.
I asked about the possibility of obtaining a small piece and was told to call back in a couple of weeks. When I called back, I was told to stop by when I was back in the area to discuss it. When I returned a couple of weeks later, I was taken to a different area in the complex, to a building that was used for indoor batting and pitching. The floor of the building was covered in long strips of turf. When the gentleman showed me the turf, he informed me that the building was being razed soon and asked how much of the turf was I interested in. I replied that I wanted all of it, to which he responded, “Okay, but I don’t know how long it will take to get approval for you to remove it. It may take a few months.” I was fine with that and promised to follow up with him regularly.
Well, regularly turned out to be an understatement. For two and a half years I would regularly check in with him to inquire about the turf. Finally, in early June of this year, I received the green light. So with the help of six friends — two of whom actually played on this turf — we cut the turf into smaller strips, rolled it up, and loaded it onto a flatbed trailer, all of this in 105-degree Alabama heat:
I hauled the turf about an hour north to my farm, where I stored it in a building. Then I would take a roll and move it with my tractor to another area where, with the help of two of my sons, I’d unroll it and cut it into smaller pieces, which I then stored in my barn. I cut this piece from the first roll I brought out, cutting the “2” and trimming it up for a frame that I built:
I took the piece to a local car wash, where I stretched it out and pressure-washed it thoroughly. Then I allowed it to air-dry in the sun:
I returned to wash it a second time and allowed it to dry again before stretching it over the frame and securing it:
I then used “gorilla hooks” to mount it to the wall of my study, beneath Legion Field seats that came from the old East upper deck that was removed in 2005:
I have had several comments about how unique the piece looks. I’m making a somewhat larger version of the framed turf for my office, using a piece from the sideline with hashmarks. I’ll send along some pics from that frame once I finish it.
’Stros news: Chris Creamer, citing an inside source, has published some exclusive details on the new Astros uniforms, which will be unveiled in November. Mostly it confirms all the hints that have been dropped over the past half-year or so, but it’s still good to have something a bit more concrete. Details here.
By Brinke Guthrie
The U.S. Open is underway this week in New York City, so we’re featuring tennis in this week’s edition of Collector’s Corner.
Bjorn Borg is my favorite player ever, and his look is pure class. The styles here were my favorites. Pair it with a jacket like this or this, and you’re set. Guillermo Vilas was the other big Fila dude back in the day, and he wore this style jacket on court, before he switched to Ellesse (pronounced “L S,” by the way). Bonus points if you know what their logo stands for.*
See these shoes? The story goes, John McEnroe was looking around the Nike lab one day, saw these on the shelf, and took ’em. They were designed as cross-trainers, but Mac made them famous on court. My favorite shoes ever. Mac’s initial Nike line in the mid-1980s had a checkerboard theme.
Ivan Lendl had a long-term Adidas deal, and his look changed every so often. This “IL” look was my favorite, but this one was just plain ugly. Stefan Edberg and Steffi Graf also had their own Adidas lines.
Actually. lots of other players had their own lines back then (not so much now). Jimmy Connors was mostly a Robert Bruce guy, and wore Converse, among other brands. Martina Hingis, Mats Wilander, Pat Cash, and Gabriela Sabatini were all with Sergio Tacchini at one point, and in the 1980s Boris Becker was with Ellesse, Fila, and Puma.
*Ellesse logo = tennis ball, and either side of the center are the tips of skis.
Question Time: As you may recall, back in June I invited readers to ask me questions — uni-related, non-uni-related, whatever — and then answered as many of them as I could a few weeks later. Let’s do that again, shall we?
Same rules as before: You can ask me anything at all. Personal questions are fine, although I reserve the right not to answer if they’re too personal. Only one question per person, and I prefer that you sign your real name (although that’s not a requirement).
Send your questions (again, only one per reader) here, and I’ll address them soon-ish. Please do not post questions in the comments. Thanks.
PermaRec update: An awkwardly written inscription in a 1963 copy of Gulliver’s Travels, shown at right, is the starting point for the latest entry on the Permanent Record Blog.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Rangers pitcher Derek Holland was once again wearing some serious stirrups last night. … Speaking of stirrups, Dave Rakowski reports that Yankees broadcasters Michael Kay and Al Leiter were discussing hosiery protocol during last night’s Yanks/Jays game. “They first mentioned that Blue Jays pitcher Brad Lincoln socks seemed lighter in color than the others. They continued their conversation and Al Leiter mentioned how the modern tube sock is more convenient, but both agreed that the old-school stirrups worn by Raji Davis look better.” … New football uniforms for UAB (from Jeff Hunter). … There’s a steakhouse in Lynchburg, Virginia, that uses the Lions’ helmet logo. “The old sign definitely did not feature that logo, or any kind of lion,” says Edward Lindsey Hall III. … Here’s a good site devoted to college football skeds (from Mike Hersh). … “I started wearing stirrupts in 1968,” says Don Conrad. “Now, at age 50, I play in an adult league here in Greensboro, North Carolina, and I still wear stirrups. By the way, wood bat and single to left!” … Interesting article on the current state of moisture-wicking technology (from Tom Mulgrew). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Here’s a rundown of 10 unusual facemasks, most of which you’ve probably already seen. … Tillamook, Oregon, is a big cheesemaking town, so the local high school teams are called the Cheesemakers — which explains this awesome shot of their 1930 basketball team (great find by John Kimmerlein). … New alternate football jerseys for Penn (from Walt Mankowski). … I’m quoted in this article about Duke’s football helmets and in this piece about that company that’s making all the chrome-finish helmets. … People in my neighborhood are confused by the exterior of the new arena, which looks rusty. Personally, that’s my favorite thing about the place — I like that rugged feel of industrial decay. Much better than the shiny/gleaming approach. … Speaking of the new arena, here’s a leak of the nets’ new floor design that began circulating yesterday. … “It’s common for college rosters to have multiple players wearing the same jersey number,” says Matt Mitchell. “But here’s a twist: Texas senior Luke Poehlmann has two numbers. A tackle for two seasons, he was pressed into action at tight end in 2011. This year he’s listed at both positions as Nos. 77 and 82.” … After all the jokes about the Mets wearing the Domino’s-style stadium patch a few years ago, it’s now come full-circle: This Thursday the Mets’ single-A affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, are giving away a jersey with a real Domino’s sleeve patch (from Dan Cichalski). … New matte-finish helmet for Ohio. … Fascinating piece on a study that revealed subtle but significant bias against foreign-born players by MLB broadcasters (thanks, Kirsten). … The White Sox did the travel dress-up theme thing the other day, and the them was bad golfer attire. “John Daly would be proud,” says Ryan Lindemann. … Lots of Maryland’s flag-based gear, in many different sports, is linked in this article (from Scott Leighty). … Did you know I’ve been cited as a reference source on the back of a baseball card? Well, it’s not truly a card — it’s this sticker. I had no idea about this until Alec Jokubaitis brought it to my attention. … Some design students at Kansas have won an award for their police car livery design (from Adam Jackson). … The Princeton hoops team will wear “Los Tigres” uniforms for an upcoming trip to Spain (from Andrew Borders).
Tomorrow: My annual college football season-preview column on ESPN. Biggest one yet!