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Reader Leo Strawn recently came across a very odd eBay listing, which you can see here. The auction is for 48 color slides of a football game that, according to the seller, was played in Japan in March of 1974. The circumstances surrounding the game are unknown, but there are enough uniform anomalies here to warrant a closer look.
Let’s start with the photo shown above. As you can see, there are at least three jersey styles in the frame, and at least four helmet styles (if you count the “Z” and “R” versions of the dark helmet as separate styles). Also, note that No. 21 is wearing what appears to be a Dallas Cowboys uniform — right down to the little blue Dymo label at the base of the helmet stripe! Of course, the Cowboys were using NOBs by 1974. So if that’s really a Cowboys jersey, it’s an old one.
Here’s yet another uniform from that game — a Tennessee Volunteers uni (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):
According to the eBay seller, that’s Gary Valbuena. He did indeed attend Tennessee, but he was playing for the Southern California Sun of the WFL in 1974. (Do we know that the game was actually played in March of 1974, as the eBay seller claims? Yes, we do: The date March 31, 1974, can be seen on this plaque, which was apparently awarded after the game. I asked reader Mark Rosa — aka “Mark in Shiga” — if he could translate the rest of the plaque, and he said it reads, “Japan-US American Football, Winning Team, March 31, 1974,
Getting back to Valbuena, he was apparently given flowers prior to the game:
It’s not clear if he was the only one to get the flowers, or if they just hadn’t yet made their way down the rest of the line. Either way, look at the socks on Valbuena’s teammates: double northwestern stripes!
Here’s a player wearing shin pads:
Interesting! Anyone know more about the story behind this game?
Update: This post had been up for only 15 minutes when reader Justin Shibilski posted the following comment:
Here’s an article from Stars and Stripes with some more information on that March 1974 all-star game. Bob Hayes was the feature attraction in this one, making his triumphant return to the same stadium in which he starred in the ’64 Olympics. He, of course, wore No. 22 for the Cowboys, so I don’t know who the player is in that picture. No Cowboy wore 21 in ’73, but Doug Dennison, UFA out of Kutztown, wore 21 in 1974-78. Maybe that was his first task for the Cowboys after being signed as a UFA and they had not yet put his name on the jersey? Maybe because he hasn’t officially made the team yet? Anyway, great stuff.
DC party update: As I mentioned last week, I’ll be convening a Uni Watch party in Washington on Feb. 6, 7:30pm. But due to a variety of factors, we have a new venue: Hamilton’s. That’s final, so please don’t ask me to change it, don’t bother telling me why you don’t like the place, blah-blah-blah. It’s impossible to please everyone, but I’d like to think a group of Uni Watch readers will be capable of having a good time no matter where we meet up. Looking forward to seeing all of you in two weeks.
Uni Watch News Ticker: I called the Angels yesterday to check up on that hearsay about the team possibly ditching its road grays and wearing red jerseys on the road full-time. The response: Absolutely zero truth to that. … The Sharks had previously announced that they’d be upgrading their George Gund III memorial from a helmet decal to a jersey patch. Now they’ve released the patch design (thanks, Brinke). … The Cardinals have confirmed that they’ll be wearing a Stan Musial memorial patch this season (duh), but the patch design isn’t yet finalized. … Here’s how the Super Bowl patch looks on the Niners’ jerseys. You can see a video of the patch being applied here. … The NFL and Nike have both been oddly reticent about revealing this year’s Pro Bowl uniforms (I’ve been bugging both of them). Fortunately, Gerald McCoy of the Bucs posted a photo of his jersey yesterday. It’s surprisingly reserved. … Remember Gonzaga’s bulldog-head uniforms from a few days ago? Here are the designs for all the other schools participating in that uni program. … I was recently interviewed for the Stealing Home podcast. To stream it or download it, scroll down to the bottom of this page. … This is pretty great: a video clip about the Penguins’ 1992 uni redesign (from Rob Ullman). … The Cubs have asked the city of Chicago for permission to make some serious changes to Wrigley Field (from Ben Fortney). … What’s even better than football in the snow? Rugby in the snow! (From Caleb Borchers.) … The Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey, has blue turf for its indoor sports arena (from Connor Wilson). … Very nice Chicago Bears jacket (from Brandon Peacy). … It turns out that the Rays will have two BP caps this season, not just the one I had previously reported. The colors in those photos are really bad — the parts that look black should be navy (from Cork Gaines). … This is interesting: In the locker room for the East/West Shrine Game, they hung two helmets in a Navy player’s locker, giving him a choice of which one to wear. “The Virginia Tech player appeared to only have one option, despite VT wearing a variety of helmets during the season,” notes Ryan Robey. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: There’s no better way to honor one of history’s greatest human beings than by wearing really ugly corporate sneakers. … I remember watching the Yanks/Bosox one-game playoff in 1978 (i.e., the Bucky Dent game), but I didn’t recall that Yaz was missing his helmet logo just prior to popping out to end the game (from Christopher Falvey). … “As an American yid, I purposefully try to avoid Israeli politics,” says Bernie Langer. “But a friend told me to check out news about Tuesday night’s election. Because of the country’s multi-party system, their election diagrams have a decidedly more colorful flair than American red/blue maps.” Nice! Looks like a bunch of Pantone swatches. … Here’s still more on the killing of the Cal logo (Brinke again). … Here’s another new (to me) case of a team whose uniforms were stolen, forcing a makeshift solution: According to the 1966 entry on this “This Day in Hockey History” listing, the Red Wings had their unis pinched prior to a game against Montreal, forcing them to wear their junior team’s uniforms. “I tried to find a picture of the game, but all I could find was this brief mention in the Montreal Gazette, down under the ‘Habs Errors Costly’ subheading,” says Daren Landers. … I think I might have already linked to this recently, but just in case: A Michigan sports blog is putting together a comprehensive timeline of Wolverines football uniforms (from Jay Winkler). … Yesterday I mentioned that a bunch of sailboats had been turned into a de facto art exhibit. That reminded Dan Cichalski of a Maine operation that turns sails into tote bags, throw pillows, and more. … “I attended one of the many inaugural parties in Washington on Monday night,” says Cary O’Reilly. “The party was held at the Society of the Cincinnati headquarters, which featured a cool-looking old uniform. It turns out that diplomats used to be required to be in uniform when they presented themselves to foreign heads of state.” … What was Aubie, the Auburn mascot, wearing on the back of his head in this old photo? “They’re Weagles, which were the helmet merit stickers that former football coach Doug Barfield awarded players until the 1980 season,” explains Brian Powers. … If you watch this highlight video from Kenny Rogers’s 1994 perfect game, you’ll see that the Rangers weren’t wearing the MLB 125th-anniversary patch, which I thought all teams wore in ’94. Hmmmm (good spot by Paul Quinn). … The College of New Jersey baseball team appears to be taking its road jersey and cap designs from the Yankees (from Alan Borock). … Caron Butler of the Clippers was wearing shiny silver sneakers against the Thunder last night (from Jonee Eisen). … Buried in the middle of this article is the news that the Penguins wore white at home on Jan. 6, 1968: “The Penguins wore their white road uniforms for a change. ‘I just wanted to give the fans a look at them,’ [GM Jack] Riley explained” (great find by Jerry Wolper). … For those of you who’ve occasionally expressed concern that my love of meat might be having a deleterious effect on my cholesterol levels, my doctor did some routine blood work on me last week, and the numbers came back as follows: LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) = 63; HDL (the “good” cholesterol) = 48; total cholesterol = 121. The obvious lesson: Eat more meat!