By Phil Hecken
As you probably know, some articles on Uni Watch are weeks in the making, others months. Today’s feature is literally two years in the making.
Back on or about June 12 of 2011, there was some chatter in the comments section about the Washington Nationals/Senators and two posters, “Teenchy” and R. Scott Rogers (“Arr Scott,” although at the time, he may have used “RS Rogers” as his handle) were in a rather in depth discussion about the “W” on the cap of the Washington baseball club. More specifically, whether the middle of the “W” was actually pointed, and whether that point (or lack of one) was accurately represented on a Washington throwback, or more specifically, whether the Turn Back The Clock caps worn by the Nationals on June 11, 2011 were correct.
After that comment discussion, and impressed by the research of Teenchy, I took it upon myself to contact him — as it turns out, “Teenchy” is named Ed Johnson, and in my e-mail to him, I said,
“Been following you in the comments for quite a while; you sound like quite the dedicated Uni Watcher.
“I am in agreement with you in your hypothesis that the ‘W’ did indeed have a point in the center, and the photos you posted today seems to back that up nicely.
“If you’re ever interested in doing a post with me on a weekend dealing with this or any other historical phenomena, I’d love to. Pretty much of an open canvas as far as that goes. Please let me know.”
Ed did reply:
I grew up in the Carolinas where, before the Braves moved to Atlanta, the Senators were the closest MLB team. (My living memory is limited to Nats v2.0; as I was born during the Kennedy Administration and Nats v1.0 were already gone to Minnesota.) My DC-area connections grew during the early ’90s when I made a career change and moved to DC for law school. While there I got involved with some of the fan organizations looking to bring MLB back to DC (it was the Astros being rumored to move there at the time, or getting one of the franchises that ultimately went to Colorado and Florida). Through them I became friends with Hank Thomas, Walter Johnson’s grandson; I went on to become, along with Tom Simon and Neal McCabe, one of the editors of his Johnson bio, Walter Johnson: Baseball’s Big Train.
In the mid-90s I moved to a suburb of Philadelphia and began practicing law. After a couple of visits to Mitchell and Ness and some discussions re my interest, I helped Peter Capolino date some old Nats photos he was using to develop his line of Cooperstown Collection jerseys. Through my Washington connections I also got to know Phil Wood, Long-time Nats historian and memorabilia collector who now covers the NL Nats for MASN. (I think it’ll be Phil who can solve the pointed “W” mystery for us.)
I also became friends with and gained as a client George Case III, who put his father’s home movies on video and marketed it as “Around the League, 1939-1946. (Paul wrote a feature on the video about a year ago.) I helped George secure legal rights around the use of some of his footage in the old HBO series When It Was a Game. Ironically I moved to the same Philadelphia suburb as George, and we’re now practically neighbors.
We also collaborated on an exhibition at the Trenton (NJ) City Museum that coincided with the return of minor league baseball to that city in 1994. Trenton had a Washington farm club in the mid-late 1930s with which the elder Case made his professional debut. That set me down a path of researching for a book on the AL Nats v1.0 and 2.0 that I never got around to writing. During that time I wrote a regular column for the Washington Baseball Historical Society on a number of the Nats’ minor league farm clubs.
As a result I have a large trove of AL Nats-related research including photos and video. Those are what I’ve been referring to during my discussions of the ’36-37 Nats unis in yesterday’s as well as other comments.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have a lot of experience around the AL Nats and connections to people who can probably fill in the details around the uniforms in question. I wish the NL Nats front office had contacted some of these people before developing their throwbacks.
I’d be interested in hearing what Mr. Rogers has to say; between the two of us and your and Paul’s connections I imagine we could clear up a lot of Washington baseball uniform mystery and – who knows? – maybe influence the NL Nats to honor DC’s baseball past properly.
I wrote back to Ed and suggested a column, as he is clearly a fountain of knowledge in this area.
As sometimes happens with my UW connections, I didn’t hear from Ed again. That is until about two weeks ago, when I received the following message: “I just realized this has been in my drafts folder for almost two years. I’m forwarding to you now, as I was reminded of it by this photo on the Washington DC Baseball History Facebook page.”
And what followed, and what you’re about to see, if quite a detailed set of examples of the Nats/Sens ‘pointed’ W. The evidence which Ed discussed a couple years back. To wit (click any photo to enlarge):
The Pointed W
By Ed Johnson
Attached is a phone cam photo of my Cooperstown Ball Cap Co. ’36 Nats replica cap and my New Era 5950 Nats TBTC cap. I recall discussion of the inaccuracy of Cooperstown Ball Cap Co. caps triggering some of the dispute.
Regardless of opinion on which original Nats cap “W” is correct, I think it can be agreed that the TBTC “W” is incorrect. It’s too thin and embroidered, not felt; it’s more similar to the expansion Nats 1961-62 cap except that the middle point of the “W” is too low.
Now for Nats photos supporting the “pointed ‘W'” hypothesis:
Buddy Lewis: See video clip
Some of the best examples come from a whole series of Nats @ Red Sox photos @ Boston Public Library:
Jake Powell with the Red Sox’ Oscar Melillo: Note Powell’s jersey doesn’t look like the 1936-37 version but the 1935 version. he would be traded to the Yankees during that season.
If I had to draw a conclusion, it would be that the apex of the “W” was pointed, if not both the red letter and the white background, then at least the red letter. There were enough inconsistencies that I ca easily see variations in both being likely.
If Scott Rogers would like to provide photos showing the “W” to be flat all the way across the top, including both the red and white felt, I’d be glad to see them. Again, I searched UW and I couldn’t find the original discussion in the comments.
• Here’s what MLB is selling as the “1936-37, 1948-51” Nats cap.
• Never mind that it’s not correct for 1936-7, it’s not even correct for 1948-51.
• New Era is selling some kind of “1937 MLB All-Star Game” 5950 that is so wrong in so many ways.
• Compare those – and the 1937 TBTC cap – to an actual 1961 expansion Nats cap, game worn by Chuck Cottier.
• This is what New Era currently sells as a 1961 Nats cap, again a 5950.
So you can see that pretty much none of the current crop of reproductions’ cap “W”s come close to what was actually worn, not only for 1936-7 but also 1948-51 and, to some extent, for 1961-2. My Cooperstown Ball Cap Co. cap, while also not exact, comes a bit closer to actuality that the current repros and the TBTC cap.
As Scott Rogers often alludes in the UW comments (particularly regarding the expansion Nats), it’s not just Brooklyn Dodger fans who can’t find accurate replica caps!
Thanks, Ed. It seems there is plenty of evidence to support the claim that the middle of the “W” was pointed, but of course, the reproductions fail. Thanks, also, for the diligent research and perseverance in following through on this post.
Well readers (and particularly Scotty — I know you’re out there). What say you? And let this be a lesson about a dedicated Uni Watcher. It may take a while, but we will follow through on a uni-mystery for years, just to prove a point.
Cleveland becomes the 1902 Bronchos!
Last evening (and I wish I had known this before the game was over), the Cleveland baseball team threw back to the uniforms of the 1902 Cleveland Bronchos.
A beautiful look to be sure.
Unfortunately, not only did I not see this game, apparently only the fans and photographers in the stands did as well, because it wasn’t televised by either the Indians or their opponents, the Kansas City Royals, who did not wear throwbacks. Too bad, because this was a missed opportunity by the Cleveland ballclub to have a wonderful looking matchup. Why they chose to hold it when it was un-televised is beyond me.
Why wasn’t it televised? According to this article:
As Bronchos, the Indians were navy blue from head to shin. Stirrups were black. Tops had a white C on the chest and white numbers on the back. Belts, buttons and parts of the hats and shoes were white.
Fashion details are necessary in this case because, appropriately for a 1902 throwback, the game was not televised by either club. The Indians elected to play at night, meaning it fell in the Fox national exclusivity window.
It is the Tribe’s only scheduled non-TV game and second this season. The first occurred April 28 in Kansas City, for Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader. The Indians lost to right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, 9-0.
So, they choose to wear a gorgeous 1902 throwback and then proceed to play at night and when they knew the game wouldn’t be televised. Being that a 1902 game would certainly have been a day game, they couldn’t have waited until today to play it? And why couldn’t they have outfitted the Royals in something approximating a period-similar uniform?
I wish I had known about this game earlier. I could have done some historical research on the uniforms — maybe at some point (or if some enterprising reader wishes to verify the ‘authenticity’ of those 1902 unis). It is a shame so few people saw this game. What a wasted opportunity.
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.
And so, lets begin:
We begin today with Alex Cloutier, who has a total makeover for the Atlanta ballclub:
With all the talk about the Redskins name of late I’ve decided to re-brand all the major sports teams named after native Americans (whether the team name be a racial slur or not).
I Decided to start with the Braves as it was the easiest to do in my mind. The Braves are a storied franchise & I didn’t want to toss away all of the history the team has, so I decided to go back in their history & decided to use “Bees”. Bees was the last nickname the team had before switching back to braves in 1941. I used the colors of the original Bees & modernized the uniforms, but threw in a 1938 Boston Bees throwback to keep some history & striped hosiery.
Next up is Christopher Hall, with a slight tweak for UM:
I’m not sure if you accept college uni tweaks, but here’s this one and the original template.
This tweak only has a few small changes, but they matter to any diehard Michigan fan. Firstly, I switched away from the disgusting neon “maize” back to the classic gold maize from the Nike era. Secondly, I put a Nike logo on it. If only… The belt and helmet each have a couple minor color alterations as well. Go Blue!
We close today with Curtis Tarver who has a new logo for a new Conference:
Not thrilled with the American Athletic Conference logo, I made my own “napkin sketch” for someone with the talent to embellish. It’s explicit in the American theme, and the primary peel-off, the Starred A, can add stars with new conference membership, not unlike Old Glory.
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Back with a new batch today.
Click on each image to enlarge.
We begin today with Larry Bodnovich, who actually sent in a couple:
Colorized 1932 Portsmouth Spartans vs Chicago bears indoor game.
Dick LeBeau while at Ohio State in 1957
And we close today with Pete Woychick, who always sends a backstory with his colorizations:
I really like the bold, graphic look of this photo, found on the Boston Public Library site. It’s almost the way an illustrator would draw/paint the scene.
The caption says, in part: “Red Sox outfielder Leon Culberson leaps in front of scoreboard at Fenway Park, 1943. … Culberson snags a ball during practice.” It seems more likely to me that this was a “staged” photo rather than a true action shot. In either case, I wonder why he’s wearing the Boston road uniform?
Leon/Lee Culberson played parts of six seasons with the Red Sox and Senators. In 1943 he was a 23-year old rookie.
That’s it for today. Thanks to Larry and Pete. Lets keep those colorizations coming Uni Watchers!
Hiding In Plain Sight
Say what you will about the “camo” uniforms. They work as um, intended. Look at the graphic to the left of this text, and you’ll see the classic Yankees’ “Interlocking NY,” rendered in camouflage. It’s pretty hard to make out. I’d guess it’s pretty much impossible to discern from the stands.
Unfortunately, while camouflage may be highly desirable in a combat or hunting situation, it has the opposite effect on a sports uniform. That is, uniform numbers and logos and wordmarks should be HIGHLY visible, not close to invisible.
But we wouldn’t want to let a cynical marketing ploy get in the way of anything more important, like, say, a baseball game.
Actually, it’s probably not as bad as I’m making it out to be. On closeups, and in shadow, you can see the logo just fine.
Why were the Yankees wearing camo yesterday? It was the anniversary of George Steinbrenner’s death, of course. No actually, it was military appreciation day (scroll down). So, even though the Yanks wore their camo on Memorial Day (at Shea, where the Mets were in the process of kicking their asses), they got to wear them at home too. And now they’re 0-2 in camo in 2013.
One thing I do like about the camo though — while it has the unfortunate effect of making the numbers invisible at any distance, it does a great job of hiding the NOB.
New Sabres Third Sweater???
Since the Sabres didn’t really reveal their new alternate uniform Friday, despite the teasers, our own Tim E. O’Brien has taken a stab at what it might look like (click to enlarge):
My best guess at the Sabres’ third.
I know parts of this are going to be wholly wrong, but I think this is a concept that can account for every image we’ve seen.
Nice effort. Hopefully that’s pretty close to what they end up with. I have to say, I’m loving that gold — wonder if they’ll be able to wear that as a “white” alt as well as a dark. Probably not, since the NHL seems to be ultra-strict in terms of color-vs-color games, but that would match up very nicely against most of the dark uniforms out there.
Thanks to Sam Lam, we know some A’s players are sporting some primo hosiery (not sure why, but it looks great):
— Samuel Lam (@SamuelYLam) July 14, 2013
And that’s going to to it for today everyone. Hope your Sunday is great and your week is better. I’ll catch you next weekend!
Thanks to Ed “Teenchy” Johnson for the great pointy-W research, and to the concepters and colorizers as well. You guys rock.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Not only does it disrespect the 1948 team when some on the team dress like baseball players and others like jai alai players, it crushes the whole concept of uniform to begin with.”