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On Friday I attended the MLB All-Star FanFest at the Javits Center in Manhattan. A big chunk of it consisted of overpriced food and overpriced merch (they should call it FanFoist); another big chunk of it consisted of cringe-inducing silliness (see above). But lurking amidst all the nonsense was some legitimately cool stuff, much of it at the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s exhibit space. Today’s entry will focus on some of the stuff that caught my eye.
The Hall of Fame had a bunch of jerseys on display, including one worn by former Giants manager John McGraw in 1915. The interesting thing about it is that there are belt loops on the jersey (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):
I’ve never seen that before, and I’m not even sure how it would work. Like, did McGraw have a separate belt on the inside of his pants? Or did he not tuck in his jersey? Hall of Fame curator Tom Shieber says the inside of the jersey has some sort of tag indicating that the design is patented, and he’s promised to provide me more info on that later on. (A few hours after I took these photos, reader Carlos Borge sent me nearly identical photos of his own. Turns out he had been at the FanFest around the same I’d been there.)
The Hall of Fame also displayed one of those 1933 National League All-Star jerseys. I’ve seen these before, but I’m not sure I’d ever seen the really unusual number font used on the back:
Pretty stylized, eh? Anyone know what font that is? Tom Shieber says the Hall has several of these 1933 All-Star jerseys, and he’s promised to send me rear-view photos of all of them so we can get a better look at this number set.
The Hall also had an old Nap Lajoie jersey with a broken “C” logo. The interesting thing is that the broken edges of the “C” were both sewn back onto the jersey:
I was intrigued to see the program cover from the 1935 All-Star Game, which for some reason had an umpire on the cover. Seriously, when’s the last time an ump was featured on a program cover, especially for a showcase event like an All-Star Game? Check it out:
Moving away from the Hall of Fame exhibit space, there was a small exhibitor’s table devoted to women’s baseball, and they had a beautiful 1949 uniform worn by Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez of the Chicago Colleens (although I’m pretty sure the cap is a reproduction):
Over in another area — I no longer recall exactly where — I see a full Braves satin night-game uni:
There was also plenty of silly stuff. Lots and lots of silly stuff. Just about every MLB licensee you can think of had an exhibit space (I resisted the urge to ask the Phiten folks if they could cite a single medical or scientific study demonstrating the beneficial effects of their titanium Tooth Fairy accessories), plus they slapped an All-Star logo on pretty much everything you can imagine. My favorite example of this was a table hawking All-Star Game wine, whatever that is, along with a rather unique wine bottle holder:
The bottle holder might actually be cool, if not for two things: The number on the guy’s back is double-zero, and there’s that highly annoying “TM” mark on next to the batting helmet logo.
Unfortunately, there was one aspect of FanFest that went beyond silly and crossed the line into offensive. I wouldn’t have known about it if not for reader Harrison Tishler, who sent me the following note yesterday: “Today I attended MLB FanFest. We had Poland Spring water bottles. The security guard told us that we had to peel off the label because Aquafina is an MLB sponsor. Here is a picture of the garbage can with all of the different labels from ‘the competition'”:
“And that’s not all,” says Harrison. “Certain events weren’t accessible unless you had Bank of America or T-Mobile. It’s horrible how corporate everything is.”
Holy bejeezus. You know, it’s bad enough that they’re imposing this corporate conformity crap at all, but there’s something particularly onerous about imposing it on water. I mean, come on — it’s water, not a wristband or a bat or even a can of soda. Water is just, you know, water. On some level, I suppose it’s kind of cool that Harrison and some other FanFest attendees had to strip the labels from their water bottles, since the very notion of branded water is absurd to begin with. But still — corporate conformity is crap, and MLB should be ashamed of itself for policing this kind of stuff.
On a personal note: If you’ve been reading Uni Watch for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the name of Hall of Fame curator Tom Shieber, who I’ve mentioned several times in today’s piece. I refer to Tom on a pretty regular basis, in part because he’s an invaluable resource, an extremely knowledgeable historian, the guy who built “Dressed to the Nines,” and so on. But it’s worth mentioning here that Tom is also a terrific guy and a good friend. It was great seeing him at FanFest, and I’m looking forward to watching the All-Star Game with him tomorrow evening at his hotel. Take a bow, Tom:
One final thing: Tom introduced me to a photographer (didn’t get his name, alas) who passed along some really good info he said he’d gotten from the Dodgers’ equipment manager. Goes like this: You know how the Dodgers used white outlining on all their jersey graphics from the late ’70s through the mid-2000s? Here’s why: The Dodgers, like most teams at that time, recycled most of their big league jerseys — sometimes in their minor league system and sometimes in the bigs. But when they had previously used blue lettering and numbering, with no outlining, the tackle twill would often leave a blue stain or shadow on the jersey, which would cause problems when they re-used the jersey. This wasn’t a problem in the days of flannel jerseys and felt lettering, but it became a problem in the doubleknit era. The white outlining solved the problem, because the white layer, not the blue layer, was flush against the jersey. They eventually scrapped the white outlining after improvements in fabrics and dyes eliminated the problem. Never heard that before! This story alone made my trip to FanFest worth it.
There was one other very interesting section of the FanFest that’s worth discussing, but I’m going to save that for its own lead entry, probably tomorrow.
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Tasty treat: As Phil mentioned yesterday — and as you can see above in a series of screen shots provided by reader Nick Bove — several A’s players wore killer striped stirrups on Saturday, and again yesterday. I asked A’s equipment manager Steve Vucinich for the backstory. Here’s his response:
I was wondering how long (not if) it would take for you to email me! Those socks are for a throwback on July 27th (1969 A’s). Chris Young, who goes old-school on weekends, coincidentally asked if we had any (he noticed an old photo).
Wait till you see how I corrected the 69 jerseys — sleeveless, but not straight down from the shoulder. Cut in.
Only problem/difference is that the gold is brighter than 1969 (double-knit vs. cotton).
Very cool. I think I speak for everyone here when I say I can’t wait for that July 27 game!
Ads on fields: With the Blue Jays’ TV network projecting ads onto the field, reader Bernd Wilms has a really good story about soccer field advertising. Dig:
Back in 1987, the West German government was attempting to hold the first general national census since 1970, prompting a widespread uproar centering around privacy concerns. On the morning of the May 15 match between Borussia Dortmund and Hamburg, protesters had sprayed the words “Boycott and Sabotage the Census” onto the Westfalenstadion field. Even worse, they had placed their slogan near midfield in large letters, facing the main camera positions, essentially ensuring that viewers would see the boycott message every time play moved across midfield.
Public calls for a boycott in public were being classed as felonies at the time, so the field obviously needed to be cleaned immediately. But every attempt to remove the lacquer spray paint failed, and by the afternoon it was looking like the match would have to be canceled.
With only a few hours until kickoff and radio reports already indicating that the match was in doubt, an employee in the city of Dortmund’s sports department came up with a plan: Instead of removing the slogan, it could simply be altered.
And so it came to pass that Dortmund and Hamburg played out a 4-3 scorcher over soccer’s first-ever on-field ad: “The President: Don’t Boycott and Sabotage the Census”
The head of the city’s sports department later reported that he had run the plan by the office of the President of the Federal Republic, where it was presented to the President himself. Richard von Weizsäcker’s approval came within an hour, the President passing on that he had been “very amused” by the idea.
Highlights of the match are available here [if you can’t see the embedded video, use this link]:
’Skins Watch: Just one ’Skins Watch item today — a good article on Native American sports imagery from a Canadian newspaper. Recommended. Reader Stephen Coulter, who submitted that link, offers some interesting commentary:
Interesting how this has been raised as an issue up here in provincial Edmonton. Of particular note is the brief discussion on the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos (although that name has also been used for the city’s hockey and baseball teams in the past). It is interesting how that name is a near non-issue here, even though “eskimo” is a term that has long since passed to the pejorative. “Inuit” is now the preferred term in Canada for northern indigenous peoples.
There are probably several reasons why the Eskimos’ name isn’t controversial up here. One, they don’t use any native imagery (their mascot is actually a polar bear). Two, I would wager that less than 1% of the Canadian population has actually encountered an Inuit person. Unless you work in or visit the three northern territories, you don’t really deal with that segment of the population. Three, Edmonton is the northernmost city in North America with a population over one million, so they are proud of that identity and see being associated with the Eskimo image as a prideful thing, even though it is a bit of a misnomer because Inuit people live much much, much farther north in Canada, not anywhere near Edmonton.
Anyways, just saw the story and thought it would be of interest. Keep up the good fight.
Research request: If you have nothing to do today, have access to a library, and want to do a good deed involving uni research, give me a shout. Thanks.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Subtle change for Florida football, which has apparently changed from an embroidered chest patch to a rubber/plastic thingie (great catch by Dan Wunderlich). … Phil had this on Saturday, but in case you missed it: Here’s a teaser video for the Sabres’ third jersey (from Jeff Link). … New football uniforms for Georgia State. … The “intimidating” facemask thing is getting out of hand. … Tris Wykes has written a good article about a guy who re-laces baseball gloves. I’ll have a full entry on this topic (but not about this same guy) shortly. … New logos for Richard Stockton College (from Kurt Esposito). … Here’s an article about the new Yale football uniforms (from Jason Criss). … Someone at Nike needs geography lessons. … New kit for Roma, and get this — it’s sponsor-free (from Andrew Rosti. … While looking for something else, I came across this day-by-day timeline of the 1956 baseball season and noticed the entry for April 22: “When the Phillies bat in the bottom of the 9th [of a game they are losing]‚ fans start throwing bottles and cans on the field. RF Whitey Lockman calls time‚ and returns with a helmet. ‘I wouldn’t mind getting hit by a regular bottle but when they break off the tops and throw them at you‚ that’s too much‚’ he says later.” That’s a pretty early example of a player wearing a helmet in the field. … Here are the uniforms that the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters are wearing for their “We Love Hokkaido Series” this year. For the July 17 game in Hakodate, they have added a Hakodate City sleeve patch (from Jeremy Brahm). … Two great submissions from Roger Faso: First, check out this great 1977 Medalist uniform ad. And then dig this shot from the 1987 MLB All-Star Game, which was played in Oakland. The batboy has a yellow cap! Where we could get a closer look at it. … Chris Wondolowski, the USA soccer player who recently scored three goals with an extra “W” on his NOB, wants to have it both ways: He wants to have his name spelled correctly, but he’s also superstitious and therefore wants to retain the extra “W.” The solution? They putting a “W” on the inner front collar. We’ve seen lots of things put on the inner back collar before — slogans, flags, etc. — but this is the first time I can think of that something’s been put on the inner front collar (from Sam Jurgens). … The Brewers will be wearing Negro Leagues throwbacks on July 20. They haven’t revealed the uniform yet, but this will apparently be the cap (from Chance Michaels). … Phil mentioned this yesterday, but in case you missed it: You know the G.I. Joe thing has gotten out of hand when the Yankees — the New York freakin’ Yankees! — play dress-up soldier on a non-holiday. I’m trying to decide if this was a joke or a disgrace, but what the hell, let’s just say it was both. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: Not all soldiers are heroes, and not all heroes are soldiers. When teams start wearing special uniforms for firemen, teachers, social workers, Peace Corps volunteers, home health aids, and other deserving honorees, we can talk. Until then, this camo nonsense is just another piece of bogus kneejerk faux-patriotism. … The only photo I’ve ever seen of Johnny Callison of the Phillies wearing a Mets helmet in the 1964 All-Star Game is this one — or at least that was the case until I saw this shot. Not only that, but the player at far left is Johnny Edwards of the Reds — wearing what appears to be a Cardinals helmet! It’s definitely not a Reds helmet, because Cincy’s 1964 headwear was white. I’ll include this new helmet mix-up discovery, along with several others, in a follow-up ESPN piece tomorrow. … Bill Nye the Science Guy threw out the first pitch in Seattle the other night and got a custom jersey for the occasion (from Norm Johnson). … Marty Hick’s nephew just turned six years old, so Marty made him two jersey-themed birthday cakes based on famous players who wore No. 6 — Musial and Russell. “Making cakes based on old-timers is easier, because they’re NNOB,” says Marty. … This is pretty funny: Auburn’s SID printed and distributed game notes for his wedding (from Josh Claywell). … The Rays had “Disco Night” on Saturday, which provided the latest reason to love Joe Maddon (from Mike Edgerley). … Mariners prospect Taijuan Walker wore stirrups in the Futures Game. Apparently his Twitter followers told him to do it (from Mike McLaughlin). … This is odd: a 1934 photo of Tulane RB Barney Mintz with one long sleeve and one short sleeve. “I checked a few game stories and there was no mention of it,” says Ryan Dowgin. “I have to imagine it got ripped at some point during the game, as other photos I have found of him from different games show two full sleeves.” … The ECHL’s Ontario Reign are having a jersey design contest. Bonus point to anyone who can come up with a design that changes the team’s name to something that ends in “s” (thanks, Phil). … According to a comment posted yesterday by The Jeff, the Buccaneers’ uniforms were originally supposed to look like this. Pretty nice! … Rob Holecko notes that the Cubs appear to be using the McAuliffe font — aka the Red Sox font — for their batting helmet numbers. … Really interesting slideshow on the design process for the posters for the Broadway show Venus in Fur. … Brutal color-on-color combo in yesterday’s Astros/Rays game.