By Phil Hecken
A short while back, Nate Robinson announced he would wear #10 with the Denver Nuggets. Now, uniform changes (and corresponding number changes) are a dime-a-dozen in sports, especially the NBA, but Robinson’s reason was interesting — he wanted to honor soccer player Lionel Messi.
This struck one of our favorite younger Uni Watchers, Mike Engle, who approached me about writing an article exploring the phenomenon of those athletes who’ve taken the numbers of athletes who play in different sports as their own.
That’s really all there is to this (and now that I’ve stolen Mike’s setup), I’ll turn the remainder of the lede over to him as he takes a look at…
Cross-Sports Uniform Tributes
By Mike Engle
Not too long ago (relative to this writing), everybody’s favorite post-Spud little dunker, Nate Robinson, signed with the Denver Nuggets. Throughout Robinson’s career so far, he has worn #2 (Bulls, Warriors, Knicks) or #4 (Knicks again–same stint, different number, Celtics), except for a brief stint in Oklahoma City, where he split the difference with #3. If you are a bigger NBA fan than I am (and that’s not saying a lot), you might have realized right away that because Denver retired Alex English’s #2, and issued #3 and #4 to Ty Lawson and Randy Foye, respectively, something had to give. So Robinson ventured into the realm of double digits and chose #10. His reasoning? A shout-out to fellow short sportsman Lionel Messi.
One of my favorite Uni Watch subtopics is when athletes have true stories behind their selection of jersey numbers. (On that note, that was also the subject of my favorite Paul Lukas column on ESPN.com, which was invaluable in writing this piece. I am pretty sure I contributed some info for Paul’s story, and wherever I did, it was probably for a hockey player.) But back to Nate Robinson, and why he chose #10. Everybody knows that Michael Jordan picked #23 to be half of his older brother, and that a Caribbean-raised baseball player wearing #21 is probably saluting Roberto Clemente. Other nice stories tend to involve geography (Sid Fernandez or Benny Agbayani wearing #50 for Hawaii, the 50th state), history (Jaromir Jagr’s #68 for the Prague Spring Rebellion), autobiographical numerology (Ryan Smyth’s #94 for his graduation from high school and draft year, Sidney Crosby’s birthday #87, or Bixente Lizarazu’s completely platonic #69), or a host of other reasons. But upon reading about a basketball player picking a soccer player’s number, I realized that this could probably represent an interesting sub-niche: cross-sport tributes.
Now, for show and tell time with cross-sport tributes:
• Messi is the leader in the clubhouse with another cross-sport tribute. My favorite backup goalie, Peter Budaj (bias alert, I’m a Habs diehard), has him on his mask.
• Speaking of goalie masks, Ray Emery used to routinely depict his favorite boxers on his masks, as seen with Ottawa (again, another), Philadelphia, and Anaheim. I’m pretty sure he ditched the pattern upon his signing with Chicago, but now that he is back with Philly, I wonder if Emery will reprise it.
• Speaking of Denver sports, Josh Bard was raised in Denver, so his #77 for the Boston Red Sox was for Karl Mecklenburg and Raymond Bourque. (Bard has apparently also worn #7 for Elway, so that’s a tie with Messi, for now, by this unofficial count.)
• In that same picture, that #84 is J.T. Snow. His dad (then, recently deceased) was L.A. Rams receiver Jack Snow, so his son had a cross-sport tribute too.
• Roger Clemens couldn’t buy the Yankees’ #21 from Paul O’Neill, so after a failed flirtation with #12, he took #22 not just because it was the closest available number, but because his son liked Emmitt Smith.
• Pat Tillman also made it onto backup goalie Jason LaBarbera’s mask at one time.
• Off the beaten track, but some pop culture crossovers with Michael Jackson: Ron Artest signed with the Lakers right around when Jacko died. Once Artest got around to picking a number, he took #37 to match the 37 weeks Thriller was the #1 album on the charts. And then Ron Artest became Metta World Peace. Plus, Ken Griffey, Jr. took a turn at bat with just one glove on. (Somewhere, our Ricko said, “So what? Every fielder was basically doing the same thing before, during, and after.”)
• Does this count for Messi? I don’t think so, but I suppose it’s debatable: Steve Nash wears #10 because #10 is a stereotypical playmaker’s number in soccer, and Nash loves soccer. And he needed a number not retired by Wilt Chamberlain.
• And even though these probably don’t quite count either, I’m including them here because it takes us full circle back to Montreal: the Montreal Expos had a black #9 on the right sleeve for Maurice Richard’s death (which looked really spooky on Lee Stevens), and the Habs warmed up in Gary Carter jerseys after he died. (Extra-special nice touch by Youppi, who wore a memorialized throwback Expos jersey!) Because hey, somebody needs to remember Nos Amours, and the Washington Nati*nals sure as hell don’t!
Did I miss one? Tell me/us about it in the comments section!
Thanks, Mike — great job with that. Well readers? You heard the man — lets hear your thoughts down below.
NCAAFB Uniform News & Updates
This will be a semi-recurring column on Uni Watch and will appear whenever there is any news or updates on the College Football uniform front.
If you have ANY new NCAAFB news, follow and tweet me at @PhilHecken (and you’ll get your tweet in lights on here). You can also e-mail me (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) Gmail (dot) com) or send/cc: Paul to the following address: NewCollegeUni (at) Gmail (dot) com. OK? OK! (for any image, click to enlarge):
• Cincinnati Bearcats:
The Cincinnati Bearcats continue to issue “teasers” for their new uniforms, and the two pics above are the latest. From those, it appears as the Bearcats will continue in the long line of adidas teams to be outfitted with shoulders that bear the ‘tiretread’ pattern — put me down as not a fan. The back will have some kind of animal (bearcat???) on the collar. Not sure when the full unveil will be.
• Delaware Blue Hens:
The Blue Hens have added a State of Delaware logo (described as a “patch” but it looks more like direct-sew to me) as well as six stars to the back of their jerseys this year. Those represent the number of national titles won by UD football teams (1946, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1979 and 2003). More info here.
• Syracuse Orange:
OK, so this isn’t really uniform related, but Syracuse players will be wearing gloves that feature the number “44″ when placed together. For those who aren’t aware, 44 is a pretty important number in Syracuse history, having been worn by Ernie Davis, Jim Brown and Floyd Little, among others. Since the number is retired, the rationale is that everyone now can “wear” 44. Or something. (h/t to Chris Mahr).
• Rutgers Scarlet Knights:
No photo, but Stephen Dahl reports he “Received a tweet from the Rutgers Atheltic department that they’re retiring #52 in honor of former paralyzed player Eric LeGrand on Sept 14th against Eastern Michigan. The announcement added that they will only use that number for special occasions when Eric walks again.” No word on whether any kind of patch or other memorial will be added to the uniforms.
• Nicholls State Colonels:
Here’s the uni/helmet video reveal for the Nicholls State Colonels. You’ll never guess what the theme music is. (Thanks to Tyler Knowles)
That’s it for the college uni news for today. Keep the tips coming folks!
I received this neat little writeup in an E-mail yesterday. It’s not really “lede” worthy, but it still deserves seeing the light of Uni Watch day. Check it out:
By Lou Sherwood
Koshien? Whats that you ask? Koshien is the annual Nation Summer Baseball Tournament in Japan. It takes 49 regional winners in the various prefectures, and winnows them down in June and July for the final tournament in August.
It is not OFFICIALLY streamed online, but there are private streamers on sites like JustinTV and Livestream who will put out some games. For those who have a Roku player, the unofficial JustinTV app has it as well.
Even in the preliminary rounds, the atmosphere is amazing. We all know how wild and full of song fans at JPBL games are – well the Koshien crowds, being full of high school kids, takes it up a notch or two: entire rooting sections in school colors or even in replica baseball unis.
Great video from the stands.
As you can see, uniform wise, it is a blast from the past in many ways, and some oddities:
• Since apparently Japanese high school teams rarely wear numbers, most teams have temporary numbers pasted on their backs.
• Stirrups! Not a pajama in sight!
• As expected, and as seen in the video, things are VERY ritualized. Not only do the two teams honor each other before the game, and the end of each game, the team capatins face each other and the umpires and bow as they sing – what I am assuming is the Kahien anthem — its the same song every game.
• In the JPBL, the team uniforms are all in English — not so here — many teams have only Japanese on the uni fronts.
• Even the umpires have a throwback feel to them, as in a day where umpires all over the world are wearing the mesh pull over, these umps are still wearing powder blue, button down, ELBECO type dress shirts.
The pace of these games is exhilarating — no stepping out, tugging on batting gloves here! It is heart wrenching to watch too, sometimes – this literally is these kids lives, and to lose is so shameful — especially if you make the fatal error or pitch, that the losing kids collapse in shame in tears.
It it definitely worth staying up late at night to watch a few of these, if you can find them…
Uni Watch News Ticker: The New Orleans Pelicans will have their official uni unveiling on Thursday, August 1, at 1:00 pm (I believe that’s CDT). … Todd Radom has designed the 2014 All Star Game Logo (h/t Harrison Tishler @phiballhawk). … And here is the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game Logo (h/t Walter Young @FormerDirtDart) … “Here is a screenshot from the well-known Canadian TV show ‘Degrassi High’ circa 1987, showing one of the characters (Wheels) wearing a Footscray Victorian Football League jumper,” says Graham Clayton. “It was so unusual to see a teenager from the other side of the world wearing an Aussie Rules jumper – who gave it to him, and why was it worn in the show?” … Here is an interesting look at how color schemes and graphic design can affect consumer behavior (thanks to Graham Clayton). … Check out the “personalized” stirrups on Boomer! “All the old George Scott pictures are coming out with him passing away the other day,” says Lose Remerswaal. And this from Andy Chalifour: George Scott gave us the following: 1) shark teeth neck-lace; 2) batting helmet in the field. … Cool picture of a half Central Michigan half Kansas City Chiefs helmet that was at Chiefs camp this week. This was for Eric Fisher to sign (from Jimmy Couto). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments and also from Brinke: the 100-year evolution of Chevrolet’s bowtie logo. … Couple interesting photos from the Augusta Greenjackets’ game (with thanks to Marc Viquez, who writes: “1) I have heard of Major League players on assignment wearing the parent club batting helmet, but never a player wearing a batting helmet from a lower Single A ballclub such as the San Jose Giants;” and, 2) A local little league team was at the stadium sporting the RED SOXX. Why is it spelled with the double x? One of the little league players told Marc it was so they did not have to pay Boston millions of dollars. “Who says that the youth of today was not smart?” … Ah, the dangers of the Internet combined with photoshop. Parks McLeod noted USC received a commitment from a 4star DT yesterday and he tweeted this photo after his decision. It “shows a garnet Gamecocks helmet, and in the background you can see several duplicates. And check out those stripes! This looks like more of an option than those chrome lids.” Unfortunately, that’s just a photoshop of the new Cincy Bearcats helmet. Caveat Emptor! … Interesting find from Matt Talbot who writes, “A driver and car used a throwback motif for a race to honor Henry Ford’s 150th birthday. The faux leather helmet is awesome.” … Carl Pohlad’s heirs (owners of the Twins) are are battling the IRS in court over the value assigned to Pohlad’s stake in the team (thanks to Tommy Turner). … At the end of this article, AP has some good remarks on guys complaining about the new mandatory leg pad rule (sent in by Stu Taylor). … Here’s a photo of Dan Marino wearing #14. From the looks of that helmet/facemask, and the knee brace, that appears to be later in his career (props to Alan Borock for that). … Over on Twitter, Gary Mattox (@MadOx75) came across this in his FB feed — Reading Fightins throwback to Reading Indians night giveaway. … Not so pretty in pink? The “Naturals” will be wearing this pink jersey on Friday Night (h/t to Sully @pal3327). Also from Sully, the Pulaski Mariners (a MiLB affiliate) are giving away a ‘Road To The Show’ tee-shirt. … The Tigers will be donning these special jerseys for their ¡fiesta tigres! night this coming Saturday evening (thanks to George Flory), with a bit more info here, and another shot of the jersey here (cap tip to Tom Klipsch). … The St. Louis Rams will be wearing their throwbacks against the Bucs & Titans this season. … Eric Brunell saw this on the TV broadcast of the Pirates-Cardinals game yesterday and noticed stadium vendors (at least this guy in particular) at PNC are wearing the Sunday alternates as their uniforms. … Here’s a really good look at the custom mouth guard that LA Tech players will be wearing this season (thanks to Patrick T. Walsh). … Anyone who umpires, like our own Comrade Marshall, will appreciate this bit from Deadspin about umpire/manager arguments and lip-reading (tip o’ the cap to Robert Marshall). … In yesterday’s ticker I asked about the relationship UA had with the Ravens, and Dawn Murphy has some details on that. … Here’s a real spiffy look at the A’s logo evolution, as on the wall of the Bar & Grille at the Oakland Coliseum (great spot by Ethan Kassel). … And finally, this from Don Sauberan: “These are a couple of pictures of an American Legion baseball team from Omaha, NE. Cool old-school baggy look with striped stirrup socks. Also like the hat.”
That’s all for this Wednesday boys and girls. Everyone have a wonderful day and I’ll be back with more tomorrow. Don’t forget, Paul is on his well-deserved blog-cation until August 24th, and webmaster Johnny Ek will take care of your Uni Watch Weekends in the nonce.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“There’s no shame in acknowledging most of the USFL’s uniforms were better than what half of the NFL wears today.”