By Morris Levin
The Society for American Baseball Research (“SABR”) is hosting the SABR 43 National Convention this weekend in Philadelphia. SABR publishes for the convention a journal of research papers on area baseball history. This year’s Philadelphia edition is The National Pastime: From Swampoodle to South Philly. The cover, above, features a reproduction of a 1915 schedule featuring the American League Athletics and National League Phillies. You can purchase a print copy here. It is blue and yellow for the city of Philadelphia.
The city adopted the blue and yellow flag in 1874 to honor and reflect the area’s colonization by the Swedish in 1638. There remain in the city today echoes of this Swedish past. Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church was built in 1697 and continues to stand today in the Queen Village neighborhood. As recently as May of this year, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia visited Philadelphia’s City Hall on the occasion of the 375th anniversary of the establishment of New Sweden.
The city of Pittsburgh’s metropolitan ensign is black and gold. The NFL Steelers have worn black and gold since their inception, when they wore the city shield on their jerseys in 1933, (and recreated in 1994). The Major League Baseball Pirates adopted black and gold in 1948, and the NHL Penguins in January 1980.
Philadelphia’s teams wear different colors but do and have worn city colors.
In 1938 many in the United States and Sweden celebrated the New Sweden Tercentenary. Philadelphia’s American-Swedish Historical Museum hosted an exhibit of 17th Century Sweden in the Age of Greatness. A traveling exhibition of Swedish art toured the country. Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Sweden dined with Mayor Fiorello La Guardia at the Waldorf in July 1938 at a banquet hosted by the New Sweden Tercentenary Committee of New York City.
The Phillies joined the Tercentenary celebrations in 1938 and wore Swedish blue and yellow versions of their uniforms for the season. The team had introduced a navy and red uniform color scheme in 1934, with an upward sloping Phillies script in red and navy. They wore variants on this scheme through 1941 which can be seen here in this Marc Okkonen-Dressed to the Nines survey. The 1938 home and road jerseys are alternate color versions of the uniforms they wore the better part of the decade.
This is Terry Mulholland photographed prior to the 1992 season wearing a Mitchell & Ness 1938 Phillies uniform and Roman Pro 1938 Phillies cap. Mitchell & Ness offered this reproduction of the road jersey.
Professional teams seeking identification with fans on ethnicity, heritage, and popular culture is common today. We see this on March 17 with St. Patrick’s Day spring training jerseys, in the NBA European Live Tour, and for heritage night promotions. This gives us brilliant weird cross-cultural presentations like a ballplayer from Miyazaki Prefecture celebrating the Polish heritage that grew in the American Midwest in the decades following the 1830-1831 November Uprising.
The Phillies were not the first in the city to wear the municipal colors. The Philadelphia Eagles played their first NFL season in 1933 wearing blue and yellow before switching to green. The Eagles wore the colors again in honor of the club’s 75th anniversary in 2007 at home against the Detroit Lions. (And of course the World Football League Philadelphia Bell wore blue and gold in their two seasons in 1974 and 1975.)
Before there was MLS football in Philadelphia, there was the Sons of Ben supporters club. The Sons of Ben began in January 2007 and selected as their colors the city colors. MLS assigned a franchise to the region in February 2008. The team announced the team name and colors in May 2009 and chose navy blue and gold. In a nod to the Sons of Ben, the team includes light blue in the color scheme, and to their credit, the supporters continue to wear light blue and yellow.
Morris Levin is a former Queen Village resident. He is the edtor of 2013 SABR research journal, The National Pastime, 2013 on baseball in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. The journal can be purchased and downloaded from here. Morris is an independent small business consultant and the propietor of Eysian Fields Baseball. He is excited this week for the debut of this page on the history of Philadelphia banana merchants M. Levin & Co.
What the Pelican is Going on Here?
Phil here. By now you’ve no doubt seen the new New Orleans Pelicans uniforms. Across the interwebs, the reviews have largely been either negative or neutral. (If you wish, there are several takes here, here, here, and here.) There are dozens more, and the adjectives largely used to describe these uniforms are “bland,” “uninspired,” and especially “boring.”
Just a few quick looks at my twitter mentions echoes those thoughts, including some thoughts about getting excited over nothing, as well as “lame”, conservative, and a double shot of “LAME and boring”.
But lets take a closer look (click all images to enlarge):
Well, if you go simply by the front and back of the home and road jerseys, you could certainly make the argument (and I’d agree with you) that they are pretty basic (I originally called them “tame” on twitter; lest anyone think I felt they were boring — on UW I said the uni unveiling was “pretty boring and nothing extraordinary” — but I was referring to the production/presentation, not the uniforms). But “tame” doesn’t necessarily mean boring. It’s a three color jersey — with blue, red and gold (and white) as the colors, which certainly aren’t fuchsia, volt or whatever trendy colors will soon become trite (think mid-90’s teal).
The wordmark is small and arched (and it’s very odd they didn’t put “PELICANS” on at least the home uniform, especially since they just, ya know, became the Pelicans), and I’m wondering if “NEW ORLEANS,” instead of being radially arched above the number, might have been better off as stacked above the number or split with “NEW” above the number and “ORLEANS” below. But it is what it is.
At first glance, or from a distance, the “NEW ORLEANS” appears to be just a regular block font, but, like the numbers, it’s actually a custom font, and one that is repeated in the numbers. As you can also see, the back of the jersey contains the new Pelicans logo (“Bird-de-lis“) just above the NOB:
Despite the apparent “boring”-ness of the uniforms, I actually kind of like them (at first I joined the chorus of those underwhelmed), and they’ve grown on me as I look at them more. But where the uniforms are certainly more colorful (and less boring) is in the side panels (of which I am not usually a fan). The “splash” photo shows them well, but you can actually get a better look at them in this video game still.
Those panels bring in the color without being too obnoxious, and I love the new crescent basketball logo found at the base of the shorts (which reminds many of the original Boston Patriots helmet logo). I’m not sure what it is about that logo that I like, but I do like it. And I love the waistband “ligature” which combines an “N” and “O” to make a basketball.
The colors of the uniforms, blue, gold and red, were to be expected, as they take on the colors of the new logos and wordmarks already revealed earlier:
Reading from the official Pelicans press release, they describe the uniforms thusly:
To continue to showcase a new identity that represents the culture and character of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region, the New Orleans Pelicans unveiled their new home and road uniforms today. Dark Blue and Gold will be the prominent colors in the new uniforms, while the team’s third color, Red, will serve as an accent. The team’s home uniforms will be white, while the road jerseys will be dark blue.
The Pelicans worked with designer Rodney Richardson to develop the adidas jerseys. The team also worked with Richardson to design the Pelicans’ logos. The word mark on both the home and road uniforms is inspired by French Quarter street signs. The uniforms will feature “New Orleans” on the front of both the home and road jerseys, making the Pelicans one of three teams in the NBA to wear its city’s name on the front of both jerseys.
The Pelicans’ partial logo is featured on the side of the shorts, while the “Bird-de-Lis” will be highlighted in the center back of the neck of the jersey. At the center of the waistband of the shorts sits a unique ligature that combines the letters ‘N’ and ‘O’ to form a basketball. This new mark, created specifically and exclusively for the Pelicans, will be used selectively by the team and incorporated into Pelicans’ branding.
Owner Tom Benson remarked, “We love the look of the new uniforms and are especially proud to have New Orleans across the chest of all of our players who will be representing this great city and region.” Now, considering some of the uniforms the Hornets have worn in New Orleans, I guess many were expecting something “flashier,” or more befitting of the City. Perhaps that is coming.
Because these are “first year” uniforms, the Pelicans can only have a home and a road uniform. Next year they will be permitted to add an alt (probably red or gold) and in the third year out, they can wear a second alternate uniform (perhaps going back to something crazy like their two main color Mardi Gras uniforms). But for now, it’s the basic blue and white. Here’s a look at the style guide:
I like the new fonts, although I (as an OCD/anal retentive) am wondering why the 3, 5 & 8 don’t have the mid-number “bumps” the other numerals do. Surely the designers could have worked those in. That part just looks a bit off, almost like they don’t “belong together” (think Vikings new number fonts). I understand why the 3, 5 & 8 don’t have the “bumps” but they seem inconsistent. This is really my biggest peeve.
Bottom line: Yes, they’re plain (but so are the Boston Celtics’ uniforms and I’ve never heard them being called “boring”), and no, they probably weren’t what we were expecting. They’re certainly less befitting of a team that plays in New Orleans than say, one that plays in Salt Lake City, but that’s OK. Not every new uniform has to be so “fresh” or “sick” that it will only appeal to the 17-year-olds (and the 17-year-olds in us). I can see these uniforms quickly becoming “classic” and not in need of a redux in five years (like so many). And maybe their alts (coming soon enough) WILL be flashy and loud. But for now, I like these.
Feel free to disagree.
In Case You Missed It: Paul gave his take on the new uniforms yesterday, in an almost instant analysis following the unveiling. At the time (and probably still), Paul found them to be “underwhelming.” Make sure you give that a read if you haven’t already!
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):
• Kansas Jayhawks:
— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) August 1, 2013
• Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish:
Several readers noticed this and pointed it out to me. If you were to look at the shop ND page, they have an image (captured above) that clearly shows the 2013 unis will have the typical adidas tire-tread pattern on the shoulders.
• Army Black Knights:
Looks like Army Football has black pants for this year. Don’t know if it’s for the whole year or just certain games. Last year was gold. (Thanks to Johnny Rath)
• BYU Cougars:
As has been suspected most of the summer, BYU is going to bring back their royal blue throwbacks for the Utah game this year. Much much much better than the black jerseys they wore last year. (Thanks to Austin Taylor)
• Colgate Raiders:
— Steve Casula (@Coach_Casula) July 31, 2013
Looks like there may be a black helmet in Colgate’s future. (Thanks to Ryan Dowgin)
That’s it for the college uni news for today. Keep the tips coming folks!
Uni Watch News Ticker: To celebrate 50 years of competition (1964-2013) in the South Australian National Football League, the Central Districts Bulldogs wore a commemorative jumper on the 1st of June against the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles. The guernsey includes the name of every single player that has played a game in the SANFL for Central Districts up until the 1st of June 2013 (thanks to Graham Clayton). … New uniforms for Bath Rugby (from Josh Jacobs). … This ad showed up in the Facebook feed of Brian Eagle — It’s an ad for an upcoming EFLI game between the Delhi Defenders and the Kolkata Vipers but it’s obviously a photo of Tim Tebow that’s been reversed. … Check out NY Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist’s custom Lamborghini: He’s had the Lamborghini script on the rear (which usually looks like this) replaced with this (good spot by Luke Rosnick). … Here’s a cool interactive page about stadium/arena naming-rights deals (thanks Paul). … Scottish Rugby has unveiled a new kit, as have the Leicester Tigers (with thanks to Josh Jacobs). … A couple of items also from Yusuke Toyoda: “There was a previous ticker item about AS Roma going with an unbranded kit because of a dispute with the manufacturer. Then I noticed in Wednesday night’s game against MLS All-Stars that there was some text where the manufacturer logo goes. Turns out, it’s @asromaofficial, the club’s Twitter handle. If you’re keeping count, with the badge on the shirt and the shorts, the “Roma Cares” logo on the front in lieu of a sponsor, the ‘AS Roma’ on each sock, the ‘unbranded’ uniform has six references to the club’s own brand.” Also, earlier this week, Liverpool FC circulated a memo to its players and staff about terms that may be slurs. “Apparently, that memo did not reach Warrior, Liverpool’s uniform supplier, which sent out an email urging customers to ‘man up’.” … Badidas. Oops — adidas mistakenly sends Louisville’s cleats to aTm (props to Paulie Sumner). … Here’s another column dealing with the ‘skins name change debate (from Matt DeMazza). … A new adult soccer league, the Evergreen Premier League, has formed in Washington State. Check out their logo, which submitter Markus Kamp thinks is “an interesting take on the Jerry Dior MLB logo.” … A couple of people sent this one in: look at the facemask on this Ohio State helmet. As that article intimates, it probably won’t see the field of play. … There is a site on the French sports daily, L’Équipe that allows you to vote on the best looking shirts for the upcoming Ligue 1 soccer season (from Robert J. Hudson). … Reader Warren Junium sends in this pic of Notre Dame footballs being prepped for play. … Non-uni (but cool) article on “The History Behind The Logos Of Famous Car Brands” (thanks, Brinke). … Slight changes to the court design at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Joel Mathwig says to note the center logo does not have the ball and net within the D, as well as the GoDuke.com text on the near sideline. … Denver Gregg thinks UW readers might get a kick out of some of these unis for over-50 baseballers near Denver. Gregg thinks the first one is the most amusing. … Some funny High School football chatter in this thread entitled the “Phil Knight Memorial Ugliest Uniforms/Helmets” sent in by Chris Bisbee. … Texas A&M-Commerce has installed a massive midfield logo on their football field (thanks to Gil Neumann for sharing). … Heh, another non-uni, but for obsessives like us, “VICTORY! Apple Has Fixed the Number 1 in iOS 7’s Calendar” (nice find by Jarrod Leder). … This from Paul — The Olympix, bringing people together. … Sick of all those “angry” mascots & logos? Brinke points you to some kindler & gentler logos. … “The Phillies have a commemorative patch on their alumni weekend uniforms you might be interested in,” writes Michael Paolucci. “Only good shot I got was from their Instagram account. Doesn’t appear current team is wearing this patch, just the alumni who have assembled on the field before the game.” … Andy Chalifour got a nice grab of Daniel Nava checking a pocket scouting report last night reverse Seattle. … Don’t you just HATE it when a team spells a name “wrong”? What’s a ‘Linx’? (h/t Sully @pal3327). … And what’s worse than spelling a name wrong? Fakes! Chesterfield police arrested man for selling fake NFL apparel (with thanks to Tom Turner).
And that, folks, is going to do it for me for this week, as Paul continues to enjoy his Blog-cation. Johnny Ek will take you through the weekend, and there is a big week ahead next week (including a reappearance from Paul with at least one very special announcement). Have a great weekend everyone, and I’ll catch you back here on Monday. Big thanks to Morris Levin for penning today’s lede article (he’ll be back again every Friday while Paul is on break).
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken
“It’s just weird that they went to the trouble of naming themselves ‘Pelicans,’ and now they’re not displaying it on the uniform. It’s like getting a $150 haircut, then wearing a hat to go outside.”