By Morris Levin
The National Museum of American Jewish History here in Philadelphia is currently engaged in a public collecting project for the forthcoming baseball exhibition, “Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Jews in America.” The exhibit will open in March 2014 and run for the duration of baseball season. Museum curatorial staff initiated this public collecting project to gather the stories and artifacts that vocalize the narrative of the American Jewish community’s social relationship with the game as public institution.
The public collecting project can be found here on Tumblr at Chasing Dreams Baseball.
Pictured above is page 24 of the catalog Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. issued around 1998. The catalog calls these caps MLB Teams in Hebrew. Many of us who worked at Mitchell & Ness at the time called them the Hebrew Hats. Robert Levin still wears his: this is the front view and this is the side view. They were all snap-back with the team logo on the right.
Mitchell & Ness credits Arthur G. Raynes with the idea for the hats. Mr. Raynes was an established attorney in Philadelphia and regular Mitchell & Ness customer at its old shop at 1229 Walnut Street. The store sold Mitchell & Ness baseball flannels, as well as MLB and MILB authentic hats, and Roman Pro and American Needle licensed hats.
American Needle’s Robert Kronenberger introduced many styles of licensed MLB hats. One style in the early 1990s featured team names in Egyptian hieroglyphs. This is the Mets hieroglyphs cap. The Mets NY logo is visible on the side of the cap. Ostensibly – these characters spell Mets. Perhaps a Uni-Watch reader is proficient and can comment.
Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. founder and long time president Peter Capolino tells the story that Mr. Ranyes came into the shop one day. He saw the hieroglyphs hats and asked Peter what they were. Peter explained it spelled out Phillies in Egyptian hierolyphics. Mr. Ranyes said no way would he wear one – but would gladly wear a Phillies hat rendered in Hebrew.
Peter set to work designing the caps and creating the line.
He enlisted Noam and Harris Saltzburg to render phonetic translations of team names in the printed version of the Ashuri alphabet. This is the common block Hebrew used in mass produced liturgical books. Mitchell & Ness sent the art off to American Needle and the caps were selling by 1993.
One of the first customers for the caps was the food vending service in Cleveland. Jacobs Field opened in 1994 with a certified kosher hot dog stand on the concourse by the centerfield entrance. They sold grilled glatt dogs under the supervising authority of Ahron Soloveichik z”sl and offered classic Cleveland mustard and fried onions. It was very good for the Jews in Cleveland.
That Mitchell & Ness had elected to transliterate rather than translate team names made sense.
Today’s daily Hebrew language sports pages render English language team nicknames in phonetic transliteration as opposed to the translation of the meaning of the word. That is, they write about the “Detroit Tigers”, not the “Nemarim shel Detroit”, or the “Boston Garbay’im Adumim”. Likewise – I am unhappy that Real Madrid is trying to sign Gareth Bale, and not that Royal Madrid is trying to sign Bale.
Two Mitchell & Ness transliterations were unsuccessful.
Congressman William Lipinski, who represented Illinois’s 3rd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, was a baseball fan and long time Mitchell & Ness customer. The congressman was friendly with Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. He told Mr. Reinsdorf about the caps, and Mitchell & Ness sent off samples. Soon after, Mitchell & Ness received a communication from the White Sox organization that they were unable to carry them, and would Mitchell & Ness please stop making them.
The Hebrew alphabet consists entirely of consonants. Contemporary and liturgical Hebrew utilizes the Tiberian vocalization system of diacritic marks developed by the Masoretes at the beginning of the Middle Ages. Such marks are rarely printed, and Mitchell & Ness had produced Chicago caps that spelled White Sx.
Transliterated Hebrew also did not play well in Atlanta. The Hebrew word for duck is bahr’vahz, which is what BRVS looks like, transliterated without vowels. Random Jewish professionals came to Peter and Mitchell & Ness asking about the new Ducks baseball team.
Mitchell & Ness sold the hats to souvenir and synagogue gift shops. Sales corresponded to classic teams in Jewish population centers. The Yankees and Mets, Tigers, Orioles, and Dodgers all sold well. There were no Padres hats made. Athletics were not transliterated.
I first went to work at Mitchell & Ness in January 1993. I did not care for the Hebrew Hats, Sam I am.
It was in the late 1980s that it was difficult to find a shop that carried the on-field MLB authentic fitted caps. Mitchell & Ness was one store in Philadelphia that carried the full line of New Era and Sports Specialties authentic. That was where I bought my burgundy Phillies fitted game cap for $18 in 1989. It was the real deal. The authenticity of my headwear validated the depth of my fan allegiance.
The Hebrew Hats to me were Jewish kitsch, a strange expression of an American Jewish zeitgeist assimilating into a cultural ethnography with an awkward self-consciousness.
I happened to be traveling to Israel in July 1994 and Peter encouraged me to take some with me. In downtown Jerusalem, I showed them to owners at sports apparel shops. No interest.
Do you know what sports are popular in Israel? Not baseball. Definitely not baseball. The hats were a product of the American Jewish experience. The baseball and Hebrew rendering failed to resonate in the Holy Land and I brought the caps back with me to Philadelphia.
Mitchell & Ness continued marketing the hats through the late 1990s when the catalog came out. Mitchell & Ness acquired the license to make NBA jerseys in 1998, and the company began to grow as the jerseys reached new audiences, and Sammy Baugh appeared in hip-hop videos.
Robert Levin still wears his Hebrew Hat. When the weather is mild, he can be found wearing it outside on his bench on South Eighth Street in Bella Vista.
Morris Levin began work at Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. in 1993. He left the company for business school in 2006 and is now the proprietor of Elysian Fields Baseball, LLC, a small business consulting practice in Philadelphia. He dislikes transliterating proper names when he translates books of the Hebrew Bible.
WEEKDAY Uniform Concepts & Tweaks
Longtime and weekend readers know that I frequently run reader submissions for uniform concepts, revisions, or just plain tweaks. Usually they are in sets of three, but sometimes there are more and sometimes there are less. Sometimes they are so good these deserve their own lede.
During Paul’s monthlong Blogcation, I’ll occasionally run one (or maybe) two of these.
If you have any concept or tweak, and you would like to see it featured here, either during the week while I’m hosting the blog or on the weekends when I return to those, drop me an e-mail. For each particular design, please try to keep your description to ~50 words or so. OK? OK!
And now, here’s what we have for today (click any images to enlarge):
Today’s concept comes from David Sachs, who is already not fond of the new Astros makeover…and would like to make it more Hook ‘em:
Given the Astros’ uni history, their newest redesign is a real snoozer. Still, conservative doesn’t necessarily mean bad. I don’t mind the design. I do mind the color scheme.
The bright orange clashes with the classic look Houston is be going for these days. So I replaced a Mets/Miami-esque shade of orange with a one we already associate with Texas, burnt orange. I think a small tweak goes a long way.
Thanks! I’ll be back with more weekday tweaks/concepts again.
Because we love the stirrup here at Uni Watch, this section is devoted to those of us who sport the beautiful hose on Fridays — a trend popularized many years ago by Robert P. Marshall, III. For many of us, it’s become a bit of an obsession, but a harmless one — a reflection of our times. Where we once had Friday ties, which has been replaced by Casual Friday — we now have Stirrup Fridays. It’s an endearingly simple concept — no matter where you work (or even if you don’t) — break out a fresh pair of rups to compliment (or clash with) your Friday attire.
Back today with another edition of Stirrup Fridays…on a Friday!. These usually run on the weekends (when I’m doing those), but they’re a special occasional weekday treat while Paul is on blog-cation. Been a couple weeks since we ran this and heard an update from Comrade Marshall, so let’s get right into the donning of the rups.:
My son’s Columbus, Ohio area 14u travel team has red and blue striped stirrups to wear this year. Unfortunately they were given pants without elastic at the bottom, so most boys wore their pants pajama-style. Still, I was able to Adam to wear the pant-legs up for a couple of games.
Chris LaBella, Jr.:
Chris LaBella Jr pitching the 10 y/o silver playoff game for the Deer Park NY All Stars vs rival North Babylon NY.
Here you go!
My High School baseball team wore stirrups…. with camo.
That’s Cy-Falls High School in Houston, TX
Just a couple shots of my son and I representing the revolution at the Coliseum. Banjoman was throughly impressed. I think we might have found some new comrades who will be contacting Comrade Robert for rups.
Just wanted to pass along a shot of my buddy Austin, throwing out the first pitch at last Sunday’s Williamsport Crosscutters game. We took him on a mini minor league road trip (Brooklyn > State College > Williamsport) for his birthday and surprised him with first pitch honors. Since he’s a super cool guy, he was more than happy to sport a pair of Comrade Marshall-supplied 1970 Angels stirrups for the occasion. If you get a chance to check out the Crosscutters ballpark (Historic Bowman Field), it’s a beaut.
Here’s the photo of Austin’s first pitch.
Great work on manning the site by the way! Love the enormo-ticker!
And that ends today’s look at Stirrup Friday — all of you who participate, send me your pics and a brief (~50 words) description of their relevance, and when I do weekends I’ll run ‘em here on Saturday (and sometimes Sunday too!). Be sure to visit Robert’s House of Hose for news on rups.
And now…here’s …
The summer is near an end, but there is nothing new this week revolution stock wise, so let’s get on to projects…BAH! Our Astro was traded to the Royals at the deadline and our Pirate went on the DL the same day, but despite that I sent some stuff out to a few players, and will do more of the same this week. I hope to have a full detail of the guys to look for with striped hose next week.
We all know as much as this site loves stirrups on players, it is correct in pointing out the issue with socks/stirrups no longer a being part of the uniform and all the grey area that results from it. Understood maaan, I dig. But what the heck, maybe there could be a renaissance some day, and maybe this silly little stirrup revolution can help? After all, some of us out there are already on the cutting edge, and it will be great to say “yeah I listen to Foghat before they were cool.” Alright, alright Foghat was never cool, but I couldn’t think of a band that would make a better penalty kill shift…discuss.
Thanks to everyone still sending in shots, let’s see some more action pixtures.
from each according their strype,
to each according their stirrvp.
Uni Watch News Ticker: “Interesting ND ‘shorts’ for practice,” writes Warren Junium. “Are they bike shorts, super short uni pants, compression shorts? They sure aren’t gym shorts. … The A’s are giving away a Cespedes bobblehead on the 17th. They just showed this photo and the bobblehead is using last year’s helmet design (thanks to Samuel Lam). … This Fast Company article has a pretty nice slideshow of outrageous MiLB unis (good find by Anthony Juliano). … There’s a great thread currently unfolding on the Chris Creamer site about small but bothersome uniform details. Really good stuff, and definitely worth checking out (thanks Paul!). … “AS Roma is asking fans (and random people on the Internet) to vote for their third kit,” says Yusuke Toyoda. “But their away kit is really nice – I hope they have manufacturer issues every year.” … In yesterday’s ticker there was a question as to what David Ortiz was wearing around his neck. Bob Caudill says “Those things around David Ortiz’ neck are called scapular. It’s a Catholic thing.” … Mike Goodman found a story about NHL logos redesigned using pokemon on laughingsquid. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments – no matter what your feelings on the name of the Washington Football team, this article from Slate is a very good read. … The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is in the process of unveiling a new logo for the UW-P athletic department with the final version released on Friday at 11 a.m. (Central). As UW-P AD and a logo enthusiast, Mark Albanese thought we may appreciate the gallery UW put together of their old logos since the University was established in 1968. … Some interesting Texas mock-ups prior to Senators move there, from the Washington D.C. Baseball History facebook group: “When it became clear that the expansion Senators would be moved to Texas, imaginative newspapermen came up with these ideas for the ‘new’ Texas look. Hondo is seen with a ‘T’ on his cap and ‘Texas Mavericks’ across his chest. Denny Mclain models a Texas 12 gallon hat for willing witnesses.” (thanks to William F. Yurasko). … Here’s a shocker. In the list of 25 top CFB uni fails, Maryland’s Pride outfit only ranks 12 (thanks to Chris Mahr). … About 900 of you sent this in: the Ravens dumped the Nike neck roll for the 2013 season. … As part of Fan Appreciation Week 2013, for the first time an Orioles fan will design a team giveaway, a t-shirt on Thursday, September 26. Fans should visit www.orioles.com/fanshirt to see a complete list of rules and gain access to Orioles team logos that may be used for this purpose. Submissions will be accepted until August 31. Fans are encouraged to work on their designs now and upload beginning August 15. The winner will receive four tickets to the September 26 game. (Thanks to Tyler Kepner and Andrew Cosentino) … Another day, another new logo. Unlike Yahoo, which will make us wait 30 days, the City of Nashua, New Hampshire unveiled theirs on Aug 7. “Lots of symbolism,” says submitter Tom Mulgrew. … This “8 Need-to-Know Rules Changes for 2013 Season (See 7 & 8)” for NCAA football uniforms comes to us from Rob Bubeck. … Here is a look at some hockey sweater typos (thanks to Chris Flinn). … Reader Adam Szymkowiak went through a Pitt vs. West Virginia program from 1996 and found a couple pages that caught his eye. … George Mason hoops has new green, white & gold unis (from Josh Holman). … Three pieces of news from Leo Strawn: 1) He was checking out the article on the Washington Padres, and in it was a link to this. That article includes a cool shot of the 1901 Washington Senators, complete with pill box hats!; 2) In footy news, here’s a shot of Croatia v Ireland preparing for the opening bounce in the AFL Europe championships. Leo thinks Croatia’s jumpers look like they were made from tablecloths taken out of a spaghetti restaurant; 3) Also, there is a move afoot (pun intended) to persuade the West Coast Eagles of the AFL to drop their current tri-panel jumpers and only use the “wings”, which were the team’s jumper from their inaugural season of 1987 through 1999 (and have been used occasionally since) and are very popular among supporters of the club. The petition is here. On that link, you can see a good shot of the “wings” on the jumper graphics at the top of the page. … Here’s the latest chapter of Blackhawks Meet Food, this time in cheeseburger form (thanks to Robert Shannon). … Oops! Will Edge was at PGA Championship yesterday, and the scoreboard had Rory McIlroy spelled wrong at the bottom. “We chanted at them from across the fairway until they changed it,” says Will. … Another 800 or so of you sent in the news that BYU will not have NOB this year, but instead the players can have “Tradition,” “Spirit,” and/or “Honor” as their SOB (slogan on back), but only for homecoming. … And in what some might consider closing the barn door following the departure of the horse, the NCAA is now getting out of jersey-selling business. … Last evening, Jason Bernard was “Sitting at Vick’s Pizza in Reynoldsburg, OH, obsessing over this Browns poster with the orange pants.” … Every major during the year creates a unique logo, says Johnny Okray. Here is the PGA championship logo. … Hmmm – the ProCap, revisted (thanks, Sully). Also from Sully, check out this new line of NHL “lace up” team caps from @zephyrhats. … The University of Arizona Wildcat Hockey Military Appreciation Weekend uniforms have arrived. Yes, they’re camo (thanks to “Biogenesis” @AZJoshM). … No photo (unfortunately), but some new Ohio State uni news from Peter Roser, who writes “I attended a naval commissioning ceremony in the Ohio Stadium Recruit Room on August 3. Unfortunately I was not able to get a picture, but there was a display of both the home and away Ohio State uniforms. Both had the Nikelace/flywire collar in colors matching the uniform body (scarlet home, white away). I looked at pictures from last season’s Illinois game and did not see the Nikelace collar.” … More NCAA news from aTm, where in this article, we see a better picture of the trademark treadmarks and “Gig ‘EM” collar lining, and more info (thanks to Matt Sinclair). … In still more NCAAFB news, there are new uni’s for The Citadel this year. Says submitter Derek Summerville, “Fortunately the video is set to everyone’s favorite uni reveal song of the year (read with sarcasm). If you watch it on mute it’s not so bad. Definitely digging the new blue jersey towards the end though!” … Not sure this is breaking news, but warming up prior to last evening’s game in Nashville, Robert Griffin was wearing Adidas socks. Also it looked like he might have taped over the Nike logo on his shorts, but submitter Andy Bartsch could not get a good still of that. … Also from last evening, the Ravens new non-contrasting collar looks good (much better than last year’s neckroll). … The Titans were sporting their 15th Anniversary patch. … Two of the three teams (Rams and Bengals) to keep the neck roll played last night. The Saints should be the third (can’t confirm until we see them in action tonight). … We also got our first look at the Chargers gold NOBs and non-neck roll collars. … Nice find by Brinke with this Fast Company article detailing Nike’s redesign of NFL uniforms. … GREAT spot by Ryan Progin who noticed this image of B1G Commissioner Jim Delaney with Penn State Athletic Director Dave Joyner. PSU gave Delaney a #20 home jersey to celebrate their 20th season in the B1G. But the jersey is clearly from 2010 or earlier (white collar & sleeve ends) — Ryan asks, “So was Penn State trying to be nice or were they just getting rid of an old jersey? As a PSU Alum, I hope they realized they gave him a jersey that is no longer used (though I do not care what the motive was).”
Alright, boys and girls, another week in the books! Thanks (as always) to Morris Levin for gracing us with a guest feature on Fridays (he’ll be back two more times as I continue to fill in for Paul, who is enjoying his blog-cation). Johnny Ek will take you through the weekend, and I will catch you again on Monday.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Being bitter because it’s been 105 years since your team has won a World Series is one thing…but to begrudge an organization that is superior in every way possible is lame.”