The Secret Legacy of Bill Veeck

Veeck_mascots_header

By Phil Hecken

As I conclude my final week filling in for Paul, I’m joined today by one of my favorite Uni Watchers, stalwart Chance Michaels, who is back with another column. The man needs no further introduction, and we have worked on numerous columns over the years. Chance is not only one of our greatest uniform researchers (and part-time Brewers historian!), he also deigned to join me at a Mets game. A true trooper. Chance also runs the nifty Borchert Field and the Wearing of the Green and Gold websites, which are must reads.

So, without further ado, here’s Chance to tell you all about…

. . .

“The Secret Legacy of Bill Veeck”
By Chance Michaels

In reviewing the recent Negro League Tribute Game in Milwaukee, I was struck by the choice of the Marlins as opponent. Miami didn’t have a particular history of Negro League baseball (then again, neither did Milwaukee), and their 1956 club was an integrated one.

There was apparently a reason given for the choice – Satchel Paige pitched for the Marlins that season. Paige was a longtime veteran of the Negro Leagues who finally came into the bigs as a 42-year-old “rookie” after they were integrated. The man who brought Paige to Miami was the same man who brought him to the Majors in 1948: William Louis “Bill” Veeck, Jr.

Bill Veeck just might be the most colorful character in baseball history, a sport not exactly hurting for them. Nearly thirty years after his death, and more than three decades after he left baseball, his legacy still resonates with baseball fans.

GaedelI’ve published several articles on Veeck, and every time I do my blog sees a spike in readership. His legacy continues to draw, perhaps because of its seeming contradiction; the absurd and the serious. Veeck was at once a carnival barker with a strong sense of progressive social justice, who just wanted to entertain while also wanting to do good. He once sent a little person up to bat and tried to combat segregation by buying the Phillies in 1943 to fill the roster entirely with black players. He played slide whistle before games in a band made up of players and integrated the American League just months after Jackie Robinson first donned Dodger Blue. Veeck was an intensely ambitious man, a workaholic who nonetheless left his ballclub and his family to enlist in the Marines during WWII, coming home with injuries that would eventually cost him his right leg. He let fans manage a game and marched in Dr. Martin Luther King’s march on Selma (eschewing his customary crutches).

Now, you probably know all this. There have been books written about his life and career (three of which he wrote himself). There’s one aspect of his innovations, however, which seems to have gone largely unnoticed, an element of special interest to us.

Grimm_OwgustCostumeThat innovation got its first test, as so many of his schemes did, with the Milwaukee Brewers. Although Veeck got his start in baseball as the son of the Chicago Cubs’ president, he really came into his own in Milwaukee. Veeck, with Charlie Grimm, bought the struggling Brewers in June of 1941 and immediately began transforming his new club. In 1942, his first full season in charge, the Brewers unveiled a totally new look, including a barrel-chested mascot they called “Owgust”. Owgust was soon everywhere, from dugout jackets to letterhead to score cards to tickets to the club’s newsletter. Owgust became the symbol of Milwaukee Brewer baseball, in an era where primary logos as we understand them were far less common than they are today, and even the Yankees were making do with just their interlocking “NY”. Veeck even had a life-sized version trotted out on at least one location.

Veeck sold the Brewers at the end of the 1945 season, but quickly found himself back in baseball as the head of a new ownership group in Cleveland in the late spring of 1946. Again, he took over a team in June and again, his first full season in charge resulted in a uniform change for the club. This time it was a subtle one; Veeck hired a local patch manufacturer, the J.F. Novak company, to design a mascot emblem for the team’s sleeves. They gave him an Indian face with a hook-nose and toothy grin. There’s a strange disconnect, this logo on the sleeve of Larry Doby, first African-American player in the American League. It was also on the sleeve of Satchel Paige when he finally got that shot at the Bigs. The original Indian-head design would start evolving the following season until
by 1950 he would become the Chief Wahoo we know today; an unfortunate blot on the legacy of a true champion of equality. Not that Sport Shirt Bill would be around for that step. He sold the team in November of 1949, two years before the revamped Wahoo replaced his version on the uniforms.

satchel-paige_brownsVeeck next surfaced in St. Louis, where he bought the Browns in July of 1951. Another mid-season purchase, and again a uniform change in his first full season (and again, he signed Satchel Paige for the Browns’ pitching staff). Veeck simplified the Browns’ uniforms and tossed out their rather staid logo in favor of a smiling Brownie. As in Cleveland, the smiling face made it onto the team’s jerseys and jackets as well as team letterhead, publications, merchandise of all sorts, and pretty much everywhere else Veeck could think of.

Realizing that he couldn’t turn the Browns around in St. Louis, Veeck tried to move the team to Milwaukee, but was rebuffed by the other American League owners. Meanwhile, the National League was more than happy to let Boston’s Lou Perini take the Braves to Wisconsin, a smashing success that couldn’t help but draw the attention of Brooklyn’s Walter O’Malley, who would soon arrange a move of his own and change the face of the sport forever. Veeck, meanwhile, was eventually forced to sell his club, which was immediately granted permission to relocate to Maryland as the latest incarnation of the Baltimore Orioles.

1956_MiamiMarlins_programStill, you can’t keep a good man down, and you can’t keep Ole Will out of baseball for long. In December of 1955, he signed on with a group interested in bringing a major league team to Miami. Their first order of business was to buy the Syracuse Chiefs and move them to Florida, renaming them the Marlins. A brand-new team meant designing a brand-new identity, and sure enough you can bet that they had a mascot logo, featured on everything right down to a patch on the jerseys. Again, Bill Veeck was true to form, even bringing Satchel Paige along for the third time. This is the uniform that the current Marlins team threw back to in Milwaukee late last month.

Miami’s big league dreams failed to materialize (one wonders if the current Marlins would still be struggling were Sport Shirt Bill in charge), and Veeck moved back to the majors, buying then selling then buying back the Chicago White Sox. Veeck made plenty of notable visual changes to his Sox, although the days of mascot logos seem to have been behind him (unless you count this as a mascot). Perhaps the days of mascot logos had come and gone. Or perhaps he didn’t think he could do it any better than he had in Milwaukee, Cleveland, St. Louis and Miami.

Veeck’s legacy continues to be “Champion of the Little Guy”. He was a pioneer in integration and a fan’s advocate. He was also, as we now know, someone who Got It™.

. . .

Thanks, Chance — as always, a fantastic article! Readers? Your turn.

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Power Rankings Update

In case you missed it yesterday, the 2013 edition of the Uni Watch Power Rankings began its five-day roll-out. Here’s the introduction, and here are the MLB rankings. Today’s entry takes a look at the NBA.

The Power Rankings will continue tomorrow with the NFL and on Thursday with the NHL, followed by the master chart of all 122 teams on Friday. (And yes, I’m aware that the audio on the embedded video sounds awful. Long story.) — Paul

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!CDG0vs!!Wk~$(KGrHqR,!jQE0D2IM1QdBNNdUJ,,vg~~_12Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Being a SF Giants nut, I must now acknowledge a few things. One, we’re truly terrible. Two, we’re spoiled from the last three years. Fine, I get both of those things. And third, and most painful, the Dodgers are playing out of their minds. OUT OF THEIR MINDS. Winning 40 of 48? They should nearly whack Mattingly more often. Having said all that, it leads me up to this nice find- a “Don Drysdale Dugout” mug from Van Nuys in the 1960s. Don’t let the appearance fool you- it’s dirty but cleans right up. (Why would seller leave it that way? So you win vintage dirt?)

• Used to collect sports team stickers. One ten cent stamp (!!) would get you a ton of stuff in return. The Dolphins sent this one to me, got this one from the Chiefs, this one from the Vikes, and these from the Cubs, O’s, and of course, the Reds. PS These vintage 1970s Seahawks stickers make you think of Zorn to Largent, don’t they?

• Wake up on time with this 1970s St. Louis Football Cardinals alarm clock.

• Isn’t the logo on this 1960s Flyers cereal premium ring…backwards? Or maybe they flipped the photo.

• Cool looking 1960s-1970s game-worn #70 sideline jacket for the KC Chiefs.

• Back in the day, the Vikes and Chiefs were my favorite teams- this was before I moved from Louisville to Dallas and then Cincinnati. So one of my favorite players was the Vikings Jim Lindsay. Why? He wore #21, and I just liked that number. Same for Paul Krause, who wore #22.

• Then…when we moved from Dallas to Cincinnati, I remember going over to Hunter Savings in Kenwood, and my dad opened up a checking account. Scored this helmet bank, just like the Cowboys one I had gotten the previous year.

• Back when mugs were MUGS. Here’s a 1976 Reds World Series beer stein. Had one of these for 1975 as well, though I seem to remember both of them having a Cincinnati Enquirer headline screened on the other side—maybe not. Still have one of these for UC- bought it when I graduated.

• The Costacos Bros cranked out some terrific 1990s posters..like this mini-poster with all the then-current MLB logos. UPDATE: daggone, here’s an NFL poster from last season. Didn’t know they were still in biz.

——

Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.

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Weekday Uni TweaksWEEKDAY 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 Terry Duroncelet, who didn’t need long to “fix” the Suns new duds:

Suns - Terry Duroncelet

Phil,

Well, that didn’t take too long. To me, the idea for the new Suns uniforms is good in theory, but bad in execution. They are indeed a step up from their previous set, but so many things need to be addressed, like the total lack of purple in the home uniform, the ass-horns, and lame-as-all-hell black sun on the orange alternate shorts… *sigh*. I’ll save the long write-up by linking the same set with the full description from my deviantART account.

Terry

. . .

Thanks! I may back with more weekday tweaks/concepts again — we’ll see how the rest of the week goes.

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ticker 2Uni Watch News Ticker: From August 22nd-28th, the 9 KBO teams will wear the following patch (white for home, purple for away) to help bring awareness to the campaign to get baseball back as an Olympic sport in 2020 (thanks to Dan Kurtz). … Some nice CFL history from Leo Strawn: “We know that the Montréal Allouettes had some unusual helmets in 1974 with their triangle logo on front. I ran across an earlier instance in 1948 of a frontal position of the Montréal helmet decal. The Als of the IRFU (pre-CFL) were in their 3rd season, as were the Brooklyn Dodgers of the AAFC, when they played a pre-season game in Montréal, the second instance of an American team playing against a Canadian club north of the border. From the photo it can be seen that this helmet logo is circular. The writer of this particular webpage offers two different images, a graphic and a photo of a pennant, to show what the logo looked like. That discovery (the website, that is) led me to this cool photo of the first game between American and Canadian football teams played in Canada, Third Army Corps Area team from Maryland v Toronto Argonauts in 1923. In this photograph, two of the Argos are wearing newsboy caps instead of helmets, and one appears to be wearing an overcoat! At the bottom of the page with the story of the 1948 Als v Dodgers is a better photo of the helmet.” … Temple Football is assigning low jersey numbers as a sign of toughness (nice find by Andrew Hoenig). … Check out the “custom” bat knob on this photo, taken from McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI. Wade Boggs photo from early 80s while playing for Red Sox AAA affiliate. … Rule change to referee uniforms in high school lacrosse: If you scroll to the end of the article, Rule 2-5-2 explains the updated rule for referee hosiery (thanks to Garrett Sumner). … Do alt unis move merch? They do up north, where the BC Lions unveiled new gun metal grey unis Saturday. According to this article, “The third jersey, promised last year by the Lions, was unveiled for some shock value and to stimulate merchandising revenue, and succeeded on both counts. According to one Lions staffer, more new uniforms were sold in the first half Saturday than are sold on the day of a game during an entire home season at B.C. Place Stadium.” … Got a couple from Tommy TurnerThe Best Facial Hair in the History of Sports – Best Facial Hair for Men (from Esquire) and ‘My purse, my choice': Women take a stand against the NFL’s no-purse policy. … The gentleman who designed the current Buffalo Bills helmet logo recently passed away – this is a good article about it. … More CFL stuff from Jeff Ingalls: “A poster on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats fan forum posted this pic of the 1957 Grey Cup coin toss at ol’ Varsity Stadium in Toronto (Hamilton vs. Winnipeg) and I noticed that the guy on the left – a Winnipeg Blue Bomber – had trousers that were gold on the front and white-ish on the back; separated by a bit of a stripe. I had to dig a little, find some video and figure out which Grey Cup that pic was taken at. But, sure enough, here it is. Strangely, not all the Bombers seem to be wearing white-assed trousers!” … David Brown saw this Atheists shirt (in the style of the Oakland A’s) on the street. “It’s old, probably old news, but thought of you. No shortage of logo iterations but this works nicely.” … And speaking of A’s inspired jerseys, here’s one from the Beloit Snappers (Thanks, Sully @pal3327). … Here’s something we all (apparently) missed — the Angels threw back twice this past weekend. … Here’s a look at the 2014 All Star Game logo on a patch (h/t @theemblemsource). … Check out the outlined “H” on this authentic Payton jersey. “Never seen that before,” says submitter Matt Lourdeau. … The Minnesota Wild will unveil their new road whites at State Fair (thanks to Paulie Sumner). And here’s more (from Sam Bevins). … Much like the Orioles, the Mets are asking fans to design a t-shirt (thanks to Shannon Shark @MetsPolice). … To celebrate Member Appreciation Week, the Melbourne Demons wore “member guernseys” Sunday which featured the names of over 600 members who purchased the opportunity to have their name etched into Melbourne Football Club history. If you look closely, you can also see the club’s monogram, most of which is visible in the navy, just under the red yoke (good job by Leo Strawn). … Might be tough to tell with this screen grab, but Jerry Kulig noticed this bad paint/decal job on Manny Machado’s cap. … GREAT spot by Rob Holecko who noticed that referee Bill Leavy was wearing shirt with pre-2012 font on it in last night’s ‘Skins/Stillers game. Which is odd, because last season he had the proper jersey. Laundry screwup? … Last evening, the San Francisco Giants honored victims of the Boston bombings and wore Boston Strong patches (more photos here. … This article isn’t too detailed, but the fact about Vizquel’s glove being stampless is interesting (thanks to Stetson Pevear).

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And there you have it — Tuesday is in the books. Big thanks, of course, to Chance, as well as Brinke & TJ, plus all you fine readers and contributors. Looking forward to Paul’s next uni rankings, which will be out later today. Everyone have a fine day and I’ll catch you folks on the morrow.

Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken

Peace.

.. … ..

“As a MN wrestler, I knew the people/state we look down at took their college sports seriously. I didn’t know they took their yellow chicken logo so seriously.”
–Adam Northenscold

 

114 comments to The Secret Legacy of Bill Veeck

  • The Jeff | August 20, 2013 at 7:26 am |

    There’s a strange disconnect, this logo on the sleeve of Larry Doby, first African-American player in the American League. It was also on the sleeve of Satchel Paige when he finally got that shot at the Bigs. The original Indian-head design would start evolving the following season until
    by 1950 he would become the Chief Wahoo we know today; an unfortunate blot on the legacy of a true champion of equality.

    Or maybe sometimes a smiling cartoon character is just a smiling cartoon character and people should stop looking so hard to find racism where it doesn’t exist. It’s obvious that he didn’t approve that logo with the intent of mocking or degrading Native Americans.

    • arrScott | August 20, 2013 at 7:59 am |

      That’s an excellent point, The. Similarly, very very few of the people who implemented or upheld, and then opposed the repeal of, Jim Crow laws intended to degrade African-Americans. Since the vast majority of those who created and upheld the Jim Crow system, including segregated schools and public accommodations, earnestly and in good faith believed they were doing the best for both white and black Americans, then clearly it’s wrong to call segregation “racist,” or to regard it as an offensive system that needed to be changed.

      Well, that, or maybe outcomes and results carry more moral weight than good intentions.

      • DJ | August 20, 2013 at 9:17 am |

        Veeck’s progressive sensibilities weren’t confined to advocating for civil rights for African-Americans. In his autobiography, he opined that if he were to ever “grow up,” he’d go to law school and then work for American Indian civil rights in the same manner of the NAACP Legal Fund. Now, cynics might say it’s self-serving, but how many people in the early 1960s publicly advocated for Indian rights?

        • arrScott | August 20, 2013 at 10:19 am |

          Plenty of people. But not many white people, so all the more credit to Veeck. Indian issues were well below the radar even for most racially progressive white folks, and Indians even met resistance from some black and Asian rights advocates as an unrelated distraction from their struggles.

          And it’s a good illustration of the fact that it’s not about intentions. To point out that Redskins is an inherently racist name is not to accuse Dan Snyder of being a racist. When Snyder says he intends Redskins as a term of honor and respect, we should take him at his word. But most supporters of segregation also meant well, honestly believing that segregation was better for both blacks and whites than integration would be. And in some significant economic and social terms, much of their argument turns out to have been correct, so we can assume that they really did believe it and were not lying to disguise intentional racial animus. We can acknowledge that a person means well, has the best intentions, and is acting in good faith – and is still wrong.

      • Ricko | August 20, 2013 at 10:09 am |

        And sometimes things are—whether right or wrong when seen in the rear view mirror—a product of their times.

        The Indians of Never Land in Disney’s Peter Pan, 1953…
        http://deniselcf.fil...

        Doesn’t excuse anything, but helps explain how any inappropriateness went unnoticed in their era.

        • Ricko | August 20, 2013 at 10:28 am |

          And a couple Italians from 1955 (not to be confused with Mario and Luigi, who came, y’know, later)…
          http://artsmeme.com/...

        • CortM | August 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm |

          Amen, Ricko.

          My dad, a construction worker, died in 1979. Many of his co-workers served as pall bearers, among them, Polack John, Black John, Fat John, and Carmen the Dago. These guys were clearly friends, and clearly held one another in high regard (my dad had specifically requested his buddies from work, not people from Church or from the rec league teams he played on, be his pallbearers). The nicknames were not pejorative; they were merely descriptive. It’s trite, but it was a different time, even as late as 1979.

          Had Veeck held on to the Indians, there’s a reasonable chance he would have eventually ditched Wahoo, and done something completely different. (Speaking of innovations, could you make an argument that the live action Owgust was a protoype of the Phillie Phanatic and those racing sausages?)

          In 5th grade, we had to do a book report on the biography or autobiography of a Great American. The other kids chose Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin. I picked “Veeck, As In Wreck” — I love that guy.

        • Chance Michaels | August 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm |

          could you make an argument that the live action Owgust was a protoype of the Phillie Phanatic and those racing sausages?

          I would flat-out love to make that argument. Link the current trend of costumed mascots back to the Brews? It would make my decade.

          I just don’t know enough of the context behind that photo. All I have is one image in isolation, and I’m wary of drawing too large a point from it. I’m not even sure there’s a person in there, which is why I call it “a life-sized version” and not a costume.

      • Patrick Mackin | August 20, 2013 at 10:13 am |

        I think it is nonsense for arrScott to say that very few of the people who supported Jim Crow laws intended to degrade African Americans. Actually, the entire point of Jim Crow was to keep blacks in their lowly place, ie, to degrade them. I also think that it is disingenuous to argue that the intent behind the smiling Indian logo is irrelevant. Clearly, neither Veeck nor the subsequent owners of the Indians up to the present day intended to offend any Native Americans.

        • Chance Michaels | August 20, 2013 at 11:36 am |

          Of course, I agree that Veeck never intended Wahoo to be the symbol it is today. I just found it ironic that, with his history of progressivism, he ended up on the wrong side of history on this one.

    • LarryB | August 20, 2013 at 11:58 am |

      Thats what I say too. It is a cartoon or drawing.A mascot or a logo.

      By the way Cool stuff yesterday The Jeff.

      And amazing amount of good stuff today.

    • Richard | August 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm |

      “Or maybe sometimes a smiling cartoon character is just a smiling cartoon character and people should stop looking so hard to find racism where it doesn’t exist.”

      Or maybe people should stop denying the existence of racism at every stop, particularly when it’s over 60 years old. Chief Wahoo is absolutely, positively poking fun at Native Americans.

  • arrScott | August 20, 2013 at 8:11 am |

    Thanks for bringing Veeck’s mascot history to us, Chance. Fantastic article!

    Rather than being “staid,” I find I much prefer the prior Browns logo to the Brownie. Something about the Brownie just doesn’t work for me, and I think the contrasting awesomeness of the Brewers and Marlins cartoon mascots helps explain it. A beer keg and a marlin fish are specific things, so those mascots are about moving from the specific to the abstract, and also turning an object and an animal into a person. But the brownie is essentially a person, and since it’s mythical, it’s a case of starting with an abstraction and making it specific. Also, it’s already anthropomorphic. It’s fun and all, but brownie seems more like a really good idea for a mascot costume than a logo to represent the club on uniforms and stationery.

    On the Marlins, is there any other expansion or relocated team whose minor-league predecessor looked so much better than the big-league successor?

    • Connie DC | August 20, 2013 at 11:26 am |

      Every once in a while, Scott is wrong.

      “… But the brownie is essentially a person, and since it’s mythical, it’s a case of starting with an abstraction and making it specific. Also, it’s already anthropomorphic. It’s fun and all, but…”

      But nothing. It’s GREAT fun. I lovelovelove the brownie.

      • arrScott | August 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm |

        I love the brownie, too. I just don’t like it as the team’s primary logo is all. It’s like Dandy, who was a fun mascot, but didn’t belong on the Yankees logo.

        But probable point of agreement: I wish the Browns were still with us. For all their woes, they were a good-looking team most of the time.

        • BvK1126 | August 20, 2013 at 4:20 pm |

          But probable point of agreement: I wish the Browns were still with us. For all their woes, they were a good-looking team most of the time.

          Agreed. Brown is a woefully underutilized color in sports teams’ palettes. The St. Louis Browns proved how good it can look wit the right uniform design.

        • Chance Michaels | August 20, 2013 at 5:21 pm |

          Agreed – brown (especially when paired with athletic gold) is a fantastic color, criminally under-used in sports.

          I love the throwback Broncos jerseys, and the Padres have never looked better than they did in 1969.

          In fact, if my Brewers didn’t already have so much currency with “True Blue Brew Crew”, I’d suggest they move to brown themselves.

    • Chance Michaels | August 20, 2013 at 11:39 am |

      Thanks for the kind words.

      I don’t dislike the prior Browns logo, but Veeck’s Brownie was certainly more fun.

    • Chance Michaels | August 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm |

      I couldn’t agree more about Owgust. I loved the Barrelman son of his that the Brewers used in the 1970s.

      If anybody’s interested in more about Owgust, I could toss in a shameless plug…

    • Chance Michaels | August 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

      Whoops – phone hiccup. I didn’t mean to submit my shameless plug twice. Here’s what I meant to post:

      is there any other expansion or relocated team whose minor-league predecessor looked so much better than the big-league successor?

      You mean, other than the Brewers? ;)

  • scott | August 20, 2013 at 8:15 am |

    Paul Dickson’s new biography of Bill Veeck argues that Veeck’s participation in the march on Selma was a myth, despite its prominent place in Veeck’s obituaries. Dickson quotes Veecks widow as saying, “He was there in spirit all right but not in the flesh.”

    • umplou | August 20, 2013 at 11:54 am |

      His supposed ‘trying to buy the Phillies and stock it with Negro League teams’ has been fairly well debunked lately..

      • Chance Michaels | August 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm |

        Actually, Dickson conclusively proves that Veeck did try to buy the Phillies to stock with black players. The claims to the contrary were not only filled with anti-Veeck animus but based on assumptions which have since been disproven. The SABR researchers who “debunked” it insisted that there were no corroborating references in the African-American press, but Dickson found some.

        I read the bio when it came out last year, can’t believe I blew the Selma reference. Thanks for the correction, Scott. I’ll correct it when I post a version of this to my blog next week.

        • scott | August 20, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

          Thank you for your well-researched article, Chance. I love reading articles about Veeck, especially knowing that someone like him would never be allowed in Selig’s exclusive club today.

  • Mark in Shiga | August 20, 2013 at 8:32 am |

    Regarding that referee with the 2011-vintage number font on his jersey: he’s also got a different number: 127 rather than 147. (And he’s a referee (R) and not an umpire (U).) Could he be wearing a generic emergency jersey of some kind?

    I remember Jerry Markbreit keeping his old referee jersey with the Futura-like font even when most if not all of the other refs had already switched to the varsity block font in the ’80s and ’90s. Did he get an exemption of some kind?

    (And, looking at that image, the font maniac in me is just now noticing that the letter R is in Helvetical whereas the numbers are in Futura.)

    Also, 147? How high do referee jersey numbers go these days? I don’t remember seeing anything above the 130s before.

    • Rob H. | August 20, 2013 at 9:58 am |

      No, he is 127 in both pictures. The 147 was another official from last night’s game wearing the correct font for comparison. The second tweet showed him wearing the correct fonted 127 last year.

      • Mark in Shiga | August 20, 2013 at 11:17 am |

        Ah, got it.

        And after Googling for NFL referee pictures when making that post, now I really miss the old ref jerseys with straight stripes and white-on-black numerals, whether in Varsity or in Futura, from my childhood. They look so much classier.

  • BSmile | August 20, 2013 at 8:39 am |

    Nice article on Veeck’s uni-legacy from Chance!
    Owgust is one of the truly great mascots of all time.
    Cheers! ~B

  • Dumb Guy | August 20, 2013 at 9:03 am |

    I thought maybe the Flyers ring was supposed to be a Stamp. But other rings in that same series have the logo the correct way.

    ????

  • arrScott | August 20, 2013 at 9:11 am |

    Couple of weeks back, I got roped into a Trivial Pursuit game with mostly much younger folks. Up came a question about who sent Eddie Gaedel to bat. “Bill Veeck,” I said, proud to finally get a Sports & Leisure question I knew (that’s always the last pie slice I get). “Close, but it’s ‘Bill Vee-k,'” the 24-ish young ‘un reading the question replied, pronouncing the two e’s as a long e as in “weak”.

    Fortunately, Veeck titled his own most famous memoir “Veeck as in Wreck,” so I won on appeal to Google on someone’s phone.

    • Phil Hecken | August 20, 2013 at 9:15 am |

      ” Veeck titled his own most famous memoir ‘Veeck as in Wreck’,”

      ~~~

      I had originally entitled this article, “…As in Wreck” but opted for Chance’s verbiage at the last minute. I figured enough people would have a hard time referencing “Bill Veeck” much less the kicker of his autobio.

      • Ricko | August 20, 2013 at 10:11 am |

        Clint Courtney…
        http://4.bp.blogspot...

        Pretty sure he was the first in MLB to wear glasses while catching.

        • Ricko | August 20, 2013 at 10:38 am |

          Hey, guess what…

          Did some checking, and Courtney also was the first to use that big-ass catcher’s mitt Paul Richards designed for catching knuckleballers (at the time, chiefly the Orioles’ Hoyt Wilhelm).

          I’d have said the first was Gus Triandos.

        • Terry Proctor | August 20, 2013 at 12:24 pm |

          Clint “Scrap Iron” Courtney was managing the International League’s Richmond Braves when he suffered a fatal heat attack on June 16, 1975 while playing ping pong with one of his players at a Rochester, NY hotel. He was only 48. The team was in Rochester to play the Red Wings.

        • Terry Proctor | August 20, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

          Should read “heart attack.” Sorry.

        • CortM | August 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm |

          Terry, have you ever been to Houston in summer? It might not be possible in Rochester, but “Heat attack” in Houston is completely plausible.

      • CortM | August 20, 2013 at 1:30 pm |

        The Audiobooks version of the Satchel Paige biography is read by a mellifluous-voiced fellow, who had zero knowledge of baseball history.

        Among his numerous mispronunciations was persistently pronouncing it “Veek, as in Seek.”

        It made for aggravating listening.

  • arrScott | August 20, 2013 at 9:13 am |

    Sorry, Esquire, but I got your best facial hair in sports history right here:

    http://www.sportslog...

    • BvK1126 | August 20, 2013 at 12:01 pm |

      Sorry, Esquire, but I got your best facial hair in sports history right here:

      Hard to argue with that. Here are my two contenders for the worst facial hair in sports history:

      Exhibit 1

      Exhibit 2

      Discuss.

      • CortM | August 20, 2013 at 1:27 pm |

        Didn’t the young Sidney Crosby produce a playoff beard that made him look like he’d been exposed to massive doses of radiation? I think it was The Kid.

        That was a bad beard.

        The day is coming, my friends, when the scales will fall from your eyes, and you will all recognize the Determined Fisherman as the work of brilliance that it is.

        • BvK1126 | August 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm |

          The day is coming, my friends, when the scales will fall from your eyes, and you will all recognize the Determined Fisherman as the work of brilliance that it is.

          …or perhaps the blatant knockoff of the Gorton’s Fish Sticks logo that it is.

        • CortM | August 20, 2013 at 7:48 pm |

          The Gorton’s guy is a male model, dressed in a slicker. He’s a fancy lad, a dandy. There aren’t any calluses on his hands, no Respect for The Sea in his dead, blue eyes.

          The Determined Fisherman has seen some living. He’s a tough old swabbie, an Old Hand at the seafarin’ life. And his lips have never touched a fish stick. He likes his fish like he likes his women: fresh caught and salty, with a liberal application of beer batter (I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good).

          I love the Determined Fisherman. I always will.

    • suprfrog | August 20, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

      The argument for worst sports facial hair ends here:

      http://www.beardbaro...

  • M.Princip | August 20, 2013 at 9:15 am |

    “These vintage 1970s Seahawks stickers make you think of Zorn to Largent, don’t they?”

    More like Krieg to Largent. Those stickers are from the 1980s.

  • jiec | August 20, 2013 at 9:29 am |

    Toronto transit operators reject ‘Montreal Canadiens-coloured golf shirts’ as new uniform

    http://news.national...

  • Doug | August 20, 2013 at 9:30 am |

    For accuracy’s sake, the White Sox logo of the batter over the wordmark was not a Veeck concept – it was introduced the year after Veeck sold the team to Jerry Reinstorf and Eddie Einhorn.

    • Rob S | August 20, 2013 at 9:51 am |

      Afraid you’re wrong, Doug – that Sox logo was adopted in 1976. Here’s a 1976 White Sox program showing that logo.

      And just to make things bizarre, the wordmark from that logo was used on the caps of the uniforms of the era, which kind of clashed with the whole fauxback effect Veeck was going for.

      • Ricko | August 20, 2013 at 10:17 am |

        On the windbreakers, too.
        http://seasonticketp...

        Photo is from a couple years later, but remember seeing the jackets when the mono navy unis were introduced in 1976 (the “throwback” element of that set was sort of a Bicentennial thing…which did, yes, make the “modern” batter logo and typography more than a little anachronistic).

        • Chance Michaels | August 20, 2013 at 11:45 am |

          That disconnect always bothered me.

          But throwback uniforms? Veeck truly was a man ahead of his time. ;)

        • Thomas Juettner | August 20, 2013 at 12:18 pm |

          Actually the S-O-X logo introduced by Veeck in 1976 was based off a pennant that appeared in a photo from opening day 1920. So in a very real sense the cap logo was a fauxback as well.

          http://www.whitesoxi...

          http://sports.cbsimg...

      • Thomas Juettner | August 20, 2013 at 12:19 pm |

        Actually the cap logo Veeck introduced in 1976 was itself a throwback to a pennant seen in a photo opening day 1920. So even though it looks modern it was really a fauxback.

        http://sports.cbsimg...

        http://www.whitesoxi...

        • MEANS | August 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm |

          hard to tell but are there 2 socks making the X in the pennant? similar to a hat they eventually would wear (1926)(just the crossed Socks)

        • Rob S | August 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm |

          Okay, wow, I didn’t know about a version of that mark appearing that far back.

          Still, it looks incongruous with the overall uniform style.

        • Chance Michaels | August 20, 2013 at 4:41 pm |

          Yeah, I’m not actually convinced that its the same style, or that the pennant script was in any way an official wordmark.

  • Paul Lukas | August 20, 2013 at 10:12 am |

    Today’s Power Rankings installment is up:
    http://espn.go.com/s...

    • Rob S | August 20, 2013 at 10:27 am |

      Bit surprised that the Lakers are ranked ahead of the Spurs, what with that whole purple thing…

      • ChrisH | August 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm |

        Speaking of the Lakers, I found this statement from the comment remarkable:

        “Ideally, a uniform should be viewed in a vacuum, strictly on the basis of its aesthetics.”

        That ideal wasn’t quite met in the critique of the Cleveland Indians’ set yesterday. Sure, the Indians don’t exude an “aura of quality”, but their uniforms were ranked solely on Chief Wahoo’s use as a design element, not their overall look.

      • Ted Mark | August 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm |

        I can still remember Chick Hearn describing the Lakers wearing “Forum Blue”, the same color they wear now. The Fabulous Forum in Inglewood was their home prior to Staples. Therefore, it’s not purple at all.

    • Scott Davis | August 20, 2013 at 10:38 am |

      Not to sound like a jerk, but what is your criteria for the rankings? (I saw the ground rules, but I’m still a little confused)

      Some of them are praised for having minimal decoration (Celtics, Lakers, Nets?!), while some are voted low because they have minimal decoration (Hawks, Cavs).

      • Ricko | August 20, 2013 at 10:53 am |

        That’s the trouble with this whole ‘subjectivity” thing.
        It’s so…subjective.

        ;)

      • Paul Lukas | August 20, 2013 at 10:55 am |

        The only criterion is my taste (which happens to be very good).

        There’s a difference between minimalist and plain; there’s a difference between stripped-down and generic.

        Of course, your definitions of those terms may not match up with mine, and that’s fine.

        • Bernard | August 20, 2013 at 11:01 am |

          I’m surprised the Celtics don’t lose points for this or this. Or are those out of the rotation now?

        • Scott Davis | August 20, 2013 at 11:15 am |

          Fair enough. To each their own. I respect that.

        • Sammy | August 20, 2013 at 11:22 am |

          “The only criterion is my taste (which happens to be very good).”

          Wow, that comes off as being extremely smug. Paul, we all respect your knowledge on the subject and your eye for aesthetics. But to claim that you have very good taste implies that your opinion is better than others.

          The philosopher Kant claims that genuine good taste does not exist, and cannot be empirically defined. To him, beauty is not a property of any object, but an aesthetic judgement based on a subjective feeling.

        • Paul Lukas | August 20, 2013 at 11:34 am |

          to claim that you have very good taste implies that your opinion is better than others.

          Not at all. It’s entirely possible (although, I’d submit, unlikely) that everyone has equally good taste.

          Look, I’m a critic. A critic, by definition, believes in the strength of his or her taste. If you object to the entire notion of cultural criticism, that’s a perfectly legitimate position to take. But it means you and I live on different planets. Nothing wrong with that, but I tend to focus on, you know, my planet.

        • Sammy | August 20, 2013 at 11:49 am |

          Yeah, I get it. I feel that opinions that are backed by lots of education and research (like yours are) carry much more weight than ones that aren’t. But there are still some times when I just really like the color purple, and yet you can’t stand it.

          Having said all I’ve said, I really respect your opinion and work. I wouldn’t read uni-watch every day if I didn’t.

        • walter | August 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm |

          I’ll defer to the tastes of anyone who has the initiative to start a website and put his sweat and toil into it. If I need to disagree too often or too virulently, I’ll start up one of my own:)

  • Steve | August 20, 2013 at 11:13 am |

    Umm…can you imagine if this catches on?

    http://www.nypost.co...

    Athletes changing their names for major sporting events for the purpose of advertising. Ah, the power of the almighty dollar.

    • Rob S | August 20, 2013 at 11:22 am |

      Not just advertising – advertising THEIR OWN CRAP!

      • Rob S | August 20, 2013 at 11:27 am |

        Seriously, who the hell wants to pay a premium price to buy gummy lips just because they’re marketed by a female tennis player? The whole concept comes off as ridiculous, and the name change plan disgusting.

        I sincerely hope the Grand Slam Committee puts the kibosh on this lucicrous scheme.

        • Tom V. | August 20, 2013 at 11:50 am |

          Yes, the real crime is $6 for 5 ounces of candy.

    • Rob S | August 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm |

      Well, it’s not happening, thank God.

      Seems it’s too much of an inconvenience to change it, and change it back so quickly.

  • Tyler | August 20, 2013 at 11:35 am |

    The Sharks finally unveiled their new NEXTWAVE jerseys they’ve been teasing for a few days.

    http://1.cdn.nhle.co...

    Horrible change, they look like a practice jersey they ripped off from the Stars old design.

    • Thomas Juettner | August 20, 2013 at 11:47 am |

      Wrong sleeve patch and no hem stripes. Wayyy to bland. At this point just bring back silver.

      http://sharks.nhl.co...

    • Rob S | August 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm |

      Chris Creamer’s take

      I generally agree with Chris’s opinion.

      Good changes:
      Removal of contrasting shoulder yoke
      Removal of orange from letters and numbers

      Bad changes:
      Removal of waistline stripes
      Removal of only one orange stripe from sleeves
      Keeping front numbers

      The idea that the waist stripes were removed to reduce the weight of the jersey just sounds ludicrous to me. What’s the difference, an ounce or two, maybe?

      • Chance Michaels | August 20, 2013 at 4:46 pm |

        Besides, you want a little weight at the bottom of a jersey. Like pant cuffs, which pull the trouser legs down.

        I rather like these, though. Simpler is better. Shame they’re still relegating their best logo, the full body shark, to the shoulders.

    • StLMarty | August 20, 2013 at 9:48 pm |

      Those stripes make NO sense.

  • Tyler | August 20, 2013 at 11:38 am |

    Here is the away jerseys.

    http://1.cdn.nhle.co...

  • arrScott | August 20, 2013 at 11:52 am |

    The Jeff’s use of the Heroin Herkie for his otherwise excellent Iowa football concept yesterday reminded me of how much that attempted revision of the Tiger Hawk reminds me of a parrot, rather than a hawk. So because Science! I made up these variations as an experiment:

    http://www.flickr.co...

    Yep. It’s a parrot. Which makes me like it even more.

    • The Jeff | August 20, 2013 at 12:02 pm |

      Well ok then. I’ll take that logo off of my Iowa concept and put it on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ shoulders.

      • Bernard | August 20, 2013 at 12:07 pm |

        No joke, a parrot shoulder patch for the Pirates is kind of a great idea.

        • arrScott | August 20, 2013 at 4:48 pm |

          A parrot patch for the Pirates would be awesome. I’m sure someone – anyone, really – could do better, but here’s a Rays rebranding concept I did years ago that includes a parrot intended to be a sleeve patch:

          http://madforjam.com...

    • BvK1126 | August 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm |

      I believe this summarizes how that Iowa fans feel about that.

  • Ben Fortney | August 20, 2013 at 12:10 pm |

    Not to start any conspiracy theories – who am I kidding, conspire away – but is it possible that the minimalist trend in the newest NBA jerseys is actually tied to the addition of uni-ads?

    Every word mark has gotten smaller and design flourishes are disappearing, leaving lots of empty space for patches, logos, etc. Is it so farfetched to think the NBA is supplying guidelines/templates with the ad-space already incorporated?

  • quiet seattle | August 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

    Reading Paul’s espn Power Rankings is great fun. Yesterday’s baseball rankings essentially reflected my own. But today, not so. Which is puzzling and interesting.

    Among the head scratchers today:

    Golden State: That thing is a patchwork mess. How many poorly rendered elements can we toss on a uniform? And the tiny Copperplate wordmark is the icing on the cake.

    Oklahoma City: Maybe it’s part jilted Seattlite talkin’ here, but that thing is all wrong. Overdesigned and underdesigned at once.

    Phoenix: Egads. Really? The clunky wordmark alone and the gradients within make me cringe. What a weak re-design.

    Among the stronger, bolder designs that Paul dismisses: Houston, Indiana and Cleveland (Particularly puzzling: two unique, complimentary colors and snazzing three thin stripe pattern on shoulders, waist and hem. Come on!).

    Can’t wait for the next two installments!

    • Ben Fortney | August 20, 2013 at 1:01 pm |

      Agree; OKC is up too high, and the Rockets too low. While most teams are going with that hideous truncated piping on the arms, Houston is doing it beautifully.

      • quiet seattle | August 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

        Oh, man. Don’t get me started on the truncated striping…

    • CortM | August 20, 2013 at 1:36 pm |

      Totally agree: the Rockets design is very effective, and OK City is a mess. Phoenix looks good, only in comparison to what it replaced. Strong colors, the potential for some strong graphic elements, and a two names (“PHOENIX” and “SUNS”) that just look good on a jersey, and they swung and missed.

    • Attila Szendrodi | August 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

      No hate intended, and by his own admission, but Paul is clearly not much of an NBA fan. Those rankings are all kinds of messed up.

      I loathe the ugly (and far too big logoed) Golden State uniforms.

      Wizards are bottom 5. Horrid.

      Grizz, Rockets, Bucks, Nuggets and Cavs should be in the top half.

      Timberwolves are kinda shitty but no way is it the 2nd worst.

      • Ben Fortney | August 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm |

        Wizards should be upper 1/2 on originality alone. Grizz look like 25% of the other teams, bland and unremarkable.

        As for the Bucks I looked at the photo this morning and can’t for the life of me remember what they wear now. Down the table.

  • Eric B | August 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm |

    I love that that Hamilton QB in the 1957 Grey Cup final video linked above is wearing 92. I’ve never seen a QB (aside from the AAFC) wear jersey numbers above 50 after 1940 or so.

    • Ricko | August 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm |

      Bernie Faloney.
      That name alone makes him worth remembering.

      Also google Sam Etcheverry of the Alouettes (#92 before CFL’s numbering rules; #14 afterward).

  • Connie DC | August 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm |

    “… first game between American and Canadian football teams played in Canada, Third Army Corps Area team from Maryland v Toronto Argonauts in 1923. In this photograph, two of the Argos are wearing newsboy caps instead of helmets, and one appears to be wearing an overcoat!…”

    55-7! U-S-A! Almost makes up for Lundy’s Lane.

    • CortM | August 20, 2013 at 7:54 pm |

      Congratulations, Connie, on the most obscure reference in the history of this site.

      Who knew that your considerable talents included being a War of 1812 maven?

  • Scott Mason | August 20, 2013 at 3:40 pm |

    The Payton jersey is from 1982 from right after Papa Bear passed away. It was only used in that season, and it was strike-shortened so we didn’t get to see it much.

  • Scott Mason | August 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm |

    <> If I had just listened…1983…my bad. So much for my recall memory; or listening skills.

  • Micah | August 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm |

    The link for Vizquel’s glove isn’t working for me…..

  • Ted Mark | August 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm |

    Some thoughts on the Angels. I really like the throwbacks that are a mix of navy and red. Hate their current red unis. And they wear their pants the same way they play-horribly. They look like a bunch of slobs.

    • walter | August 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm |

      They could afford to lose a few patches.

      • scott | August 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

        The Angels should definitely return to the navy hats and use red as a secondary color. And it may be a gimmick, but the halo on the hat was such a great idea. Why don’t more teams don’t go out on a limb these days, such as putting “scrambled eggs” on the hat brim like the Seattle Pilots? The creativity these days seems confined to taking a white or gray jersey and making reversing the colors to create an alternate jersey.

  • Joseph Gerard | August 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

    Good article on Bill Veeck.

    I don’t think this has been covered, but the Titans will be wearing the navy blue jerseys for two games this season. This will be the first time they’ve worn the jerseys since 2008. Considering its been five years, I wonder if this qualifies it for throwback status, even though the Titans never officially discontinued it.

    • walter | August 20, 2013 at 5:58 pm |

      Not feeling the love for two-toned football uniforms. It will always look like a practice jersey to me.

  • Bromotrifluoromethane | August 20, 2013 at 4:50 pm |

    I’m again in the minority but nice to see the Redskins go with their better “Home” look last night by going burgundy over white.
    Of course that look should only be worn when they play at Dallas or any other white wearing team at home and the rest of the time home and road they should be wearing the white over burgundy and send those yellow pants back to the 70’s where they belong… I’d be a bit more accepting of it at home if they would at least tweak it to make the stripes match the rest of the set but the old Green Bay knockoffs have to go.

    • scott | August 20, 2013 at 6:26 pm |

      Absolutely. The Redskins have always looked better in white jerseys over burgundy pants.

  • Chance Michaels | August 20, 2013 at 4:54 pm |

    Those A’s/Snappers unis make me nostalgic for the Madison Muskies, who were very much styled after their parent A’s.

  • Super Ass Burger Man | August 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm |

    Your blog sucks, you racist fucknut.

    • Brendan the Aspie | August 20, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

      Get the hell off my IP address. Just because we share a house for the next two weeks doesn’t mean you can post this crap.

    • Brendan the Aspie | August 20, 2013 at 5:02 pm |

      And calling Phil a “racist fucknut” is an insult to the blog we’ve been reading for five years. I know you’re probably drunk right now, but please stop this crap.

    • Brendan the Aspie | August 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm |

      Nope, he wasn’t drunk.

    • CortM | August 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm |

      Brothers? Old college roommates? Guys sharing a cell at the county lockup?

      Who are these guys, and why do I want them to write a guest column?

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