As most of you probably know, all MLB teams wore “Health” patches in 1942. This was the logo of the Hale America initiative, which was basically a “Shape Up!” fitness program that arose in response to America’s entry into World War II following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The patch was also worn by minor league teams, and I’ve occasionally seen it showing up in other places, like on this vintage Lane Tech varsity sweater.
I’ve never understood why the patch says, “Health” (why not “Fitness” or something like that?), or why it doesn’t include the words “Hale America.” This 1942 article provides some background on the program but sheds little light on the patch wording:
“Hale America,” designating “health,” is a program now in operation all over the nation to promote national physical well-being.
I wasn’t really thinking about any of this when I recently stumbled across this eBay auction for nine old Hale America patches. I immediately placed a bid and, as you can see, won them for next to nothing. Let’s take a closer look, beginning with the first three of the patches (click to enlarge):
Each of these patches is interesting in its own way. Let’s go one at a time, from left to right:
• The first patch, as you can see, is for umpires. Specifically, it’s for softball umpires — the “A.S.A.” stands for Amateur Softball Association, an organization that was founded in 1933 and still exists today. The puzzling thing is the “International Federation” designation at the top of the patch, which seems odd because (a) the A.S.A. was, and still is, an American organization, and (b) the Hale America program was, obviously, an American initiative. Hmmmmm.
• The middle patch is for a softball team. I’m wondering why they wore this patch, instead of the plain “Health” shield.
• The patch on the right is for bowling! As you can see, this one actually includes the words “Hale America” — first time I’ve seen that. Also, the slogan “Bowl & Keep Fit” combined with the “Health” design feels very familiar to me, because “Bowl for Health” was a common mid-century ad slogan. Did that slogan get its start with the Hale America Program?
Now let’s look at the next three patches (click to enlarge):
These patches are a bit more straightforward. The first two are the standard “Health” design that was worn by MLB and MiLB players in 1942. Ah, but the third one — “Fitness”! Just like I always thought, it looks and feels better than “Health.” I wish they’d used this as the primary design.
Now let’s look at the final three patches (click to enlarge):
Let’s go from left to right again, one at a time:
• At first glance, the patch on the left looks like the standard “Health” design. But it only has two stars, instead of three — sort of a lower-grade version. I wonder if there was a specific protocol that called for this patch to be used, instead of the three-star version, in certain situations.
• Next up is the strangest patch of the bunch. “Pants”?! What could that be about?
• The last patch was grouped with all the others in the eBay auction, but I’m not convinced this one had anything to do with the Hale America program. Does anyone know what “WIPS” might have stood for?
In 1943, the “Health” patch was discontinued and replaced by a stars and stripes shield. It’s not clear to me if this was because (a) the Hale America program stopped using the “Health” design; (b) the Hale America program was scrapped altogether; or (c) MLB decided to use a patch that wasn’t connected to Hale America. Anyone know more?
I know lots of you would rather talk about which helmet Virghio Tech State is wearing this weekend and don’t really care about old patches, but I’m actually super-excited about today’s post. And you should have seen how geeked out I was when those patches showed up in the mail. So cool!
Now I just have to figure out what to do with them.
’Skins Watch: Rick Reilly has responded to the response to his pro-’Skins column. Only now he’s saying it wasn’t really a pro-’Skins column. Not only that, but he thinks the name will be changed. Some interesting (if confounding) stuff here — worth reading. … Some of you have complained that I don’t give equal time to pro-’Skins articles. The fact of the matter is that I link to anything related to the naming controversy, pro or con. Those of you who support the retention of the team’s name, however, might want to ask yourselves if articles like this one do more harm than good for your side of the debate. … “Last question during the Wednesday night’s Virginia gubernatorial debate was whether the ’Skins should change their name,” reports Sam Sharp. “Both candidates agreed that a governor shouldn’t tell a private business how to operate.” Real profiles in courage right there, eh? Further details here.
Baseball News: When I was on Keith Olbermann’s show two nights ago, KO’s opening monologue mentioned how the 1963 A’s mostly wore either their first names or nicknames on their backs. Turns out they had to keep the names short, because the A’s vest jerseys didn’t offer much real estate to work with (awesome find by Todd Radom). … The Yankees are still wearing those Mariano Rivera patches on their sleeves and caps. To reiterate: I think showcasing an active player in this manner is unseemly. I realize some of you disagreed with me on that point, at least in terms of the Yanks wearing the patches last Sunday, when they gave Rivera a big send-off. But tell me this: Are you still okay with the patches being worn for all these additional games? … Daisuke Matsuzaka once again wore those socks emblazoned with a swoosh and his uni number yesterday — grrrrrr. Also, as you can see there, he’s been wearing zip-up shoes. … Hey, remember the plan to replace (or at least supplement) dugout phones with cell phones? I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen a manager or pitching coach calling on a cell phone all season. Was the plan scrapped..? … Awesome work by Jarrod Wheeler, who noticed that Tigers pitcher Drew Smyly had a loose thread hanging from the MLB logo on the back of his cap last night.
NFL News: The Rams will wear solid white at home for tonight’s game against the 49ers (thanks, Phil). … “The CBSSports home page usually has a large ad at the top of the screen,” says Bill Schaefer. “Wednesday’s ad, brought to us by Ford, showed a series of NFL match-ups, with teams’ city names shown in their NFL team colors — except for Baltimore, which was displayed in orange and black. An Orioles fan must have made the ad.” … My recent ESPN column about former NFL logo designer Stevens Wright, who among other things designed the 49ers’ infamous one-day helmet logo, prompted this note from Mike (who didn’t give his last name): “In 1991, when i was working at a start-up NFL trading card company called Action Packed, the 49ers sent me a T-shirt with that logo. I wore it for about five years then tossed it.” D’oh! … Several times over the years I’ve mentioned how the Chargers used an unusual FIOB style from the 1970s, with the initial coming after the surname. This was also done by the Browns. You can see video of Chargers defensive lineman Deacon Jones wearing this style here (from Bill Shannon).
College Football News: Here’s more on the “APU” thing that players are writing on their wristbands. … Yesterday I mentioned that Ohio State would wear last year’s “rivalry” costume this weekend against Wisconsin. Turns out it won’t be an exact match to last year’s costume after all. Also, they’ll wear a new alternate uni against Michigan in November (thanks, Phil). … Boise State may be wearing BFBS helmets this weekend. … UNC, not content to merely wear flag-desecration helmets this weekend, will also have flag-desecration end zones (from Chris Taylor). … South Carolina will go white/white/red this weekend. Isn’t it amazing that all these schools now routinely announce which combo they’ll be wearing each week? I can’t decide if this is good (because it shows how far the uni-verse has come) or bad (because it’s all so ridiculous). … Someone on eBay is selling a Notre Dame jersey from the 1983 Liberty Bowl. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one of these,” says Jack Quinn. “I believe, though I am not 100% certain, that this was the first time that Notre Dame wore any kind of bowl patch. Also, this jersey doesn’t have the triple stripe on the sleeves that Gerry Faust’s uniforms usually had from 1981-83.”
Hockey News: Brian McGrattan of the Flames is singing the praises of Kevlar socks. “Apparently the socks prevented an injury similar to Erik Karlsson’s from last year, when Matt Cooke’s skate blade severed his Achilles tendon and he missed significant time,” says Sam Belk. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this is made mandatory and/or players adopted it immediately.” … EC Red Bulls Munich — that’s a Red Bull-owned German hockey team — has a pretty wild Oktoberfest uniform. Look at the knit pattern on those socks! (Big thanks to Stefan Schubert.) … Here’s a slideshow showing the evolution of Team Canada uniforms over the years (thanks, Phil).
Soccer News: Can’t stop your opponent? Pull down his pants. That’s Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen trying an unusual defense against Aston Villa’s Nicklas Helenius on Tuesday (from Eddie Lee). … A British TV show wanted to use official Arsenal merch in one of its episodes, but Arsenal refused to grant them permission because the show depicted Arsenal fans as half-witted criminals. “So instead the show depicted Arsenal fans as half-witted criminals wearing unbranded gear with club and sponsor logos covered up,” reports Yusuke Toyoda.
NBA/WNBA News: A video game leak suggests that the Clippers will have a sleeved alternate jersey this season. Someone has suggested that the look a lot like old Louisiana Tech women’s hoops uniforms, which I’m sure is precisely the comparison the Clippers were hoping for. … Key passage in this story about NBA commish-to-be Adam Silver (aka the guy who hates my guts for “giving out” his email address, even though it was publicly available for anyone who Googled his name): “[Silver] hasn’t abandoned the idea of selling advertisements for the front of the jerseys. ‘It’s something we’re still considering. It’s on the backburner right now.'” This continues a run of fairly non-aggressive statements by Silver on the subject of uniform ads. As I wrote two weeks ago, it’s not clear whether this more reserved approach is (a) Silver’s way of striking a respectful tone of moderation until David Stern (who opposes jersey ads) officially retires in February; (b) a stealth approach, so as not to provoke the kind of grass-roots outrage that galvanized when Silver first raised the prospect of uniform ads; or (c) a legitimate expression of where things truly stand at the moment. I’ll start taking Silver’s statements more seriously when he’s officially replaced Stern and will presumably be freer to speak his mind. … That same article also includes this: “Nets CEO Brett Yormark agreed to have the Nets participate in two uniform gimmicks this season — one game where they have nicknames on the back of the jerseys, another where they wear short-sleeved uniforms.” We already knew about both of those, of course, but it’s always good to see uniform coverage in a mainstream newspaper (my thanks to Phil for pointing out those passages). … Last year I did a big ESPN column on players who’ve worn zero or double-zero. But my list did not include James Worthy of the Lakers, who wore 00 on Dec. 11, 1987. BasketballReference.com, which is generally pretty trustworthy, shows Worthy wearing No. 42 for his entire career, so I told Roman Sprikut, who found that photo, that it was probably a blood jersey. Sure enough, Roman then found a rear-view shot showing that Worthy’s 00 jersey was NNOB. Definitely a blood jersey. … With the WNBA playoffs underway, the Phoenix sculpture known as Full Life Reach is wearing a Phoenix Mercury uniform (rare non-soccer submission from Kenn Tomasch).
College Hoops News: New sweatbacks for Clemson (from Austin Pendergist). … New uniforms for Iowa State and Kansas, too. You can see larger images of the Kansas uni here and here (from Phil and Seth Wiley).
Grab Bag: If you think pee-wee football players aren’t big, strong, or fast enough to deliver or suffer significant head impacts, think again. If you have a kid who plays football, you’ll want to read that. … Some missing cricket uniforms have shown up on eBay (from Leo Strawn Jr.). … Good article on Google’s use of design (thanks, Brinke). … Why wait until March Madness to create bracket-style setups? My man Hamilton Nolan has whipped up a really great privilege bracket. Great stuff. … Michael Ostrofsky claims that his parents’ cat, Mr. Nuts, “has correctly picked the outcomes of Super Bowls, presidential elections, and the gender of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s kid by taking a dump in one of two carefully prepared litter trays.” Now Mr. Nuts has weighed in on the outcome of the America’s Cup. … Good history of uni numbers on rugby jerseys, which apparently dates back to 1897 (from Caleb Borchers).