The good news is that Georgia Tech wore really nice throwbacks last night. The bad news, as you can see above, is that there were serious inconsistencies in the sleeve striping. (My thanks to reader Oscar Cullom and Phil for pointing this out.)
In that same game, Virginia Tech wore their much-discussed “Hokie Stone” helmets, which didn’t really look like much from a distance. You may have noticed a “430” decal on the back of each helmet. That is explained — along with a lot of pretentious nonsense — here. (Thanks to Andrew Cosentino for that.)
New ESPN column today — the annual NHL season preview. Here you go. (The separate goalie column will run next Monday or Tuesday.)
Yesterday’s post about the Hale America program and its assorted patches prompted some good follow-up from a coupla different sources. Let me walk you through some of the discussion (I realize it looks like a lot to read, but work with me here — it’s good stuff):
• First, in yesterday’s post I mentioned that I thought the “Health” patch would have been better if it had said “Fitness” instead. Reader R. Scott Rogers responded to that with an interesting post in our comments section:
There’s deeper context to the Hale America thing that makes “Health” more sensible than “Fitness.” You have to look at the history of 20th century conscription. In WWI, the national draft revealed widespread regional disparities in health and IQ that meant many young men from large parts of the country weren’t fit for military service. This led to two developments important to the WWII context of the Health patch: 1) advances in understanding micronutrients and the adoption of iodized salt to solve the iodine deficiencies at the root of the WWI draft issues; and 2) a public perception that regional disparities in health constituted a threat not only to national military readiness but also to the basic equality and liberty of the people. (For further details, look here.)
When the draft was reinstated in 1940, both of these issues would have regained currency. In WWI, it wasn’t that Midwestern boys weren’t physically fit –- it was still an agrarian region and, as in the Civil War era, Midwesterners were the most muscularly robust people in the nation. It was about health — systematic malnutrition had rendered many of the brawniest young men in America unfit for military service. And the 22-year gap between the end of WWI and the restart of conscription meant that it was the WWI generation that was running the country when WWII came around. So it’s understandable that “health,” writ large, rather than the narrower “fitness,” would have been the slogan of the Hale America campaign. …
• As Scott was typing that comment, Baseball Hall of Fame curator Tom Shieber was sending me an old New York Times article from Oct. 11, 1940, which gives some key background on the Hale America program (including the amusing news that other names being considered for the initiative included “America Fit for Anything.” “Put America on Its Feet,” “Don’t Be a Softy,” and “It’s Unpatriotic to Be Unhealthy”). The article doesn’t really say anything about the draft, or even about military preparedness in general. And of course the attack on Pearl Harbor was still more than a year away at this point. So I responded to Scott’s post by saying, “Military/draft readiness does not appear to have been the point of the Hale America initiative, at least based on this article.”
• Scott read the article and then responded with the following (I’ve edited this one a bit for clarity):
Pearl Harbor may not have been bombed until December 1941, but the European war began in 1939 and U.S. military preparation for war had been a dominant domestic political issue since at least 1938. The draft was instated with the Selective Training and Service Act in September, 1940, with conscription beginning the following month.
If you read the article you link to more closely, it’s plainly, and overtly, all about military readiness. “[Europe] will force us to our knees if we ever come to grips” is not a metaphor for economic competitiveness in this context. When someone refers to the European Theater of WWII, during WWII, and talks about who’s going to win a fight, he’s actually talking about fighting. Even the emphasis on being a voluntary program, rather than a government mandate, is revealing, coming as it does just weeks after the end of the highly contentious national debate that led to instituting the first-ever peacetime draft. Note the dateline of the article: October 10, just six days before the draft began.
Scott’s arguments are convincing. All the more surprising, then, that MLB teams didn’t start wearing the Hale America patch the following year — 1941 — instead of waiting until 1942.
• Tom Shieber also sent me some additional articles relating to Hale America. This one, about a physical training initiative for women, ran in the Boston Globe on Sept. 22, 1941. Here’s the key passage:
The badge to be worn by the hoped-for army of Amazons is a small shield on a blue circle featuring the word “health.” The uniform is an attractive spectator sports dress in national blue. The style should look good on tall, short, stout or then females. Watchword for the organization is “Hale America.”
• A few months later, in early 1942, the Chicago Tribune teamed up with the pro bowler Andy Varipapa to offer free bowling instruction to Chicago residents. The newspaper announced the program in this article on Feb. 18, 1942. Key passage:
The entire program will be linked with the Hale America program in the civilian defense physical fitness drive. This program, as explained yesterday by Jack M. Willem, national coordinator of bowling, seeks to emphasize relaxation and recreation for the individual. It will encourage insruction as an essential part of the program. As evidence of the tie-up, Varipapa will wear the Hale America shield and in his lectures will stress the need of a healthier and thus better prepared America.
• The Tribune provided an update on the bowling instruction program on March 9, 1942. Key passage:
Varipapa is eager to help, as a contribution to the Hale America program, whose emblem he wears. The Hale America sponsors are urging bowling not only as a means of keeping fit, but also to get defense workers’ minds off the grim job in which they are playing a part.
That last sentence, of course, directly ties Hale America to the war effort.
• Finally, here’s something I didn’t know (or maybe just forgot): The “Health” patch was also worn by Negro Leagues teams, as seen in these pics of the Chicago American Giants and the Philadelphia Stars.
Big thanks to Scott and Tom for all of this enlightening information. It’s fun to put these pieces of the puzzle together.
’Skins Watch: Former ’Skins coach Joe Gibbs doesn’t think the team’s name should be changed (from William Yurasko). … Schools in Wisconsin had been ordered to stop using Native-based team names, but a new bill introduced in the state legislature would change that policy (from Jared Heintz).
Baseball News: Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The Rockies saluted Todd Helton’s final game at Coors Field by putting his uni number all over the field, on the back of the mound, and on first base. … It doesn’t get much better than this: Tom Terrific and Broadway Joe tossing a football with both of them in uniform (big thanks to Alan Kreit). …
NFL News: The Chargers will be wearing white at home this Sunday, which means the Cowboys will have to wear blue. … Speaking of the Chargers, they’re selling a jersey with last year’s neck roll and this year’s yellow NOB lettering — two elements that have never appeared together. Even better, they’ve personalized it with the name of Junior Seau, who never wore either of those elements (from Jared Buccola). … I put this in the MLB section, but it deserves to be here too: Tom Terrific and Broadway Joe tossing a football with both of them in uniform (big thanks to Alan Kreit). … Jerry Kulig spotted this nice Browns/Brownie varsity jacket in an Ohio antiques mall. … And speaking of football jackets, look at this amazing Colts/AAFC beauty. Click on the thumbnails — it’s worth it (from Bruce Menard). … Looks like someone on eBay has used my recent ESPN column about Stevens Wright as the basis for a Proto-Elvis Pats helmet (from Vincent Collier). … There are soooo many things wrong with the throwback jersey Eric Dickerson was wearing last night (from Brian Wulff). … I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The most unheralded change to the game of football over the past generation is the use of super-sticky gloves. And now it turns out that some of the gloves have webbing! That’s 49ers tight end Garrett Celek, from last night’s game against the Rams (screen shot by Chris Perrenot). … Also from last night’s game: Rams LB Alec Ogletree wore plain white socks, instead of the official blue-topped hose (from Josh Claywell).
College Football News: This is pretty wild: Western Michigan will wear a Cincy Bearcats logo decal tomorrow as a tribute to Ben Flick, a Cincinnati redshirt who died in a car crash last weekend. “As far as I know there’s no connection between the dead player and Western Michigan, and they’re not playing against Cincinnati at all this season, so I’m a bit confused as to why,” says Ben Cox. … West Virginia will be wearing solid gold tomorrow. … Missouri will wear solid black (from Paulie Sumner). … If you have any doubt about the extent to which Nike and other company’s have infiltrated various football programs, take a look at UGA’s Twitter avatar (from Keith Myers). … Here’s a slideshow on the evolution of Georgia Tech’s uniforms (from Jay Jones). … Looking for a Florida Gators Jell-O mold kit? Sure you are! (From Jason Hillyer.) … Colorado State will wear orange tomorrow, and Texas A&M will wear red/white/red (thanks, Phil). … Southern Illinois will be doing the blackout thing, as an anti-cancer promotion (Phil yet again). … Blackout on tap next Thursday for Utah. … New uni combo in the works this weekend for Boise State (from Cale Guthmiller).
Grab Bag: This is really interesting: Father Ryan High School in Tennessee is protesting the terrible labor practices of athletic apparel companies by covering up the manufacturers’ logos on all of their teams’ uniforms. Good for them (from Lee David Wilds). … New college hockey uniforms for UMass. … Here’s a good primer on cycling’s rainbow jerseys (from Sean Clancy). … Here’s a slideshow of unusual airplane liveries (from David Firestone). … While poking around on eBay, I came across a shirt with a Sam Santo Sport Store label — and what a label it was! … Some very cool non-sports logo mash-ups here (thanks, Brinke).
What Paul did last night: The long version is that yesterday was the last Thursday of the month, which means I made my monthly pilgrimage to Otto’s Shrunken Head in the East Village, where I saw the mighty Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. Even better, I had donated blood earlier in the day, which gave the night’s libations a bit more bang for the buck.
The short version is this photograph, which nicely captures how much more fun it is to go out instead of staying home and watching the game (click to enlarge):