Dressed to the Nines shows that the 1969 A’s wore green caps with a white “A” logo. So I perked up when reader Roger Faso recently pointed me toward this photo of A’s pitcher Ed Sprague. Although the photo is in black-and-white, it’s easy enough to see that the cap logo wasn’t white. And if you look at the various gray tones in the photo, it becomes evident that the cap itself couldn’t have been green — it was gold!
If you look at the thumbnails at the bottom of that photo page, you’ll see there’s another photo of Sprague, again with what appears to have been a gold cap. The telltale MLB centennial patch clearly marks both photos as being from 1969.
At first I was excited — this was a major find! Then I started doubting myself. Maybe we’d already covered this before and I just didn’t remember..?
I ran the photos past uni designer Todd Radom and Hall of Fame curator Tom Shieber, both of whom said the gold cap was news to them. Then I contacted longtime A’s equipment manager Steve Vucinich, who’s been with the team since 1968, so I figured he’d know the scoop. Sure enough, he wrote back right away: “We wore those for about the first month or so [of the ’69 season]. Then COF [Charles O. Finley] said they weren’t the bright ones he envisioned. Never again.”
Faaaascinating. This may explain something that’s always puzzled me: Oakland’s use of gold batting helmets around this period. It appears that the helmets matched the gold caps. But when the caps were scrapped, the helmets were retained.
Incidentally, I’d never heard of the photographer who took those Ed Sprague photos, Ron Riesterer, but his site is full of great old Bay Area sports photos, including galleries for the A’s, Giants, Raiders, 49ers, Warriors, and Seals — recommended.
I also sent an email to Riesterer, asking if he has more info about the Sprague photos (date, ballpark, etc.) and if he has any additional photos showing the A’s in gold caps. He was very surprised when I pointed out Sprague’s gold cap to him, saying he has no memory of that. He’s checking to see if he can pin down the location and date of the photo.
Meanwhile, we need to find more pics — preferably in color — of these gold A’s caps from early in the ’69 season. I’ve looked though a few wire service archives but have come up empty. Anyone..?
Meanwhile, let this serve as the latest lesson in how online databases aren’t always accurate or complete.
Finally, one footnote: Tom Shieber notes that many 1968 and ’69 Topps cards show the A’s caps with a black crown. “Obviously, they were obliterating the ‘KC’ on the cap, as the team was now in Oakland,” says Tom. “But why didn’t they just airbrush out the old logo? Actually sometimes they did. But why the inconsistency?” Good question. Anyone..?
To those of you who are sick of ’Skins Watch: I’ve received a lot of emails from people who say they’ve had enough of the ’Skins Watch segment that runs here on the site, and there have been some posts in the comments section echoing those emails. So in the spirit of Daniel Snyder’s recent open letter to ’Skins fans, I’ve written an open letter to readers who have issues with ’Skins Watch. It’s totally sincere — no snark, not a stunt. You can check it out here.
’Skins Watch: For three weeks now, Daniel Snyder’s defenders have been hanging their hat on Rick Reilly’s defense of the ’Skins name. As you may recall, Reilly’s credibility and moral authority in that piece were based on the fact that his father-in-law, Bob Burns, is (a) a Native American and (b) perfectly fine with the ’Skins name. Well, one out of two ain’t bad: Burns now says Reilly misquoted him and that he, Burns, is strongly opposed to the ’Skins name. At this point the whole thing has become embarrassing — it’s pretty obvious where this is heading, so just change the name already so we can all move on to other things. … 99designs received nearly 2,000 entries in their ’Skins-redesign contest. They’ve now chosen eight finalists — you can vote for your favorite here. … A Dallas/Ft. Worth-area weekly paper is the latest media outlet to come out against the ’Skins name (thanks, Phil). … Anyone who thinks Natives don’t care about the ’Skins and related issues should read a new report titled Ending the Legacy of Racism in Sports & the Era of Harmful “Indian” Sports Mascots, which has just been published by the National Congress of American Indians. … Here’s a funny translation of what Dan Snyder’s recent letter to ’Skins fans really meant (from Tommy Turner). … Reuters has run a well-written analysis of how lonely Snyder’s position has become (thanks, Phil).
Baseball News: Sports Business Journal reporter Eric Fisher has a source who’s contradicting my source regarding MLB changing its cap fabric next season. Fisher’s generally a good reporter (although he mischaracterized my piece as an “ESPN report,” when I actually wrote it for this here blog, not for ESPN), but hey, so am I. At this point it’s his unnamed source vs. mine. Frankly, I hope his source is right and mine is wrong, but I don’t think that’s the case. And remember, I ran the story by MLB, and they declined to confirm or deny. Draw your own conclusions. … Check out the radically different arching styles on Larry Doby’s and Satchell Paige’s 1948 Indians jerseys (great find by Jared Wheeler). … Jared also sent along this wonderful 1958 Sporting News article about the evolution of the baseball uniform. Recommended reading. … You can see lots of photos of shorts-clad Hollywood Stars by starting here and then scrolling for a bit (from Dave Eskenazi). … Looks like the kerning is a bit off on the first two letters of Justin Verlander’s NOB (from Omar Jalife).
NFL News: Bears WR Brandon Marshall made good on his threat/promise to wear green shoes for Mental Health Awareness Week last night, plus he didn’t wear the Bears’ striped socks, so he may be facing two fines instead of one. … In that same game, Giants WR Hakeem Nicks went with an unusual red-white-red sock pattern. I think those are just red tights with white tape around the calf. … Once Pinktober is over, the NFL will shift to GI Joe mode, which will include these sideline caps. Net proceeds will go to the Pat Tillman Foundation, the USO, and the Wounded Warrior Project. … Looks like DeMarcus Ware’s sleeve stripes were flaking off the other day (from Matt Barnett). … Some Chargers fans are apparently upset about old players’ NOBs showing up on current jerseys. This has been going on for years in assorted sports (at one point there was a New York baseball Giants jersey with Monte Irvin’s NOB, among other oddities). Yes, it’s silly, but so is just about everything else relating to $200 polyester shirts. It’s only an outrage if you assume that people have to buy this crap, which they don’t. Just ignore it and move on. … Someone on eBay is selling what he claims to be one of John Hadl’s old AFL All-Star Game helmets. Look at the decal on the back — “Looks like a men’s room logo,” says Gene Sanny. Anyone know what that was for? … Robert Griffin III says he helped design his high school’s uniforms (from Yusuke Toyoda). … I did a fun interview about NFL uniforms with American Forces Radio. I realize this will mess up the narrative for those of you who mistakenly think I hate everything about the military — sorry about that.
College Football News: This is interesting — check out these business card designs used by recruiters (from Kevin Mueller). … Many of you probably know this already, but Mike Cooper asked me why Michigan State has two different kinds of merit decals. The answer, which is got from a school spokesperson, is that the “Block S” decal is awarded for wins and turnover margin, while the “spear” decal is awarded based on production points. … Maryland will go black-red-black this weekend. … Air Force wore matte gray helmets last night (screen shot by JJ Sledge).
Hockey News: Jonas Hiller’s mask design for Sunday’s Mighty Ducks throwback game is the bee’s knees. … Speaking of masks, here’s a fairly in-depth look at Boston College’s freshman goalie’s new design (from Dave Levy). … This is fun: a set of BBQ/grill tools made from old hockey sticks (from Jason Hillyer). … Here’s an attempt to find the best rink in the NESCAC. … Gee, ya think the Fort Wayne Komets may have taken the ads-on-the-ice thing just a smidge too far? “How does anyone even find the puck?” asks from Mat Mikesell.
Soccer News: “After forcing Mario Balotelli’s first career penalty kick miss, goalkeeper Pepe Reina now wears Balotelli’s jersey to sleep,” says Yusuke Toyoda.
NBA News: Did you know the Jazz had a bear for a mascot? I didn’t. Not only that, but the bear was honored with his own special day yesterday, by gubernatorial proclamation.
College Hoops News: Duke is the first college program to get the same “SportVU” technology used in the NBA (from Paulie Sumner). … New sweatbacks for Penn State. “Same basic template that most other mid-tier Nike schools are getting,” says Matt Weidner). … If you’re going to use a racer-back template, you may as well have racing stripes. That’s the new South Carolina women’s uniforms. Interesting that the stripes on the shorts don’t wrap around to the front. Too bad about the GI Jane numerals (from Joel Mathwig). … New uniforms for Southern Miss (from John Williams).