By Phil Hecken
As many of you readers are aware, Leo Strawn, Jr. often sends in ticker contributions for some obscure sports (usually, but not always, Australian Rules Football), but he’s a renaissance man when it comes to his sports tastes. He also dabbles in eBay and Etsy. So, whenever someone purchases something in 2014, Leo will be sending out a pair of “Thank You” cards with every sale (he created all these himself). Leo originally sent me the above graphic, which shows the cards he’ll be including, so I asked if he could send them individually, and to include the story (literally) behind the card. And with that, here we go:
My “Thank You” Cards
By Leo Strawn, Jr.
These are the fronts of thank you cards that I will be including (2 per purchase, so no one gets upset because of just getting a checklist) in 2014 with sports related sales through eBay and etsy. They will each be business cards size.
There are twelve cards in Series One in 2014. First 11 cards represent a major professional North American gridiron football league or predecessor rugby league in U.S. or Canada. (Series Two will likely be my favorite helmets of all time, and Series Three will focus on baseball, I think, but that’s down the road a ways. Will either do a new series every six months or annually, not sure yet.)
Each card has a small description on back (along with “thanks” and the shop URLs).
The bunny rabbit is the logo for our shops, designed by my significant other, who is an amazing sculptress/doll maker and who named the shops that primarily focus on our creative talents. I designed these cards because I am getting back into sports memorabilia, and I wanted less artsy “thank yous” to send out with those purchases.
Here is an extended description of each card (I can only fit so much info onto the back of a business card!) and the league/union that is focuses upon (in chronological order):
1902: The original National Football League: This league was hardly “national” since all three teams were located in Pennsylvania. Two of the clubs were essentially baseball teams playing gridiron; the NL Phillies and Connie Mack’s AL Athletics. This photo I stumbled across shows the third team, the Pittsburgh Stars, practicing for their championship game, which they won against Connie Mack’s squad, 11-0 on Nov. 29. That game was a quickly scheduled contest after a Thanksgiving Day game ended in a scoreless tie two days prior. Only about 2000 spectators witnessed the rematch.
Mack ended up in the red, and that pretty much ended the first professional football league in the States. Interestingly, some of the brightest baseball stars of that time played in this league, e.g., HOFer Rube Waddell played for the Athletics and Christy Mathewson was the fullback for the Stars.
Additional info: Although I have seen Pittsburgh (spelled with no “h” at the time) also called “Pros” and “Westerners”, “Stars” seems to be the official nickname. Also, here is a photo of Connie Mack and the 1902 Philadelphia Athletics football squad.
1906: The Ohio League. While there was still no truly “national” league at this time, several regional leagues cropped up, most notably this league, from which 5 of the original NFL (APFA) teams came, more than any other state; Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Tigers (or Indians, depending upon which source you believe), Columbus Panhandles and Dayton Triangles. And, of course, the APFA formation meetings were held by Canton Bulldogs owner Ralph Hay in his Hupmobile dealership showroom in Canton, in August and September of 1920. (The August meeting was held with managers of Akron, Cleveland and Dayton, along with Hay representing Canton.)
This photo shows the second of two “World Championship” games in 1906 between Canton and the Massillon Tigers, this game held in Massillon. Had it not been for a betting scandal, the Ohio League (where most of the money was spent to attract the best talent of the time) may have evolved into a national league, but because of that scandal, the Tigers folded for a number of years, resurrecting this intense rivalry between neighboring towns about a decade later. Sadly, the Tigers did not join the APFA. Standouts like Knute Rockne, Gus Dorais and Greasy Neale played for the Tigers in their resurrected form, while Jim Thorpe held the reins for the Bulldogs during those years.
In this particular photo from the game that gave the Tigers the title on November 24, 1906, won by Massillon 13-6, the “gridiron” can plainly be seen on the field, marked off in 5 yard increments because the forward pass had to be thrown from at least 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage and had to travel at least that distance, thus the grid helped officials in that first year of the legalization of the forward pass, an aspect of our game that set North American football apart from its rugby counterparts in Europe and other parts of the world. (That rule was implemented to reduce the number of fatalities in football here. One source says 18 players were killed and another 159 seriously injured in 1905.)
1924: Canadian Rugby Union: This was an umbrella organization that oversaw rugby unions in Canada. Reorganized from its predecessor, CRFU, in 1892, it organized the Grey Cup competition starting in 1909, and eventually gave way to the Canadian Football Council in 1956, which became the CFL in 1958 as the Grey Cup became fully professional.
One of the unions it oversaw was the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union, also called the “Big Four”, made up of Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton, which became the Eastern Football Conference (n.k.a. East Division) of the CFL. This photo from 1924 shows a game between the Ottawa Rough Riders and Toronto Argonauts. Games played in the Big 4 were televised in the U.S. on NBC in the 1950’s. (Notice the cap worn by the ball carrier in this photo.)
1926: The original American Football League: This league was built by C. C. Pyle, the agent of Red Grange, to capitalize on Grange’s popularity after George Halas wouldn’t come to terms with Pyle and Grange on a contract after the 1925 season. The empty seats seen in the photo would lead to the league’s quick demise, after only one season. The Yankees were given the old Brooklyn franchise and joined the NFL the following season.
Here, Grange is carrying the ball for the New York Yankees in an empty Yankee Stadium against the Boston Bulldogs on November 14, 1926. This AFL couldn’t compete with the NFL in any shared market, including the Chicago Bulls (in the same NFL market as the Bears and Cardinals) owned by Joey Sternaman, the brother of Bears co-founder and co-owner, Dutch Sternaman. APFA charter member Rock Island Independents left the NFL to play in this league, never to return.
1932: NFL: This photo is one of the lesser known pics from the important tie-breaker playoff game between the Bears and Portsmouth Spartans (n.k.a. Detroit Lions). The game was played indoors at Chicago Stadium (rather than Wrigley Field) because of a nasty blizzard. To accommodate for the small size of the arena, the field had been shortened on all sides and the end zones were rounded, forcing several important rule changes to the game. Among these changes was that the ball could be thrown from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage, and of course that rule stayed in effect from then on, and which, along with moving the goal posts up to the goal line (a rule that was used until 1974), caused scoring to increase (although not in this particular game, which ended 9-0 in favor of Chicago). Because of the narrowness of the field, hash marks were first introduced in this game, also.
The following season, the NFL was split into two divisions, with the winner of each at season’s end playing in an official championship game. But, because this was a tie-breaker, the NFL didn’t consider it post-season, thus the game counted in the final standings, which caused the Spartans to finish 3rd, behind the Packers.
1946: All-America Football Conference: This was the first of four seasons for the AAFC, won each year by the Cleveland Browns, led by Otto Graham and coached by the legendary Paul Brown, who also won a fifth straight title in their first season in the NFL, 1950.
This photo features Dante Lavelli running the ball against the Buffalo Bisons (sporting some very cool uniforms) in the league’s inaugural season. (The Browns are wearing all white, which makes about as much sense as them wearing orange helmets, but never mind that.)
1965: AFL: This was the fourth attempt at a major pro league under that name (the first being the Grange league). Play began in 1960, with Houston Oilers (shown in this photo from ’65) taking the inaugural and second championships. George Blanda is handing off to Ode Burrell in this photo. (I chose this photo from 1965 mainly because of the eye-catching color, with Houston’s columbia blue helmets and jerseys with red/white stripes beautifully complimenting the official’s red/white striped shirt in the background. Great color photos of the early AFL days are not the easiest things in the world to find.)
Of course, the AFL fully merged into the NFL in 1970, but imagine how different things would have been had Al Davis gotten his wishes and the league remained a separate entity from the NFL. In my humble opinion, we might all be following the AFL, complete with historic NFL teams that jumped ship, but, alas, that’s an alternate reality somewhere else.
1974: WFL: Not the European/American NFL feeder league, but a genuine attempt to follow in the footsteps of the AAFC and the AFL of the prior decade, except that they played a summer schedule. The WFL may have made it, if not for the “papergate” scandal in Philadelphia, just weeks into the 1974 season, which ruined the league’s credibility. This was the first of two seasons, the second of which, although technically as a new entity in 1975 under new leadership and with sound money, was abandoned halfway through the season. This was in part because the league kept the WFL name, and along with it, the black mark against its name because of the perception of the league after that ’74 attendance figure scandal.
This photo was taken during the (one and only) World Bowl, December 5, 1974, played between the Birmingham Americans and the Florida Blazers. George Mira can be seen throwing the league’s mustard colored ball in the Ams exciting 22-21 championship victory. WFL alumni include 3 HOFers, Larry Csonka, Paul Warfield and Curly Culp. Jim Fassel, who was a QB for the Hawaiians and threw the last pass in WFL’s short history later became a head coach and led the Giants to the NFL title in Super Bowl XXXV.
1983: USFL: This photo features the first of three championships played in the United States Football League, this one a 24-22 victory by the Michigan Panthers (with one of the coolest helmet designs in history) over Chuck Fusina and the Philadelphia Stars on July 17, 1983. This would be the only USFL championship game Fusina and the Stars would lose, as they won the last two, one more as Philadelphia, and the last as Baltimore.
Like the WFL before it, the USFL had lured a lot of proven big name talent away from the NFL, and may have also survived had they not tried to directly compete with the NFL on a fall schedule after 3 years of spring football seasons. A strange ruling in federal court against the NFL doomed the USFL, although it was technically a victory for the upstart league.
1994 & 2012: Current NFL and CFL. After the demise of the USFL, there have been no other major leagues (unless you consider either the XFL or UFL to be a serious major league, and I wouldn’t insult anyone’s intelligence by claiming that to be true), so I tried to locate two photos that spanned the last 3 decades, one from each league, that I thought were worthy, settling on Emmitt Smith and the Cowboys beating the Bills for the second consecutive Super Bowl, (XXVIII, played January 30, 1994), and Chad Kackert and the Argos defeating the Stampeders 35-22 in the 100th Grey Cup on November 25, 2012.
I was trying to locate a photo from the AFL of the 1930’s, which was the league the Cleveland Rams jumped to the NFL from, but, alas, I could not find anything decent, so I left that off the list, as well as the third AFL which played a few years prior to the AAFC. Because of that, I decided to give the NFL two cards, one black & white prior to any mergers, and a color card for the current NFL.
Hopefully these cards will keep our shop in the minds of those who buy from us, and create some return business, and also give people a bit of info on the history of our brand of professional football!
Thanks, Leo! Great stuff.
Lewis & Clark Uniform Design Contest
Every Sunday, we’ll have news and updates on the design contest being sponsored by Ross Clites. If you missed the introductory post on this, please click here. Last weekend, we introduced Part IV which is the second article here. You can also visit the Lewis & Clark homepage for more information and updates.
Yesterday we revealed the second set of concepts for the “Diplomats” (you can still submit for the Explorers [deadline: 3/12] and the Governors [deadline 3/17]). And today, we’ll reveal the fifth team for concepting.
If you missed yesterday’s post, which revealed the readers submissions for the “Diplomats,” you can vote for your favorite concepts (you may vote for up to three). Link here (scroll down — second article).
Here’s Ross with this week’s updates/information:
Shout It From the Top of a Mountain
Short and sweet today, boys and girls. The Lookouts are the first team in the series that really lend themselves to an homage to Sacagawea or the other enlisted men in the Corps of Discovery. Maybe that’s just me. I see a Columbus Crew-esque theme, with a shoutout to the people that made Lewis & Clark look so good. That or an eagle in a classic case of “why the hell not?” They can see for miles and were apparently abundant in 1800 America.
Those are my two cents, but also why I am tossing this to Uni Watch Nation. Wow me something better than those crap ideas.
Lastly, what do we think of maroon and scarlet? Kind of a modified Virginia Tech that I threw together and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. It seems to work well with a compound word nickname. What say y’all?
As always, same rules apply.
To all that entered the contest for the Captains of the LCBL, thank you for your thoughtful presentations. Big thanks to all the readers that cast votes. It made it easier for us (the league execs) to choose what we want; choosing the best out of two is more our speed. Bert Ayres and Ryan Foose were literally atop the standings from the get-go — aligned alphabetically when ballots opened.
The league decided to go in Ryan’s direction. We asked for some subtle tweaks — to incorporate elements that others touched on — and he humbly obliged. The uniform will remain a mystery until a final reveal of all twelve at the end. But we wanted to give Uni Watch Nation a taste of the winning identity:
Thanks again to all who participated. Ryan intends to be at our All-Star Game at Busch Stadium (July 3, with all y’all invited) adorned in his own hat and jersey. Based on his skill set he might have to choose which winning submission to rep. Maybe not. Who wants to knock him off the podium?
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Just one colorization today, and it’s from Pete Woychick, a stalwart colorizer.
Pete, of course, has a story to go with his colorization. Click on images to enlarge.
Left-fielder Matty McIntyre had a ten-year major league career with Philadelphia-AL, Detroit, and Chicago-AL. His best season came with the Tigers in 1908, when he finished among the league leaders in several offensive categories. Friction with Ty Cobb and diminishing performance (perhaps due, in part, to a broken ankle suffered in 1907; here, five years later, he is still wearing a leather ankle brace) eventually led to the sale of McIntyre to the White Sox. McIntyre died in 1920, about two months shy of his 40th birthday.
This photo is from 1912, his final season in the Bigs. I’m reasonably confident saying the setting is Hilltop Park, New York-AL, based on the building visible behind the left-center fence and the presence of some of the same sponsors (BVD, Philip Morris), albeit different ads, as shown in this photo circa 1910. An additional clue is the advertisement for Peter Doelger, a New York brewery. Also of note is the concrete or granite (?) base of the fence—play those caroms accordingly, boys!
Cheers! (And remember, folks: “Be cool! Wear loose fitting underwear.”)
Thanks Pete. Great colorization, as always. OK, colorizers — keep them coming!
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
And so, lets begin:
We begin today with Taylor Stallings, with a tweak for the Utah State Aggies:
Here’s another couple uni tweaks, for Utah state basketball. Figure they could use some spicing up. Love how these turned out, what do you think?
Next up is Dylan Desimine with some new looks for the Cleveland baseball club:
This is something I whipped up for Cleveland’s professional ballclub. While Wahoo isn’t eliminated, I did change the colors to make it less offensive. I want the focus to be more on the main elements of the uniform though, rather than the sleeve Wahoo.
And we close today with Mike King with some tweaks for the Brooklyn Nets:
The Brooklyn Nets will be wearing their first Alternate Jerseys tabbed ‘Brooklyn Blue Jerseys’ for 5 of their last 8 Home Games. The jerseys will feature their regular ‘BROOKLYN’ wordmark in Blue with a grey jersey with sleeves. I decided to mock-up the Nets current logos and Home Jersey in those Colors. The Grey/White/Blue color scheme must have been considered, since the old Brooklyn Dodgers featured the same color scheme. As a Nets fan, I really like how the White looks with the Dodger Blue. Even though I really like the Black & White color scheme the Nets went with, the White/Grey/Blue looks really nice and clean.
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Another small amount of ticker submissions yesterday, so old school ticker today:
Andre Iguodala posted to his Facebook page Friday a pair of tribute socks that submitter Brian Crago assumes he wore Friday night, featuring what appears to be Chris Mullen, Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond. Not sure if he wore them in warmup, but it appears not in game. … Two readers (Patrick McCabe and Eric Braun) noticed Dodgers prospect Zach Lee made his “Major League Debut” wearing a very sweet pair of stirrups. Here’s a bit more on Lee, where he speaks about wearing stirrups in the last graf. … And speaking of MLBers wearing rups, Brad Miller of the Mariners was sporting a pair yesterday (thanks to Brad Miller). … Uni Watch reader Brad Snook has written a nice article on the new MLS uniforms. … Gregory Koch was watching the American Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament and almost the entire SMU team is wearing sleeves. “Many of them are even wearing long sleeves,” he notes. “They did this when they played at UConn too. Is this actually part of the uniform, or is it just some Methodist modesty thing about having uncovered arms?” … Attention all designers: The Portland Trailblazers are have a create the court contest (thanks to Alex Allen). … The Tennessee Volunteers have new neon-trimmed jerseys which also have a new NOB font (h/t @JasonYellin). … The Ducks broke out their very Lightning Yellow unis against Arizona yesterday. … The Sydney Cricket Grounds are looking great for the Dodgers/Diamondbacks games (h/t @MLBCathedrals). … OOOOhhhh — look at this beautiful 1961 Detroit Tigers Spring Training program (great find by Todd Radom). … And this beautiful Silver Anniversary Yearbook for MLB’s Cactus League from 1971 (h/t Chris Holmes). … Penn State hockey wore camo sweaters and socks for Military Appreciation Night. … Tennessee Baseball wore this orange top for the first time this season on Saturday. Paired them with orange billed black caps and black stirrups (h/t Adam Vitcavage) with orange & white stripes (h/t Jason Yellin). … Warren Buffet, billionaire, was repping Creighton hard yesterday. He’s not an alum, but he is the Wizard of Omaha, where Creighton is located. … For some reason, I always love seeing the many belt loops in the Tigers unis (more than any MLB team). … The Dallas Stars retired Mike Modano’s #9 last night. … And the Cleveland Cav’s retired Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ number 11. Cavs players wore this patch as well (nice grab by Drew Arnson). … This Albany Firebirds (Arena football) helmet is supposedly game worn. Submitter Ryan Perkins says it was for sale in a Collierville TN antique shop. … Wyoming wore these throwbacks against CSU yesterday (h/t Connor Cunningham). … Regarding proper wearing of baseball hosiery, the MLB twitter account has made some questionable tweets lately. … A reader named Moulden writes, “I have never seen Deion wear the facemask he is sporting in this pic with the Cowboys. I have always seen him in the mask like he is wearing with the 49ers all the way back to his Florida State days.”
And that’s going to do it for this weekend, folks. Thanks to Leo, Pete, the concepters and of course Ross.
Have a great week all, and I’ll catch you guys next weekend!
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Christ. Rob Ford has made it to Uni Watch. Y’know what Toronto needs? A sniper.”