St. Patrick’s Day is coming up on Monday, which means teams from around the sports world will be wearing green. Many of you probably know that this gimmick-turned-tradition was pioneered by the Cincinnati Reds, who wore green-trimmed uniforms for a spring training game in 1978. But did you know that another pro sports team had already come up with its own St. Paddy’s Day uniform gimmick — albeit one that didn’t involve green — seven years earlier?
I didn’t, until uni designer/historian Todd Radom came up with the photo shown above, which is from an ABA game between the Miami Floridians and the Utah Stars, played on March 17, 1971. As you can see, the Miami players’ NOBs read “O’Calvin” (for guard Mack Calvin) and “O’Harge” (for center Ira Harge). Kiss them, they’re Irish!
This stunt, which was the brainstorm of Floridians owner Ned Doyle, is the earliest example I’ve seen of a uni-based St. Paddy’s Day promotion. It no doubt would be universally panned if someone came up with it today, although it seems more charming with four decades’ worth of hindsight, especially having come from the freewheeling ABA. (As an aside, that Floridians/Stars game was played at Madison Square Garden. I hadn’t realized that the ABA played neutral-site games, but Todd tells me it wasn’t uncommon.)
According to an old Sporting News item that Todd found, the team supposedly “ordered special jerseys” for the occasion. But as you can see in the photo, it looks like they just used cover-up nameplates. Not only that, but the added “O” was too large and they left an extra letterspace after the apostrophe — sloppy work.
The best part is that the Flordians’ roster already included a guard named Fran O’Hanlon! Wish we could see how his NOB looked in comparison to the others.
You can (and should!) learn more about this — and about several other interesting storylines involving green and/or St. Paddy’s Day uniforms — on Todd’s blog. He’s been coming up with some spectacular research finds in recent months (remember, he was the one who figured out why the Dodgers have red uni numbers on their jerseys) and deserves our gratitude and appreciation for his efforts.
Unmasking the Commenters: I recently invited the site’s commenters to tell us a bit more about themselves and give us a peek at what they look like, just because I thought it would be fun to pull back the internet’s curtain of anonymity. I’ll keep showcasing you folks as long as you keep sending in your photos and quick bios.
Today’s commenter is Will S (click photo to enlarge):
I’m Will S — William Scheibler. I think there was another Will S commenting a while back, but now I think it’s just me.
I live in Thunder Bay, Ontaio. If you don’t know where that is, you’re not alone — it’s a good seven-hour drive to anyplace bigger. I’m an evening “box chucker 4th class” with a bunch of other dock monkeys working for a large courier company. Have been married a decade to my wife, Carrie, and we have accumulated many different pets. Play in a year-’round hockey group, where I’m one of the young guys at age 45. Don’t play other sports much anymore. One of my hobbies is DIY jerseys (usually hockey), some of which can be found on my blog.
Thanks, Will — you help make Uni Watch a better place.
Do you want to be featured in “Unmasking the Commenters”? If so, send me a photo and a quick paragraph about yourself. You don’t have to reveal your real name, and the photo doesn’t have to show your face, but you must include a photo to be considered. Send everything this-a-way.
Tick-tock: Today’s Ticker was compiled by Mike Chamernik, except for ’Skins Watch, which was handled by Paul.
’Skins Watch: New thing among Indians fans who love their team but don’t care for Chief Wahoo: removing the Wahoo patch from the jersey. Looks like at least one such fan could use some training with the seam ripper, however. … House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, speaking to the National Congress of American Indians, said the ’Skins should lose their trademark protection. “This isn’t the first time Rep. Pelosi has spoken out on this issue,” notes Tom Mulgrew. … Yesterday’s ’Skins Watch mentioned that two Maryland state legislators had proposed a non-binding resolution urging the ’Skins to change their name. Now the president of the Maryland Senate thinks the ’Skins name should be left up to the team and the NFL. He’s right, of course — I’m not aware of anyone, including the two legislators who proposed the resolution, who thinks the state of Maryland (or any other government entity) should legislatively force the team to change its name, nor am I aware of any method by which a government entity would be capable of doing that, even if it wanted to. But there’s nothing wrong with legislatures, including Maryland’s, adopting non-binding resolutions on matters of public interest (including this one) — that’s something federal, state, and local legislatures do every single day. If the head of the Maryland Senate wants to vote against such a resolution because he disagrees with it on the merits, there’s nothing wrong with that either. But saying “It should be left up to the team” is just a punt.
Baseball News: Here’s the sleeve patch that the Dodgers and D-backs will be wearing for their season-opening series in Australia (thanks, Phil). … Virginia Tech will wear these Orioles-esque unis for its ACC opener against Pitt (from Justin Gilly). … Michael Clary found an old Los Angeles Angels serving tray that has a batter who swings like Ted Williams on it. … The 1980 Vanderbilt baseball team looked a lot like the Pittsburgh Pirates (from Phil). … The US Mint will release a curved Baseball Hall of Fame coin later this month (from Chris Flinn). … Twenty-one of the 30 MLB clubs have their own team license plate (from Tom Hamann). … New Dodger Erisbel Arruebarruena has the longest NOB on the roster (from Kevin Kleinhans). … Also from Kevin: The Brewers and Padres had a blue-and-gold vs. blue-and-gold game yesterday. … The Fresno Grizzlies and Albuquerque Isotopes (the Triple-A affiliates for the Giants and Dodgers, respectively) will wear 1954 throwbacks for a game in May. … Remember the pet peeve discussion here on Uni Watch back in December? Jason Whitt has a big one — opposing teams’ fans who get good seats at Indians games. … “A buddy tells me he didn’t get any tickets in his season ticket package this year,” says Mike Ortman. “I guess it’s all cyber and digital and you manage them online. For the game, you either do ‘print at home’ or you download an app and just scan your phone upon entry. How coldly efficient and unromantic is that?!”
NFL News: The Browns don’t know where to properly use an apostrophe (from Ross Hazlett). … “Here is an NFL keychain I picked up,” says reader Bob K. “Correct logo for the NY football Giants but that’s not a piece of football equipment I’ve ever seen.” … ESPN’s NFL Draft Machine has outdated logos for the Lions, Panthers, Jaguars, Dolphins and Buccaneers, and it uses the Ravens alternate logo (from Max Zelin).
College Football News: This year’s Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville (“The Cocktail Party”) will be color-vs.-color. Scroll to the end of that article and see this key passage from Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley: “It’s just something a little different. To be honest, a fan suggested it. He sent me a picture of what they used to do when Coach Spurrier was playing. He had a blue jersey on and whoever was tackling him had a red jersey on. It’s a unique rivalry and just a little different something to do. There is no particular reason. Georgia agreed and we agreed.”
Hockey News: The Blackhawks will wear green St. Patrick’s Day jerseys during their warmups on Sunday. … Idaho minor league hockey fans are suing an arena because a large beer ($7) and a small beer ($4) are the same size. … The Capitals were mentioned in the FX show The Americans. The show, which takes place in the early 1980s, referenced former Capital Dennis Maruk and showed two tickets for Game 7 of the Fall Classic. Wait, what? (Thanks, John Muir).
Soccer News: The USL Pro’s Phoenix FC will become Arizona United SC (from Adam Vitcavage). … Chelsea’s Ramires wore a mask on the field earlier this month (from Charlie Eldred). … Adidas reportedly spends 22 months to design an MLS kit (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Also from Yusuke: The creator of the New York City FC badges shared his thought process behind making them. … San Francisco de Panama is now sponsored by KFC (from Trevor Williams).
College Hoops News: Sports Pickle made slogans for all the conferences (from Phil). … The court for the Final Four will look like this. … Indiana’s cream uniforms aren’t highly regarded and Auburn’s Allen Payne thinks the team can’t win with Under Armour (both from Chris Mahr). [Just to clarify the Under Armour item: Word I'm hearing from Auburn fans is that the school is supposedly at a recruiting disadvantage because Under Armour's AAU ties aren't as strong as Nike's or Adidas's. No idea if that's true. But if it is, it's just another example of the outfitters having way too much power. — PL]
Grab Bag: Under Armour is now in Brazil. Allen Payne just cancelled his São Paulo vacation plans (from Tommy Turner). … A few artists made a map of the United States out of food. And if you click on it, you’ll see food maps of other nations (from Yusuke Toyoda). … The THX Deep Note, that sound you hear in movie trailers, comes from 20,000 lines of computer code (from Brian Jud). … The Portland Thunder of the Arena League have new lightning-themed jerseys (from Phil). … Chris Perrenot played the highest elevated golf course in Texas and saw backwards (and needless) swooshes on the golfer’s shoes on the course’s sign. … If Western nations impose heavy sanctions against Russia, Adidas and Nike will suffer (from Phil). … “I’m at the premiere of Veronica Mars, and they handed out lanyards with a logo for the fictional Neptune High Pirates,” says Scott Rogers. … ESPN is running a contest for fans to design the official poster for the 2014 Wimbledon tournament. That noise you just heard in the background was Brinke Guthrie firing up his computer (from Dave Flapan).