For all of today’s photos, you can click to enlarge
I was poking around on eBay recently and got very excited when I saw a listing for the vintage jersey shown above. Great color combo, gorgeous script on the front (the “C” reminds me of the old Cott Soda logo), excellent sponsorship lettering on the back (love that little ampersand), and a rare design detail (which I’ll get to in a sec). What’s not to love? Well, maybe the fabric — 100% nylon, which is kind of miserable — but I was still eager to add this beauty to the Uni Watch wardrobe.
The seller didn’t list the measurements, so I contacted him and was very disappointed to learn that the jersey was too small for me — dammit! Normally I’d just move on, but in this case I was so bummed that I called over to the New Girl and said, “Look at this great jersey I can’t get ’cause it’s too small.” She took one look and said, “Shit, I’d wear that. Will it fit me?”
We quickly figured out that it was just right for her, so she scored it for a mere $12. Looks great on her, too — I wish I could wear it myself, but getting to see her wear it is the next best thing:
The jersey was manufactured by an Ohio company called Betlin. And the unusual design detail, of course, is the triple-stripe waistband — this jersey was designed to be worn untucked! The waistband mimicked (and removed the need for) the striped waistband on sansabelt pants. I’ve seen this feature before, but only a couple of times — it apparently never caught on.
I asked sporting goods maven Terry Proctor about the manufacturer and the jersey style. He responded:
We sold the Betlin line at Ruby’s [the Rochester sporting goods shop where Terry worked]. The company was named after the owners’ wives, Betty and Linda — Betlin. They were strictly a cut-and-sew operation. They purchased all of their fabric and trim from Yarrington Mills of Hatboro, Pennsylvania. Initially they offered no lettering service, which was fine with us because Rochester was blessed with several screen-printers and twill/embroidery operations. Betlin made the Chicago Hustle WBL uniforms for league sex symbol Janie Fincher. The Hustle uniforms were lettered by the dealer in Chicago.
As to the jersey in question, it’s a softball jersey from the same period as the Marquette “untucked” look. The reasoning was that girls’ jerseys often became untucked, girls didn’t like belts, and a lot of pull-on softball pants and all shorts had just an elastic gym-short narrow waistband with no drawstring. The jersey was made as a convenience feature to present a “neater” look. The style really never caught on in our area but I can’t speak for other regions.
As for the jersey’s backstory, I Googled “Chester R&R Tavern” but came up empty. There are several U.S. states that have towns named Chester, so it’s hard to narrow this one down. If anyone knows more, I’m all ears.
About a week after spotting the Chester jersey, I came across another good-looking jersey on eBay — and this one fits me:
Nice, right? Got it for $50, which is a little more than I usually like to spend but I thought it was worth it in this case. The fabric is cotton twill (an underrated jersey fabric — lighter than wool flannel, more rugged and organic-feeling than Durene) and the lettering and graphics are white felt. Nice Felco tagging, too. The one odd thing is that the buttonholes aren’t centered on the placket — they’re flush against one edge of the piping:
The buttonhole positioning is definitely a flaw, but I find it sort of charming. Same goes for the riotously off-center lettering on the back:
Naturally, I Googled “Tarr Kellam Propane Gas” but didn’t come up with any leads that would tell me more about the jersey’s history. If anyone knows more, please speak up. Thanks. (Update: Reader Ron Ruelle pointed out something I hadn’t thought of, namely that “Tarr” might be the player’s NOB, which means the company name would simply be “Kellam Propane Gas Co.” Once you start Googling that, without the “Tarr,” you quickly hit paydirt. Thanks, Ron!)
One final note: A few of you have asked why the headlines for these posts about vintage jersey finds all start with “Closet Case.” It’s meant to be a twofold play on words (neither very good, admittedly): (1) These uniforms live in my closet, and (2) people often say, “You write about uniforms? You must be gay!” or “You must be a closet case!,” so I’m acknowledging and making fun of that.
PermaRec update: Research into the story behing an 80-year-old snapshot (shown at right) has led to a reunion of two childhood friends. Details in the latest installment of Permanent Record.
Baseball News: Check this out: Mickey Mantle on his high school basketball team (from Jonathan Daniel). … Latest team to go with Star Wars unis: the Brooklyn Cyclones. … Here’s a fascinating interactive map showing MLB rooting interests across America. Spend some time with this one — you won’t regret it (from Dave Rakowski). … Love this Replacements gig poster patterned after the Twins’ logo — complete with an in-joke (big thanks to David Teigland). … Brady Phelps has found some photos of old Padres-themed vehicles. First there’s this pinstriped van, and then scroll down a bit on this next link to see two great Swinging Friar-era vehicles. … Holy moly, look at all the stuff inscribed on this Korean player’s batting helmet and this other Korean player’s cap! … Ugh, seriously hideous uniforms for Chesapeake High School in Ohio (from Brice Wallace). … That Wrigley Field-shaped cake ended up in a Dumpster. … Just what the world’s been waiting for: Fresh Prince of Bel Air-themed jerseys. … Another team with a teuila “sunset” design: Bryan Station High School in Kentucky (from Josh Claywell). … Spider-Man jerseys on tap for the Asheville Tourists. … What do you get when you combine Oregon State with breast cancer awareness? Pink beavers, of course (thanks, Phil). … Apparently several Baltimore-area breweries use Orioles-themed colors and marketing pitches (from Alan Borock). … Our national fetish for “intimidating” mascots has reached its logical nadir: a snarling canary. Kill me now (Phil again). … Matt Shepardson attended the Wrigley Field centennial game on Wednesday and provided photos of the throwback-attired groundskeepers and the actors in period clothing who roamed through the crowd. … Jamie Uthe was at Wrigley on Tuesday as well. Here are his excellent photos. … Yet another crazy minor league theme promotion: Zombie Apocalypse Night. Fun idea, but I’m calling bullshit unless the concession stands are selling human brains. … You’ll rarely see a more perfect expression of 1970s baseball aesthetics than this video clip from Alan Kreit’s high school baseball team. “I’m not in the video myself, but check out the awesome baby blues,” says Alan. … In a related item, Kent State is wearing some solid-gold uniforms that wouldn’t look too out of place in Alan’s high school video (from Nick Shook). … Here’s a rare sight: a catcher wearing glasses. That’s Kazuya Furuta, a Japanese player (duh) from 1995. Also, note the “Mecha” lettering on baserunner Takahiro Saeki’s helmet brim. Jeremy Brahm explains: “Saeki came into Japanese baseball as the movie Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla came out. With Hideki Matsui already being called Godzilla, he said ‘I go as Mecha-Godzilla.’” So that’s a new kind of nickNOB: nickname on brim. … A member of a vintage base ball team started a MetaFilter thread about trying to find some heavy-duty wool for the team’s pants. If anyone can help, feel free to join that thread (from Jesse Thorn). … More pine tar antics? Cardinals starter Lance Lynn apparently had a dark spot on his cap during yesterday’s game against the Mets, but the Mets weren’t concerned about it. I watched that game and didn’t notice anything myself.
NFL News: Following up on an item from yesterday’s Ticker, I wrote a short ESPN piece about Rams exec Kevin Demoff hinting at new uniforms. … The Jags have become the first NFL team, at least that I’m aware of, to tweet a SpeedFlex photo (thanks, Ek). … Not sure what I like most about this old youth football photo: the great uniforms or the mom mowing the lawn in the background. “The guy wearing No. 75 is Chris Renaldo, who played at Maryland with Boomer Esiason and had a cup of coffee with the Lions,” says Andy Hyman. … New uni number assignments for the Broncos (from Ryan Hess). … A Chicago-area rollerderby team appears to have poached its logo from the Titans (from Sara Schieve). … As we’ve all learned by now, the handbooks and rules for NFL cheerleaders would be hilarious if not for the fact that, you know, actual living human beings are expected to read and abide by them. The latest news on that front: The Bills tell their cheerleaders how they should be using their tampons. Well, I’m sure Donny Trump will solve that problem simply by firing any menstruating cheerleaders once he buys the team. … Check out this 1984 Bengals helmet phone. The facemask looks a bit off, no? (From Jay Abbott.)
Hockey News: Whoa, look at this completely awesome 1956 Edmonton Flyers jersey. Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size view in all its glory. Interesting to see a team using a front jersey number in that era, no? (Big thanks to Bruce Menard.) … Those who’ve been following the Ducks and Stars in the Stanley Cup Playoffs are likely familiar with the presence of this furry duo at the American Airlines Center, but you might not have seen the custom NOB on his Cody Eakin jersey (from Callum Johnson).
NBA News: NBA commish Adam Silver says ads on uniforms are “inevitable,” which is the same thing he’s been saying for several years now. I assume at some point he’ll start putting everyone else’s money where his mouth is, and it’s definitely important for us to stay vigilant, but for now he’s just a broken record. #NoUniAds.
Soccer News: 1914 throwbacks for Burnley. “They’ll wear it in their final home game this season, to commemorate their 1914 FA Cup victory over Liverpool at the Crystal Palace,” says Jonathon Binet. “The club had to receive permission from Buckingham Palace to wear the royal crest used in the 1914 kit.” … “Indianapolis has created a recreational soccer league by creating logos and teams for the city’s major neighborhoods,” reports Tom Adler. “The teams will even have sponsors.” … Why did FC Dallas wear its road kit at home the other day? Blame Adidas (thanks, Phil). … “Brighton & Hove Albion’s 15-year partnership with Italian kit manufacturer Erreà comes to an end this season, with the Seagulls poised to switch to Nike,” says Callum Johnson. “The program for their match against Blackpool on Monday was dedicated to their history with Erreà and featured a kit retrospective.”
Grab Bag: “The Super Rugby team Western Force, from Perth, Australia, have taken a different approach to sponsorship this year,” says Josh Jacobs. “Usually the teams get one major sponsor for the front the of the uniform, but the Force have several different sponsors. More photos here. And in other Super Rugby news, the Brumbies have a special jersey for Anzac Day.” … New rugby uniform for South Africa (thanks, Phil). … Here’s a piece on the evolution of the Aston Martin logo (thanks, Brinke). … Also from Brinke: a new (to me) site about logo design.