When I was seven years old, my big brother Roy, who was then 22, began teaching me about hockey. Roy was a rabid Rangers fan, and I’m sure he assumed I’d be a Rangers fan as well. But he made a slight miscalculation: He gave me a hockey magazine (I no longer recall which one) that had Canadiens goalie Ken Dryden on the cover. I was fascinated by Dryden’s mask — so fascinated that I instantly became a Canadiens fan. No, that’s not particularly rational, but sports loyalties rarely are.
I soon became obsessed with the Canadiens. I learned how to pronounce “Cournoyer”; I learned the difference between Jacques Lemaire and Jacques Laperrière, between Guy Lapointe and Guy Lafleur; I drew endless pictures of Ken Dryden (never quite capturing the badass essence of his mask). Meanwhile, the Rangers became my No. 2 team. I obviously got to see lots more Rangers games than Canadiens games, but I was still a Habs fan first and foremost. And when the two teams played each other, I always rooted for Montreal.
Forty-three years later, Roy is still a rabid Rangers fan, and I’m still a Canadiens fan (although I don’t follow hockey as closely as I once did). With our two teams now facing each other in the playoffs, it seemed like a good time to invite him over to my place for dinner and a hockey game, so that’s what I recently did. Roy sometimes forgets certain things, so when I emailed him to invite him over, I made sure to say, “One caveat: I’m not sure if you remember this, but I’m actually a Canadiens fan (mainly because you gave me a hockey magazine with Ken Dryden on the cover when I was very young), so that’s who I’ll be rooting for.”
His response was funny: “Sir, you are a traitor and your sorry attempt to implicate me in your treason will prove to be of no avail.” Then he said sure, he’d come over.
I love my brother very much. But for various reasons, none of which are worth going into here, we’re not close. We have very different sensibilities and styles, one small example of which is that he doesn’t get (and, I’m pretty sure, doesn’t give a shit about) Uni Watch. I know he respects that I work hard and have achieved a certain measure of professional success, but, like many people, he sometimes seems upset by the very notion of Uni Watch, because it reminds him that there are people out there — including but not limited to his little brother — who don’t share his hierarchy of priorities. So when he came over last night, I had to remind myself not to voice any uni-related observations or point out any uni-related quirks during the game, because his response would likely be somewhere between indifference and annoyance.
As we sat down on the couch a few minutes before the game started, the TV showed Rangers center Derek Stepan, who was returning to action after having broken his jaw two games earlier. As you can see above, he was wearing a faceguard with some extra padding.
When my brother saw Stepan’s headgear, he pointed at the TV and broke into this wheezy laugh of his, which is his aural signature. I’ve heard this laugh enough times over the years to know how to translate it, and this one translated to, “Look at that crazy thing he’s wearing! And he’s going to play — with a broken jaw! I’m tellin’ ya, hockey players are something else.”
Later on, at some point during the game, he said, “When I first started watching hockey, the red line was always a checkerboard pattern. That’s because people had black-and-white TVs, so you needed a way to tell the red line from the two blue lines.” I knew that the red line had traditionally been checkerboarded (and still is at some arenas), but I hadn’t thought about the reason for it — an excellent Uni Watch-ish observation. Maybe our priorities and sensibilities aren’t so different after all.
Stepan scored two goals, broken jaw and all, which made Roy happy. But the Canadiens won, so I was happy. And the Rangers are still leading the series, three games to two, so Roy wasn’t too upset. He gave me some shit as he left: “You’re a lousy host — you’re supposed to arrange it so my team wins.” I laughed, hugged him, and wished him a safe trip home.
Just imagine how different everything would be if he had given me a magazine with an L.A. Kings player on the cover.
By Brinke Guthrie
It’s not often that you see the Browns’ phantom “CB” logo and Brownie the Elf on the same item, but that’s the case with this Technigraph helmet plaque! And as long as we’re talking about the Browns, here’s a Brownie mascot seat cushion from the 1960s.
Can’t talk about the Browns without giving equal time to the Bengals. I bought one of these Pom Pom Ski Caps in the fall of 1972 when I moved to Cincinnati, and here’s a Bengals Technigraph plaque, too.
Okay, now for some non-Ohio stuff:
• This 1960s KC Chiefs T-shirt is pretty low-key as far as design goes, so I’m not sure it’s worth over $900.
• I had a low-cut pair of these Apex turf shoes — incredibly comfortable. (Knew a fellow at Apex.) And in a nice use of negative space, look closely at the stripes on the side: that’s a “1.” The company was originally Apex One, then they shortened it to Apex. Boy, did they make nice stuff. They were the official shoe of the NFL, so they were allowed to use the shield. Converse bought these guys for the license, then shut them down. Bye-bye, freebies.
• Back in the day, the Sony Watchman was the gadget to have — and this one comes adorned with the LA Rams logo.
• Found another one of the 1969 Chiquita NFL pocket transistor radios, right here.
• Here’s an early-1970s NFL tumbler. I’ve seen (and have) the thermal mug version but never spotted this style before.
• This late-1960s/early-1970s Vikings bobble is in positively perfect shape.
• Nice artwork on this 1971 San Francisco Giants poster. Note how the classic Juan Marichal pose has No. 12 rather than No. 27. And since I am featuring the Giants, let’s also mention this Dodgers poster. I’ve seen a photo of Maury Wills in that very pose, but here he is wearing No. 31 instead of No. 30.
• Interesting early-1970s electric football game — this one says “Gotham Official Electric Football.” Like … Gotham City? Didn’t realize the NFL had a franchise there.
• Can’t say that I’ve ever seen an NHL bubblegum card locker before.
Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
PermaRec update: My obsession with vintage employee photo I.D. badges has veered into an unexpected place: the old “Rosie the Riveter” poster. Get the full scoop over on Permanent Record.
’Skins Watch: The National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation are sending letters to every NFL player, urging them to speak out against the ’Skins name. Further info here (thanks, Phil).
Baseball News: If you’re among those who’ve been waiting for the Padres to bring back brown and gold, you appear to be out of luck (blame Phil). … Not sure I’ve seen a high school team using the Phillies’ 1970s-era “P” logo before. That’s Pleasure Ridge Park High in Kentucky (from Matt Dowell). … Also from Matt: The Rochester Red Wings wore 1971 throwbacks on Monday, in honor of former manager/broadcaster Joe Altobelli’s 82nd birthday. … While looking for something else, I came across an old shot of Tony LaRussa from his White Sox days, wearing a BP jersey with the uni number sewn onto its own “nameplate,” so to speak. I checked Bill Henderson’s jersey guide and found that, sure enough, that’s what they sometimes did. … Jack-o-lantern-themed jerseys on tap for the New Britain Rock Cats on May 31, I guess because it’s five months before Halloween or some such (thanks, Phil). … Jason Hillyer tipped me wise to this book about Japanese baseball uniforms. Tempting, but pricey. Hey, Mark in Shiga, can you get your hands on a copy for a more reasonable price? … Nice retro uniforms the other day for Indiana (from Pat Karasek). … Here’s a uni-based guide to the College World Series (thanks, Phil). … Here’s a soda display of
Harmon Killebrew the MLB logo. “I think a white bat would have looked better, but you have to give the root beer some love too, I guess,” says Dave Sizer. … Here’s the latest on the signage plans for Wrigley Field (from Dave Flapan). … Bob Dlotkowski spotted these Brewers ball-in-glove logo cookies at the Milwaukee Public Market. … Why would a fan in St. Looie be wearing a Cardinals jersey with a Wrigley Field centennial patch? Because it’s a joke patch (thanks, Phil).
NFL News: Love this old ad for football knee pads. Note that the players are wearing neckties! (Big thanks to Jonathan Daniel.) … You’ve probably heard at one time or another that the Panthers’ logo is shaped like the outline of the Carolinas. But is it? Scroll down a bit to find the answer (from Yusuke Toyoda).
College Football News: Wowee zowee, look at this amazing Ohio State football photo from 1961. So many great details! (Big thanks, Phil.)
NBA News: Here’s designer Alexander Julian talking about the Hornets’ original uniforms — and the new ones, which will be unveiled on June 19 (thanks, Phil). … The NBA has inked a deal with the fashion company Peace Love World to beef up the league’s women’s apparel line (from Tommy Turner). … Fascinating article about how Adidas brand-polices WNBA and D-League footwear. Douchebags (from Kyle Hanks).
Soccer News: Real Madrid’s new jerseys will feature pink (thanks, Phil). … Spain has a new white third kit for the World Cup. According to that article, “[W]e could see more not-yet-unveiled shirts in the 2014 World Cup starting next month. Cameroon, in a friendly yesterday, already wore a [previously] unknown white kit, which could possibly have been requested for the match against Mexico in Brazil.” … With Landon Donovan gone, the USA team has been facing a quandary over who should wear No. 10 (thanks, Brinke). … All 72 teams in the Football League — that’s the three divisions below the Premier League — will feature Prostate Cancer UK’s logo on their uniform numbers (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Even better than de-Chiefing: de-swooshing (thanks, Phil). … Whoa, check out the exterior design of the plane for Brazil’s World Cup team. Further info here (from Gil Neumann).
Grab Bag: Hmmm, why does tennis player David Ferrer have a black cover-up patch on his shirt at the French Open? “Maybe an endorsement deal that went south,” speculates Brinke. … David Firestone has written a piece on how events 50 years ago helped lead to the development of the Nomex firesuit. … Sad news yesterday from the graphic design world, as Massimo Vignelli, the man who created one of New York’s best subway maps (among many other career highlights) passed away.