By Phil Hecken
Yesterday afternoon, in the bowels of the concrete dome known as Tropicana Field, the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays played a “throwback” game befitting of the 1970s. Yes, the Rainbow Guts versus the Unis-that-never-were turned back the clock to a year approximating 1978 in an enclosed stadium played on what used to be called “Astroturf.” Perfect.
Of course, I really wanted to see this game, and of course, because 1) I don’t live in the broadcast area, b) I don’t have the MLB package on tv or interwebs, and III) it was a really gorgeous day where I live, I didn’t get to see it. Hopefully some of you did. Because it was probably THE. MOST. COLORFUL. GAME. in major league history. Sure, some games played in the 1970s probably come close — but in modern times, this was what our once and
future? former NCAA Football 5 & 1 host Jim Vilk would call your “Color Palette Special.”
Let’s just get right into the game and the unis. For any image, click to enlarge:
I mean, what words can one use to describe this game? Colorful…bright…flashy? Imagine if they played it outdoors, under the sun, on real grass? Nah…that would be too good. Better to keep it under the lights of the dome. I’m not complaining, mind you — I love that the Rays do this (more on that in a sec), and for one day a year, I’m pumped to see this type of game. It reminds us of the fashion statement Major League Baseball was making (not every team, mind you, but quite a few) during the “me” generation. That’s MY generation, and while I’m glad it was a phase we grew out of (as a nation and as a baseball fashion), I’m also happy it once existed.
Now, this actually marks the third year the Rays have worn these “fauxbacks” (and I covered those first two games here and here, if you’d like to see the history of the concept). The uniforms are “fauxbacks” of course, because they were never worn — because the Rays (nee Devil Rays) were not a team in the late 1970s. But the idea behind these uniforms is if they were a team back then, this is what they’d have worn. The wore these uniforms two years ago against the Tigers and last year against the White Sox.
Of course, as I wrote last year in covering the Rays/White Sox game — the uniform is basically “borrowed” straight from the Padres of that era:
“Initially, I was not a fan of the Rays fauxback, but it has grown on me, and the concept of inventing a uniform for a team that didn’t exist. Pure 70′s (and a pure Padres ripoff, as you’ll see momentarily). But the designer came up with a logo and wordmark, which was cool:
“If only they had shown a *little* imagination and not basically lifted the uniform from the 1978 Padres, who, with a color swap of brown and gold for navy and powder blue, were pretty identical. Check out the 1978 Padres:
“I mean, that’s the Padres 1978 road uni right down to the font! The only thing different is the placement of the front uni number:”
Of course, the Astros were throwing back as well, this time to a uniform they’d actually worn in their history. Interestingly, they wore this uniform, as the road team, once before this year, when they played the Mariners about a month ago. They got the uniform pretty darn correct then, and with the exception of a couple guys not wearing stirrups yesterday, they looked really good. My only quibble is (and this happens quite often with Majestic), the nameplate was placed too low on the back. But other than that…here’s some closeups:
The game was not without incident, however, as Jake Odorizzi of the Rays had a stirrup malfunction:
And the Rays, eschewing the “authenticity” of the “throwback” decided (and in this instance, I agree, despite the “historical” inaccuracy) to add the “ZIM” patch to the fauxbacks:
All in all (and I really wish I’d seen the game, although it was an 8-0, one-hit shutout by the Rays) it looked bright, and flashy and … FUN. Considering the seasons both teams are having (although the Astros may have the makings of a pretty good club in the not-too-distant future) it was probably a very welcome diversion as well. If you read Uni Watch (and obviously, if you’ve read this far, you do), you know Paul and I both love Rays skipper Joe Maddon (even if he wasn’t originally a fan of the fauxbacks) and the various methods he employs to keep his guys loose and entertained. I’m not sure if the fauxback idea was Maddon’s, but he’s certainly been instrumental in keeping it alive. Good on him, good on the Rays, and good on the Astros for partaking in this year’s game.
If Jim ever did a 5 & 1 for baseball, this would score both his coveted “1 best” AND “Color Palette Special.” For all time.
Special thanks to Amanda Rykoff, Astros Social Media Manager, and Wayne Koehler for the Astros uni closeups, and the Rays stirrup malfunction photos, respectively. If you’d like to see more photos, I’ve put together an album which you can view here.
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:
First up today is Josh Escobar, with a College uni concept today:
Hey it’s Josh Escobar with a college concept. This one is of the 1932 Oklahoma Sooners uniform. I love this uniform cuz of it’s unique way of having the numbers lined up vertically rather than horizontally.
And we close today with Rollin Garcia who has a pretty cool concept for the Philly 76ers:
I think the 76ers tried to hard to be simplistic, yet “cutting edge” with their last design overhaul. The neck and arm treatments given to the uniforms didn’t tie in well with the single color lettering and numerals all around. Teams such as Brooklyn with their simple striping and New Orleans with the flare of a simulated pelicans beak; offer their brand the approach of classic design without the need for going overboard everywhere else. The 76ers could offer the very same with an updated version of their early Dr. J, era uniforms. Modern touches with old school flare that I feel would fit in nicely with today’s NBA.
Rollin Garcia, Jr.
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
New Balls, Please…
It’s that time of year again, so I’m back with my doubles partner, Brinke Guthrie, who is hear to bring you the rundown on the only remaining (of any import) grass court tennis tournament left in the world.
You guys may not know this, but at one time, three of the four grand slams (French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Australian Open) were played on grass courts. The US & Aussie were the other two. Now it’s down to tradition-bound Wimbledon to uphold the old order.
A big tennis tournament kicks off tomorrow in London. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
The Championships. Wimbledon.
Let’s see who’s wearing what at the year’s third major- just one left!
• Defending champion Andy Murray will wear this look from Adidas.
• Womens Adidas pros like Ivanovic and Woz will suit up in this look.
• As far as Novak Djokovic, I have no idea. Maybe someone here will know.
• Federer and Nadal are bringing out the usual conservative Nike attire (Or as they say in London, a “kit.”)
• Serena and Eugenie Bouchard — the latest tennis IT Girl — will wear this Nike gear.
• And here’s the best & worst dressed ladies at the WTA pre-Wimbledon party.
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: What is the cost of a number? Ubaldo Jimenez gave Kevin Gausman a Rolex watch for allowing him to wear #31 (thanks to Andrew Cosentino). … From Pacific Rim correspondent Jeremy Brahm, here are the bp uniforms for the Japanese NPB All-Star Game: Central in silver and the Pacific in gold. … The Mets best looking uniform is their home pins. So, of course, they have the worst winning percentage in MLB while wearing it (graphic by Chris Creamer). … “Was hoping vintage (Brewers’) bobble would have vintage apparel,” says Jason A. Umberg. … On Friday night, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs wore Batman-inspired jerseys on Superhero Night. Gotta love MiLB. … “Nationals unbutton for offense,” writes Marc Bauche, as The Nationals unleashed their chest hair Friday night — when I first saw this, I thought the guys were going sans-undershirts, but some players definitely have them (but they’re not, it appears, the Nike-issued ones). … “This season the Aberedeen IronBirds have made a big deal about their new uniforms eliminating blue & going to just black & orange like their parent Orioles,” writes Will Sinnott. “At (Friday) night’s home opener, while checking out the new uniforms up close in the team store, I noticed the bird heads on the caps & uniform sleeves are slightly different. The bird used on the sleeves has, in fact, lost its blue highlighting. However, the bird on the cap retains the blue highlighting. This Baltimore Sun link has very good pictures illustrating this.” … Yesterday, for the first time all year, the Orioles wore their orange jerseys on the road (spotted by Noah H. and Andrew Cosentino). Why? Apparently even Buck doesn’t know (slump-buster, perhaps?). More photos here. Said Andrew, “They usually wear orange for all of their Saturday home games, but they’ve never done so away from Camden Yards.” … Yesterday, the Durham Bulls wore pink jerseys in a “Swing for the Cure” breast cancer something or other (h/t Leland Privott). … Several tweeters sent me photos of the Marlins wearing blue jerseys, asking is this a possible new alternate. Anyone have any idea? … And this came in late, but Padres Reliever Alex Torres was wearing the new protective helmet/hat for pitchers. Apparently it looks like this (h/t to Brady Phelps).
NFL News: Have you seen the new Johnny Football billboard in Tyler, TX? First off, the Browns haven’t worn orange pants since 2004, and they’ve never worn a brown facemask (sorry, THE Jeff). But that’s not all, it was put up by Aggie fans (h/t Tony Crespo). Wonder what Earl Campbell thinks of all this.
College Football News: Interesting photo here. Submitter Jeff Moulden asks, “What is the deal with Chris Collingsworths Florida Gators jersey. It looks like they cut a #2 off a orange jersey and sewed the entire square onto a blue jersey.” Anyone have any idea (or a better explanation)?
Hockey News: The owner of what’s purported to be the world’s oldest hockey stick has once again turned down tens of thousands of dollars for the relic (from Adam Vano). This isn’t the first time he’s put the stick up for auction — and he seems bummed he’s not able to cash in. Considering he bought it for a thousand bucks in 2008, he wants more than $100K for it now.
Soccer News: Bit of a lengthy submission from Vann Holden, but a good historical context: West Ham United (Premier League) is considering a change to their club crest. Part of the change appears to be based on the upcoming move to the Olympic Stadium. The club currently feature a castle on the crest. This is a nod to the local history of the area surrounding their current stadium, the Boleyn Ground. Also up for discussion is the use of “London” on the crest to connect the club with the city for global audiences who might not immediately identify the team as London-based. The club has launched an online consultation process for club supporters. This includes a video and survey. Info from the club’s official site can be found here. Info from a supporters’ site, including how the crest has evolved over the years, can be found here. … USA Soccer fans seem to think the team is in the so-called “Group of Death.” Well, are they? (And does anyone really believe FIFA rankings anyway?) … Oooohhhh, check out this tremendous photo of “Pele and Friends” from 1958 (image via @AntiqueFootball). … While wondering around Barnes & Noble earlier this afternoon, Paul Mashack was caught by this book, 1000 Football Shirts. “While I am only a causal soccer fan in the broadest terms, I picked up the book because uniforms have always interest me. Just flipping through the book, I was fascinated by the beautiful colors, jerseys and history of the various soccer jerseys from around the world. With the World Cup going on right now, it might be something you would want to check out.” … Matt Shrum asks, “Can we get a definitive ranking of WC socks? Iran’s WC away socks (what they’re wearing [yester]day) are my fav.”
Grab Bag: “Just found this in my kids’ playroom,” writes Douglas Ford of Vanderbilt ‘kerchief. “My wife went to vandy and we’ve been married for 8 yrs but this is the first time I’ve seen it.” … Imagine seeing a towel burst into flames for no apparent reason — in Rockingham County, it’s not all that uncommon (from TommyTheCPA). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: There is “a new website a friend pointed out … called ProSportsCollectors.com. The site is free, but registration is required. The site includes several game-worn examples of hats and jerseys with info on the manufacturer.” (thanks to Scott Johnston). This will be a tremendous resource for all Uni Watchers! … Believe the hype? Is there really such a thing as sneakers that can make you run faster? (nice spot by TommyTheCPA. … Coupla very cool auction items come to us from Bruce Menard: a 1960′s Harlem Magicians Warm Up Suit, a 1974 WFL Florida Blazers Game Worn Helmet, plus the whole selection of football helmets, which includes “a bunch of killer WFL & USFL stuff there.” … Not quite sure what this is, but check out these Seattle ProAm jerseys vs Past Seattle Sonics jerseys (via Tizzy).
OK, that’s it for this Sunday. Hope you guys have a great day.
Although Paul is on vacation (and a much-deserved one), we’ll still have full content all week (Paul has a number of posts “in the hopper” and if there is any breaking uni-news, I’ll handle that). In fact, it should run so smoothly you won’t even realize Paul is on vacation! OK? OK! I’ll be handling assembling all the main entries, and putting together each days posts, and I’ll have plenty of assistance from Ek, Mike, and Garrett, with a side of Brinke. Catch you tomorrow, then, sorta!
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“1) Aesthetically speaking, that 1934 German soccer jersey (featuring a swastika) is a great-looking design. 2) No one, ever, under any circumstances, should wear it as a throwback.”