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Well well well, look what we have here — Jimmy Wynn in nickNOB mode. I recently obtained that photo from the Braves. It’s the only color image of their 1976 nickNOBs I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, they have only one other nickNOB photo in their archives, and it’s the Andy Messersmith “Channel 17″ shot that we’ve already seen. Still, we’re getting closer, bit by bit.
Speaking of which, we also have two new nickNOB pics that have been turned up by reader Jerry Wolper, whose devotion to this particular project continues to impress:
Last Tuesday’s entry, about the 1976 Braves’ nickNOBs, generated lots of very positive response (thanks, gang) and some good suggestions as well, so it’s time for a follow-up.
First and foremost, regarding the question of whether Jerry Royster ever wore “Rooster” in addition to “J.Bird” (we have photographic evidence for the latter but not for the former), several readers pointed out that Royster is now the third base coach for the Red Sox, so I contacted the Sox PR people and asked about this. They checked with Royster, and here’s the word from the man himself: He never wore “Rooster,” only “J.Bird.” So any lists showing him wearing “Rooster” are wrong. I wish they would have let me speak with Royster directly, because I’d love to pick his brain about the whole nickNOB issue, but they weren’t willing to do that.
A few readers also contributed information and research that have added a few more pieces to the puzzle. Here’s a rundown:
One of my recent ESPN columns, which was about RNOBs and nickNOBs, included a table that listed a selection of nickNOBs from the past 45 years or so. One player on the list was Braves infielder Jerry Royster, who wore “Rooster” in 1976. Or at least that’s what I’ve always thought — that nickNOB shows up on lots of lists, and “Rooster” seems like a obvious nickname for Royster, so I’ve always accepted it as being true.
I’ve never seen a “Rooster” photo, however, and a lot of those lists floating around the web are just copied and pasted from each other, which makes it easy for erroneous information to take on a false sense of authority simply via repetition. And I’m thinking that might be the case with “Rooster,” now that reader Jerry Wolper has found the photo shown above. As you can see, that’s Jerry Royster wearing a “J.Bird” nickNOB, which I’d never seen or even heard about before. It shows up again in this photo. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Royster never wore “Rooster” — maybe he wore two different nickNOBs. I doubt that, though. Either way, it’s a pointed reminder that we (that I) shouldn’t take this stuff as gospel without supporting evidence.
Speaking of which, another thing I’ve always accepted is that the Braves wore nickNOBs because team owner Ted Turner liked to push the envelope, just as Charlie Finley had done in Oakland. But Jerry did some additional research and found this 7/19/76 Sports Illustrated article, which paints a different picture of how nickNOBs came to Atlanta. Here’s the relevant section: