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MLB Lettermen

A few weeks ago I did an ESPN column about NBA team captains who’ve worn a “C” on their jerseys. Today I want to turn our attention from the hardcourt to the diamond.


MLB, like the NBA, does not maintain an official database of players who’ve worn a captaincy designation. My own mental database includes the following players (for many of these photos, you can click to enlarge:

1. Barry Larkin, Reds. I always liked how the Reds gave Larkin a wishbone-C.

2. Keith Hernandez, Mets. Hernandez wore the C in 1987. But when Gary Carter was named co-captain the following year, Hernandez removed the C. (Carter himself never wore the C, perhaps because it might be confusing to have a catcher named Carter wearing a C on his chest.)

3. John Franco, Mets. It’s unusual to see a reliever serving as a captain, and even more unusual for a reliever to wear the C, but Franco checked both of those boxes for the Mets.

4. Jason Varitek, Red Sox. The Sox gave Tek a C after re-signing him to a new contract prior to the 2005 season.

5. Mike Sweeney, Royals. During a period when the Royals didn’t have a whole lot to feel good about, they did their best to promote Sweeney, who put the “C” in KC for many years.

6. through 9. Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace, Kevin Tapani, and Rick Aguilera, Cubs. In 2000, Cubs manager Don Baylor decided to name four captains — one apiece from the infield, the outfield, the starting rotation, and the bullpen. The weird thing is that they wore the C on the right sleeve, and many fans no doubt mistakenly thought it stood for either “Chicago” or “Cubs.” (I had trouble finding good C-inclusive photos of Tapani and Aguilera, but you can just barely see their Cs in the pics that follow.)

———

And that’s it. It’s a surprisingly short list, no? Until I started spelling it out, I didn’t realize how short it was, and now I’m kind of stunned that there have been so few C-clad MLBers. Also, this list spans a relatively short period of time, from 1987 (Hernandez) through 2007 (Sweeney). Was Hernandez really the first MLB captain to wear a C? That seems absurd, but I can’t think of an earlier example.

Did I miss anyone? I feel like I must have. If so, let me know. (Of course, there have been plenty of team captains who didn’t wear the C — Derek Jeter, David Wright, and Paul Konerko are three recent examples — but that’s a whole different category and not uni-relevant.)

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Purp Walk wrap-up: Big thanks to everyone who made our annual Purple Amnesty Day so much fun. I processed lots of purple-centric membership card requests (Scott Turner will get working on these pronto, and I’ll start showcasing them on the site soon), and we sold — get this — 134 shirts, which is 50% more than we sold in the last two years combined. An amazing total for a one-day sale. I’m really happy for our shirt designer, the great Bryan Molloy, who put so much work into this one and got to see it pay off in spades. Take a bow, Bry — you deserve it.

I also appreciate all the kind words that so many of you offered regarding the site’s 11th anniversary. Shall we go for 12? Only 364 days until Purp Walk 2018!

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movie jersey hed

LAST CALL for the movie contest: In case you missed it over the weekend, Phil is running a new contest to create an updated design for a jersey featured in a movie. All the details are in this post.

The winning designer will get a custom-sized version of his or her jersey, produced by our friends at Garb Athletic. The deadline is tonight at midnight Eastern, so get crackin’!

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The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: Astros INF Jose Altuve wore teammate Carlos Correa’s arm guard yesterday (from @SteveinLC). … Rays 2B Brad Miller used his Mother’s Day weekend bat on Monday and got three hits. MLB promptly told him that pink bats were no longer allowed. … The Giants will unveil a plaque for Barry Bonds on the team’s wall of fame in July. … Single-digit pitcher alert! That’s Jo Jo Romero of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws (from Kevin Clark). … In 1970, Richie Hebner of the Pirates changed his number from 20 to 10 when Three Rivers Stadium opened during the season. He knew the team wanted to retire No. 20 in honor of hall of famer Pie Traynor, who spent his entire career in Pittsburgh. After a slump, though, Hebner changed his number back to 20 before the season ended. Then, when the club officially retired Traynor’s number after his death in 1972, Hebner switched to No. 3 (from Jerry Wolper). … Indians P Johnny Allen wore an enormous overcoat in the dugout to keep warm back in the 1930s (from Ed Hughes). … Matthew Rogier plays on a baseball team in Paris called the Patriots. The team has filed a lawsuit over intellectual property against a new far-right political group called “Les Patriotes.” Here’s a news clipping, and rough translation from Matthew, on the suit. … Jarrod Saltalamacchia is back down in the minors, with the Buffalo Bisons. He still has the super-long NOB, of course, but it is no longer arched (from Phil Walck). … The St. Paul Saints of the American Association named their new live pig mascot Alternative Fats (from Andrew Hoenig). … The 1973 American League Red Book contains a section on team uniforms and insignias. Judging by the length of those blurbs, a picture really does say a thousand words. As for the book itself, each year MLB produced Red (AL) and Green (NL) Book media guides that contained stats and historical information. They were discontinued in 2016 (from Kevin Vautour). … As you can see at certain parts of this video, the New Britain Bees use umpire cams during their home game streams (from Scott Markiewicz). … The Kane County Cougars and Beloit Snappers went green vs. green yesterday (from Melissa Lockard). … Interesting hyphenated NOB for new Rangers P Austin Bibens-Dirkx. … It’s standard for the visiting team’s logo to appear atop the visiting dugout at PNC Park, but they’re using an outdated Nats logo. … Willie Stargell’s widow is selling off his memorabilia, including his 1979 MLP award and World Series ring (from Mike McLaughlin).

Pro & College Football News: The Houston Gamblers of the USFL had oddly-shaped 8s on their jerseys (from Gene Sanny). … Broncos WR Rick Upchurch wore a plain blue helmet during a 1975 game against the Chiefs. “Pat Summerall explains on the video that the helmet was plain because Upchurch had split his regular helmet ‘wide open’ on an earlier kickoff,” explains Jon Michael Smith. He got a new helmet with a decal for the second half. … Former Browns WR Michael Jackson died last week. During his first two years in the league in 1991 and 1992, Jackson wore No. 1 because numbers 80 through 89 were unavailable (No. 82 was unused, though not officially retired, for Ozzie Newsome). Eventually, No. 81 opened up, and the league forced him to switch for the 1993 season. The NFL eventually allowed receivers to wear Nos. 10 through 19. … New uniforms for UAB (from Phil). … Check this out: Marcus Allen wore a Raiders helmet with a black facemask in the 1983 Pro Bowl (great find by Gene Sanny).

Hockey News: The numbers on Erik Karlsson’s helmet didn’t match the font or placement of the numbers on the rest of his Senators teammates’ helmets (From Chris Ramirez). … The Senators gave fans these rally towels for last night’s game.

NBA News: What is this? Brett Knowles spotted a new Suns logo. … The artist Asur continued her tradition and drew illustrations depicting the essence of the conference finals matchups. … At one point in the mid-1980s, the “K” in Ralph Sampson’s “Rockets” chest insignia didn’t match the size of the rest of the letters (from Andy Silvester). … What’s your favorite Detroit Pistons logo? Unfortunately the dribbling piston man they used in Fort Wayne was not an option. … Kinda looks like one of the letters on LeBron James’s jersey was out of alignment last night.

Soccer News: New logo for Sydney FC (from Ed Żelaski). … FC Cincinnati, whose colors are orange and blue, wore black during last night’s U.S. Open Cup game against AFC Cleveland, who wore blue (from Brian Henke). … Nicolas Lombaerts was presented with a hybrid jersey based on the many jersey designs he’s worn during his 10-year stint playing for Zenit (from The Boot Room). … New kit for Borussia Dortmund.

Grab Bag: New uniforms for Great Britain’s track and field team (from Jonathan Bean). … One observer thinks that uniform ads are “inevitable” for other major sports such as MLB and the NFL (from Phil). … New volleyball uniforms for the national teams of Belgium, Germany, Iran, Qatar, and the Netherlands (from Jeremy Brahm). … Very clever (and delightful): a yellow “wet floor” hazard sign shaped like a banana peel (from @generationink). … Here’s the 2017 style guide for the US Formula 4 series (from Dane Drutis). … Some of the biggest music stars of today, including Kanye West and Justin Bieber, have made concert merch cool again. … Scott Rogers says his local supermarket in Madison, Wis., sells “Home” shirts featuring the colors of the four major teams in the state: the Packers, Brewers, Bucks, and Badgers. I’m just happy the Bucks were included, because they usually get the shaft in these types of things. … Police officers in Western Australia will wear uniforms and drive cars that feature Aboriginal art motifs for National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee Week (from Gary Chanko). … New logo for the city of Beloit, Wis. … New uniforms for the Washington State Patrol (from Paul Deaver).

Purp Walk, 2017 Edition

Hello there! Welcome to the 2017 edition of Uni Watch’s Purple Amnesty Day — or as I now like to call it, the Purp Walk. Today is the 11th anniversary of the first entry ever posted on this site, which by longstanding tradition is the one day of the year when I grudgingly acknowledge the world’s most accursed color.

People sometimes say I have “purplephobia.” But as I always explain, that’s not the case, because “phobia” means fear. I don’t fear purple; I loathe purple. If anything, purple should fear me.

What makes me hate purple so much? Short answer: a near-bottomless reservoir of good taste. Longer answer: I actually think purple in nature is quite nice — violets, plums, eggplants. But purple as a human-imposed design element has always struck me as tasteless and tacky. It’s the diva of colors, the Celine Dion of colors — loud, grandiose, never content to do just enough when it can do way too much.

And I’m not alone. As a culture, or even as a species, we seem to understand purple’s tackiness. Not a single U.S. state uses purple as one of its official colors, and neither does any sovereign country (at least according to this listing). It’s no accident that we rarely see a purple house or a purple car. Now if we could just eradicate purple clothing, accessories, and yoga mats too.

But do I think teams like the Vikings, Rockies, and LSU should stop wearing purple? Honestly, no. They chose their colors and now they’re stuck with them that’s part of who they are. Today — and only today — I salute those teams and their fans.

Purple Amnesty Day has three components:

1. Obviously, the site looks a bit different today, and so does my Twitter page and the Uni Watch Facebook page. I find all of this more than a little distressing (imagine your eyeballs being gouged with salt-encrusted razor blades), but I’m trying to tell myself that it’s therapeutic or something like that. Assuming I don’t slit my wrists in desperation at some point today, everything will revert back to normal at midnight. And not a moment too soon.

2. As always, this is the one day of the year when I’ll accept Uni Watch membership card orders with purple-inclusive designs. So if you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to order a card with a Ravens, Northwestern, or Lakers motif, now’s your chance. At midnight Eastern time tonight, the door will slam shut and you’ll have to wait until next year’s Purp Walk.

3. For the third consecutive year, we’re doing a one-day T-shirt offering. This one, like the last two, was designed by the great Bryan Molloy. Check it out (for all of these photos, you can click to enlarge):

Nice, right? There are a lot of elements to this one, people, so bear with me here. One thing at a time:

• The shirt, as you can see, is a raglan-sleeved baseball shirt. The torso color is a light heather grey, not white.

• The logo on the shirt was inspired by the New York Athletic Club logo, but with purple lilacs instead of laurel wreath:

• The shirt itself is super-duper-soft. Seriously, it’s about the softest cotton shirt I’ve ever felt. I’d love to wear it 24/7 except for, well, you know.

• Unlike our other shirts, this one is not being sold via Teespring. Bryan is selling it on his own website. That’s because…

• Each shirt includes a hang tag, which will be attached to the shirt with a loop of purple-striped baker’s twine. Bryan designed the hang tag and will be personally hole-punching all of them, threading the string through the holes, and attaching the strings to the shirts with little safety pins. Here’s a closer look at the front and back:

• Each order will also come with a Purp Walk sticker (quarter shown for scale):

Unfortunately, we cannot send more than one sticker per shirt, nor can we sell the stickers separately. The only way to get the sticker is to buy the shirt.

• Bryan will be personally packing each shirt in a purple bubble mailer with a purple Uni Watch sticker on the outside:

• Because of all the extra bells and whistles, the price point is a bit higher than on most of our other shirts: $29.99 (plus an extra $2 for 2XL and 3XL — sorry, but it was unavoidable for this project). I realize that probably seems like a lot, but it actually leaves less of a profit than we make on most of our other merchandise. Basically, we really wanted to create a fun project (ideally one that’s fun for you, not just for us), and extra fun sometimes costs a bit more.

• Speaking of the price: Because this shirt is not being sold on Teespring, it does not qualify for the 15% discount that card-carrying Uni Watch members can get on our Teespring product. HOWEVER, we are offering a 10% membership discount on this shirt, but only for people who have purple membership cards. That applies to anyone who’s ordered a purple card on any past Purple Amnesty Day, and it’ll also be good for anyone who orders a purple card today. (In other words, you can order your purple card, then I’ll send you the discount code, and then you can use the code to order your shirt.)

If you already have a purple card and want to order this shirt, send me a note (if you can include a photo of your purple card so I don’t have to look up your original membership order from years ago, even better) and I’ll send you the discount code.

Important: This shirt is limited to 48 orders. Once we go through that many sales, that’s it. As it happens, that’s about how many shirts we sold for the 2015 and ’16 Purp Walks. But get your orders in early, just in case. Update: Whoa — sales have turned out to be a lot brisker than we anticipated. We had two dozen orders in the first hour. As of 7:30am, we’ve almost sold through the 48 shirts we had allotted. (Additional update: 48th shirt just sold at 7:47am.)

After consulting with Bryan, we’ve decided to lift the 48-order cap. There is now no limit — we’ll let it ride. If you ordered by about 7:47am, your shirt will mail out soon, probably next week. If you order later in the day, your shirt will take a bit longer to mail out (probably an extra week to 10 days), because Bryan will have to order more hang tags and stickers.

We didn’t see this coming, because the 2015 and ’16 Purp Walk shirts both had about 45 orders, so we figured things would be similar this time around. Thanks for proving us wrong — it’s exciting to see the response, and it’s a great validation of all the bonus elements that Bryan put into this year’s shirt.

• As usual, the shirt will only be available for 24 hours, ending at midnight Eastern tonight. No exceptions!

One more time, the shirt is available here.

And hey, look — even the Empire State Building was getting in the spirit of Purple Amnesty Day last night:

One final note: I’ll be off the grid for much of the late afternoon because I’m getting my head scanned for a custom-fitted football helmet (more on that later), so there will be a gap when I won’t be able to acknowledge new membership orders or send out discount codes for the shirt. I’ll do my best to catch up as soon as I’m able.

(Big thanks to Bryan for doing such a great job with this year’s shirt. Thanks also to membership card designer Scott M.X. Turner, who came up with the term “Purp Walk” back in 2015, and to reader Tim Cox, who came up with the whole idea of Purple Amnesty Day back in 2010. Thanks also to Brinke Guthrie purple-izing our Facebook page.)

• • • • •

And speaking of discounts: In case you missed it last week, all Uni Watch membership cardholders are now entitled to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise listed in our Teespring store.

The discount code will be provided to new enrollees when they place their card orders. Existing enrollees can obtain the discount code by contacting me. Once I confirm that you are indeed a card-carrying Uni Watch member, I’ll email the discount code to you. (If you want to include a photo or screen shot of your card, that would be helpful, but it’s not required. I can look you up in my records.)

As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed membership card (purple or otherwise) here, you can see all the designs we’ve done so far here, and you can see how we produce the cards here.

• • • • •

New Pistons logo: As had long been expected, the Pistons finally made it official yesterday by unveiling their new logo (shown at right), which is an updated version of their 1979-96 logo. Evidence of this move has been floating around for at least a year now (designer/sleuth Conrad Burry has been particularly good at documenting all the clues), so it’s not exactly earthshaking news, but at least now we can stop wondering when they’ll finally go public with it.

As per the NBA’s standard procedure, there’s a very nice interactive page breaking down every aspect of the makeover. I’m on record as loving these NBA pages (here’s hoping all teams/leagues start doing something similar), but it’s worth noting that this Pistons page includes a serious eye-roller: a diagram boasting that the new logo includes “anatomically-correct basketball groove lines.” Thank the lordy for modern sports marketing, or else we never would have known that a basketball had its own anatomy.

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ESPN reminder: In case you missed it on Tuesday afternoon, ESPN is doing a bunch of NBA top-10 lists. My contribution is, of course, a list of the top 10 uniforms in NBA history (one of which is shown above). Check it out here.

(Footnote: The Hornets weren’t happy about not being included. Can’t please everyone!)

• • • • •

1967 revisited: The Cardinals celebrated the 50th anniversary of their 1967 championship season last night by wearing ’67 throwbacks, and the visiting Red Sox — who lost to the Cards in the ’67 World Series — wore throwbacks as well.

There was one very nice detail about the Cardinals’ jerseys. Back in ’67, the Cards had really short sleeves (click to enlarge):

I also like the stencil font for their helmet numbers! But I digress. Last night the Cards mimicked those old short sleeves. The fabrics are different than the ones from 50 years ago, so the sleeves didn’t drape the same way, but I do appreciate the effort (click to enlarge):

And here’s how the Red Sox looked (click to enlarge):

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: The Orioles will wear Maryland flag-themed jerseys and caps on Saturday for “Celebrate Maryland Day” (from Mike Anderson). … The Indians and Rays went navy-on-navy yesterday in Cleveland (from Trent Parker). … What’s more Seattle than a flannel shirt giveaway? That’s what the Mariners did last night. … The Kannapolis Intimidators, a Class-A affiliate of the White Sox, have camo and stars-and-stripes uniforms (from Mike Anderson). … Indiana wore throwbacks last night — and the umpires played along! … LSU gave away these pins of their throwback jerseys at their game last night (from Ernie Ballard). … Chris was watching the B1G Network and reports that half the Rutgers players he spotted wearing stirrups were wearing them backwards. … Crawfordsville High School in Indiana has some nice tequila sunrise jerseys and stirrups (from Derek Linn). … Astros INF Jose Altuve had problems with his pink shoes, which were making his feet fall asleep. He’s in better shape now that he’s back to wearing shoes that fit (from Jerry Wolper).

NFL News: The Falcons will use Nike’s new jersey template next season. They had been using the old Reebok template, even after Nike took over the league’s uniform contract in 2012. … This photo seems to indicate that the Panthers will not be adopting Nike’s new template next season (from Broc). … Does anyone know the story behind what appears to be Trent Dilfer wearing an old Dungard two-bar facemask for the Bucs? (From Spence).

College Football News: Utah’s new jerseys are pretty slick, but the pants have some weird striping (from Brandon Gutierrez). … The Utes dropping their mountain-pattern sleeves is a perfect example of how college football uniforms appear to be regressing back to the mean of “normalcy.” … New uniforms for Southern Mississippi (from Mike Anderson).

Soccer NewsStoke City has sold its first-ever sleeve-based advertising patch (from Ed Zelaski). … New away kits for Ajax (also from Ed Zelaski). … New kits and advertiser for Everton (from Jason Hicks).

Grab Bag One company is trying to make dressing like a giant toddler fashionable. … We’ve seen this before, but once more won’t hurt: The Postal Service will soon be issuing a series of sports-themed stamps (from Tommy Turner). … From USA Today: Five sports logos that would look so much better with one simple fix (from Keyvon). … New helmets for University of Albany lacrosse (from Mike Anderson). … The principal of a new high school in Utah wants to the school’s colors to include black so uniform design will be easier (from Sean L).

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Amidst all the purple silliness, it’s worth remembering that Purple Amnesty Day is the site’s anniversary. Eleven years of daily posts is pretty amazing. Couldn’t have done it without all of you, so please accept my thanks. This anniversary belongs to all of us — enjoy it!

Cavs Confirm Long-Expected Goodyear Ad Patch

News of the Cavaliers wearing a Goodyear advertising patch next season first began circulating back in early February. More than three months later, the team finally made it official yesterday.

I heard a lot of people saying, “Well, at least it’s in a team color, and it fits into the space — not so bad.” In other words: Instead of being unacceptable, wrong, and ugly, this patch is just unacceptable and wrong. Zero tolerance! #NoUniAds

The image shown above is a screen shot from a promotional video that the team released. (The ad patch looks shiny due to a special effect in the video.) As of now, that’s the only view of the ad patch that we have, because, to my knowledge, no patch-clad jerseys were shown at yesterday’s press conference — a very odd omission. There’s also been a lot of chatter about the Cavs getting a new uniform design next season, so maybe they didn’t want to showcase the outgoing design at the presser. But if that’s the case, why show it in the video? Weird.

One interesting tidbit: According to this article, “Goodyear is not the official tire of the NBA (that designation belongs to Kumho), but that category was not protected in this case. Protected sponsors include broadcast partners (ESPN, ABC & Turner), Spalding (the official ball) and Tissot (the official timekeeper).” Ah, corporate theater — such drama.

The Cavs are the sixth team to announce their corporate uniform advertiser for next season. The other five are the 76ers (who’ll be wearing a StubHub patch), Kings (Blue Diamond Almonds), Celtics (GE), Nets (Infor), and Jazz (Qualtrics). It remains unclear if the league’s two dozen other teams are simply biding their time, or if we’ll end up with a situation of some teams participating in the uni-advertising program and other teams opting out of it.

Meanwhile, my ESPN colleague Darren Rovell points out that the Goodyear name and logo have previously appeared on the uniforms of the Akron Wingfoots, a company-sponsored team dating back to 1918. Here some photos from 1937 (you can learn more about the Wingfoots here and here; click photos to slightly enlarge):

The Wingfoots backstory got reader Bryant Johnston thinking: Given the new Cavs/Goodyear partnership, could the Cavs wear a Wingfoots throwback? Maybe something like this:

It seems unlikely — until you think about the Pacers’ Hickory throwbacks, which are sorta/kinda in the same realm. Hmmmm.

One final item: As you’d expect, the Cavs are using the new advertising partnership to sell a lot of merch. I don’t really care about any of that, but this photo caught my eye, if only because the red triangle in the top-left corner of the white box looks a lot like a Nabisco package.

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Click to enlarge

Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Tomorrow is Purple Amnesty Day, but Collector’s Corner always runs on Tuesdays, so we’re taking our purple shot now with this Sand-Knit Fran Tarkenton Vikings jersey. The listing doesn’t say he wore it, but he better have, considering what they’re asking for it! It’s not the Mary Tyler Moore design, but still.

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• Sticking with NFL authentics, here’s a game-worn Philadelphia Eagles sideline jacket, supposedly worn by Philly punter Max Runager.

• How about this Dallas Cowboys sideline jacket. This sure brings back the memories — saw a number of these on the sidelines while watching the Cowboys.

• One more game-used item: this “Batman”-style Steelers jersey, a Rawlings item from the Pittsburgh Sports Shop. Worn in 1966 by Jerry Simmons, then they got rid of Jerry and gave No. 25 to Don Shy for 1967. Check out that price tag!

• KGO Newstalk AM 810 and The San Francisco Examiner sponsored this 1970s 49ers bandana/handkerchief.

• Check out this state of the art (well, for its time) Electronic Touchdown handheld NFL game from Mattel. As Earl Shores of the Unforgettable Buzz notes, “The 1977 Mattel Electronic Football was, at the time, the top-selling toy of all time. And once Mattel exploded the market with the game, everybody wanted in on the action. Even Tudor Games began selling their own versions of Electronic Football. And of course the Sears model, which Coleco made for Sears. These games were the beginning of Electric Football becoming ‘just another toy.'”

• Nice artwork on this 1960s Kansas City Chiefs poster.

• Here’s the lowest price I’ve seen in a while for a full set of 1970-1971 Chiquita NFL stickers.

• Helmet buggy alert! Someone had a bit of trouble putting on those Detroit Lions decals.

• The Detroit Tigers and IHOP were a great double-play combo. Says so right on this 1970 placemat.

• Here’s another placemat for the following MLB season, no restaurant branding on this one. The “1971 Baseball Guide” has stats from the 1970 season.

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movie jersey hed

Movie contest reminder: In case you missed it over the weekend, Phil is running a new contest to create an updated design for a jersey featured in a movie. All the details are in this post.

The winning designer will get a custom-sized version of his or her jersey, produced by our friends at Garb Athletic. The deadline is this Thursday, May 18, at midnight Eastern, so get crackin’!

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Purp Walk is almost here: Our annual Purple Amnesty Day begins tonight at midnight Eastern. There’s a preview, including a look at this year’s Purp Walk shirt (available for only 24 hours, no exceptions) and info on how to get a 10% discount on it, here. Come back to the site at midnight Eastern for all the the purple fun.

• • • • •

New ESPN column: ESPN is doing a bunch of NBA top-10 lists. My contribution is, of course, a list of the top 10 uniforms in NBA history. Check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Paul, pinch-hitting today for Mike

Baseball News: The Giants and Dodgers wore red ribbons last night for Until There’s a Cure, an anti-AIDS support group. The Giants have been doing this promotion annually since 1993 (from Mike Anderson and David Watterson). … Fun fact: In between Babe Ruth leaving the Yankees and his number being retired, several other Yanks wore No. 3. … That last shot also shows the Yanks wearing the McAuliffe number font, now associated with the Red Sox. Lots of teams used to wear it, including the Reds, Dodgers, A’s, Angels, and Senators (see player at far left). … Pretty cool throwbacks, complete with long sleeves, for Indiana. … Rays INF Brad Miller was still using a pink bat — and some excellent stirrups — last night (from Cody the Chicken). … Bit of a uni number malfunction last night for Norfolk Tides P Tyler Wilson (from Jordan Pascale). … In yesterday’s lede I mentioned that several former Yankees at Derek Jeter’s number-retirement ceremony were wearing Yankee Stadium Monument Park blazers, and that former Yank Carlos Beltran brought out Jeter’s blazer. What I didn’t realize was that the whole idea of having Monument Park blazers came from Beltran.

Pro and College Football News: The 1984 Saints had two FNOBs: Reggie and Rodney Lewis. … Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona has a personalized Browns jersey hanging in his office. … Little-remembered fact: Due to the 1982 players’ strike, the unusual playoff format was referred to as a “Super Bowl Tournament.” Further details here (from Bill Kellick). … Man, remember when we used to argue and speculate over the color of the Broncos’ early-1962 helmet decal? Nowadays there are lots of photos clearly showing that it was blue. … While looking for something else, I came across this shot of several early-1970s NFL players wearing plain white uniforms with their names on the front, as part of a TV special. … Muskingum, a D3 school, is apparently going with Under Armour jerseys and Nike pants. And really, why not? The design is more important the manufacturer (from @chaser84).

NBA News: While looking for something else, I stumbled upon this old shot of a Sonics player with a blank NOB stripe. Judging by the hair, that looks like Jack Sikma. His normal number was 43, not 25, so maybe that was a blood jersey, which would explain the NNOB. … An NBA columnist says it’s time for teams to stop wearing black for “funeral” games, which seems like a lengthy way of saying, “Grow up already” (from Dave Watterson). … Pretty funny observation on where the Hawks may have gotten the inspiration for their uniform fabric.

Soccer News: Lots of new kits, all courtesy of Josh Hinton: Brighton home, Legia Warsaw, Newcastle United home, Everton home, and AC Milan home. … Virginia Tech’s head injury lab has been turning its attention to the issue of protective soccer headbands.

Grab Bag: With more and more children questioning their own gender identity, a top private school in London is introducing gender-neutral school uniforms. … New lacrosse helmets for Maryland and Syracuse. … Last night my friend David and I had dinner at a Chinese restaurant in downtown Brooklyn, which had an amusing soup dumpling-themed T-shirt design. … The city of Saluda, N.C., is preparing to copyright its logo. … Agricultural products made in Alaska routinely carry an “Alaska Grown” logo. But that won’t be appearing on Alaska-grown marijuana. … Faaaaascinating article on how TV network logos used to be physical objects. Highly recommended. … New uniforms for the men’s and women’s French volleyball teams, and ditto for Italy (from Jeremy Brahm).

History’s Pinkest Number-Retirement Ceremony

Click to enlarge

For five months now, ever since it was announced that Derek Jeter’s number would be retired on Mother’s Day, I’ve been wondering how the Yankees would handle the uniforms. Would they really wear pink instead of their usual timeless uniforms? Would they maybe wear their regular uniforms for the pregame ceremony and then switch to pink for the game? Would they skip the pink altogether and just stick with their normal uniforms?

Things were complicated by the fact that the Yanks had been rained out on Saturday, necessitating a doubleheader yesterday. Unsurprisingly, the Yanks wore pink for the opener (click to enlarge):

Prior to the second game, they had Jeter’s number-retirement ceremony. Most of the participants wore civvies, of course. But Yankees skipper Joe Girardi was part of the proceedings, and he wore the pink cap:

In addition, several current Yankees escorted members of Jeter’s family onto the field (and, in one case, brought flowers to Jeter’s grandmother), and those players all wore pink:

The one exception was Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson, who apparently didn’t want any part of the pink-out:

In another uni-related development, all of the pregame ceremony participants who are represented in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park wore special blazers (click to enlarge):

Jeter’s own blazer was brought to him by his former teammate Carlos Beltran, who now plays for the Astros. He came out of the visitors’ dugout and presented the blazer to Jeter — while wearing pink:

Honestly, I thought it all looked ridiculous. Is this really the look you want immortalized in time and replayed over and over for years to come? Then again, having the ceremony on Mother’s Day was reportedly done at Jeter’s request, because he’s very close to his mom, so maybe he liked the idea of having the pink backdrop (although that’s hard to fathom, given that he retired before the pinkwashed unis became the norm).

Meanwhile, there was one major glitch: The Yanks stenciled Jeter’s number onto the grass along the two baselines. Nothing unusual about that, of course. But in a surprising lapse in judgment, they used a non-Yankees font:

Incredibly, it appears that they just used the same stencil they use for the yard markers in the Pinstripe Bowl (click to enlarge):

How have they handled this kind of thing in the past? They used the proper font for Mariano Rivera Day in 2013:

But they used the yard marker font for Jorge Posada’s number retirement in 2015, so I guess you could say there’s some precedent:

As for the game, the Yanks wore cap and jersey patches commemorating Jeter’s big day:

Next up: Memorial Day. Oh boy, can’t wait!

(My thanks to Isaac Benjamin, @BobbyTooSlow, @saviddachs, and @Fontophile for their contributions to the number-font discussion.)

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First-generation neon: Neon/fluorescent colors are all over the uni-verse these days. But when did they first appear in the Big Four leagues?

Reader John Martin has found one of the earliest examples I’ve ever seen (see above). That’s Robbie Alomar during the 1992 ALCS, wearing neon-trimmed batting gloves. Okay, so maybe it’s more lime green than true neon, but it’s definitely in the same family. Anyone know of any earlier examples of neon or neon-trimmed gear?

As an aside, those batting gloves were made by Cooper, a brand I typically associate with hockey, not baseball. “It’s a company I have only seldom seen used by MLB players, mainly Roger Clemens’s glove during his Blue Jays stint,” says John. I didn’t realize Cooper made baseball gloves. But according to this Wikipedia entry, the company was “Canada’s leading producer of leather baseball gloves.” Interesting — I had no idea.

Update: Shortly after today’s post went up, several readers pointed out that Rickey Henderson was wearing neon-toned batting gloves as early as 1989:

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Membership update: Eight new designs have been added to the membership card gallery (including Jamie MacDonald’s late-’90s Hawks treatment, shown at right, which is the latest example of how the worst uniforms make for the best membership cards). The printed and laminated versions of those cards should mail out in a day or two.

Remember, all membership cardholders are now eligible for a 15% discount on everything in our Teespring shop. (If you’re a card-carrying member and want the discount code, just email me and I’ll send it to you.) You can sign up for your own custom-designed membership card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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Culinary Corner: It rained all day on Saturday, so the Tugboat Captain and I decided to slow-roast a big ol’ pork shoulder. We had tried something similar about four months ago, and it was good, but there were a few things we felt we could improve upon, so that’s what we set out to do. Here’s how we did it (sorry, I didn’t take photos of the early stages):

1. The night before, we went to the supermarket and got a pork shoulder that was just shy of 8 pounds. It was only $1.69 per, which means it cost 13 bucks and change — less than a good steak.

2. We took it home and brined it overnight in a mix of water, salt, sugar, rosemary, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, onions, and maybe one or two other things I’m forgetting.

3. The next morning, we removed the pork from the brine and patted it dry. Then we prepared a stuffing that consisted of garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, mustard powder, smoked salt, pepper, and maybe something else, I forget. We cut a bunch of slits in the bottom and sides of the pork shoulder (but not in the skin on top) and filled them with a stuffing. Then we added salt and pepper all over the pork’s exterior.

4. We set my oven as low as it would go — 250º — put the pork in there, and let it cook for eight hours while we did other stuff around the house.

5. After eight hours, the roast’s internal temperature was 162º, and the meat yielded fairly easily when I inserted a fork and twisted it. That meant it was time to take it out of the oven. Here’s how it looked (for all of these photos, you can click to enlarge):

6. We cranked up the oven to 500º. When it was ready, we put the pork back in for 20 minutes, rotating it every 5 minutes. The idea here was to crisp up the skin, and it worked, in somewhat freakish fashion. The skin bubbled up in big crispy warts that looked like something out of science fiction (it almost looked like challah):

Along the way, we had made buttermilk biscuits (from this recipe — recommended), collard greens with a smoked turkey tail, and some gravy. The result was a very satisfying meal, and a great way to turn a rainy day into something fun and delicious:

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movie jersey hed

Movie contest reminder: In case you missed it over the weekend, Phil is running a new contest to create an updated design for a jersey featured in a movie. All the details are in this post.

The winning designer will get a custom-sized version of his or her jersey, produced by our friends at Garb Athletic. The deadline is this Thursday, May 18, at midnight Eastern, so get crackin’!

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Purp Walk reminder: Our annual Purple Amnesty Day is this Wednesday, May 17, and we have big plans. Get the full scoop, including a look at this year’s Purp Walk shirt (available for only 24 hours, no exceptions) and info on how to get a 10% discount on it, here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: Indians OF Daniel Robertson became the first player in franchise history — outside of Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughnto wear No. 99 yesterday, while wearing pink Mother’s Day unis. He, along with teammate Carlos Santana, wore extremely high socks (from Brad Foster). … Speaking of Mother’s Day, couple of things to add from Phil’s post on Sunday: The Brewers went the extra mile and wore pink logos on their batting helmets (from Tom Sauve). … The Royals usually raise a white “W” in their stadium after a win. Yesterday, it was pink (from David Westfall). … Cardinals OF Randal Grichuk had his mother’s name (Beverly) on his elbow pad this weekend (from Tyler Mudd). … The Red Sox wore pants without piping this weekend, except for first baseman Josh Rutledge (from Kevin Vautour). … Several plate umpires wore pink masks yesterday (from Mike Anderson). … The Dodgers wore their regular blue caps on Saturday but switched to the pink-trimmed caps yesterday. … Keon Broxton had “Angela Bell” written on his eye black this weekend (from Zachary Loesl). … In non-pink news: Contrary to popular opinion, there is one single-digit number the Yankees have not yet retired — but no player in franchise history has ever worn it. … Max Scherzer wore teammate Gio Gonzalez’s helmet yesterday (from Sean Sharkey). … The Sugarland Skeeters and Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League went color-on-color (from Stephen Winters). … Indiana wore pink camo uniforms for Mother’s Day (from Zachary James Loesl). … Arkansas wore throwbacks unis yesterday (from Matt Snyder). … Scott Rogers spotted a Little Leaguer with an upside-down 8 on his jersey.

Football NewsTwenty-five NFL teams have reportedly purchased Vicis Zero1 helmets for use next season. Some are calling the helmet the “safest football helmet ever,” and it recently got the highest rating in an NFL safety test. If you click on that last link, you can see a short video showing how the helmet shell deforms upon impact — pretty wild stuff. Broncos WR Carlos Henderson is among the first players spotted wearing it. … Is Illinois removing the triple stripe from its orange helmets?

Hockey NewsHere’s a great New York Times piece about goalie masks and the artists that paint them. … Hockey teams are only supposed to have one captain apiece, but the Seattle Thunderbirds appear to have two (from Curtis Rogers).

Grab BagAdidas reportedly wants to re-negotiate its apparel contract with AC Milan due to the team’s poor performance (from Ed Zelaski). … Yale lacrosse puts the flag of each player’s home country on their helmets (from Timmy Westside). … A recent design contest has resulted in New York City getting a new “I voted” sticker, which will make its debut this September. … New uniforms for Japanese men’s volleyball (from Jeremy Brahm). … The increasingly high prices for sports collectibles are leading to a rash of thefts. … The U.S. Army’s uniform board is considering bringing back the iconic “pinks and greens” uniform (from Eric Keskeys).