Pinewood Derby Revisited

Greetings from upstate, where some friends and I are spending a long weekend eating, drinking, thrifting, lake-swimming, bowling, attending a lumberjack festival, and so on. Drove up last night, will be coming home on Sunday night. I don’t plan to be spending much time on the internet, so Monday’s Ticker may be very, very small. Thanks in advance for understanding.

But I have something really wonderful for you today: A few weeks ago I wrote about Marty Hick’s awesome Uni Watch-themed pinewood derby car and invited readers to send in photos of their own and/or their children’s pinewood derby cars. Several readers responded, and it’s no exaggeration to say this is some of my favorite content on the site in months. Here’s a sampling (for all photos, you can click to enlarge):

1. Sam Chandler had a lot to say about his pinewood derby activity:

Here in St. Louis, some of the advertising agencies put together a pinewood derby each year. I love making them because I love racing and I get to build something cool. Last year my design was based off the Lotus Turbine Indy car from the ’60s:

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I said it was due to the orange being similar to our company’s branding, but mainly it’s because I love that era of Indy cars and that’s one of the most iconic designs. Plus it lends itself perfectly to a pinewood version. We ended up finishing fifth out of around 65 cars.

This year I went a bit more radical with the body design being minimal and simple but incorporating real carbon fiber as an element to see how it affects the car. Plus, I got to make some graphics similar to my favorite race cars: SPRINT CARS! Here are some photos:

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2. Matthew Walthert made this Edmonton Oilers-themed car with his dad for Scouts competition in the ’90s:

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“My dad brought home his postal scale from work and we loaded the bottom with lead weights to make it as heavy as the regulations allowed (adding ballast, as the F1 engineers say),” says Matthew.

3. “In the late ’70s my sister (third from left) and I (second from left) won the top two spots in the pinewood derby run by the AWANA club (a religious version of Scouts),” says Douglas Ford. “What makes this pic even better for Uni Watch is the Browns jersey and the sweet Dolphins jacket:

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4. Excellent submission from Tris Wykes, who writes:

My eight-year-old son Easton was pretty darn excited when he wound up third in the Boy Scout pinewood derby held in Lebanon, N.H. If you look carefully, you can see the washers glued on to his car. The idea is to get your vehicle as close to the weight limit (5 ounces?) as possible without going over it. His mother built it with him because I am all thumbs:

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He then qualified for a regional derby, where a scoring error knocked him out of contention. It was a good teaching moment about how life is not always fair and how to handle unexpected disappointment with grace. Here’s the scene itself, in the local high school cafeteria. Those are the judges sitting down and they took their job VERY seriously:

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5. I could do an entire entry based just on the photos and information Ron Ruelle sent in. Take it away, Ron:

At a pinewood derby in my parents’ town a few years ago, they put out a call for vintage cars to display:

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In the back row, cars 32, 90, and 9 are all by my younger brother, Rich, from the late 1980s. In the front row, the yellow 18 car is by my older brother Russ from 1973. It is styled to resemble a classic 1950s Indy car. Note how skinny the stock wheels were back then! The silver grille in the front of the car was cut from a dinner fork. My dad put the dismembered utensil back in the drawer to await my mother’s reaction. I think he slept on the couch for a few nights. The red car next to that, number 21, is mine from 1975. More on that later.

Fast forward to 2009. My nephew Connor and his dad built his first car at my house since they didn’t have a workbench available. This one goes for the look of an early-1960s Indy car:

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The flaming skull logo became my nephew’s trademark and showed up on future cars. As you can see, while I still have the keys to number 21, the driver from my car disappeared over the years. More on that later, too.

The original driver for my car came from a Hot Wheels Rrrrrumblers motorcycle. I eventually found an identical replacement for him on eBay for $30. Here he is in the driver’s seat:

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Yes, his uni includes a top hat. He is permanently glued in now. The front bumper/grille for this car was part of the hinge from an old Timex watch case. Somehow my dad saw that shape and had a vision.

Next: Another year, another new car for Connor. Still going old-school, this time with experimental twin engines:

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The car was way below the maximum weight, so putting those engines on the hood and decorating them was the easiest and coolest solution. The back end is designed to resemble a 1971 Buick Riviera. Note the return of the Flaming skull.

For Connor’s final car the next year, he went for a late’60s GT theme –specifically, the Mach 5 from Speed Racer. Despite the lack of auto jacks, sawblades, and periscope, he was very proud of the effort. It performed quite well, finishing second in the races:

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6. Probably the most unusual entry came from Joshua Johnson. I’ll let him explain:

Here are some photos of the pinewood derby car — er, truck — that my father and I made over 20 years ago. I confess, the truck concept and most of the work were his. As you can see, one of his ideas was to add a set of monster truck tires we stole from some plastic toy that had been laying around the house:

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And here’s the real genius: these tires couldn’t be used for the race, so dad created a “plate” that allowed the tires to be easily detached and replaced with standard derby tires. Sadly, wear and tear was causing the plate to fall apart, so it is now glued permanently in place and I have no photos demonstrating how the whole system worked.

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Pretty awesome stuff! My thanks to all of these contributors for sharing this great content with Uni Watch. If I was the sort of person who said things like “You’re all winners in my book,” this is where I’d say it.

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All-Star helmet update: Yesterday I mentioned that reader James O’Hare said he recalled seeing Reggie Jackson wearing an Orioles helmet in the 1969 ASG. That prompted a note from A’s equipment manager Steve Vucinich, as follows:

In 1969, Sal Bando and Reggie Jackson both wore Senators helmets [in the ASG], as the visiting batboy in Anaheim put their helmets in the wrong bag. We didn’t know about it till game time on Wednesday (the game was originally schedule for Tuesday but was rained out).

So now we just need to get a video of this game. I’m working on it.

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Meaty reading: As some of you know, I collect vintage recipe booklets with the word “Meat” in the title. A bunch of them were featured yesterday in this piece on Grub Street. Enjoy.

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Correcetion: Yesterday’s entry about glove re-lacing incorrectly stated that Pecard’s Glove Conditioner is “a lanolin-based conditioner that contains no oils.” Pecard President Phil Wadzinski set us straight, as follows: “None of Pecard’s dressing or leather conditioners contain lanolin, or any other type of animal byproducts such as neat’s-foot or mink oils, fats, or tallows. Although the actual formulations are a trade secret , I can tell you that they do contain a combination of USP-grade (good for incidental food contact) petroleum products, along with a mixture of waxes, one of which is bees wax.”

I removed the incorrect wording from yesterday’s post at about 2:15pm Eastern, but I wanted to run this correction for those of you who had read the entry earlier in the day than that.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: The Charlotte Hornets are officially back. … Here’s a comparison of the Blackhawks’ 2010 and 2013 championship caps. … Grand Canyon University has a new logo with an apostrophe catastrophe. … Good article about a new that looks at what happens to former Olympic villages (from Adam Hainsfurther). … Buried within this article about Ultimate Frisbee is the following: “In 2009, the University of Oregon’s Ultimate team, then ranked third in the nation and a favorite to win the national championship, had its season cut short after the school discovered they had played Oregon State wearing nothing at all.” Never heard that one before (from Adam Kowalsky). … Here’s Oregon football in solid yellow. “They haven’t gone all-yellow for the last couple uni designs, and it’s always bothered me that they always wore black or grey pants with the yellow jerseys,” says Chris Aquino. “Last all-yellow were these things.” … Dan Kennedy watching that episode of The Brady Bunch with Joe Namath and, well, there’s a lot to discuss here. … Here’s an animated GIF showing what AT+T Park would look like if sea levels continue to rise. Expect to see more stadium animations like this one as global climate change continues apace (from Adam Herbst). … Todd Radom sent along this great team portrait of the American League squad from the 1967 MLB All-Star Game. Note the batboy at the end of the front row! The league-specific jersey is great, natch, but I’m also curious about his striped stirrups — what colors were they, and which team were they from? That game was played in Anaheim, but they couldn’t be Angels stirrups, because the Halos didn’t wear striped hose in the late ’60s. (Indeed, you can see an Angels player at the far-right end of the back row — no stripes.) And they don’t match up with the striped Bosox, Chisox, or Orioles stirrups that are visible in the photo. Hmmmmm. … New football uniforms for WKU. Further details here (thanks, Phil). … Also from Phil: The Diamondbacks have a new mascot — and he’s a Mexican wrestler! … Rory McIlroy’s shirt at the British Open yesterday had this weird little black dots on the shoulders. “I have not seen that on any other Nike shirt, including any style worn by any of their other tour pros,” says John Agre. … Incoming UNLV freshman Kendall Smith appears to have leaked the school’s new basketball uniform (from Ahmad Billal Samady). … Holy moly, look at this 1912 shot of Sens skipper Clark Griffith wearing an amazing plaid coat! (Great find by Bruce Margulies). … New gold chinstraps for Baylor (from Jimmy Couto). … The Altoona Curve and Erie Seawolves played a red-on-red game last night (from Dan Rerko). … Great story from Joshua Johnson (one of today’s pinewood derby contributors): “I work for the local communications company, and it turns out we used to have a slick-looking mascot known as Teddy Telephone. He appeared on our trucks, uniforms, letterhead, etc. He died an unfortunate death in the ’80s. I assume the corporate bigwigs felt he’d become dated. Your blog inspired me to launch a campaign to bring him back. To support my cause, I made my own retro Teddy Telephone T-shirt to wear on casual days. The old-school employees loved it. I even fulfilled some requests for additional shirts.” Very cool. I think Teddy might have been the inspiration for Phoney McRingRing in the “New Springfield” episode of The Simpsons. … The Orix Buffaloes are calling this “shining red,” but it sure looks fuchsia (from Jeremy Brahm). … Also from Jeremy: Hanshin Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami will be using a purple glove for the All-Star Game. … New football uniforms for Memphis (Phil again). … To commemorate NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week, all of the teams in the Western Australian Football League wore jumpers featuring indigenous designs (from Graham Clayton). … Rob Neyer has written a very good analysis of baseball stadiums in general and the Mets’ ballpark in particular. He left out my biggest gripe about the latter, namely that you can’t get to the escalators to the upper decks without walking past all the food vendors and shops, which is both inconvenient and transparently manipulative, but it’s still a good piece. Recommended (from Chris LaBella).

How to Re-Lace a Baseball Glove

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[Editor’s Note: Reader Jim Lonetti and his son Dom — that’s them at right — run a baseball glove-repair operation. Jim has guest-written today’s lead entry, about how to re-lace a glove. Enjoy. — PL]

By Jim Lonetti

Most baseball gloves utilize the same basic lacing patterns, so the same five-step process can be used for re-lacing most of them. Not all repairs will require all five steps, but I found a good example in my inventory that required a full re-lacing; a Rawlings PG10 Rick Burleson-endorsed model. Here’s how to re-lace it.

Step One: The first step is to remove the web. The web is where you will have the most variety of lacing patterns. If a glove has a “T-bar” pattern or the more elaborate “Trap-eze” design, the web can be a little more involved, but the web on this glove has a fairly simple pattern. I entirely remove the web, including the “loops” on top of the web (which are part of a continuous lace that starts at the pinky finger), with a basic wire cutter. I also remove all the finger laces at this time:

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I utilize lacing from www.tanners.com/”>Tanners, which is affiliated with Rawlings. Since many of the gloves I work on are vintage models, I have Tanners custom-cut 3/8”-wide lacing for me. (To me nothing looks worse than a nice vintage glove re-laced with the newer, wider lacing.) Before using the lace, I condition it for ease of lacing with a little Pecard Glove Conditioner. I highly advise against using neatsfoot oil or similar products. They will cause the leather to become heavy and floppy and over time will also cause the pores of the leather to clog and the leather fibers to “cross-link.” This is what has happened when you see an old glove with leather that has become hard and shiny. Pecard is great because you can apply it with your fingers and then just wipe off the access.

From Tanners I also obtain lacing needles, which have a threaded opening at the end that allows a lace to be threaded in securely. The web lacing starts at the back, base of the glove and continues until the top of the web is reached. Then I switch to a tool with a handle, since the small needle will not feed the lace all the way through the tunnel of the web. The handled tool is inserted through the web tunnel without the lace, and then the lace is attached and pulled through. The lacing is completed back down the other side of the web and ends at the back, base of the glove where it started:

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Step Two: Next the fingers are laced back together. This starts at the pinky finger and continues across the other fingers until you reach the web. From here the lace starts at the loops on the top of the web and eventually passes through the thumb. This completes the web and finger lacing:

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Step Three: Now it gets a little tricky. All the heel lacing needs to be removed to access the “lifeline” lacing (more on this in a second). Once the heel and life line lacing are removed, the whole interior of the glove can be opened up:

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This is the point of the process at which many players will elect to add or remove inner padding to better suit their preferences. At this time I am also able to replace or repair any of the interior lining that has become worn. The sweat from your hand is the worst thing for the leather inside your glove. If your glove is all torn and the padding exposed, that is a result of the salt from your sweat. It is just as important to clean and condition the inside of your glove as it is the outside.

The lifeline lace starts at the heel on the thumb side. I always try to use the thinnest laces I have for the lifeline, because you don’t want the lacing to be too bulky in this area. The lacing proceeds to the hinge area and back up and ends between the pinky and ring finger of the glove:

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Step Four: The heel is now laced back together. A knot is not used at the finish; instead, the lace is pulled through the previous loops to cinch it down. The lifeline and heel lacing are now complete:

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Step Five: The lacing at the pinky and thumb is all that is left to do. These laces are misunderstood, in my opinion. The purpose of these laces is to make the thumb and pinky either flared in (tight lacing) or flared out (loose lacing). The practice of many glove manufacturers is to put plastic inserts in the thumb and pinky as artificial stiffeners. I always remove these plastic inserts and rely on the lacing itself for how I want the thumb and pinky to feel. Both the pinky and the thumb follow the same basic pattern:

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The glove is now totally re-laced! The final task is to tie all the required knot (use nice square knots, never a “granny”-style knot) and fully condition the glove with the Pecard conditioner.

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In addition, let’s also talk about how to break in a glove. There are many myths and shortcuts out there, and most of them are bad for your new glove in the long run. First of all, never buy a glove that claims to be “pre-broken-in.” These gloves utilize thinner, cheaper leathers and sometimes have oils injected into the leathers to speed up the break-in process, all of which means the glove will not have a very long lifespan. A good, quality glove will be stiff and require some thorough breaking in.

Never put a glove in an oven or microwave. The microwave can cause the metal grommets to pop. Nor should you get the glove wet. Just some steady pounding with a ball mallet and some conditioner applied in the hinged areas is all that should be done. The old practice of putting the glove with a ball in the pocket under your mattress is also a good idea.

Want to know more about gloves? A great book on baseball gloves and their care and history is Glove Affairs. One story from the book: Every spring Derek Jeter starts out with a new glove and just plays with it. By the time the season starts the glove is ready. Simple as that.

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All-Star helmet update: Yesterday I mentioned that I had reason to believe Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale (shown at right) had worn a Pirates helmet in the 1962 All-Star Game, but I didn’t have any visual evidence yet. Now I have a semi-confirmation.

First, there were two All-Star Games in 1962, and I should have specified which one I was referring to. It was the one played in Washington on July 10. Drysdale batted once, in the top of the third, against Jim Bunning. (He didn’t play in the other 1962 ASG, which was played later in the month in Chicago.)

Reader Bruce Menard did some digging and found these wire photos from that one plate appearance. Although we can’t see the front logo, the helmet definitely appears darker than Drysdale’s blue undersleeves and blue stirrups. The helmet also looks flocked, as was the case with Pirates helmets at the time.

I’m pretty convinced, although I still want to see a front-view shot.

Meanwhile, two readers provided other possibilities to investigate:

• James O’Hare says he remembers two helmet mix-ups from the 1969 ASG: Reggie Jackson in an Orioles helmet and Steve Carlton, who was then with the Cardinals, in a Phillies helmet. If true, both of these would foreshadow the players’ future team affiliations. If anyone has access to the game video and wants to go searching, Carlton batted twice in this game (top of the second and third), while Reggie batted three times (bottom of the first, third, and fifth).

• And then there’s this, from Russ Yurk:

Back in 1994 I was working with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association in Pittsburgh, and one of my coworkers worked in the visitors’ clubhouse at Three Rivers Stadium. Apparently Frank Thomas forgot to bring his helmet to the 1994 ASG [which was played at Three Rivers], so my coworker took a blank Pirates helmet and used an Xacto knife to cut the Sox logo out of white athletic tape. Hebrought the helmet into the office the next day, and it was an impressive effort. With the helmet colors the same and the logo very close, it most likely went unnoticed that night and over the years. I’ve looked for a close-up image online but have been unsuccessful.

This isn’t quite the same thing as our other examples, because Thomas was wearing, at least from a visual standpoint, his own team’s helmet. But it’s still of interest. If anyone has access to the video, the Big Hurt came to the plate three times in that game (top of the first, fourth, and sixth).

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Show & Tell update: Objects, stories, and participants from the most recent edition of Show & Tell are now available on the S&T website. Enjoy.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: A few late-breaking All-Star Game items: (1) The camera caught Royals reliever Greg Holland out in the bullpen, where he was stretching out the elastic cuff on his right pant leg. In order to do this, he hiked up the pant leg, thereby revealing that he was wearing plain white crew socks. (2) Gavin Robey notes that Chisox pitcher Chris Sale was wearing a blue undershirt. (3) Max Scherzer’s belt was rotated off-center. (4) At one point the broadcasters referred to Jays pitcher Steve Delabar’s elbow surgery, and the camera showed a close-up of his scar. Or at least the broadcasters said it was his scar. But as Dave Rakowski points out, it looks like he might have gotten a tattoo of baseball stitches over the surgical scar. (5) Brendan Slattery notes that the swooshes on Robinson Cano’s shoes were two different colors. … Gizmodo has published a really nice piece on the design evolution of baseball gloves, bats, and balls (from Christopher LaHaye). … Chris Creamer has posted a really, really good piece on how certain MLB uniforms correlate with on-field success, or lack thereof. Among the revelations: The Marlins are the only team not to have worn traditional road grays at any point this season; the Braves are 11-1 in their cream alternates; and the Jays are3-15 in their road grays (from Josh Claywell). … A Florida high school has put together an absurdly overblown uni-unveiling video. “The new duds were donated by one of their own — Trent Richardson, now with the Browns,” says Ryan Bohannon. … This is pretty awesome: Every single pitch from the All-Star Game broken down into one infographic (big thanks to Lose Remerswaal). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Papiss Cissé has pulled out over Newcastle United’s training camp due to a conflict over the team’s jersey sponsor. … Here’s a good look at an old Lowe & Campbell uniform catalog (from Karen McBurnie). … Andrew Talansky, the highest-placed American in the Tour de France, has been wearing kinesio tape with an argyle-ish pattern (from Anthony Nuccio). … Attendance at sports halls of fame is dropping (from Tommy Turner). … New athletics logo/branding for the University of New Orleans (from Ben Melancon). … Don’t eat any athletic gold snow: The Predators have dyed their ice yellow for some sort of fanfest event. “I mean, what could possibly go wrong?” asks Phil. … Chelsea wore Thai numerals for a recent friendly match. The odd thing is that the Thai team wore Western numerals (from Michael Orr). … Metta World Peace will wear No. 51 with the Knicks as a shout-out to his father (from Robert Silverman). … Also from Robert: Small uniform discussion about halfway through this Q&A with new Suns coach Jeff Hornacek. Just search on the word “uniform.” … We’ve shown these before, but once more can’t hurt: 100-year-old baseball sock garters! (Big thanks to Jon Solomonson.) … “My wife and I went up to Pittsburgh to see the Pirates/Phils game on July 4,” says Scott Palmer. “I snapped a photo of the scoreboard after the game was over, and realized I may have something unique — notice the names of the winning pitcher (Cole Hamels) and losing pitcher (Gerrit Cole). I’m wondering if this has ever happened before, where the last names of the pitchers getting a decision form the full name of the winning pitcher (or losing pitcher for that matter)?” … Turns out Fox manipulated the crowd response to Neil Diamond’s song during the ASG. … Interesting quote from one of the New Girl’s coworkers: “I have never bought or worn Nike ever! ’Cause there was a moment in my life when it was a choice, a social statement, in my head at least. Like, the Beastie Boys wore Adidas, and indie boys wore Adidas, and hip-hop guys wore Nike. It was culturally political. It was more of a pop cultural battleground in my head. You’re one or the other. I used to be very into that kind of thing…’80s, early ’90s.” … What’s better than a ballplayer in a gorgeous old-school jacket? A ballplayer in a gorgeous old-school jacket holding two lion cubs! That’s Nap Lajoie, circa 1907 (from David Brown). … Here’s a guide to the new season’s EPL kits (from Chris Bisbee). … Here’s a video explaining the thinking behind the Korea Baseball Organization’s logo (from Dan Kurtz). … Schutt — the football helmet folks — posted a Facebook photo showing an Oregon-like helmet, supposedly to be worn by “some lucky team in Canada.” Word I hear is that the team in question is the Carleton University Ravens. … University of Wisconsin Platteville is letting fans choose the helmet for their first game of the 2013 season (from Olin Skattum). … I’ve known for years that the Washington Huskies used to award purple helmets, instead of their usual gold, to outstanding defensive players, but I’m not sure I’d ever seen a photo of that until Dan Drutis sent me this 1970 photo showing Washington players with gold and purple helmets. … New football uniforms for Columbia (from Rob Turning). … Good Detroit-oriented uni info — including the explanation for Isiah Thomas’s 1987 FNOB — on this Q&A page (from B. Palmer). … The Kansas City T-Bones wore special jerseys for Kansas City Zoo night. I like that sleeve patch! (From Alan Poff.) … This is pretty good: a video showing a day in the life of Target Field (from Josh VanKlompenburg).

MLB All-Star Game Recap

No helmet mix-ups or other uniform eccentricities in last night’s MLB All-Star Game (grrrrr), but there was still plenty of uni-watching fodder. Here’s a rundown:

• All jerseys and caps had those little stars flanking the MLB logo.

• All caps had an All-Star Game logo patch.

• All helmets had the All-Star logo on the back.

• All players wore an All-Star logo sleeve patch. But the Diamondbacks and Orioles already had a team patch on one sleeve and a memorial patch on the other, so the addition of the All-Star patch forced them to move their memorial patches to the chest.

• Lots and lots of players wore atypical shoe colors, including Max Scherzer (orange); Matt Harvey (orange); Mike Trout (red); David Wright (orange); Craig Kimbrel (red); Bryce Harper (red/gold); Joey Votto (red); Chris Sale (gray/silver); Miguel Cabrera (white); Andrew McCutchen (yellow, definitely my favorite of the night); J.J. Hardy (white); Troy Tulowitzki (can’t bring myself to say it); Adam Jones (orange); Brandon Phillips (red/gold); Jose Fernandez (orange/gold); Aroldis Chapman (red/gold); Cliff Lee (red, but not the Phillies’ usual red); Jean Segura (navy/gold); Greg Holland (blue); Salvador Perez (blue); Nelson Cruz (white); Prince Fielder (gray); Joe Nathan (white); Torii Hunter (orange): Travis Wood (blue); and some clown who ran onto the field (gray). There were a few additional examples, but I couldn’t find photos for everyone.

• Then there was Dustin Pedroia, who entered the game wearing white shoes but later changed to black. Pedroia entered the game suddenly and unexpectedly, pinch-running for Robinson Cano, who left after being hit by a pitch. So maybe Pedroia never intended to wear the white shoes for game use and changed footwear between innings after entering the game. Or maybe he just didn’t like the feel of the white shoes.

• Not a single player wore his team’s alternate jersey. It was all home whites (or home creams for the Giants and Mets) and road grays. Very nice.

• The American League batboy wore a Mets road jersey. Seems a little weird, since the Mets are, you know, a National League team. But I guess it makes sense. What else would he wear? An A.L. BP jersey?

• The Mets usually put their “NY” logo on the back of the mound. But for this game, they used the All-Star Game logo lettering.

• Our friends at Pro Helmet Decals designed an All-Star Game bat knob decal for David Wright:


I asked PHD honcho David Surlecki if he did this for any other players. His response: “You know, I thought about contacting the other teams to see if they wanted something similar for their players. But everything was pretty much last-minute, so there wasn’t enough time to do so.”

• In case you were wondering (okay, you probably weren’t, but still…), here’s a list of the fielding gloves worn by each All-Star starter. Too bad they left out the pitchers, though.

• The American and National League logos used to have 14 and 16 stars, respectively, representing the number of teams in each league. This season they both changed to 15 stars, reflecting the Astros’ move from the N.L. to the A.L. But the All-Star Game scorecard had the old logos.

Any other uni-notable developments I missed? Post your observations in the comments.

One final note: I had the pleasure of watching the game with Hall of Fame curator Tom Shieber, and I can’t imagine a better, more simpatico sidekick for taking in an All-Star Game. We had fun pointing out uni-notable details, keeping track of shoe colors, yelling at Tim McCarver to shut the fuck up already, etc., all while downing plenty of barbecue and beer. It was a great time, and the capper to a sensational five-day period in which I got to hang out with Tom on three separate occasions. Thanks for everything, Tom — you’re the best.

(My thanks to all contributors, including Chris Flinn, Gary Lau, Dave Long, John Okray, Harrison Tishler, and of course Phil.)

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ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my latest ESPN column features more All-Star Game helmet mix-ups.

A few footnotes on that column:

• Toward the end of the column, I mentioned that Mets historian Greg Prince thought Tom Seaver had worn a Dodgers helmet in the 1976 ASG but that I didn’t have any visual evidence. Not sure why I didn’t simply Google “Tom Seaver 1976 All-Star Game,” but I didn’t. Fortunately, Phil did. I feel foolish for not having included this in yesterday’s column. Anyway, judging from the uni number on the brim, it looks like Seaver was wearing Steve Garvey’s helmet.

• Later in the day, reader Robert Bluestein tipped me wise to another Met wearing non-Mets headwear: In the 1981 ASG, Joel Youngblood wore Bruce Benedict’s Braves helmet. Looks like it had a green ribbon for the Atlanta child murders. (Interestingly, I don’t recall the Seaver or the Youngblood helmet switcheroos, even though I definitely watched both of those games and totally lived and died with the Mets in those days.)

• Speaking of Garvey, as we were a minute ago, reader Larry Wiederecht reminded me of something I’d forgotten about: In the 1979 ASG, Garvey wore what appears to have been a spray-painted Dodgers helmet. Wonder which team’s lid was underneath that paint!

• Several readers wrote in to tell me that Lou Whitaker wore another team’s helmet in the 1985 All-Star Game. Sorry, but I’m pretty sure it ain’t so. Here’s the dealio: As you may recall, ’85 was the year Whitaker forgot his uni and had to wear a replica jersey with the uni number applied via Magic Marker. There are several web pages that say he also had to borrow a helmet, like this page, which says, “Cleveland pitcher Bert Blyleven let Whitaker wear his helmet.” But that’s demonstrably untrue — the screen shot on that same page shows a “1” (Whitaker’s number) on the back of his helmet! You can see a larger version, with the number more clearly visible, here. Although we can’t see the front of the helmet, that’s almost certainly Whitaker’s regular Tigers lid. And it sure isn’t Bert Blyleven’s.

I’m fascinated by these ASG helmet mix-ups. At the moment I’m trying to find video of the 1962 ASG, because I have it on good authority that Don Drysdale of the Dodgers wore a Pirates lid in that game. So if anyone out there has video of the ’62 ASG, and/or if you know of still more ASG helmet oddities, please speak up. Thanks.

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’Skins Watch: Here’s something about MLB’s All-Star FanFest that I missed: According to the excellent baseball writer (and Uni Watch fan) Rob Neyer, Chief Wahoo was conspicuously absent from the proceedings. Very interesting. Seems to fit with the slow but unmistakable de-emphasizing of Wahoo. Only question now is when de-emphasis will become elimination.

(My thanks to Mike Vamosi for bringing this one to my attention.)

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Uni Watch News Ticker: Just when you thought the stupid couldn’t get any stupider, there’s this: Lipton Tea will now sponsor the wave at MLB ballparks. Seriously, it’s like the MLB folks are going out of their way to take corporate sponsorship to the lowest, most asinine depths they can think of. How long before they come up with a sponsor for the oxygen in the stadium? And don’t try to bring your own oxygen in, or they’ll make you remove the label. … In a related item, Alan Kreit was annoyed by the water-branding restriction at the MLB All-Star FanFest, so he snuck a bottle of Poland Spring into the event yesterday and then took it out and drank it with impunity to see if anyone would confiscate it. “Nobody noticed,” he says. …This is interesting: A Reds/Giants game that was rained out in Cincy is being rescheduled as part of a doubleheader in San Francisco. The Reds will be the designated home team for the make-up game, which means they’ll bat last and will wear their home uniforms! I’ve seen visiting teams designated as the home team before, but usually they just wear their road uniforms. Wonder what Cincy’s equipment staff thinks about this, since they’ll now have to pack a lot of extra gear just for one game (from Cary O’Reilly) … New orange helmet for Illinois. I like it. … No photo yet, but Alabama football equipment manager Matt Lesser tells me that the Crimson Tide will be wearing “a rather large” memorial decal this season for longtime athletic director Mal Moore, who died back in March. Photo to follow in about two weeks. No other changes to the Tide’s uni for 2013. … Here’s a video explaining how Brazil got its national soccer kits. “It was through a newspaper contest, and the winner was a Uruguay fan!” says CJ Hague). … Interesting piece on Nebraska football branding (from Chris Bisbee). … The Archbald Little League in Pennsylvania makes good use of the A’s colors and script (from Tom Gerrity). … Here’s a not-very-revealing teaser of the Suns’ new white uni, plus the latest tease for their road uni (from Keith Winney). … A.J. Frey asks a really good question that I’d never thought about before: “Do switch-hitters generally have different bats for when they hit righty versus lefty?” Anyone know? … Michael Clary sent along the link for this Texas Longhorns ice bucket. … Here’s an article about New Era’s creative director (from Tommy Turner). … LeBron James is buying new uniforms for his former high school (from Michael Lisi). … Every Texans home game this season will have a contrived theme — no, wait, a corporate sponsor — no, wait, a contrived theme and a corporate sponsor. Pathetic (from Ryan Lindemann). … Chicago Fire fans are being invited to design the team’s 2014 third jersey (from Phillip Foose). … New basketball court for Boise State (from Brad Iverson-Long). … Got a note yesterday from David Berger, with the subject line “Vital unreported baseball news.” The news: The Dodgers have signed a guy named Dimitri Papantonopoulos. That surname is 15 letters long — one longer than Salty’s. “Can’t wait to see that on a jersey,” says Berger. “The Papantonpoulos watch begins NOW!” … New football helmet for Buffalo. “The matte blue looks like it will pair better with the current blue on their jerseys,” says Jeff Link. … Nike has finally admitted that it needs remedial geography lessons. … New uniforms for the Japanese women’s basketball team (from Jeremy Brahm).

Let's Go Shopping for Hardware

Before we get to today’s blog content: I have a new ESPN column today. It’s a follow-up to last Friday’s column about All-Star Game batting helmet mix-ups. I’m excited about this one because it adds a lot to the historical record, including some stuff I had previously known about but forgotten and some stuff that’s completely new to me. Check it out here. My thanks to all of you who contributed info and photos.

Now then: Yesterday I looked at a bunch of stuff from the MLB All-Star FanFest. But there was one particularly interesting FanFest exhibit that I didn’t mention, because I wanted to give it its own entry: an exhibit of MLB award trophies, plaques, and related items.

Did you realize that the top base stealer in the National League each year is awarded something called the Lou Brock award? Sure enough, here it is (for all of these photos, you can click to enlarge):

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The National League also gives out the annual Mel Ott Award, which goes to the Senior Circuit’s top home run hitter each season:

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Another accolade you might not know about is the Hank Aaron Award, which is given to the top offensive player in each league:

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You’ve probably heard of the Roberto Clemente Award, which is given to the player who makes the greatest humanitarian efforts in a given year. It’s a beauty, especially when viewed from behind:

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The winner of last night’s Home Run Derby won this trophy, featuring a pair of crossed bats:

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The MVP of tonight’s All-Star game will win a glass bat, like this one:

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Looking ahead to October, the World Series MVP will win this trophy:

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One of the biggest surprises for me was that the MVP awards are fairly conventional-looking plaques, not all that different than an “Employee of the Month” plaque (this one is for the American League, but the National League version is identical):

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The Jackie Robinson Award, given to the Rookie of the Year in each league, is also a fairly conventional plaque (again, the two league versions are essentially identical):

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Finally, there’s something I’d never heard of before — the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award, which is not an annual award. It has been given out 12 times, as explained in the placard accompanying the trophy case:

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Notice anything missing? The Cy Young Award! It’s always been my favorite-looking baseball trophy (although some of you have told me you think it looks weird, or even disturbing, which I don’t really understand), and it’s probably more visually familiar than any of these other awards. But for some reason it wasn’t included in this display. Odd.

Okay, that’s it for the FanFest. As you’re about to see, we have a lot of other content today, so let’s get crackin’.

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Sponsorship chatter: Stage 14 of the Tour de France, which took place on Saturday, featured some interesting commentary from TV broadcasters Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett (yes, Paul and Phil — very Uni Watch). Here it is, as transcribed by reader Joe Walsh:

Paul Sherwen: You might just notice that the rider in the red white and blue there, Arthur Vichot, who is the French national champion, has absolutely no publicity on his national champion’s jersey. Well, a few years ago it was a rule that you weren’t allowed to put publicity onto the French national jersey. At the time, Bernard Hinault was racing and in fact the team asked Bernard Hinault not to win the national championships because they wanted him to ride in his trade team. But this decision by Française des Jeux, FDJ, is they wanted to honor the French national championships jersey, so they put no publicity on it at all.

Phil Liggett: That’s a very good point. You know, I never noticed that. Very good point indeed. And of course now everyone wants to know who his sponsor is. So we’ll tell you, it’s FDJ. And they obviously don’t think like everybody else.
. So take a look at the national championships jersey of Holland here, you can’t see the jersey for the writing.

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Click to enlarge

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Culinary Corner: Some people love to make pies. Me, I like to make things that are sort of pie-like but aren’t exactly pies. Instead of apple pie, for example, I prefer to make tarte tatin (much easier, tastier, and it impresses people because of the fancy-ass French name). And instead of cherry pie, I like to make a cherry crisp. I made one just the other day, in fact (see above) — first time in a few years. Not sure why it had fallen out of my repertoire, but I think it’s gonna stay in heavy rotation now, because it’s really good.

My cherry crisp is based on two separate recipes. The filling comes from a cherry cobbler recipe that ran in Cook’s Illustrated magazine in 2001, and the topping comes from my mother’s apple crisp recipe, although I’ve modified it by adding chopped nuts to it.

In order to make this recipe properly, you’ll need four 25-oz. jars of pitted Morello cherries — preferably from Trader Joe’s, although other brands are okay to use. I know, I know — it’s better to use fresh fruit, not the jarred stuff. But stemming and pitting a few pounds of cherries is a major pain in the ass, plus jarred cherries are surprisingly good, plus-plus the recipe calls for using some of the juice that the jarred charries are packed in. So that’s the way to go.

The crisp is super-easy to make and takes surprisingly little time. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a baker, you can do this! Trust me. Here’s how:

1. Before you do anything else, take a stick and a half of unsalted butter out of the fridge and let it sit out on the counter to soften. Give it at least 90 minutes, or even more. You want it to be really mushy. While it’s softening, get out the other tools you’ll need: a 9″ by 13″ glass baking pan; a whisk; a colander or strainer; a measuring cup or glass that can measure at least two cups; a flour sifter; and a medium saucepan.

2. Position the colander or strainer over the measuring glass. Open the cherries and pour them into the strainer, capturing the juice in the measuring glass. As you empty each jar, transfer the drained cherries to the 9″ by 13″ glass baking dish and spread them out evenly. Meanwhile, save the captured cherry juice up until it hits two cups’ worth. (You should hit that amount after draining about two jars of cherries, or maybe part of the third jar.) As for the remaining juice that accumulates after the two-cup mark, you can save it or dump it. But you only need two cups for this recipe.

3. Put a cup sugar, 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, and a pinch of salt into the medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Then add the two cups of cherry juice, a cup of dry red wine, and a stick of cinnamon. Place over medium-high heat, stirring with the whisk, until the mixture starts to thicken and reduce a bit, which should take about five minutes. If it doesn’t thicken, you can add a smidge more cornstarch, but only do this as a last resort — give it time to cook and thicken.

4. Once the juice/wine mixture has thickened, remove it from the heat, fish out the cinnamon stick, and stir in a quarter-teaspoon of almond extract. Then pour the whole thing over the evenly spread cherries in the glass baking dish.

5. Put the stick and a half of softened butter in a large-ish bowl. Add a cup of dark brown sugar use a large wooden spoon or something similar to combine. Then add a cup of Quaker Oats (or other plain oatmeal), three-quarters of a cup of chopped walnuts, and a cup of sifted flour. Stir to combine until you end up with something that resembles coarse meal.

6. Use your hands to pick up pieces of the butter/oatmeal mixture and place the pieces over the cherries in the baking dish. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do this — you’re just looking to cover the top of the cherries completely. It’s slightly sloppy work, but it isn’t tricky or anything like that. (You’ll be tempted to lick your fingers as you go, because the topping is delicious, but don’t do that — think of your guests.)

7. Put the baking dish into a 325º oven for about half an hour. Let the crisp cool at least a bit, or completely, before serving. The filling will definitely be too hot to eat straight out of the oven.

And there you have it. You can add whipped cream or ice cream if you want, but it really isn’t necessary. The crisp is fine by itself. You’ll see.

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Collector’s Corner

By Brinke Guthrie

The point of Collector’s Corner is to remind you of stuff you had when you were growing up back in the day. Nostalgia rules. Reader Scott Hord recently wrote in about this very thing:

I was looking at the link for the Niners bank this morning and it made me think of a radio I had as a kid — a Miami Dolphins AM transistor radio. My parents got it for me for Christmas when I was eight or nine, which would have been late ’70s. Loved that thing. Believe they got it from the JC Penny’s catalog, which seemed like the only outlet for finding Dolphins stuff for a young kid living in central Pennsylvania. Think my Mom ended up throwing it out when I got older and it no longer worked.

All Moms did this, Scott, not just yours.

As for the rest of this week’s haul:

• Check out the cover art on this 1950 Niners game program. Don’t do ’em like this anymore, eh?

• Holy mackerel — a huge lot of Gatorade NFL lids.

• Here’s a 1970s Dolphins wooden coat rack — and the seller will throw in a 2001 team pennant, too.

• Heh, here’s a cloth remnant. It’s 3′ by 7′ and boy does it have some classic NFL artwork on there. Take a look!

• This old Mets tee doesn’t look all that remarkable, but I’m including it because it’s made by Champion, maker of the softest T-shirts known to man (or woman, for that matter).

• Here’s a 1960s Hormel NFL tin, just the Browns and the CB logo.

• This 1970s NHL bedspread is nice, but why are the California Golden Seals the only team that gets their actual font used?

• And we wrap up with something from CC favorite Michael Clary, who found two baseball-themed Batman comics! Look here and here.

Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.

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Looking ahead: As longtime readers may recall, I take a one-month break from the site each summer, so I can recharge my batteries and retain my sanity (not necessarily in that order). My break this year will begin next Thursday, July 25. Phil will be in charge of the site from that date until Aug. 26, when I’ll reclaim the helm. Phil will be handling all the site’s weekday content while I’m on break, and webmaster Johnny Ek will handle the weekends.

The Uni Watch email address will be forwarded to Phil during my break, so all Ticker submissions and such will end up going directly to him. If you have a specific question or issue that only I can deal with, he’ll send those emails back to me.

I’ll still be writing things for ESPN work during this period (Phil will provide links, of course), and maybe I’ll even make a few cameo appearances here on the blog if events warrant. I’ll also be working on my annual college football season-preview column, which will appear on ESPN on Aug. 27-ish. I’ll be watching the site (and other sites) for college football news, natch. But if you’re submitting any college football Ticker items to Phil while I’m away, it would be great if you could cc me at newcollegeuni at gmail. Can do? Thanks.

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’Skins Watch: Someone on eBay is selling a bunch of old ’Skins programs from the 1950s. As you can see, many of them featured very photorealistic illustrations of Native American chiefs. “I find them a bit ironic in light of the team name and the owner’s well-known racist attitude, but the sketches are very well done and quite respectful,” says reader Frank Bitzer.

I’d never seen these before. I think the real problem with them is that they depict Indians as primitive savages (or savage primitives), instead of depicting the reality of Indian life in the 1950s. That’s the big gripe among many Native Americans who object to Native imagery in sports — they feel that they’re treated like relics, artifacts, historical cartoons, instead of as a living, breathing, ongoing culture.

What do you think?

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Uni Watch News Ticker: Looks like Houston football is getting new shoulder stripes, side panels, and number outlining (from Greg Popes). … Key passage in this article about changes to Citi Field for the All-Star Game: “[Mets equipment manager Kevin] Kierst said he would dedicate as many as three people to filling Gatorade jugs and setting them on the field for the Home Run Derby in high-visibility places for television cameras.” Why not just change Major League Baseball’s name to Sponsors R Us and get it over with? … New York Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert wore an All-Star Game BP jersey for the MLB Charity Concert the other day. … The University of New Orleans is revealing its new logo one piece at a time. … Here’s a video about the Sabres’ equipment managers (from Adrian Acosta). … Yesterday I Ticker-linked to a photo that showed a batboy from the 1987 MLB All-Star Game wearing a yellow cap. That prompted James Poisso to post a link to this cap, which he says is likely what the batboy was wearing. Never seen that cap before. … “Good idea: corporate sponsor giving jersey space to a charity,” says Caleb Borchers. “Bad idea: deciding they still have to include their logo and a bunch of other crap as well.” … More NBA teams wearing sleeved jerseys for the Summer League: the Lakers and Bobcats (from Vivek Tanna and Andrew Cosentino, respectively). … Here’s something I’d forgotten about: In 2003, MLB planned to have players wear the All-Star BP jerseys in the All-Star Game itself, but then they backed off of that plan (from Rich DeMarco). … Randy Williams was going through some old boxes and found a 1982 World Cup keychain, a sleeve patch from his Little League days, and a Danny Frisella Fan Club pin. “The Frisella pin is from 1970,” he says. “The Mets held spring training in St. Petersburg, where I grew up, and we went to many games back then. Somehow we met Danny and his family one day, struck up a friendship, and they gave us this button. We also sat with them when we went to Atlanta to see the Mets and Braves play. Interestingly, Danny was traded to the Braves a couple years later and we still went up every year. Unfortunately, Danny was killed in a dune buggy accident during spring training after he was traded to the Brewers.” … Very nice stirrups for the Concordia University Irvine softball team (from Denver Gregg). … Check out these great old Red Sox sweaters! From left: Bill Carrigan, Fred Anderson, Clyde Engle, fan Michael McGreevey, Jake Stahl, and Charley Hall (from Jim Bowles). … Steve Miller is doing a free concert at Turner Field, so the Braves ran an ad referencing “The Joker” and using a jersey. “Would be even better if ‘Maurice’ were a real player,” says Michael Raymer. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Here’s a page with lots of old photos and drawings of NYC ballparks. … A Seattle Post Intelligencer writer, who’s apparently quite the comedian, has asked if the Seahawks have the greatest NFL uniform of all time (from Nigel Herbig). … New football championship trophy for the SEC (from Britton Thomas). … The new Wendy’s logo may or may not have a hidden maternal message (from my ESPN editor Dave Wilson). … According to this mailbag column, the ’Skins have no plans to add a black alternate jersey (from Tommy Turner). … Mike McLaughlin notes that recent Mariners call-up Brad Miller consistently wears stirrups. … Someone who didn’t give his/her name reports that Chadron State has new football uniforms. … New matte black helmet for Coastal Carolina (from Chris Flinn). … Yesterday’s edition of the comic strip “Family Circus” included stirrups (from Alex Allen). … “I’m a teacher, and I recently found out that one of my students attended the recent Mariners/Cubs throwback game,” says Chris Engebo. “An official M’s photographer got a nice shot of him in period attire.” … Penn State football is keeping its NOBs. … New jerseys for the Windsor Spitfires (from Brian Thompson). … Remember how I mentioned yesterday that MLB was requiring FanFest attendees to remove the labels from non-Aquafina bottles of water? That prompted the following from Zach Wright: “I will always remove the Aquafina label from their bottles from now on — unless they pay me for advertising for them.” … “The American Outlaws are the biggest fan club, or supporter’s group, of USA Soccer,” says Juan Pinillos. “They have over 80 chapters nationwide, and some of them have come up with very cool logos. Further info here.” … The whole “Got [whatever]?” thing is soooo played out at this point, but I might make an exception for this awesome T-shirt, as modeled by Rays pitcher David Price (big thanks to Ken G). … Here are this year’s Notre Dame football cleats (from Warren Junium). … With so many MLB players now hailing from the Caribbean and Central and South America, I’ve long thought that one of the most important skills a baseball beat reporter can have these days is the ability to speak Spanish. But when ESPN’s Pedro Gomez conducted some bilingual interviews during last night’s coverage of the Home Run Derby, the nativists got restless. Unsurprising, I suppose, but still depressing. … Looks like the White Sox and Indians played a very dark color-on-color game back in 1977 (from Dennis Hasty). … Not uni-related but plenty entertaining: The Jimmy Fallon folks sent All-Star Game starter Matt Harvey out with a camera crew and had him ask Mets fans about Matt Harvey, which turned out to be hilarious because nobody recognized him. Recommended viewing (if you can’t see the embedded video, click here):