Soccer TimE...Part 1


By Phil Hecken

It’s often been said by many of the readers of Uni Watch that soccer football, particularly European football, doesn’t get much love on these boards, and that’s certainly true — but that’s due far more to the fact that both Paul and I aren’t especially familiar with the beautiful game (full confession: I only watch during the World Cup and the Olympics) than the fact that we don’t like the sport. And while it’s no baseball, for many readers nothing approaches soccer as their sport of choice.

So when Paul ran two guest columns a short time ago (more on that below), looking at the awesome uniform histories of the European Championships, and knowing that the Olympics are just around the corner, I thought we could have a bit more on the subject — with a twist.

What I’ve done is to ask my buddy, Tim E. O’Brien, concepter extraordinaire, to come up with some “what if’s” for the 16 teams of the Euro Championships — not the unis they currently wear, or have in the past, but something that we might expect to see in the future. OK, so he actually came up with that concept on his own, but I knew he had been working on something after all his graphical magic on the Basketball Uniform Database. So, sit back and enjoy, the wonderful world of TimE. For each of the inline graphics, click to enlarge. Individual images of each kit are linked. We’ll start with the first eight today, and conclude with the next batch in Part 2.

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‘Hidden between the lines / The unsung hero’

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The headline for today’s entry is a couplet from the lyrics of an old Meat Puppets song called “The Mighty Zero,” which is about that most intriguing of numerals. For some reason I’ve been thinking about zero lately, so I decided to compile a list players who’ve worn zero or double-zero in the major pro sports. Here’s what I have so far (those with asterisks wore double-zero; all others wore zero):

MLB: Don Baylor, A’s*; Bobby Bonds, Cardinals*; Jack Clark, Padres*; Tony Clark, Mets*; Paul Dade, Indians*; Oscar Gamble, White Sox; Curtis Goodwin, Reds*; Cliff Johnson, Blue Jays*; Jeffrey Leonard, Giants, Brewers, and Mariners*; Curtis Leskanic, Brewers*; Terry McDaniel, Mets; Oddibe McDowell, Rangers; Bobo Newsom, Senators*; Omar Olivares, Cardinals*; Al Oliver, multiple teams; Rey Ordoñez, Mets; Junior Ortiz, multiple teams; Joe Page, Pirates*; Franklin Stubbs, Brewers; Brandon Watson, Nats and Reds*; Rick White, Phillies and Reds*.

[There are also several other double-zero MLBers mentioned in Jack Looney’s book, Now Batting, Number…: Jerry Hairston (at the end of his career with the White Sox), Rudy Seanez (for five games with Cleveland in 1991), and Jim Poole (a few games with Texas in ’91). But none of these are confirmed by, which lists uniform numbers for every MLB player. My experience over the years is that Looney’s book has more errors than, but both are definitely fallible. For now, I’m treating these three players’ double-zero status as unconfirmed.]

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Ladies and Gents, Your 1979 Tampa Bay Rays

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Have I mentioned lately how much I love Joe Maddon? Seriously, how many other big league skippers could wear that uniform and look like they were enjoying it? Or to put it another way, how many teams would use their manager, instead of a few players, for this type of photo shoot?

My crush on Maddon notwithstanding, the Rays’ 1979 fauxback design, which they’ll be wearing on June 30 against the Tigers, is an interesting idea. Conceptually, it’s more akin to the 1999 TATC promotion than to a real throwback, because it’s fictitious conjecture, a guess as to what something might look like (or might have looked like). And as I’ve said several times in recent years, the TATC promotion was widely ridiculed by everyone at the time (myself included), but now it seems like a fun chapter in uni history, and the world would be a slightly less interesting place if it had never happened.

I suspect the same arc of assessment will take place with the Rays fauxback. Sure, it’s sort of stupid and undignified, but I think it will seem more and more like a fun idea as time goes on. (Although, admittedly, it seems more fun with Joe Maddon wearing the uni than it might if, say, Evan Longoria was wearing it.) I’m very curious to see if other teams will try something similar. Obviously, it won’t work for teams with deep histories, like the Cubs or Red Sox. But for newer/younger teams, it’s an opportunity to imagine what they would have looked like in previous eras.

What about the design itself? A few thoughts:

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Cats as Cats Can

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In a surprise move that nobody saw coming, least of all me, the Bobcats unveiled new uniforms last night. Very odd timing on this — why not wait until the NBA Finals are over? Anyway, you can see a good slideshow here.

A few random thoughts:

• Very happy that the Bobcats will no longer be wearing pinstripes (an element that I almost never like on basketball uniforms).

• I love orange as a trim color. Always looks good.

• I hate navy blue and sky blue used together — almost never looks good.

• That Nike-style wishbone collar looks sooooo dated. When’s the last time a team switched to that look?

• For the Bobcats’ inaugural uniforms, the off-center uni number made sense, because they were using a baseball-style chest insignia. They moved the number to the center when they adopted the pinstriped design, but now the number is off-center again. Why? Doesn’t make sense with the new chest wordmark.

• The off-center number looks even worse on the road jersey, because the road lettering is much smaller (because “Charlotte” has more letters than “Cats”), so the number looks proportionally larger, which makes its off-centeredness feel badly unbalanced.

• Speaking of the off-center numbers, someone on the Chris Creamer board pointed out a strong similarity between the new Bobcats design and the Mavs design.

• “Cats”: No. Use that for an alt jersey if you want, but as your primary insignia? No.

• Here’s the rear view of the road jersey. That’s the new logo, which we’d previously seen on a cap, above the NOB.

Overall: Not a horrible uniform, but not a particularly well-conceived one either. Feels like change for the sake of change. I loved this team’s original look. Wish they’d stuck with it.

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