Can’t Tell the Players Without a Scorecard

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[Editor's Note: Today's main entry is from intern Mike Chamernik, who has something very appropriate for the onset of the baseball season.]

By Mike Chamernik

When I turned 14 in 2004, my dad gave me a pretty swell birthday gift. Even back then he knew I enjoyed history, nostalgia, and aesthetically-pleasing sports memorabilia, so he surprised me with a gift bag filled with, among other items, old scorecards. The bag included Cubs scorecards from 1966 to 1978, plus the 1990 and 1995 versions, and Cardinals scorecards from 1966 and 1972. You can see some of the covers and interior pages in the slideshow above.

While the Cardinals scorecards (does anyone call them the Cards’ ’cards?) are nice, the Cubs’ programs are the true gems. The 1966 to 1971 editions featured cover artwork from longtime Cubs graphic artist Otis Shepard. As you may recall, Paul recently featured a 1937 article about him. Even though he died in 1969, some of his artwork must have been released posthumously, because the 1970 and 1971 cards have “Shepard” inscribed on the back covers — interesting that he created the template for the back-cover advertisement, in addition to doing the front-cover artwork (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):

1971 CHI (flip)

Shepard had a distinctive style that was very visually pleasing. The artwork was angular and geometric yet colorful and striking. This cover uses vibrant warm and cool colors along with white and black, and notice how the lines intersect and even up — the top of the fielder’s arm, the back of his neck and back of his cap are all on one curved line:

1967 CHI

This scorecard uses the minimalist approach. It has very little detail — the only features on the two men are noses and ears on the faces, a tie for the ump, and a belt and triangular stirrups on the manager — but it works very well:

1966 CHI

Although Shepard’s artwork was no longer being used by the late 1970s, the two programs in my collection from that period show dustings of his influence, as you can see here:

1978 CHI

By the 1990s, the Cubs had switched to using action photos (and ads!) on the scorecard covers — a big shift away from the old illustration-based style:

1990 CHI

My favorite scorecard is the 1971 Cubs edition. I’m not sure if all the programs that year had a printing error that made the colors appear out of registration, but the one I have is really trippy. It captures — perhaps inadvertently — the psychedelic era of baseball:

1971 CHI

Another cool thing about these cards (and, unfortunately, my scorecards aren’t with me at my current residence so I couldn’t scan them) is that in the Cardinals cards, not only is the score kept throughout the game but the keeper, my great-aunt, wrote brief annotated notes. She jotted down game action descriptions but also noted what the teams were wearing, what the vendors were selling, and even what color the seats were. I remember the Busch Stadium seats were described as salmon-colored. This is extremely fascinating to read 40 or 50 years after the fact; it has a time capsule effect.

Getting the scorecards as a gift inspired me to collect scorecards myself. I even used to keep score of games and write my own notes and stuff. Too bad the more contemporary scorecards aren’t as cool as the old ones.

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Chart-toppers: Paul here. Last week I wrote that piece about the role of cultural critics and how critical tastes relate to popular tastes. That piece included the following bit:

[P]eople now have more ways than ever to express their tastes. They can start blogs, post on Twitter, vote on American Idol, and so on. This reminds me of … the advent of the People’s Choice Awards [in the 1970s]. Even though I was just a kid at the time, I remember thinking, “What’s the point? Don’t we already know who the ‘people’s choice’ winners are, just by looking at sales figures? Who needs an award for that?” The situation nowadays, with all the internet-driven ways people can express themselves, is like a giant, society-wide version of the People’s Choice Awards.

I thought of that passage yesterday when an interesting bit of news came over the wire. But before I get to that news, let me backtrack for a minute: The years I attended college (1982-1986) were right when MTV was starting up and becoming really popular. I was lucky enough to work at and then co-manage an on-campus record store at the time, and we always had copies of Billboard magazine, the trade journal of the music biz, at the store. Billboard, of course, is famous for its music charts, which supposedly measure sales and popularity, and it was around this time, I think in ’84, that they added a chart for music videos. I recall saying to another person at the store, “Wait a minute — this doesn’t make any sense,” because music videos at that time began and ended with MTV airplay. There was no YouTube (duh), and VHS sales of music videos were still in their infancy. So the Billboard music video chart was really just measuring what MTV felt like playing, which wasn’t a measure of popularity — it was just a measure of one company’s content choices (which were presumably influenced by all sorts of corporate graft from the music labels). True, Billboard also ran lots of radio airplay charts, but those were aggregated from hundreds, maybe thousands of stations, so at least they presented a composite snapshot of something fairly broad (even if it was only a snapshot of how payola worked at that time). The video chart was just a snapshot of MTV. Who needed a chart for that?

About 10 years later, in 1993, I found myself working for Billboard, at least peripherally. I never wrote for the magazine but I was the senior editor for its book division, Billboard Books. We did mostly chart-based books like The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders, and so on — bathroom books, basically (and I mean that in the best sense of the term). It was around this time that Billboard’s sales charts to reflect bar-code sales data from SoundScan, instead of using self-reported sales figures phoned in from record stores (plus whatever bribes and graft were still baked into the system). SoundScan totally rewrote the Billboard charts — country and rap artists had claimed for years that their album sales were seriously underrepresented under the old system (maybe they just didn’t know who to bribe), and it turned out they were right: Once the SoundScan numbers were factored in, country and rap artists suddenly shot to the top of the album charts, often debuting at No. 1. I was uncomfortably aware of the fact that most of the chart-based books I was working on were based on old, pre-SoundScan chart data that was almost certainly bogus.

I left Billboard Books in 1996 but have kept an eye on the goings-on in the Billboard world. The magazine has been bought and sold a few times over the years, and my sense is that it’s been struggling, which I guess is no surprise when you consider that Billboard operates in one beleaguered industry that’s been brought to its knees by the internet (trade journalism) and chronicles the workings of another (recorded music sales).

All of which is very lengthy way of saying I was particularly interested to see the news yesterday that Billboard is adding a new chart for — get this — music-related tweets. Key quote, from Twitter’s “head of music” (who knew Twitter had a “head of music”?), Bob Moczydlowsky: “We want music business decisions to be based on Twitter data.”

Now, Twitter is extremely useful for a great many things. But I’d like to think that everyone reading this is smart and well-informed enough to know that it’s ridiculously easy to manipulate Twitter data. With a little bit of money, for example, you can buy yourself 5,000 new followers, and there are all sorts of automated things you can set up to present a distorted view of reality. Does anyone really expect “music business decisions to be based” on something that malleable? (Maybe they do. After all, the pre-SoundScan Billboard charts offered a distorted sense of reality too.)

But here’s the thing: Even if Twitter data were reliable, what would it tell us aside from what Billboard’s other charts already tell us? “Look, Beyoncé is trending!” — wow, there’s a scoop for ya. It’s like a giant version of the People’s Choice Awards all over again — popular taste reaffirming itself. Nothing new about that, but it’s still pretty fascinating.

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’Skins Watch: Stephen Colbert had a humorous take on Daniel Snyder’s latest maneuvering last night. You can see it at the 4:55 mark of this video clip (from Joshua Paster). … Research by a psychology professor at the University of Washington confirms what previous research has shown, namely that the use of Native American mascots has a harmful psychological effect on Native students (from Jess Lemont). … Also from Jess: A west coast group plans to stage protests when the Indians play in Oakland next week and in San Francisco next month.

Baseball News: The Red Sox will wear the white “Boston” jerseys on Marathon Monday, which I gather will now become an annual thing. I asked the team about this repeatedly in the days leading up to the publication of my MLB season-preview column, but they played coy. Grrrrrr. They also played coy about whether they’ll be wearing anything special for their ring ceremony (like, say, this cap), and they were coy about that too. Draw your own conclusions. … My ESPN colleague Jim Caple attended the Dodgers/D-backs games in Sydney, Australia, where he noticed that the Perth Heat — that’s an Aussie baseball team — have a mascot who looks suspiciously like Mr. Met. … When a Ticker submission begins with “I was reading this great article in Garden & Gun magazine,” you just know it’s going to be a doozy. So: Scott Moody was reading the aforementioned publication and spotted this article about adult sandlot baseball. “I did some searching on the web,” says Scott, “and man, they do some really cool things that Uni Watch readers would love, including this patch and this flyer. Check out all their photos.” … Tremendous multi-colored striped stirrups for Eastern Guilford High School in North Carolina — or at least for that one guy (from Don Conrad). … Sacramento River Cats will be going THOB on Aug. 13 (from Brady Phelps). … The Reds are adding two exhibits to their team Hall of Fame (thanks, Phil). … I think we can now say with some certainty that the Star Wars thing has officially become the year’s most annoying jersey trope. … Big slate of promotional dates this season for the Toledo Mud Hens, including a Ghostbusters-themed uni (thanks, Phil). … Louisville Slugger has made a bunch of Opening Day bats, although I don’t know if they’re going to be used in games (Phil again). … The Brewers wore their usual BP jerseys for yesterday’s spring training game — except for pitcher Brent Leach, who was wearing an old (or minor league?) BP jersey (from Martin Rivas). … In an even weirder case of a pitcher wearing the wrong jersey, Phillies reliever Jonathan Papelbon wore teammate Carlos Ruiz’s jersey yesterday (from Harrison Tishler). … I had previously reported that the Dodgers had custom bat knob decals for the two games Down Under. Here’s how they looked on the bats (from Andrew Cosentino). … In a related item, the Orioles have been using spring training-themed batting knob decals (Andrew Cosentino again). … Also from Andrew: Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman has been wearing some pretty clunky-looking glasses. … And one more from Andrew: The Orioles wore “MB” wristbands the other day in memory of PR director Monica Barlow, who passed away on Friday. … The Giants wore BP jerseys with regular game caps for last night’s Bay Bridge Series game against the A’s. “Oakland wore BP jerseys and caps,” says Rich Paloma). … New gold uniforms for Alabama State. “I love these,” says Phil.

NFL News: Here’s a spec-fucking-TACular photo of Johnny Ramone wearing a Dolphins T-shirt onstage. Yabba-dabba-doo! “Note the lack of security — ah, to go back to more civilized times!” says Sterling Foster.

College Football News: Everyone went ape-shit yesterday over Johnny Football wearing a Nike jersey and G.I. Joe shorts at Pro Day. And look, you can buy some of the same crap he wore, wheee! “That’s pretty absurd, even for Nike,” says Kyle Beaudoin. … Little item about how how Penn State updated its logo 27 years ago. “A friend of a friend has that logo tattooed on his lower leg,” says William Yurasko. … Here are some thoughts about bling-ish college football uniform designs (thanks, Phil). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Here’s a little-noted feature of the new Speed Flex helmet.

Hockey News: Unusual uni match-up last night in Florida, as the Panthers wore white at home and the Hurricanes wore their black alts (thanks, Phil). … European company has come up a non-circular puck. “It kind of looks like a half-eaten Klondike bar, but the point of the odd shape is to create irregular bounces off the boards,” explains the Hungry Hungry Hipster.

Soccer News: Pretty sure we’d already seen a leak of Portugal’s World Cup away jersey, but now it’s been officially unveiled (thanks, Phil). … Incidentally, I’ve been working on a big World Cup column for ESPN. But since I don’t know jack about soccer uniforms, longtime reader/contributor Trevor Williams has been assisting me, and he’s being doing a sensational job. I’ve learned about soccer uni history just by reading and editing his copy! Thanks again, Trevor.

NBA News: Jodie Meeks of the Lakers says he likes the sleeved jerseys. Rumors that Adam Silver paid him to say this are almost certainly untrue (thanks, Phil). … The Trail Blazers are inviting fans to vote on a new court design.

College Hoops News: More crazy brand policing: Wisconsin player Zach Bohannon wasn’t allowed into his team’s closed shoot-around until he removed the label from his water bottle. Douchebags (from Jeff Ash). … Interesting article+chart on how long it takes to play the last minute of a college hoops game (from Ken Singer). … Holy moly, look at this amazing 1971 UCLA program cover! Psychedelic, man (thanks, Phil).

Grab Bag: Here’s another one of those mock-untucked basketball jerseys. That’s Canton McKinley High from Ohio in 1989 (big thanks to Vince Guardado). … Here’s some box lacrosse video from 1994. “Too much spandex, tons of traditional sticks, and a football facemask in a pro lacrosse game, which terrifies me still,” says Connor Wilson. … Faaaascinating photo gallery of children from around the world in their bedrooms. Wait till you get to the kid from Kentucky (thanks, New Girl). … Here’s a new one: Maryland lacrosse — and maybe some other Terps sports, I’m not sure — has a “Farewell to the ACC” logo (from Anthony Pellegrino). … By the time we meet again next Monday, it will be baseball season! Isn’t that a nice thought? See you then.

What Does the Northwestern/NLRB Ruling Mean for Uniforms?

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By now you’ve no doubt heard about yesterday’s regional NLRB ruling that Northwestern football players can form a union. There’s a big uni-related component to this story because the ruling, if it’s upheld on appeal, will likely allow the players to profit off of their names and likenesses. This means the people who are willing to pay $200 for a polyester shirt will now be able to have a college athlete’s name on the back of that shirt. (It may also mean that EA Sports will be able to revive its college football video game, which it discontinued in the wake of a class-action lawsuit filed by players who argued, successfully, that their likenesses were being exploited by the company without their consent.)

I’m also wondering if this development, if it’s upheld, might also make college sports the most likely frontier for uniform advertising. The pretense of big-time college football and basketball being “amateur” athletics (which we all know has been a sham anyway) would be dispelled, schools would probably claim the need for more revenue to pay the players, and the rejiggered financial landscape would invite new sponsorship schemes, all of which might combine to open the door to jersey ads. Or maybe not. Just something that occurred to me.

As for the non-uni implications, I see some good and some bad. The good is that the ruling (if it’s upheld, which I keep mentioning because that’s a big if) would likely alter the way huge amounts of cash are distributed in college athletics, and the current way that cash is distributed is clearly corrupt. I’m not sure the new way will be any better, but it will at least shake up a system that deserves to be shaken up.

Also, I have never — never — understood the point of athletic scholarships. Why exactly should someone get a subsidized education just because he or she is a fast runner, or a good swimmer, or anything else that has nothing to do with a university’s mission? If this ruling (if it’s upheld) ends up changing the athletic scholarship system, I’m all in favor of that. Save the scholarships for academics.

The bad part is that the professionalizing of college sports will likely have a trickle-down effect on high school and AAU-level sports, which will now be one step closer to where the big money is. This means those sports will likely become even more infected than they already are with sponsorship influence, shady boosters, shady quasi-agents, and all the other crap that now afflicts college sports. And as big money gets one level closer to the level of child athletes, a new generation of Super-Annoying Parents™ will become even more annoying, which will be awful for everyone they come into contact with and even worse for their kids.

As for what else the ruling may or may not mean, start with my ESPN.com colleague Lester Munson and then check out this piece on SI.com, both of which offer good, level-headed analysis. And that’s what I’d like to stick to today — level-headed discussion. If you want to partake in all the other overheated, emotional chatter currently taking place about this ruling (unions are awesome vs. unions suck, spoiled college kids, don’t you dare ruin my college football, Title IX, now they’ll have to pay taxes on their income, blah-blah-fucking-blah), there are lots of other websites out there that should be able to meet your needs. But none of that here, please. Thanks.

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serpas

Membership update: Several new designs have been added to the membership card gallery (including Frank Serpas III’s card, shown at right, which is based on Herbie the Love Bug’s hood design — an inspired request that we were happy to grant). The printed/laminated versions of these cards should mail out by the end of the week.

As always, you can sign up for your own membership card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and see how we make the cards here.

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Unmasking the Commenters: I recently invited the site’s commenters to tell us a bit more about themselves and give us a peek at what they look like, just because I thought it would be fun to pull back the internet’s curtain of anonymity. I’ll keep showcasing you folks as long as you keep sending in your photos and quick bios.

Today’s commenter is longtime reader/contributor Ronnie Poore:

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I’m 56 years old and a commercial/promo producer at a TV station in Greenville, South Carolina. My wife, Lisa, and I have been married for 27 years. We have a son, 24, and a daughter, 21. In my spare time I enjoy playing guitar. I am a graduate of the University of South Carolina and avidly follow the Gamecocks. My favorite pro teams are the Raiders (since 1966) and Panthers in the NFL, Braves baseball, and the Lakers in the NBA. In my youth I played basketball (see photo on right).

Thanks, Ronnie — I’ve enjoyed your many comments and Ticker contributions over the years. Thanks for helping to make Uni Watch a better place!

Do you want to be featured in “Unmasking the Commenters”? If so, send me a photo and a quick paragraph about yourself. You don’t have to reveal your real name, and the photo doesn’t have to show your face, but you must include a photo to be considered. Send everything this-a-way.

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Book deal reminder: In case you missed it earlier this week, our friends at Diversion Books are offering an exclusive deal to Uni Watch readers this week: The e-version of Mike Shropshire’s awesome book Seasons in Hell is now available to you for only $1.99 — a 60% discount off the regular price. Snap it up while it lasts, people.

ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my latest ESPN column is the annual MLB season-preview edition. Enjoy.

And here’s a late-breaking tidbit (courtesy of reader Steven Zerhusen): The Orioles announced late yesterday afternoon that they’ll be wearing a memorial patch for team investor Tom Clancy. No visuals yet. This patch is in addition to the previously announced 60th-annivsary patch.

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Tick-Tock: Today’s Ticker was compiled and written by Mike Chamernik, except for ’Skins Watch, which was handled by Paul.

’Skins Watch: Looks like Dan Snyder’s newly formed foundation to assist Native American tribes isn’t going to satisfy critics of his team’s name — and that includes critics who happen to be Native Americans. Here are some further thoughts on that Washington Post columnist Mike Wise and from the Post’s editorial board (all three of those links from Tommy Turner). … An even better analysis of this week’s developments — easily the best I’ve seen so far — comes from, of all places, GQ magazine. Highly recommended reading (from Joshua Paster). … But Snyder still has one friend in a very high place: Roger Goodell (Tommy Turner again). … Meanwhile, some Canadian junior hockey teams and First Nations activists are close to solving a recent controversy over Native team logos (thanks, Phil).

Baseball News: An anonymous submitter (I’ll call him Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo) says that Vestavia Hills High School in Alabama wears Kansas City Monarchs-inspired uniforms. “Interestingly enough they play on a solid artificial turf field,” Joey Joe Joe Junior says. … Century-old tobacco baseball cards and baseballs signed by Hall of Famers are going up for auction. The items were confiscated because they were used in a money laundering scheme back in 2007 (from Dave Rakowski). … Bill Mazeroski’s bat and uniform from Game 7 of the 1960 World Series are on display in Pittsburgh (from Phil). … Arkansas Travelers fans don’t care for the team’s two new mascots, Ace and Otey (from Michael Cossey). … The Travelers also have new batting practice caps (from Phil). … Normally the Dodgers’ script logo has a swoop underline from the ending “s.” But for the new clock signage at Dodger Stadium, the swoop comes from the “r” (from Aaron Wiens). … The Yankees are introducing nacho helmets and the White Sox will sell full-size batting helmet banana splits (from Phil). … Vanderbilt will wear flag-desecration caps Sunday. … Speaking of flag desecration, Jonny Gomes bought his Red Sox teammates American flag sport coats (from David Greene). … MLB is limiting players’ at-bat walk-up music to 15 seconds. Now I’m curious: What would be your walk-up song if you were an MLB player? Specify, if you want, which 15 seconds of the song you would use. Also, share what you think would be the worst or funniest song for a player’s at-bat. My walk-up song would be “Fire On High” by ELO, and the worst song would be “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap. ♫♫ Young girl, get out of my mind / My love for you is way out of line / Better run girl / You’re much too young girl ♫♫

NFL and College Football News: The Lions didn’t wear throwbacks last year but they might this year (from Phil). … For the cross-section of Uni Watch readers who enjoy Volkswagens and the Titans, here’s your perfect window decal (from Aaron McHargue). … Oklahoma is letting fans vote on the endzone and midfield designs for the Spring Game (from Jordan Sogn).

Hockey News: An artist paints baby head-shaping helmets with creative designs, including one in Los Angeles Kings colors. But really, the best two are the “Starry Night” and “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” helmets (from Jonathan Daniel).

Soccer News: Nike released the Netherlands World Cup away kit (from Phil). … The Guardian fielded some questions about football kits (from Gareth Hammond).

NBA News: The AP made an unfortunate uni-related typo — or maybe just a Freudian slip — the other day. … The D-League’s Tulsa 66ers will wear Higher Education Scholarship jerseys on March 29.

College Hoops News: While in Memphis for the Sweet 16, Dayton is superstitiously using the same bus driver and same purple bus the team used while in Buffalo for the first two rounds (from Patrick O’Neill). … The NCAA Store is selling a women’s Sweet 16 shirt with five incorrect teams on it. It has Duke, Iowa, Purdue, Texas and Nebraska instead of DePaul, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Maryland and BYU (from Chris Lewis). … Stephen F. Austin cancelled its logo unveiling (from Phil).

Grab Bag: Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: All these template uniforms are just too much. … An 18-year-old Virginia man was indicted for killing a Virginia Union student over a pair of sneakers (from Tommy Turner). … SI.com compiled the fashion hits and misses from the Sony Open (from Brinke). … Here’s a site where you can purchase (or just look at) boating blazers and rowing caps, and here’s how those blazers are made (from Gretchen Mittelstaedt). … Pro bowlers used to be rock stars, but now the pro game is on the decline (from Adam Herbst). … The Kansas softball team now has sunrise jerseys (from Jeff Braun). … A short color film about Chicago from the mid-1940s was recently found at an estate sale. The video includes shots of the Cubs and Wrigley Field at the 24:10 mark. Great stuff, recommended if you have any sort of Chicago connection (thanks, Brian Boyle). “Earlier this week Newcastle player Alex McKinnon had his neck broken in a tackle against the Melbourne Storm, so his rugby career is over,” says Graham Clayton. “His teammates will honor him for the rest of the season feature on their jumpers for the rest of the season by wearing his name and debut club number.”

’Tis the Season to Shift Your Brain Into MLB Mode

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This photo of Jason Heyward was taken a few days ago. As you can see, he’s still using the facemask that he began wearing last season after being beaned by a pitch. There’s nothing new about a player wearing a mask attachment after being beaned, of course — lots of players have done it. But if Heyward continues wearing his mask in the regular season, I believe he will become the first player to wear a mask for two consecutive years — a record of sorts.. Check that: As a bunch of commenters and emailers immediately pointed out, past examples of players wearing a mask for multiple seasons include Terry Steinbach and Kevin Seitzer. So Heyward’s situation is rare but not unprecedented.

That’s one of the tidbits from the 16th annual Uni Watch MLB Season Preview, which is up now on ESPN. (And everyone leave Phil alone today, because he always likes to hunker down with the MLB preview column and go over all the details. Enjoy, buddy!) — Paul

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Collector’s Corner

By Brinke Guthrie

From about 1970 through 1976 I was really into baseball cards. First year or so I bought ’em pack by pack, but I never came close to getting the whole set. Then, ta-da!! I found the ads at the back of The Sporting News and ordered the whole set in one shot from a seller in Brooklyn named Renata Galasso. (None of that great gum, though!) Then I found a cardboard locker to keep them in, but this plastic one woulda worked a lot better!

Here’s the rest of this week’s picks:

• We have a batch of early-1960s MLB pro caps here. Love that Angels cap with the halo!

• Here’s a set of 18 NHL hockey-puck ice cream bowls from the 1970s.

• You can see how the Phillies’ colors have changed over the years. Now they’re red, but back in the day, they were decidedly maroon.

• I don’t know how much protection this 1970s Uniroyal/Packers Storm Suit would provide when it’s minus-10 at the Frozen Tundra, but it would probably be fine for a rainy day.

• Here’s a good-looking little 1960s White Sox bobble. But what’s with the powder blue cap?

• This is NFL Football/Giants Edition for 1967. This deserves a spot on the Uni Watch bookshelf!

• And this one can go up on Paul’s wall — a 1966 49ers poster by The Master, Dave Boss.

• This white 49ers satin jacket reminds me of the old Al Davis Rayduhz look. Everyone wore black, but Al wore white.

• Check out Tudor’s 1969 product line of sports games in this catalog.

Also from 1969, this Honeywell Guide To Action Photography would’ve been your ticket to an NFL sideline as a pro shooter.

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

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Unmasking the Commenters: I recently invited the site’s commenters to tell us a bit more about themselves and give us a peek at what they look like, just because I thought it would be fun to pull back the internet’s curtain of anonymity. I’ll keep showcasing you folks as long as you keep sending in your photos and quick bios.

Today’s commenter is Leo Strawn Jr. That name may be familiar to you from his many Ticker contributions, but in the comments section he goes by 1Vox:

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I do a bit of artwork here and there — designing, painting, really big painting, drawing, etc. I’ve done that all my life, and at a young age I took note of logos and uniforms in sports, so it’s no surprise that I am a fan of Uni Watch. I will not, however, under any circumstances, apologize for loving the color purple.

“1vox” means “one voice,” coming from the phrase “one vox populi” (my email address), which translates “one voice of the people”. I have a website/blog (that I have not updated in two years, simply because it’s so depressing, though I may do so again someday), which led to a libertarian/anarcho-syndicalist book on economics. “One voice of the people” was kind of my attitude and my viewpoint in 2008, i guess, as I was learning how fragile economic systems are while writing about them, and how badly it would turn out for humanity if there were a sudden collapse (which was nearly the case in ’08, and which led to me transferring my art website into an economics blog at the time).

This year, at the ripe old age of 53, I will be playing my first year of Aussie Rules football with the reigning USAFL Division II national champions, the Columbus Jackaroos. It’s been a struggle all the way, from a car wreck several years ago (and already having a bad back dating back to eighth grade), to finally giving up walking with a cane about 18 months ago, to now getting into athletic shape (trained the other day by myself, which included a mile-long jog, something I haven’t done in many, many years). I may be the oldest rookie in USAFL history. Cheers!

Thanks, Leo — you help make Uni Watch a better place.

Do you want to be featured in “Unmasking the Commenters”? If so, send me a photo and a quick paragraph about yourself. You don’t have to reveal your real name, and the photo doesn’t have to show your face, but you must include a photo to be considered. Send everything this-a-way.

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Book deal reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, our friends at Diversion Books are offering an exclusive deal to Uni Watch readers: The e-version of Mike Shropshire’s awesome book Seasons in Hell is now available to you for only $1.99 — a 60% discount off the regular price. Snap it up while it lasts!

And speaking of books: Next Tuesday, April 1, I’ll be conducting an in-store discussion with longtime Uni Watch reader Matthew Algeo. We’ll be talking about his latest book, Pedestrianism which is about the competitive walking craze of the 19th century. Believe it or not, turning out to watch people walk was once America’s top spectator sport! We’ll be talking about this at Word Bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, at 7pm. Hope to see lots of you NYC-area readers there.

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’Skins Watch: Sporting News writer Scott Gentile tweeted this ’Skins name defender bingo card. Not bad, but they forgot “Only white people care about this issue” and “I’m Irish and you don’t hear me complaining about Notre Dame’s mascot” and “How come nobody said anything about this for the first 80 years and now all of a sudden they’re upset?” (from Devon Kendall).

Baseball News: Montreal is preparing for the return of MLB, even if it’s only a pair of Mets/Jays exhibition games (thanks, Phil). … Bruce Menard was poking around the U. of South Carolina film/video archive and came up with some great stuff. Here’s one where some school players and officials get hands-on baseball instruction from big leaguers Rogers Hornsby and Burleigh Grimes (“My fave moment is at 3:47, when Grimes — MLB’s last legal spitballer — is giving pointers and repeatedly spits in his pitching hand,” says Bruce), and here’s another showing Joe DiMaggio playing ball at the Central Pacific Army base, wearing No. 4. Great stuff! … Star Wars-themed jerseys for the Kane County Cougars (thanks, Phil). … Pretty crazy custom-made cleats for Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson (thanks, Phil). … Lots to like in this photo of the early-’50s Green Bay Blue Jays. Love that little number on the hip! (From Jeff Ash.) … Here’s a cool video of all the Padres’ Opening Day lineups from 1978-2003 in six seconds. “You can stare at the top-left and bottom-right corners and watch the logos change over the years,” notes Brady Phelps. … Here’s what the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks will wear for their “Hawks’ Festival” this season. “The patch will only be worn for one game in Osaka in August,” says Jeremy Brahm. “The Hawks are originally from the Osaka area as the Nankai Hawks.” In addition the Hawks will wear early-’70s throwbacks for a May series against the Orix Buffaloes, who’ll wear throwbacks of their own.

College Football News: More schools wearing the new SpeedFlex helmet: Florida State, Colorado, and a bunch more. Basically, it looks like every Riddell-outfitted school is gonna be wearing this thing. Here’s a good rear-view photo of it (thanks, Phil). … Hmmm, is that a new Miami helmet design? (From Brad Jackson.)

Soccer News: “Liverpool will be wearing a patch to mark 25th anniversary patch of the tragic Hillsborough incident where 96 fans died,” reports Nile Smith. “They will wear it on April 13, when they play Manchester City. All matches in England that whole weekend will start seven minutes later than normal, because the Hillsborough incident happened at 3:06pm, so they’re delaying the games by six minutes and then adding one more minute for silence.” … New kits for Tottenham, Pumas UNAM, AIK Fotboll, Willem II (with a blank spot for a sponsor), Lillestrøm SK, Sao Paolo FC, Odds BK, Rosenborg BK, Atlético Mineiro, Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, and Valerenga (all that from Trevor Williams). … Mexico’s World Cup jersey was reportedly inspired by WWE wrestler Rey Mysterio (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Also from Yusuke: a look at what may have been the most UK-patriotic kit ever.

College Hoops News: Interesting note from Presbyterian College assistant coach John Reynolds: “We are in the process of ordering new uniforms for next season, and many of the options that our Nike rep brought as samples featured sublimated numbers and lettering. I asked the rep if those styles could have twill lettering and he said no, that Nike was trending toward making all uniforms with sublimated printing. We ended up choosing an option (the LSU template) that allowed us to use sewn-on twill letters and numbers, because to me sublimation just looks cheap.” … With the San Francisco Dons hosting LSU in the opening round of the NIT, SF’s City Hall was lit up in beautiful green and gold (from James Stapleton). … Bit of a typo at a retail shop on the Ohio State campus. … Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign just ran a commercial in which some Duke hoops players were mis-identified as Kentucky players (thanks, Phil). … Arizona’s bookstore jumped the gun on selling Elite Eight T-shirts (from Kyle Hanks).

Grab Bag: Devin Hester, now with the Falcons (the equivalent of going from the penthouse to the outhouse, uni-wise), will wear No. 17 (thanks, Phil). … A recent Buffalo Wild Wings commercial finds one fan chastising another for tucking in his jersey. Wish I’d known about that so I could have included it in my recent ESPN column about tucked and untucked jerseys (from Chris Flinn). … Very interesting story about how a photo mistakenly gave the impression that a high school hoops player was flipping off the opposing team’s fans, which nearly cost the player a chance to appear in a tournament. … NASA is designing new spacesuits for a possible trip to Mars (from Eric Hill). … Aussie football news from Leo Stawn Jr., who reports that the Western Bulldogs and West Coast Eagles went color-vs.-color on Sunday. … The Denver Outlaws — that’s a lacrosse team — will wear Star Wars-themed jerseys for their May 4 opener (thanks, Phil).

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What Paul did last night: The New Girl and I got to see a press screening of a really interesting documentary last night: The Galapagos Affair, which is about some European misfits who tried to escape civilization by settling one of the Galapogos Islands in the early 1930s. The director tries to tart it up with implications of sexual intrigue and murder, and there are some tiresome visual clichés (someone apparently decided “When in doubt, show a tortoise”), but the basic storyline about these eccentric people is pretty fascinating. Not sure when this is opening commercially, but it’s worth seeing.

After the movie we went to the wonderful Yakitori Totto, where we shared assorted grilled/skewered foods. I thought we might be too late to get a skewer of chicken tails (there’s only one tail per chicken [duh], so they tend to run out of the tails pretty early each evening), but I managed to get this last one (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):

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We also had skewers of chicken skin (on the left) and chicken thigh meat with scallions (on the right):

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And some garlic and asparagus:

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We also had tomatoes, some pork, and a few other things I’m forgetting. A fun meal, because who doesn’t love food on a stick?

A Death Knell for NBA Sleeves?

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When the King talks, the peasants listen.

That’s the takeaway from yesterday’s news, first reported by Bleacher Report, that newly minted NBA Commish Adam Silver plans to meet with LeBron James to discuss the players’ objections to the league’s sleeved jerseys (which James has worn at least three versions of this season). Now, it’s true that James used to be the Heat’s union rep and has remained active in the union’s affairs. But I’m pretty sure Silver’s willingness to meet with him has nothing to do with James’s union role. It’s because James is the most important NBA personage there is. Or to put it another way, he’s more important than Silver.

Is there any other athlete who could snap his fingers and get his sport’s commissioner to jump? Nobody in baseball comes to mind. In football, Roger Goodell clearly lords over all of his players. In the NHL, the league thought nothing of pissing off one of its highest-profile players with the newly instituted tuck rule (although Wayne Gretzky presumably enjoyed the same status James now does).

Whatever ends up happening with the sleeves, the thing that caught my eye in the Bleacher Report article is the following quote from Silver:

Ultimately, if the players don’t like them, we’ll move on to something else. I don’t regret doing it for this season. But it’s intended to be something fun for the fans and the players. And if it becomes a serious issue, as to whether players should be wearing sleeves, we’ll likely move on to other things.

Interesting that Silver twice felt the need to say that he’d “move on” to other initiatives if the sleeves are mothballed. Hard to be sure if he means other uni-related initiatives, but here’s a radical idea that I offer at no charge: Has the NBA considered, you know, sticking with tank tops? (And for all you conspiracy theorists who are thinking, “Duh, he means ads on the jerseys!,” keep in mind that Silver just said the other day that uni ads are still at least five years away, so that’s presumably not what he was referring to when he talked about “mov[ing] on to something else.”)

Incidentally, it seems to me that Silver has been very visible during his brief commissionership, which isn’t yet two months old. Lots of quotes, lots of presence. That strikes me as a positive thing — even if you don’t agree with all (or any) of his positions, I like to see a commissioner making his views known and generally setting the tone for his sport. Granted, today’s commissioners are essentially just corporate CEO’s, not custodians of their respective sports’ heritages, but I still like the visibility factor.

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Special deal for Uni Watch readers: Many of you may already be familiar with the book Seasons in Hell, Mike Shropshire’s hilarious account of the 1973-75 Texas Rangers, which was arguably the worst team in MLB history. It’s great book, very much in the style of Jim Bouton’s seminal Ball Four, to which it has often been favorably compared.

The e-version of Seasons in Hell has just been released, and our friends at Diversion Books are making it available to Uni Watch readers at the special price of $1.99. That’s a 60% discount off the usual price, and for this week it’s a Uni Watch exclusive — there’s nowhere else you can buy this e-book at this price. (Don’t have an e-reader? You can download one for free here.)

This is the first of two special e-book deals we’ll be running with Diversion Books. The second one, The Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers, will be available in the coming weeks. If sales are good, there will likely be more special deals down the road, so you know what to do.

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PermaRec update: Another lost class ring (shown at right) has been found. Get the scoop on Permanent Record.

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Tick-Tock: Today’s Ticker was compiled and written by Garrett McGrath, except for ’Skins Watch, which was handled by Paul.

’Skins Watch: Daniel Snyder announced last night that he’s starting a foundation to aid Native American tribes. Some observers quickly assessed this as a cynical ploy or a way to buy good PR, but I say good for him. If he’s willing to give material assistance to Native people, more power to him. But that doesn’t mean he can’t also stop misappropriating Native imagery and stop naming his team after an ethnic slur. It’s not like the one thing suddenly gives him a free pass on the other things.

Baseball News: The Pirates will honor the recently deceased Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner with a commemorative patch throughout the 2014 season (thanks, Paul). The patch looks pretty great up close (from Harrison Tishler). … Nerdy and Monumental Historical Find: Tom Shieber, using clues from the uniform of the Washington Senators catcher, was able to date rare footage of Babe Ruth at bat against Walter Johnson as June 1st, 1925. More importantly, the footage captured Lou Gehrig on the bench on the very first day he began his famous streak of 2,130 consecutive games. … A beautiful envelope design from the 1945 Chicago Cubs, the last time they were National League champions (from Todd Radom). … Rickey Henderson wore many hats during his career (thanks, Brinke). … The Charleston RiverDogs, the Class Single-A affiliate of the Yankees, will wear seersucker-patterned uniforms for Sunday home games this season (from Alan Poff). … That’s no moon, it’s the Durham Bulls in Star Wars-themed jerseys for their May 4th game (thanks, Phil). … Great ad featuring a player with sweet swing. … “Don, Why are you breaking Ebbets Field down?” from a blackboard in the clubhouse at Brooklyn Dodgers Ebbets Field in 1960.

College Football News: Miami will be wearing the Speed Flex Helmet this coming season (thanks, Phil). … The complete Miami uniform will be unveiled on April 12th at a Hurricanes Carnival (from Joseph Wingard). … The new Syracuse football iPad app teases the new Nike-designed uniforms. … The College of Idaho is having a Twitter helmet vote by utilizing the RT and Favorite functions. Vote here (from Brad Iverson-Long).

Soccer News: Eithad Airways will announce its sponsorship of the NYC FC today. … The Seattle Sounders debuted their new alternate kits on Sunday. … “I went to the Chicago Fire game on Sunday and noticed fans displaying a sign expressing their displeasure with the elimination of the white strip on the front of the jersey,” says Guy Finelli. … The “revolutionary” new football boot from Nike has a built-in ankle collar that covers the bottom of the sock, which may violate FIFA rules (from Kevin Corcoran). … The rest from Yusuke Toyoda: Yesterday’s Ticker mentioned that Federico Higuain of the Columbus Crew recently had a misspelled jersey, but we didn’t have a photo. Now we do. … Around 3,000 fans protested the change of Cardiff City’s team color from blue to red. … Stoke City unveiled their new Warrior-sponsored kits for next season.

NBA News: On Sunday, the Minnesota Timberwolves honored Bob McDonald, the winningest high school basketball coach in Minnesota history, with a specialized jersey with No. 1012 printed on the back (from Jeffrey Bovitz). … “I saw these NBA team-logo finger wraps at a Safeway store in Ft. Lupton, Colorado,” says Alex Allen.

Grab Bag: A user on Reddit organized the evolution of every NHL jersey in a neat infographic (thanks, Phil). … The Raiders posted a picture of newly acquired defensive end Justin Tuck’s facemask (from William Sour). … Sunday’s 182-mile long Milan-San Remo bike race was so cold that Luca Paolini poured hot tea on his hands to keep them warm (from Sean Clancy). … The Road, The Corrections, and other modern classic books imagined as adorable children’s books (from Andrew Moeschberger). … “Robert Mitchum going with the rarely used FNSOF (full name stenciled on front) look while visiting the troops in Vietnam in 1967,” says Hugh McBride. … The Citrus Bowl — the stadium, not the game — is about to lose the word “Citrus” from its name (from Jim Nedelka).