Uni Watch Glossary

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This page will maintain a working index of uni-centric terminology. If you know of a deserving term that isn’t listed here, feel free to suggest its inclusion.

Amateur pacifist uniforms: Mocking term for a Nike college football uniform program introduced in the fall of 2009, officially known as Pro Combat.

Bettman stripes: Apron-like piping used on many NHL jerseys commencing with the 2007-08 season. So named because they perfectly encapsulate the inept reign of NHL commish Gary Bettman.

BFBS: Stands for “black for black’s sake,” a reference to teams that gratuitously add black to their uniform design even though black was never one of their team colors.

Blood jersey: A jersey with a uniform number not currently assigned to anyone on the roster, and with no player name, to be used if a player’s regular jersey becomes blood-stained, torn, or otherwise unwearable during the course of a game. Sort of an “In case of emergency, break glass” jersey.

Breathing Ethier: Slang term for when a ballplayer cuts out the Nike swoosh from his undershirt collar (usually because the player has an endorsement contract from a rival sportswear company). Typical usage: “Hey, look, he’s Breathing Ethier!” Coined by Uni Watch reader Russ Chibe and named after Andre Ethier, who pioneered the practice in 2010.

Breezers: Synonym for hockey pants.

Chain-stitching: A high-quality form of textured embroidery stitching that was once common on sports jerseys. Still used by the Cardinals, Phillies, and Blackhawks, among a few others.

Cool Base jersey: An MLB jersey made from a light mesh (similar to the mesh used for batting practice jerseys) instead of the standard doubleknit fabric. Introduced in 2006 and intended for use on hot days, although many teams are using them in all weather conditions. Cool Base jerseys have a vented underarm panel, which blends in nicely enough on solid-tone jerseys but interrupts the striping on pinstriped jerseys.

Cool-Flo helmet: Batting helmet design with molded crown and side vents. Introduced to MLB in the 2005 All-Star Game and put into normal game use by many teams the following season. Manufactured by Rawlings. Not used in the majors after the 2012 season, except by catchers.

Cooperalls: Long hockey pants worn by the Flyers and Whalers in the early 1980s. Named after their manufacturer, Cooper. Banned by the NHL after two seasons.

Decal: The proper term for an press-on adhesive graphic on a sports helmet. Don’t say, “sticker”; say, “decal.”

Er-satins: Slang term for “ersatz satins” — i.e., a set of throwbacks based on a satin uniform but rendered in non-satin fabric.

Fauxback: A throwback uniform design that inaccurately duplicates the vintage design it’s supposed to be depicting, prompting much consternation among denizens of the uni-verse. See also Throwback.

Fight strap: A fabric strap sewn into the back inner side of a hockey jersey, connecting to the back of the player’s pants. This prevents a player from quickly removing his jersey during a fight (which would be a major advantage, since it would give him more freedom of movement and give his opponent nothing to hold onto). Fight straps are mandatory on all NHL jerseys.

FNOB: Full name on back. See also NOB.

Hypocycloids: The proper term for the stars — um, hypocycloids — in the Steelers logo.

“Is it good or is it stupid?”: Key litmus test of any uniform revision (as in, “The Jaguars have a new uniform design this season,” followed by “Oh yeah? So is it good or is it stupid?”). The premise here is that most “bad” things are failed attempts at being good, but most lousy uniform concepts don’t even attempt to be good — they’re just stupid.

Jock tag: The manufacturer’s tag down toward a jersey’s left front hem. See also Philly tag.

Leotard effect: Dark or colored football pants worn with same-colored socks, creating the unsightly illusion of long pants. Easily avoided by wearing white socks with colored pants.

Logo creep: The relentless encroachment of sportswear manufacturers’ logos on sports uniforms. See also Ree-box.

Low whites: The increasingly common style of wearing color-topped football socks with just a smidgen of white showing, instead of the half-colored, half-white style mandated by NFL regulations.

McNOB: A player name on a jersey that starts with “Mc.” Interesting from a Uni Watch perspective because there are at least three ways the typography can be styled: with a lowercase c, a superscript c, or all caps with a space. See also NOB.

MOTB: Stands for “Mark of the beast,” a reference to an annoyingly positioned Nike swoosh.

Nameplate: A strip of fabric with a player’s name either printed or sewn onto it. The strip is then sewn onto the jersey, leaving a telltale outline. Nameplates are universal in football, and are sometimes used in baseball and hockey. But almost all basketball teams, along with many baseball and hockey teams, prefer to sew the player’s name directly onto the jersey, which results in a cleaner look. See also NOB.

NFL stripes: A stripe pattern consisting of a white stripe sandwiched by two colored stripes, all on a colored background. Pioneered by the NFL and most frequently found on NFL pants and helmets, although it’s also sometimes seen in the NCAA.

NickNOB: A nickname, instead of a surname, on the back of a uniform. See also NOB.

Nike pox: The spotted dot-matrix pattern on certain Nike baseball undershirts. Introduced during the 2005 postseason and popular for two seasons thereafter. Deemed so distracting by umpires that pitchers were sometimes forced to change undershirts or even cut off their Nike-poxed sleeves right there on the mound.

NNOB: No name on back. Compare to NOB.

NOB: Name on back. The NOB lettering can be applied via a strip of fabric called a nameplate or can be sewn directly onto the jersey. Compare to NNOB.

Northwestern stripes: A stripe pattern consisting of one wide stripe bordered by two thinner stripes. It can appear on socks, sleeves, pants, and anywhere else stripes can be applied. Pioneered by the Northwestern University football team in 1928 (further details here).

Nose bumper: The white padded strip on a football helmet’s forehead area. Sometimes imprinted with the helmet manufacturer’s logo, team name, or an inspirational message; sometimes left blank. Further details here.

Pedro porthole: A gap in a baseball jersey caused by leaving the second button from the top unbuttoned. Named after Pedro Martinez, a frequent exemplar of the phenomenon.

Philly tag: An exposed jock tag. So named because of its prevalence among members of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2006. See also Jock tag.

Pro block: A common uniform number typeface. Similar to varsity block, but with fewer serifs.

Pro buttons: Unevenly spaced buttons on a baseball jersey, providing added space for a chest insignia. Used by most MLB teams, even those that don’t have anything going across the chest.

Pupello Pocket: A strap-on hand-warmer pouch designed in the early 1980s by Tampa Bay Bucs equipment manager Frank Pupello. Sometimes erroneously referred to as a “Pupello Pouch.” Both terms are sometimes applied to the team-branded hand-warmer pouches worn by current NFL players, but these are knockoffs, not true Pupello Pockets.

Radial arching: A typographic style in which the letters of a players’s name are fanned out. Compare to Vertical arching.

Raglan sleeves: A tailoring style in which a jersey’s sleeves connect to the collar, creating a diagonal seam that extends from the collar to the underarm. Tends to create a round-shouldered look. Named after the 1st Baron Raglan, who pioneered the style. Compare to Set-in sleeves.

Rainbow guts: See Tequila sunrise.

Ree-box: A contrast-colored panel for the Reebok logo, used on many NHL jerseys commencing with the 2007-08 season.

Riddell Revolution: Football helmet model with a tapered-point molded crown, extended jaw coverage, and lacrosse-style facemask.

RNOB: Roman numeral on back. See also NOB.

S100: Super-protective batting helmet, so named because it can supposedly withstand the impact of a 100-mph pitch. Pioneered by Rawlings and introduced to MLB late in the 2009 season (further details here). Unpopular with players, who think it looks goofy and feels bulky. Briefly worn by six players in August and September of 2009: Ryan Dempster, David Wright (who also tried a double-flap model), Carlos Guillen, Edgar Gonzalez, Micah Owings, and Shane Victorino. All of these players went back to their standard helmets after a game or two. The S100 has nonetheless been mandatory for minor leaguers since 2010.

Sandwich brim: A baseball cap brim with a layer of color and/or text along the brim’s edge. Many MLB batting practice caps have had sandwich brims.

Sanitaries or sannies: White tube socks worn underneath baseball stirrups. Baseball teams originally wore solid-colored stockings, but fabric dyes weren’t colorfast in those days, so a player who was spiked could get blood poisoning if dye from the stocking got in the wound. So around 1910, someone came up with the idea of wearing open-footed stockings (i.e., stirrups) over a white sock, which would provide a sanitary layer of protection — hence the term sanitaries.

Set-in sleeves: A tailoring style in which a jersey’s sleeves connect to the shoulders. It tends to create a square-shouldered look. Compare to Raglan sleeves.

Softball top: Slang term for a solid-color (i.e., not white or gray) MLB jersey.

Soutache: Decorative braid trim, frequently used on early-1900s baseball caps.

Spat or spatting: Athletic tape applied to a football player’s cleats and ankles — sometimes for support, sometimes for style. Pioneered on the football field by Colts great Lenny Moore, whose nickname was, of course, Spats.

Squatchee: The little button on top of a baseball cap. Apparently coined by broadcaster Bob Brenly.

Sweatback: A college basketball jersey with a sublimated watermark on the back, which tends to look like sweat stain when the jersey is worn in a game.

Sweatbox: A patch of fabric on the lower torso of some Nike college football jerseys. So named because it discolors at a different rate than the surrounding fabric when the player sweats.

TATC: Turn ahead the clock. Refers to the “futuristic” uniforms worn by many MLB teams in the late 1990s. The concept was pioneered by the Mariners in 1998 (further details here) and became an MLB-wide promotion, sponsored by Century 21, the following year (further details here and here). Commonly referred to as the lowest point in pro sports uniform history. Compare to TBTC.

Tackle twill: The fabric most commonly used these days for numbers, letters, and logos on sports uniforms. Replaced felt, which had been the original fabric of choice for uniform graphics.

TBTC: Turn back the clock. Refers to a game played by current players in vintage-styled throwback uniforms. Pioneered by the White Sox, who played what is believed to be pro sports’ first-ever TBTC game on July 11, 1990. Compare to TATC; see also Throwback.

Tequila sunrise: Preferred slang term for the Astros’ 1970s uniform design. Alternate term is “rainbow guts.”

Throwback: A uniform patterned on a vintage design. See also TBTC, Fauxback.

Truncated icosahedron: Technical term for the shape of a classic checked soccer ball with 20 hexagon panels and 12 pentagons.

Two-in-ones: Baseball socks with a faux stirrup stripe or faux medium-rise stirrup knit right into the sock. So named because they take the place of the stirrup/sanitary combo, so they’re two socks in one. The sock of choice for Greg Maddux throughout his career. If you see a Cardinals player with striped socks these days, those are usually two-in-ones as well (although there have been exceptions to that rule). Generally derided within the uni-verse as a bogus cop-out form of hosiery. See also Sanitaries.

TV numbers: Uniform numbers appearing on a football uniform’s sleeves, shoulders, or helmet. So named because they were created to help TV broadcasters, who often had trouble identifying players at the line of scrimmage. TV numbers are mandatory in the NFL, but several college programs don’t use them.

UCLA stripes or UCLA inserts: A triple-striped knit panel inserted in between the sleeve and shoulder. Most frequently used by football teams and occasionally by baseball teams as well. Pioneered in 1954 by UCLA football coach Red Sanders, who believed the stripes would create the feeling of motion.

Underbill, underbrim, or undervisor: The bottom side of a baseball cap’s brim. For decades they were green, then they switched to gray, and these days they’re black.

Uni-verse: The community of fans who care about uniform design. Presumably includes you, since you’re reading this.

Varsity block: A common uniform number font. Similar to pro block, but with more serifs.

Vertical arching: A super-cool typographic style in which each letter is custom-styled with its own degree of uphill or downhill slant (compare the two “A”s in this nameplate, for example; for a tutorial, look here, here, and here). Compare to Radial arching.

Want to help expand the glossary? Send your suggestions for additional entries here.