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What's Your Sign(ature) - Seattle Mariners

By Phil Hecken

Back in 2016, I began undertaking a series of entries looking at a team’s “signature” uniform. Loosely defined (and subject to interpretation) a “signature” uniform would be a uniform which one might definitively associate with a team, the one which stood out the most over the years. A signature uniform is not necessarily a team’s best uniform, or one which the team has worn the longest (although either of those could still apply), but rather the one uniform that, when you think of how a team looked at their most distinct, you have their signature uniform. Earlier this year, I resumed the series with the Montreal Expos, the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Oakland A’s, the Kansas City Royals, the Washington Nationals, the Atlanta Braves, the Colorado Rockies, and the Miami Marlins.

If you missed the previous 2016 entries in the series, you can see them at the following links: Indians, Pirates, Astros, Mets, Rays and Padres.

The Mariners were a 1977 expansion team — the second major league team for Seattle — joining the Toronto Blue Jays in entering the American League. The previous Seattle team, the Pilots, were a one-and-done in the town, moving to Milwaukee after just one season. That team failed for several reasons, most of which were a shaky financial system and an unsatisfactory stadium. However, Seattle remained committed to attracting a major league team (as well as an NFL one), and opened the Kingdome in 1976, bringing both the Seahawks and Mariners into prominence. Major League Baseball had finally found a permanent home in Seattle.

I have always felt the 1969 Seattle Pilots unis were some of the best in baseball, which featured a fairly radical for the time home uni and an absolutely gorgeous powder blue flannel roadie, and what you might argue was the best cap ever, featuring the “scrambled eggs” design on the brim. Could the new team come up with unis as purdy?

Not quite. But that didn’t mean the inaugural unis weren’t still good…

1977-80 Home

The home jersey was simple and elegant, featuring the (popular at the time) pullover and sansabelt look, with “Mariners” in lower case with a vertically arched font, and a beautiful upside down trident forming the “M” (a logo repeated on the cap). The colors were royal and gold, which were the same colors used by the ill-fated Pilots. All jerseys were NOB (simple blue letters) while “Mariners”, as well as front and back numbers, were blue outlined in gold. Simple piping of blue/bold/blue adorned the sleeves, neck and sansabelt pants waist. The left shoulder would receive a patch in 1979 (when the team hosted the All Star Game) featuring the trident “M” atop a star.

1977 Road

By contrast, the 1977 roads weren’t as lovely. The unis were powder blue (still very popular in MLB, and also what was worn by the Pilots, albeit those were flannel and not polyester doubleknit), with “Seattle” spelled out in lower case in a VAL style, with royal blue lettering and outlined in white. Front and rear numbers were in this style, with the NOB in solid blue. The sleeves, collar and sansabelt had a three color stripe of white/gold/royal. These would last only for the inaugural season.

1978-80 Road

The replacement set for the inaugural roads were a slight improvement. The “Seattle” wordmark was improved and instead of white outlining, these were blue trimmed in gold (numbers would get a simplar treatment). The collar would be a v-neck with a blue/white/gold trim, while sleeves and sansabelt were changed to a modified-northwestern striping pattern of gold/blue/white/blue/gold. The jerseys would receive the 1979 ASG patch as well.

1981-86 Home

Changes were afoot for the 1981 season when the uniforms got a minor overhaul. The homes would ditch the sleeve hem striping and add a blue/gold/blue racing stripe from from neck to sleeve end (a pattern repeated down the pants leg), while the neck would have a solid blue collar stripe. The “Mariners” wordmark changed to a thicker blue/gold/blue and numbers followed suit. NOBs would still be solid blue. The sansabelt remained and also followed the blue/gold/blue pattern. Caps now featured the “M/Star” logo which had been introduced for the 1979 season, when the team hosted the ASG. This was basically the quintessential “look” though it lasted only six seasons.

1981-1984 Road

The 1986 roads were, depending on your perspective, a thing of beauty or an eyesore. I opt for the former. The “Seattle” wordmark, like its “Mariners” home counterpart, was thickened with blue/gold/blue (the gold having a more prominent thickness than on the homes) while numbers received the same treatment as the homes. Racing stripes of gold/blue went down the shoulders and sleeves (as well as down the pants legs), and a solid blue collar was in place. The sansabelt striping differed from the blue/gold pattern, featuring a blue/gold/blue waistband. Despite it looking like something pure-80’s (then and now), I loved this look. Sadly, it would mark the end of the powder blue era in Seattle when it was last worn in 1984.

1985-86 Road

There would be a few changes to the 1985 roads, aside from changing from powder blue to gray. “Mariners” replaced “Seattle” as the wordmark, and the gold would be slightly less prominent. The collar remained the same, as did the numbers, but the racing stripe pattern changed from blue/gold to blue/gold/blue (similar to that on the previous set of pants) and went from neck to sleeve end, as well as down the pants legs. NOB would be unchanged.

. . .

Once 1987 rolled around (a seminal uniform year according to Todd Radom), the sansabelt/pullover period would end. They would usher in the classic belted/button front uniforms which had returned to full prominence in MLB…

1987-92 Home

While the Mariners would retain their gold and royal colorscheme, the new uniforms were completely different from their predecessors. “MARINERS” (in all caps) would be come the new arched wordmark, with blue/gold/blue outlining. The jersey was plain white, save for a tink blue headspoon/piping, and would be button front instead of a pullover. Numbers and NOB would all be solid blue. A thin blue stripe (in the same width as the headspoon) would run down the pants legs. Actual belts replaced sansabelts. A new cap, solid blue with a block “S” was also introduced. The cap would feature a thin blue stripe outline with a solid “S” and block shadow element.

1987-92 Road

The road uniforms would be mirror images of the homes, with identical elements. The only difference was the gray color. Button front jerseys and belted pants replaced the pullovers and sansabelts. The pants received the same thin piping on the headspoon and down the legs as the homes.

. . .

After a decade and a half in their classic royal blue/gold color scheme, there would be big changes afoot that would take the M’s into the mid-90s and beyond. They just needed to add a new trendy color…

1993-2014 Home

Gone was the classic blue/gold colorscheme, replaced with a dark navy, metallic silver and teal “Northwest Green,” a shade resembling the (then hot color) teal. The wordmark was changed, and “MARINERS” (with the M slightly larger than the other letters) across the chest would be in navy, double outlined in northwest green and metallic silver. Letterforms would be pointier than previously. A “compass rose” logo was added above the “M”. The jerseys had no front numbers and back numbers would have the navy/green/silver outline. For the first time, NOB would no longer be solid, with the letters taking on the same outline as the wordmark and numbers. Sleeves remained free of any striping, and a navy headspoon was used. Pants also had this thin blue piping as well. New caps would be introduced with a green brim and blue crown, with a new “S” in silver, outlined in blue/green, with a compass rose logo. For a team which went through new uniforms at a fairly brisk clip, this one would last more than 20 years.

1993-2000 Road

Like the new homes, the 1993 roads were full of changes. “SEATTLE” (in a similar style to the new wordmark) would be arched across the jersey, in navy, outlined in green and white. The “S” in Seattle was plain (it does not have the compass rose like the cap — that would be added later) and NOB/rear number were navy with just a green outline.

1994-96 Northwest Green Alternate

The M’s would join the alt-jersey craze in 1994 with this one. In 1994, the “Mariners” wordmark would be metallic silver woutlined in navy and white, while in 95-96 the wordmoar would lose the white outline. The compass rose logo was placed atop the “M” in Mariners. NOB and number would both the metallic silver outlined in navy. A thin navy headspoon was on the jersey.

1997-99 Navy Alternate

In 1997, the M’s would drop the teal, er green, alternate and replace it with a navy alternate. This was basically the same as the green alternate, except it lacked a headspoon. Wordmark and numbers were metallic silver with a green outline, as were NOB. The team wore these until they moved from the Kingdome to their new corporately-named ballpark in the summer of 1999.

1997-99 Alternate Home Vest

This vest, actually a sleeveless jersey, was identical to their regular home jersey, save for the lack of sleeves. It was worn with a navy undershirt. The club sometimes paired these with a solid blue cap.

1998 Road Vest

For one season (and rarely) the club went with a gray sleeveless jersey, which was identical to the road uniform, except lacking actual sleeves.

1999-2000 Navy Alternate

The Mariners would tweak their navy alternate when they moved from the Kingdome to theirnew ballpark. The navy was even darker than the previous iteration, this would say “SEATTLE” across the front with silver letters, then a blue and green outline. A thin white headspoon was also added. NOB and number would not have the additional blue outline, instead being silver with a green outline. They wore this at home during the 1999 season, then on the road in 2000.

2000-2002 Navy Alternate

This one was similar to the above, except it said “MARINERS” instead of Seattle on the front.

2001-14 Road

While it would not be a major change by any means, in 2001, the Mariners tweaked their road jerseys. That change? They added the compass rose logo to the inside of the “S,” thereby matching the cap and helmet logos. Everything else about the road uniform remained unchanged.

2003-11 Navy Alternate

Apparently the Mariners were never happy with their blue alternate, because they kept tweaking it. In 2003, they again removed the headspoon. The Mariners wordmark would have the three color treatment (silver lettering with a navy and teal outline), and this time the NOB and rear numbers would also get the three color treatment.

2011-present Northwest Green Alternate

In 2010, the M’s wore their 1994-96 northwest green jerseys in a throwback game, and the reaction was so positive the team decided to return the look for 2011. The front “Mariners” wordmark was identical to the 94-96 versions (silver with navy outline) with a slight change to the compass rose logo atop the M. Letters/numbers/NOB would all be silver with blue outline. Trendy in 94-96, the teal has become pretty much a signature color/look for the current team.

2012-present Navy Alternate

When the team reintroduced the teal alternate in 2011, that basically relegated the navy alternate to road status, so in 2012, the team again tweaked them to return “Seattle” to the front of the jersey. Unlike the prior navy jersey which had Seattle across the front, this one added the compass rose logo to the “S”. Numbers would be added to the front of the jersey (the only one the team currently wears to have front NOB). Also, instead of the normal standard block numbers, these jerseys have numbers rendered in the same fancy font as the “Seattle/Mariners” font. NOB would also have this font instead of regular block.

. . .

2015-present Home

In 2015, the Mariners would tweak their (classic?) uniforms. The new home jerseys would see new wordmarks with reversed outlining — instead of the previous navy/green/silver, the outlines became silver/green (making them somewhat harder to read). This treatment would also be given to numbers and NOB.

2015-present Road

Just like the homes, the roads also got the inverse outline treatment on the wordmark, NOB and numbers. Nothing else from the previous set changed. But the big change would come with the introduction of a new home alternate…

2015-present Home Alternate

Although only introduced as a new “Sunday” alternate, the new uniform was a return to the Mariners original colorscheme of royal and gold, and instead of a pure white uniform, this one was cream. And it’s gorgeous. If you’re interested, I wrote a detailed piece on the new uniforms here back when they were first introduced. While the wordmark remained the same as the current one, these had no NOB and added a thin royal piping to the sleeves. There was also a thin royal headspoon and pants piping, but other than that, these uniforms are classicly restrained. Back numbers are royal with a double outline of gold and royal, and the cap is also royal with a gold “S”. While not really throwbacks (or even fauxbacks), these uniforms combine the modern elements (wordmark, compass rose) with classic colors to create a beautiful uniform. Too bad it’s only seen on Sundays at home!

. . .

So, what’s the teams signature then? I usually hint at it as we go along, and for this team, it’s not an easy call. While several teams have used royal and gold over the years, no other team has incorporated the northwest green as much as have the Mariners. Their early uniforms changed often, but the 1981-84 powder blue roads were definitely unique. For this squad, even though they’ve had longevity with their current set (discounting the outline reversals — the home/road have basically been worn since 1993), they don’t really stand out. The teal/NW Green alt does however, have a unique look and appeal to the Mariners. So, lets say if the team has a signature look, it would be the northwest green alternate top/white pants for a home look, and the 1981-84 powder blues for the road. Both of these easily shout “Mariners” at you when you see them. If you have to have a signature look, these would be it.

Anaheim Ducks Unveil New Third Sweater

Yesterday, and without (any?) advance warning, the Anaheim Ducks unveiled a new third jersey they will wear for the 2018-19 NHL Season.

The new jersey, which is among several adidas is introducing this year, also happens to coincide with the Ducks 25th anniversary season. Naturally, it’s a throw/fauxback.

Here’s a look at the full jersey:

This new sweater features the original “Mighty Ducks” crest with eggplant and jade striping from the (then-Mighty) Ducks original 1993-94 season.

According to the Ducks,

Linking the team’s past and present, the jersey incorporates new into old with a touch of the Ducks current orange coloring represented in the crossed hockey sticks of the team’s original mark. Anaheim’s current jersey number and letter styling is used in the new third sweater, providing a cohesive look to the team’s 2018-19 uniform kits, while the interior collar denotes the franchise’s 25th silver season. The first of its kind to subtly incorporate each of the seven colors (Eggplant, Jade, Anaheim Ducks Orange, Anaheim Ducks Gold, Anaheim Ducks Silver, White and Black) the Ducks have worn throughout the club’s 25-year tenure, the jersey also features silver as a primary accent color in both the triangle of the crest and yoke, paying tribute to the team’s generational milestone.

Here’s a look at the adidas hockey tweet with video of the new jersey:

You can read more about the new jersey here, which also includes lots of photos.

I like it (as I’ve liked all the new third jerseys announced so far — and we’ll have a bunch more coming fairly soon). I’m generally not a fan of the mashup/fauxback, but this one is pretty tastefully done, and nicely incorporates the 1993-94 elements and blends them with their current look. Now if they’d just go back to the original look permanently, and ditch the black and orange with the terrible duckfoot crest.

Your thoughts?

[My thanks to Pablo Murphy and Wade Heidt for their assistance with this section]


Old Time Base Ball Photos

Readers will recall I featured Ronnie Bolton (who posts on Twitter as @OTBaseballPhoto and who you should definitely follow) earlier this year with some great football played on baseball field photos and writeups, some MLB Opening Day specials, and more recently with some old baseball stadia (here and here). Most recently, Ron took a look back at past All Star games. As his twitter handle implies, Ronnie’s specialty is old baseball photos.

Today, Ron has several colorizations by Don Stokes (who I hope to feature at some point in the near future) — he’s another of several tremendously talented colorizers of old photos. Ron also has a blog he runs with Gary Livacari, and the two of them combined their talents for the writeups on these colorizations.

Enjoy. Here’s Ronnie (and Gary and Don):

• • •

1912 Brooklyn Dodgers

The 1912 Brooklyn Dodgers

The 1912 Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers, managed by Bill Dahlen, finished seventh in the eight-team National League, with a record of 58-95 (.379), 46 games behind the pennant-winning New York Giants of John McGraw. They played their home games at Washington Park (III), and drew only 243,000 fans for the entire year. On a largely forgettable pitching staff, their ace was the fine hurler, Nap Rucker, who went 18-21, with a 2.21 ERA. In a 10-year career, Rucker compiled a 134-134 record with a 2.21 ERA for mainly second division Brooklyn teams. Their best hitter was Jake Daubert (.308), who also led the team in RBIs (66); while Red Smith’s four home runs were tops on the team.

There were a few other notable players on an otherwise woeful team: Otto Miller, who is remembered for being tagged out by Bill Wambsganss for the third out in the only unassisted play in World Series history (1920); Eddie Phelps, the Pirates’ starting catcher in the first World Series game (1903); and a young rookie backup outfielder named Casey Stengel who appeared in 17 games. Manager “Bad Bill” Dahlen had completed a 21-year playing career and still holds the major league record for total chances by a shortstop (13,325). The team had two Hall-of-Famers in Zack Wheat and “Wee Willie” Keeler.

Player IDs:

Front row: Eddie Stack, Red Smith, Sandy Burk, Bill Dahlen, Ed Phelps, Otto Miller, Zack Wheat, Herbie Moran; Second row: Syl Breen, John Hummel, Earl Yingling, Eddie Dent, Bob Higgins, Dolly Stark, unidentified; Third row: Enos Kirkpatrick, unidentified, Bob Coulson, Bert Tooley, Bill Schardt, Red Downs, unidentified, Jud Daley; Fourth row: Tex Erwin, Pat Ragan, Bill Davidson, Willie Keeler, George Cutshaw, Nap Rucker, Frank Allen, Jake Daubert.

++++++++++

1903 New York Highlanders

1903 New York Highlanders

The 1903 Highlanders, managed by Clark Griffith, finished in 4th place in the American League (72–62). They played home games at Hilltop Park. Their top pitchers were Jack Chesboro (21-15, 2.71 ERA), Jesse Tannehill 15-5, 3.27 ERA), and player-manager Clark Griffith (14-11, 2.70). Their best hitter was “Wee Willie” Keeler (.313); while the best run producer was Jimmy Williams (.267, 3 home runs, 82 RBIs). In the top row fourth from the left is John Ganzel, who hit the first homerun for the Highlander/Yankee franchise on May 11, 1903.

Jack Chesboro was coming off a 1902 season with Pittsburgh in which he went 28-6 (.824), with a 2.17 ERA. He followed the 1903 season by posting a phenomenal record in 1904 of 41-12 (.774), 1.82 ERA, with an unbelievable 454.2 innings pitched!

Player IDs:

Top Row L-R:Ernie Courtney, Herman Long, Bill Pounds, John Ganzel, Monte Beville, Dave Fultz, Jimmy Williams, Jack Chesbro and Lefty Davis.
Bottom Row L-R: Herm McFarland, Jack O’Connor, Clark Griffith, Willie Keeler, Wid Conroy and Jesse Tannehill.

++++++++++

1911 Washington Senators

1911 Washington Senators

One of my favorite all-time colorizations by anyone, not just Don. Not only are the uniforms a classic, but those sweaters! Why MLB does not bring these back is a mystery, they’re sitting on a gold mine. Another great element in the image is the location of the photo being at Hilltop Park in Manhattan. Those buildings in the distance are still standing today and in place of Hilltop Park is Columbia University Medical Center.

As for the Senators, 1911 would be their 11th season in the American League and like the previous ten it would be a losing campaign. They finished with a 64-90 record, good enough for seventh place. The only thing the team from our nation’s capital had going for them was the lad right of center with his hands on his hip – Walter Johnson. The 23-year-old would post a 25-13 record with a 1.90 ERA and a league-best six shutouts.

Player IDs worked on by Don Strokes and Gary Livacari:

Top row: Charles Conway, unknown, Dolly Gray, Wid Conroy, Bill Cunningham, Tom Hughes, Jock Somerlott, Walter Johnson, unknown, Gabby Street, Bob Groom and George McBride
Bottom Row: Germany Schaefer, Dixie Walker, Kid Elberfeld, Doc Gessler, Eddie Ainsmith, Jack Lelivelt and unknown

• • •

Thanks, Ronnie. He’ll be back periodically with more wonderful old photos and the backstories that go with them.


Got An Idea…

…For a Uni Watch Article?

Hey folks,

Today is my last day doing the weekends until after Labor Day.

Once August 1 hits, I’ll be taking over the weekdays for Paul for the month, while Paul enjoys his much-deserved (and needed) yearly sabbatical. So while I have a few ideas for some articles, and there will be the inevitable unveilings of NBA, NHL and NCAA Football unis (plus assorted breaking uni news), I’m always scrambling to fill out the month with good stuff.

So, if any of you out there are interested in seeing a topic addressed, or would like to work with me on an article, I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve followed me on the weekends, or any of the past few Augusts, you know I frequently work with others, and the upcoming month will be no exception.

So, let me hear from you! Please shoot an email to phil.hecken@gmail.com with your thoughts for pretty much anything uni-related and we can go over the details. If your pitch is good, I’ll be happy to work with you to bring your topic(s) to the blog!

Thanks, and I’ll see the rest of you again on Jerry Garcia’s birthday.

Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: We start off with this KILLER submission from Brandon Hamburg, who writes, “Picked this (1975 Houston Astros Program) up from the Astros Authentics shop at Minute Maid earlier this season…The first thing that caught my eye was the awesome cover (and I’m a sucker for anything rainbow uni related). The second thing I saw right away? The prototype A at the top! Apparently it was more common than I thought. The schedule with the Astrodome incorporated is fantastic.” … Reader Mark Gonillo noticed this Thurman Munson baseball card and was immediately struck by the fact Munson is sporting a beard. This photo must have been taken right at the beginning of Spring Training, because the Yankees had (and still have) a strict no-beards policy. … Here’s an article about the seamstresses of the South Bend Cubs. … Speaking of Cubs (the Chicago version), R. Scott Rogers saw this Cubs Grave Marker in a Catholic cemetery in Cedar Rapids, IA. “The Cubs logo is some kind of thick plastic or ceramic disc, not just a sticker,” Scott adds. … “Was having dinner with my son today and we came across a youth baseball team with the most interesting uniforms I’ve seen on a youth team in a while,” says Joshua Exline. “‘Charlie West Hustle’ (a play on both Pete Rose’s nickname and the name of their home city; Charleston, WV aka Charlie West). And, yes, a rip off the current Golden State logo too. The dome in the center is a tribute to the dome of the West Virginia capital building in Charleston.” … Paul Dillon sends in this link to webpage for radio program Only a Game on NPR yesterday regarding Military in Sports interview with Astore Francona fired by the Mets. On the page is the link to the audio version. … Here’s a bit more on that (from Paul Friedmann). … Because MiLB doesn’t have enough Star Wars jerseys, here’s one for the Syracuse Chiefs (from Mike Held). … Here’s a jersey I’ve never seen: a Adidas Comic Relief 8 jersey, from an HBO sponsored Crystal/Goldberg/ Williams fundraiser, 1998 (from Paul Friedmann). … Scott Gurrola noticed a member of the on-field security was sporting a batting helmet in KC last night. … The Toledo Mud Hens wore these eggs jerseys (here’s the back last night vs. the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (from John Wagner). John didn’t say it, but I’m pretty sure this is part of the “ham and eggs” series these two squads have been playing the past several years. … The Birmingham Barons took on the MonStars last night as they look to avenge getting their All-Star Outfielder abducted over 20 years ago (from MiLB Promos). … I don’t follow bats or batting equipment, but Dwight Ternes noticed at least one Astros player uses a gray bat. That prompted Charlie Welling to note that Mookie Betts uses one too. … Eddie Vedder wore a batting helmet to throw a first pitch for the Mariners’ Pearl Jam Night.

NFL News: Pretty much everyone agrees the current Tampa Buccaneers jerseys are their worst, and possibly the worst in the entire NFL. But what are the favorite Bucs jerseys? … And just how bad are the Bucs current unis? Because it’s that time of year again, here’s an article, Every NFL Team’s 2018 Uniforms, Officially Ranked. It’s not click-bait, and it’s not a terrible list, though I have a few major quibbles. … “Apparently the Ravens QBs wear dark numbers on their jerseys in training camp??” questions Jon Solomonson. “Not sure if this is new or not.”

College Football News: As you may be aware, the University of Nevada Wolf Pack have ditched Nike as their uni supplier and are now with adidas. So here’s a look at their jerseys for this fall. … The Minnesota Gophers have new jerseys (I’m pretty sure we’ve already covered this) for next season (from 1370 KSUM Sports).

Hockey News: The Canadian Premier League is a professional, Tier 1, FIFA-sanctioned soccer league which will begin play in the spring of 2019. Wade Heidt notes the seventh founding club was introduced on Friday. Pacific FC will be based in the Victoria, BC suburb of Langford.

Soccer News: Remember the Thai kids who were trapped in that cave for like 3 weeks? Of course you do. Well, the Croatian National Team sent them a bunch of jerseys. Cool move. … Here are some new shirts for Rayo Vallecano (from Ed Żelaski). … Also from Ed, new shirts for Wisła Kraków SA.

Grab Bag: I’m not sure if he is there or not, but Henry Yu (who posts on Twitter as Sons of Johnnie LeMaster) notes “the merchandise tent at the Open Championship is weak. No flexfit or fitted caps … adjustable only. Overall very disappointing.”

True Colors Vol. V-b: Matt Olbert Strikes Again!

By Phil Hecken

I’m back again today with colorizer Matt Olbert, who I featured in February and again in early May. Matt really needs no additional introduction, but if you missed either of those two columns, I’d recommend clicking either link (the first one contains a “getting to know you” interview as well). Matt, who posts on Twitter as @FenwayPhotoshop, has kept up his colorization skills, though he tells me he recently got a new job (congrats!) but also his laptop — on which he creates his colorizations — died (oh no!). As his name implies, Matt likes the Red Sox, so his colorizations tend to favor the Sawx and games at the Fens (and of course the greatest hitter of all time). But not all of them.

So, without further ado, here is another sweet batch from Matt (with his descriptions below). Click to enlarge. Enjoy!

• • • • • •

Ted Williams, Yankee Stadium

Really went for the realism with this one, hopefully I pulled it off. What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and watch these legendary players play in these legendary parks. By the way, another very difficult thing to colorize is the transition from grass to dirt, which is a big part of this one.

• • •

Jimmie Foxx & Hank Greenberg, Fenway Park, 1937

Two of the greatest hitters of all time posing in two of the most classic uniforms of all time.

• • •

Jimmy Dykes, Chicago White Sox, 1933

I don’t know much about Jimmy Dykes or the ’33 White Sox but I love this uniform and this photo. Look at that face! What does he know that I don’t? Probably a lot about the ’33 White Sox.

• • •

All Star Game Starting Pitchers Lefty Grove & Dizzy Dean pose together at Braves Field in Boston prior to the 4th Annual All Star Game, July 7th, 1936

Those Cardinals caps almost look inside-out, like a rally cap, very strange look. Love how little both these jerseys have changed over the past 80 years. Also, the Red Sox lettering in blue with the red trim is MINT.

• • •

Manager Connie Mack and his star slugger, Jimmie Foxx, Fenway Park, circa 1934

Usually it takes me a day or two to color a photo but this one took months, I kept putting it down and coming back to it multiple times. The hardest part was honestly getting Mr. Mack’s hair to look natural, it’s really hard to color thinning white hair. ‘Double X’ is also one of my favorite subjects to colorize.

• • •

Ted Williams

The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived during arguably his greatest season, 1941

• • •

Jackie Robinson watches intently to ensure that Bobby Thomson touches home plate following the Shot Heard ‘Round the World, Polo Grounds, Oct. 3, 1951

I recently stumbled upon this photo and couldn’t believe I’d never seen it before, I think it should be considered one of the greatest sports photos ever taken. The jubilation of the Giants andtheir fans celebrating the fact that “the Giants win the pennant!” juxtaposed with the despair and lonliness of defeat that so evident in the body language of Ralph Branca and Robinson, whose iconic ’42’ is so bold in this picture. I hope that by adding color I was able to bring it to life just a little bit.

• • •

Wood, Young, Grove, and Johnson

4 of the game’s greatest pitchers, Smokey Joe Wood, Cy Young, Lefty Grove, and Walter Johnson, pose for a photo in the Fenway Park dugout before an Old-Timer’s game. The great rivalry between Wood and Johnson during the 1912 season is one of my favorite duels in baseball history, I love thinking of the two of them getting to talk about it so many years later. Cy Young looks like he’s probably got a few more good fastballs in him, I bet he could’ve gone out and gotten win #512. I also like how Lefty Grove is dressed exactly like my Dad on his way to a parent-teacher conference.

• • •

Young Ted

A Red Sox stand-out rookie stands by the cage during batting practice, 1939. I love photos from 1939 because that giant sleeve patch makes them so easy to date.

• • • • • •

Wonderful stuff, once again, Matt. Thanks!


Kreindler’s Korner

I had the distinct pleasure of featuring the wonderful artwork of artist Graig Kriendler on two occasions over the summer and fall of 2017.

For those who don’t wish to click the links, Graig paints baseball heroes (and regular guys) from the past, and is an immense talent.

Occasionally, I will be featuring his work on Uni Watch.

Here’s today’s offering (click to enlarge):

• • •

Title: “The Heater Makes History”
Subject: Bob Feller, 1940
Medium: Oil on linen
Size: 56″ x 34″

The first time I saw the reference photo I would eventually use to make this painting, I was taken aback by how much energy it had. Nevermind that fact that it depicted a pitch from his no-hitter on Opening Day in 1940. It was the image itself that hooked me. The swooping diagonal of his arm and the ball. The knee almost brushing against the mound. The blur and strain in his face. I had always heard tons of anecdotes about Bob Feller and his intensity, and over the years, had familiarized myself with his wind-up and pitching motion. This particular photograph seemed to capture it all, as I could picture the entire action of his throw – almost like a GIF file, playing over and over again in my head.

In this sort of composition, it was a bit tough to make sure that the viewer’s eyes went to Bob first, especially since he’s not the largest figure in the painting. The catcher, umpire and Joe Kuhel had to really sit back in a secondary role, despite the fact that they were towering over Feller in terms of size. I was able to draw the attention away from them by edge control – keeping them very soft with few sharp lines, as well as cropping tight into them and giving Bob a bit more room to breathe on his left side (the centerfield wall, specifically). They were minor adjustments to the original photograph, but in the end, I think they really did the trick.

Through my research, it was interesting to note how few people attended the game because of the frigid temperatures in Chicago that day – only 14,000 fans were in the stands, including Bob’s mother, father and sister. With that in mind, it was important for me to keep the palette pretty dark and cold in temperature, hence a lot of the icy blues and greens. It made for the ballpark being a pretty uninviting place, but for those of you who have been to games in mid April, you know that it certainly can be as such.

But perhaps the most interesting thing about this painting is what happened to it after it was completed. In the summer of 2009, I presented it to Bob Feller himself to hang in his museum in Van Meter, IA. Upon seeing it he remarked that I had gotten so many of the details right, especially the weather conditions, crowd size, and what it felt like to be in Comiskey that cold afternoon (it should come as no surprise that he remembered all of this, himself).

Soon after Feller passed away in 2010, the painting moved to its new home: Progressive Field in Cleveland. Hopefully it’ll reside there for a long time.

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Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.

Beating a Dead “P”?

Weekend readers will recall a topic of discussion last weekend (click here, scroll down to the “Too Good For The Ticker” section) generated by Alan Filipczak which centered around possibly “hidden” elements in the current “P” logo used by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Alan has offered up one last “think piece” and drawn some of his own conclusions on the logo.

Here’s Alan:

Last weekend’s Uni Watch discussions centered around the Pirates’ logo, and whether or not there were intentional hidden images (keystones, hypocycloids) in the P itself. The headslap moment for me was someone pointing out the obvious–the Giants began using the same font at least as long as the Pirates have, if not earlier. I had never noticed that the Giants and Pirates use basically the same font, but once it was pointed out, it was painfully obvious.

So the hidden feature phenomenon can be chalked up as something in between happy coincidence and squint-and-you-see-it confirmation bias. Still, I wanted to see what the P logo would look like with those features, so I mocked up this altered Pirates logo. The lower left portion of the letter is a keystone for Pennsylvania and the pointed corners (upper right) are drawn around US Steel-style hypocycloid curves. The end result looks like a slightly more jagged version of what the Pirates currently use.

Thanks Alan. So how does the “new” logo look with those elements added?

Last year, reader Ed Kendrick provided uniform tracking for us for four teams: the Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. This year, he’s added a fifth team, the San Francisco Giants.

Now that we’ve reached the “mid-point” in the season (post All Star Break), Ed has updated all the combos for all the squads.

You can check them all out via this link.

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Last night, Martín Pérez of the Rangers pitched to Cleveland’s C Roberto Pérez. Note that both spell their name with an acute accent over the ‘e’. But only one Pérez (Roberto) actually had the acute accent on their NOB (from @bs_brewer). … The conventional wisdom says that between 1999 and 2006, at the height of the Reds BFBS era, the Reds never wore their all-red cap. Our own Alex Hider discovered that’s not true, and the Reds went with their red caps for at least one game in 2000. Eventually, Cody Tescher chimed in with a screenshot of Wikipedia saying that the all-red caps were Sunday specials in the 2000 season … Speaking of the Reds, it seems the Brewers (or whoever makes their officially licensed calendar) don’t know that it was Cincy who wore the last pullover primary unis in the big leagues (from Kurt Rozek). … According to reader Robert Hayes, the Indians have gone with the Wahoo cap the last several times Trevor Bauer has pitched, including with the road greys, a combination never seen before this season. So much for phasing out Wahoo. … The Brooklyn Cyclones’ Seinfeld Night unis are absolutely amazing. And normally, we at Uni Watch don’t like stadium sponsorships, we’ll make an exception for Vandelay Industries Park (from Chris Honeycutt). … Pitcher Jacob Turner is still around, now playing for the Toledo MudHens and inexplicably wearing No. 419 (from Jeffrey Sak). … Travis Woods found a David Ortiz jersey at Goodwill that had a Blue Jays’ 40th Anniversary patch. Judging by the look of the numbers, I think this is a knockoff. … Also posted in the basketball section: new Dodger Manny Machado chose his new uni number not because of Cal Ripken as has been previously reported, but mostly because he’s a big Kobe Bryant fan and even named his dog Kobe (from Mike Chamernik and Griffin Smith). … When the Colorado Springs Sky Sox met with the Memphis Redbirds in Tennessee, not all of their gear came with them, so Sky Sox players had to wear spare Redbirds helmets (from Noah Petro). … Want the DC flag headband Bryce Harper wore during the Home Run Derby? That’ll cost you $15.99 (thanks, Phil).

NFL News: SB Nation has declared that the Bucs’ creamsicle unis are badass, and I’m inclined to agree (thanks, Phil). … SB Nation’s 49ers blog Niners Nation has similarly declared that the Niners’ early 2000s unis matched how bad the early 2000s Niners were (thanks again, Phil). … Not uni related, but there are some great vintage Packers pics in this article (from Chance Plett). … Speaking of vintage photos, Richard Green sends in this NOLA.com gallery of vintage Saints training camp pics. … A Pittsburgh-area theme park will be opening a Steelers-branded roller coaster in 2019 (from Kary Klismet).

College/High School Football News: Nevada revealed their new unis yesterday (from Matt Turley). … There was a minor kerfuffle around Austin recently as some early pics of Texas players appeared to show the Longhorns’ jerseys as a brighter orange than usual. After the AD got involved, it was revealed it was just an Instagram filter that made the jerseys appear a brighter orange (from Joey Breeland). … Florida posted a five second video of their seamstress getting their new Jordan Brand practice jerseys ready (from @DaveDoop).

NBA News: The Chicago Sky’s breast health awareness jerseys went from being majority pink during the Adidas years to majority black now with Nike (from @TheSkyShowCHI). … Cross-posted from the baseball section: new Dodger Manny Machado chose his new uni number not because of Cal Ripken as has been previously reported, but mostly because he’s a big Kobe Bryant fan and even named his dog Kobe (from Mike Chamernik and Griffin Smith). … Also posted in the soccer section: artist and designer Franco Carbajal made some absolutely gorgeous soccer kit designs for NBA teams in the Western Conference. Highly recommended (thanks, Phil).

Soccer News: Kind of difficult to see here, but the Renault F1 team has added two stars to their livery (right on the tip of the nose) in honor of France’s World Cup victory (from @bdh_photos). … Josh Hinton writes in with several soccer items, including Hull’s away, Bolton’s away and news that Manchester City will wear the logo of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi instead of Etihad Airways for their first friendly match in the United States. … Cross-posted in the soccer section: artist and designer Franco Carbajal made some absolutely gorgeous soccer kit designs for NBA teams in the Western Conference. Highly recommended (thanks, Phil).

Grab Bag: Cross-posted from the soccer section: Kind of difficult to see here, but the Renault F1 team has added two stars to their livery (right on the tip of the nose) in honor of France’s World Cup victory (from @bdh_photos). … Rugby fans on Reddit think the new French national rugby sevens kits look like the kits of an unlicensed team from the video game Rugby Challenge. Here’s how they look on-field (Reddit thread from Eric Bangerman, match pic from J Keith Privett). … The following rugby items are both from Josh Gardner: Scarlets, an English team, released their new kits yesterday, revealing an astonishing 17 different uni ads. … Racing 92, a French club, moved their club’s crest to the bottom of their jerseys in order to fit more ads. “Madness,” Josh says. … Wichita State is bringing back its marching band for the first time since 1986, and their unis are…interesting, to say the least (from Paul Deaver). … Here’s a great look at a former pro soccer player’s new “simplistic” sneaker brand (from Tom Turner).

Uni Watch Field Trip: A Visit to the Brannock Device Co.

For all photos, you can click to enlarge

I had a blast throwing out the first pitch for the Syracuse Chiefs’ recent Brannock Device Night promotion, but the high point of that day did not come at the ballpark. It came a few hours earlier and a few miles away, when the Tugboat Captain and I visited the Brannock Device Company and got a tour of their factory, which is about as close as I can get to a holy pilgrimage.

The guy shown above is Tim Follett, the company’s vice president and day-to-day operations manager. His father-in-law, Sal Leonardi, bought the company in 1993, shortly after Charles Brannock’s death. Brannock had no family and hadn’t set up a succession plan, so his estate ended up selling the company to Leonardi. (Leonardi was not at the factory when I visited, but I did get to meet him later on at the ballpark.)

The current factory is not the original one, unfortunately. Shortly after Leonardi bought the company, he moved it from its original location in downtown Syracuse to its current spot in the neighboring town of Liverpool. The new facility was also furnished with new equipment, so not much remains from the original Brannock site. That includes most of the old files, paperwork, and many other artifacts, which were acquired some years ago by the Smithsonian Institution. Follett told me he and his family have gone down to Washington and seen some of the old Brannock items on display.

Still, there are some remnants of the old regime, including a few portraits of Charles Brannock himself on the walls. Also on the walls: assorted articles about the company — including one that I wrote back in 2001, when I was a columnist for Fortune Small Business. I won’t lie, people: It was a big thrill seeing that on the wall. (If you’re curious, you can read the piece here.)

Even if I hadn’t seen my article up there, I still would have been in heaven. Everywhere I looked, there were boxes and stacks of Brannock Devices in various states of assembly:

Follett walked us through the production process, which turned out to be more involved than I anticipated. Here’s a slightly truncated version of how the devices are made:

1. The main body of each device is die-cast from aluminum. I was surprised and a bit disappointed to learn that this step has always been outsourced to other metal fabricators and has never taken place in Syracuse. The current supplier, which is based in Pennsylvania, also makes the device’s two sliding parts — the T-bar (which measures foot width) and the pointer (which measures arch length). All of these parts are shipped to the Brannock plant.

2. The body of each device arrives in an unpolished and unfinished state, with lots of stray pieces of metal attached to it. You can see what I mean by looking at this next photo — the device on the right has lots of stray pieces along its edge, while the one on the left is nice and clean:

The stray bits are removed by putting the devices onto a machine that cleans off their edges, like so:

3. After the devices are removed from that machine, they’re put on another machine that sands down the edges:

4. The next step is for the devices to be polished. This actually entails several stages, the most interesting of which involves these big, vibrating tubs. Inside the tubs, the Brannock Devices are cleaned with a polishing solution and are scrubbed by dozens of little porcelain cones. I’d never seen anything like this before, and it was fascinating:

5. After the polishing, the next step is the buffing machine. I thought I had shot a good, long video clip of this one that showed the whole process, but it turns out that I botched that shot, so all I have is this short clip:

6. Around this time there’s a step where the inlays with the graphics are applied to the devices. Unfortunately, nobody was working on that during our visit. But here are the inlays (which are metal, with an adhesive backing), ready to be applied:

7. Graphics also need to be applied to the T-bars. And before they can be applied, they have to be bent. You can see both of those processes in this video clip:

8. After the T-bars are ready to go, the T-bars and pointers are both attached to the devices. In this next video, you’ll see a worker brushing something onto the back of the device — that’s Vaseline, to help the T-bar and pointer slide more easily. (I asked if it was “special Brannock Vaseline” and everyone laughed.) The next thing she applied, from a red bottle, is glue.

And that’s it — the final product.

I’ve always been intrigued by the pointer design, which is very ornate, almost like one of the feet on a clawfoot bathtub. I mentioned this to Follett, who said, a bit sheepishly, that they had actually “dumbed down” the pointer design a bit in recent years. You can see what he means in this next photo — that’s an older pointer, with the original design, on the right, and a newer “dumbed down” version on the left:

You can also see the difference in my older Brannock Device, which I purchased from a shoe store in 1993, and the souvenir device that I received at the ballpark, which was made last month. Original pointer on the left, newer “dumbed down” pointer on the right:

Before we left, Follett showed us what he believes to be the oldest Brannock Device remaining in the shop. He said it probably dates to the 1920s or ’30s:

It’s interesting to see how the T-bar design changed quite a bit from that early version, but the pointer, with its original ornate design, is still instantly recognizable.

The whole experience was tremendous, and in some ways was the realization of a longtime dream. Big thanks to Tim and his staff for showing us around.

I’m pretty sure this brings my admittedly very extensive coverage of Brannock Device Night to a close. I realize we’ve had a lot more Brannock coverage than the average Uni Watch reader probably expected or cared about. Thanks for your indulgence.

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• • • • •

Stoop sale update: My epic stoop/open-house sale will commence tomorrow at 10am sharp (no early birds, please). This is a major purge, people — in addition to all the cool collectibles shown here (which I’ll be selling right off the walls of my apartment, sort of like an estate sale except I’m not dead), I’ll also be selling all of the pencil sharpeners, all of the meat recipe booklets, a really good goose down quilt and an accompanying cover, an ice cream maker and accompanying ice cream recipe book, my mom’s vintage stand mixer, my father’s vintage soldering iron, 11 boxes’ worth of books, some very cool retail display shelves, a pair of stereo speakers, and a lot more. Out with the old, to make room for the new!

From a sports perspective, there’ll be four boxes of sports-centric books, a bunch of vintage jerseys, several dozen pairs of stirrups, six regulation footballs, a 1960s reproduction Packers helmet made by Helmet Hut, set of vintage NHL sheets, a vintage NFL bedspread, lots and lots of bowling-themed items (including a few pins), and probably a few other things I’m forgetting. I’ll have signed/numbered Todd Radom Uni Watch “Rain Check” prints and theoretical T-shirts (and onesies!) on hand as well.

Some final notes:

• The weather forecast calls for rain in the mid-afternoon (grrrr), so plan to arrive before then. If the forecast gets worse — calling for rain in the morning, for example — it’s possible that we’ll move the sale to Sunday. The best way to stay informed on that is to keep an eye on my Twitter feed and the sale’s Facebook event page. I promise that I will post a status update to both of those platforms before going to bed tonight and another one when I wake up tomorrow. No emails, please — thanks.

• Cash is preferred (and there’s a Chase ATM right at the corner), but I can also accept Venmo and credit cards.

• Prices are fluid and may depend on a bunch of factors, including my mood. Generally speaking, the non-collectible stuff will be very priced to move; the collectible stuff will be a bit spendier.

• As of this morning, there’s some talk that The New York Times may be sending a reporter and photographer to cover the sale. My sense is that it’s probably not going to happen (a final decision will come later today), but if it does happen, the reporter is particularly interested in talking to Uni Watch readers who’ve never previously met me, or each other — a fun angle.

I think that’s it. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!

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XXL cap reminder: If you want us to stock the upcoming Uni Watch “alternate” flex-fit cap in size XXL, you must pre-order it now. If we get enough pre-orders to meet our supplier’s 144-cap minimum (or close to it), we’ll go ahead and stock the cap in XXL; if we don’t get enough pre-orders, we’ll issue refunds.

The other two sizes — S/M and L/XL — do will be in stock and available for purchase right around the end of July, no pre-order required. Thanks for your patience!

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The Ticker
By Kris Gross

Baseball News: Cubs INF Addison Russell broke his belt making a diving play last night, so he had to get a new one (from Eric Lovejoy). … It looks like new Dodger Manny Machado will wear No. 8. He wore No. 13 with the Orioles, but that is taken by his new teammate Max Muncy (from Billy Ballas). … An interesting number note from Griffin Smith: Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt wears No. 8 because he used to shine Cal Ripken’s shoes. … The Pirates entered the All-Star break on a five-game sweep of the Brewers. Why do we care? They did it in five different uniforms (from Charles Sherrange). … Here’s a story on the life of Bryce Harper’s Washington DC flag headband (WaPo link) that he wore during the Home Run Derby (from Tom Turner). … The Fresno Grizzlies played as the Tacos last night. … We have more details on the Expos tribute jerseys the Vancouver Canadians will wear on Monday. … The New Orleans Baby Cakes are thinking of bringing back their tequila sunrise jerseys for next year. Should this even be a question? (From @danielbowen21.) … A strange sight from last night, as Cardinals and Cubs affiliates played in the opposite colors of their big league parent clubs (from Josh Miller). … A Pioneer League team is taking over after the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox leave, and here are the finalists for the new team name. Fingers crossed for Rocky Mountain Oysters!! (From Zeke Perez Jr.) … The Fort Myers Miracle will play as the Groupers tomorrow (from Reggie Holly). … Byrte Johnson needs help identifying this 1960s flannel jersey. Any ideas? … Reader Ian Cox broke in his new Uni Watch cap by bringing it to Wrigley Field for last night’s Cubs/Cards game. “Feels only appropriate to wear this for the first time while attending a classic uniform matchup at a historic ballpark,” he says.

NFL News: Here’s a fun look at the first year the Packers wore green (from Jeff Ash). … Browns fans, your season tickets are on their way. If you aren’t excited about the football this year, you’ll be excited about the ticket packaging that is coming your way (from our own Alex Hider). … FedEx Field should be a more attractive destination for fans (WaPo link) this season (from Tom Turner). … Looks like the Dolphins had some helmet striping tape issues during a 1983 game against the Chiefs (from Steven Marks). … The league has agreed to suspend its new policy on national anthem protests while it works out some objections with the players’ union.

College Football News: The new NC State jerseys feature a tribute to the state flag (from James Gilbert). … New unis for Maine. … Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson wins today’s lapel pin contest (from Benjamin Thomas). … Miami has made several tweaks, which are explained here and here (from Aron Christiansen).

Hockey News: The Golden Knights and the US Army have resolved their trademark dispute, which means the team name is no longer in legal jeopardy. … The Kalamazoo Wings are holding a uniform design contest for what the team will wear in December. … New uniforms for Merrimack College (from Stephen Hayes).

Basketball News: The Warriors’ Boogie Cousins press conference yesterday had lots of uni-notable details. First, it appears that the team will have a new NOB font. Second, it appears that the ad patch on the front has a new design (here’s the old one). Third, the jersey they gave Cousins had an incorrect champions tag (they won their sixth title last month). And finally, Cousins will be wearing No. 0 (from @leo_bopp and UnkieNoah). … Did you know: the Jazz had a .500 or better record in each of their four jerseys last season (from @HitTheGlass). … Thunder G Russell Westbrook pays homage to UCLA with his newest shoes (from Griffin Smith). … The Nuggets have a new practice court. … GameStops received life-size LeBron James cutouts to help promote the new NBA2K game. Some stores have found creative ways to cover his Cavs jersey — much respect to those keeping them ad-free! (From Joe Nguyen.) … Pictures of the Bucks’ new court have leaked. … New court design for Sacramento State (from Russell Preston).

Soccer News: Manchester City will wear Manchester-themed kits during their tour in the United States. One of the features is the “worker bee” symbol inside the numbers (from Aaron Dorfman). … As part of Manchester United’s new uniform, they do indeed have black shorts. According to our own Anthony Emerson, it is the first time they haven’t had white shorts since 1901. … Everton used their women’s team to announce their 2018-19 away kit (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Tottenham Hotspur played home games at Wembley Stadium while their new stadium was being built last year, so they wore a badge on a shield on their shirts. Now they’re home, and the shield is gone on their new kits. Additionally, the new shirts have the team’s postcode and field coordinates inside the collar (from Alan Collins, Rok Grilec). … New kits for Dinamo Zagreb, Arka Gdynia, Piast Gilwice, and Macclesfield Town (from Ed Żelaski). … Manchester City’s new away kit appears to have leaked. … A Club America player was wearing No. 286 during last night’s friendly against Manchester United (from our own Anthony Emerson). … Watford unveiled their new kit by sending free shirts to supporters who attended all of last season’s games (from Josh Hinton). … New third shirt for Celtic (from Ed Żelaski). … Tottenham’s new away kit sure looks a lot like Barcelona’s training kit. Looks like Nike just recycled the design (from Blake Geschke). … In a 1995 UEFA Cup first-round first-leg game against Leeds United, Monaco used three goalkeepers (the third an outfield player who went in after the other two became injured) who wore three different jerseys. “In the second leg, another goalkeeper played and he had yet another design,” says Denis Hurley.

Grab Bag: Here’s why Tiger Woods wore tape on his neck (WaPo link) in the first round of the British Open (thanks, Phil). … The United States Olympic Committee has told a Vermont high school to drop the nickname “Olympians” (from David Bailey). … It’s true, Winston Churchill’s mom gave Williams College the school color of purple (from Paul Friedmann). … Australian rugby league team Canterbury is facing potential sanctions for wearing the wrong uniform last night (from Jackson Russell).

UK Team Sparks Discussion of Women’s Soccer Uniforms

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Ticker assistant Jamie Rathjen, who’s going to discuss some interesting issues regarding women’s soccer. Enjoy. — PL]

By Jamie Rathjen

Twitter-er @Starkman55 recently pointed us toward an article about a grassroots women’s soccer team in East London called Romance FC, which collaborated with Nike to design a shirt that’s more, well, feminine than the typical women’s soccer jersey (as shown at right; click to enlarge).

That raises an interesting point, because women’s soccer — like many other women’s sports — often looks like an offshoot of the men’s game. Let’s start with the UK, where 32 of the 38 teams in the English and Scottish top two women’s tiers are affiliated with a men’s team.

The six outliers are English second-tier team Durham and five in Scotland: 12-time defending champions Glasgow City, top-tier teams Forfar Farmington and Stirling University, and second-tier teams Central Girls (which, incidentally, appears to use a derivative of Sporting KC’s logo) and Glasgow Girls.

The other 32 women’s teams look pretty familiar, because they’re outfitted almost exactly the same as their male counterparts, with perhaps a few more ads plastered on (click to enlarge):

In the second picture shown above, Celtic’s shirts even have last season’s commemoration of the 1967 European Cup won by the men’s team

It seems it hasn’t yet occurred to these teams that they can come up with designs that incorporate team color but nonetheless have a different look, as the U.S., Japanese, and German national teams have recently done.

Back home, four of the nine NWSL teams — Houston, Orlando, Portland, and Utah — are affiliated with and wear colors used by the MLS teams in their respective cities. However, three of those teams — all except for Portland — are the only ones in the league’s short history that haven’t used blue or red as their primary color. 

That observation brings us to another point about the women’s game: It can be visually bland at times. Turn on most NWSL games and you’ll likely see the same colors repeated: blue, red, white, and black. Every team in the league except Seattle currently has a white shirt as second choice.

In the UK, thanks to low budgets, basic designs and manufacturers’ templates abound among unaffiliated teams.

There some potentially complicated issues at work here. On the one hand, outfitting the women to look more or less the same as the men may seem to give the women equal status and make them feel as “official” as the men’s sides, but it can also turn the women’s kits into little more than an afterthought or a rubber stamp. For example, why can’t Tottenham Hotspur Ladies — shown in the third picture above — make blue shirts first choice, rather than white? It would be distinctive and would also incorporate a design often seen in the team’s visual history.

Similarly, coming up with “more feminine” designs can give the women’s teams their own visual identity, but it also runs the risk of devolving into a clichéd ghetto of cutesy kit designs.

But at least for Romance FC, that risk was worth taking. It will be interesting to see if other women’s teams stake out their own aesthetic turf. It would also be interesting to hear what Uni Watch’s female readers think of all this — please let us know in today’s comments.

Update: As if on cue, just as this entry was being published, Everton announced that it was the first Premier League team to use its women’s team to reveal a kit — that is, before the men’s team.

(Thanks to Twitter-er @Starkman55 for sending us the article that initiated this discussion.)

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• • • • •

Concussion discussion: College football conferences’ annual preseason media days are usually pretty rote affairs, but yesterday’s ACC Kickoff Day had a bit of juice thanks to UNC coach Larry Fedora, who made a fool of himself and gladly kept digging when someone offered him a shovel.

Fedora outed himself as a CTE denier, saying he believed certain medical studies and not others (spoiler: he believes the now-discredited studies that show low CTE risk from football) and offering up this whopper: “I’m not sure that anything is proven that football, itself, causes [CTE].” As many observers quickly pointed out, the link between football and CTE has been established right there at UNC, where Fedora coaches.

Fedora also cooked up an interesting conspiracy theory with a side of military jingoism. Check this out:

“Our game is under attack,” Fedora told reporters. “I fear the game will be pushed so far from what we know that we won’t recognize it in 10 years. And if it does, our country will go down, too.”

Fedora said he had talked to military personnel who had suggested the success of the United States military was due, in part, to the number of football players who went on to join the armed forces.

So when football fans chant “dee-fense,” they’re actually referring to our national defense. Who knew?

One writer has already responded to this nonsense by calling for Fedora’s dismissal.

Meanwhile, a new University of Michigan study shows that some of the school’s players had signs of brain injuries even though they weren’t diagnosed with concussions. Fedora could not be reached for comment, presumably because he was busy defending America’s national security (or maybe he was just dealing with UNC’s latest NCAA violations, which were reported last night and may result in as many as a dozen players being suspended).

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IMPORTANT cap update: As I’ve been mentioning all week, we’re now accepting pre-orders for the XXL size of the upcoming Uni Watch “alternate” cap. If we get enough XXL pre-orders to meet our suppliers minimum order requirement of 144 caps, we’ll go ahead and have the cap made in that size. (Otherwise we’ll issue refunds.)

Based on the early returns, it looks like we will not have enough pre-orders to move ahead with the XXLs. That’s a bit of a surprise, because when I asked if people would be willing to pre-order, 168 people said yes. But so far we have only 16 pre-orders. That’s not going to cut it.

I’m keeping the pre-order window open until the end of next week, so there’s still time to turn this around. But if you want the XXL, I suggest you get on board now.

Meanwhile:

• Fitted sizes of the Uni Watch “classic” cap, available exclusively from Ebbets Field Flannels, are back in stock (although several sizes have already sold out again). Order yours here.

• My epic stoop/open-house sale, which will feature a ton of uni-related books, dozens of pairs of stirrups, and more cool collectibles than you can shake a C-Flap at, will take place this Saturday. Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: Here’s a rare sight: former Reds SS Barry Larkin wearing No. 15, instead of his more familiar No. 11. He wore 15 only in 1986 and ’87 (from Jason Hillyer). … After the Tuesday-night kerfuffle about Brewers P Josh Hader having posted bigoted tweets when he was a teen-ager, his family members, who had been wearing Hader jerseys while attending the All-Star Game, were given generic NNOB jerseys. … At least one other fan wearing a Hader jersey turned it inside-out. … Something I missed from yesterday’s MLB All-Star Game roundup: Cubs C Willson Contreras was wearing a catcher’s helmet with a navy crown and a red brim — probably a Nats helmet. … The Asheville Tourists will become the Asheville Hippies for Thirsty Thursday (thanks, Phil). … Check out the uniforms for the Chicago Police Department baseball team. … All-Star Game batting helmet mix-ups aren’t limited to the big leagues. … Here’s a really great story: Up until now, the only footage of Ted Williams’s final game in 1960, when he famously hit a home run in his final at-bat and refused to tip his cap to the cheering fans, was in black-and-white. But now color footage — shot by a 19-year-old art student who was cutting class that day and buried since then in a desk drawer — has come to light (NYT link).

NFL News: SB Nation apparently told their NFL bloggers to fill some dead air with uniform musings. It’s all pretty rote, but if you’re so inclined you can read about how the Broncos should make their Color Rash helmet their permanent helmet; how the Pats should keep their Color Rash jersey; how the Cardinals need to update their look; how the Steelers could make a few tweaks; how the Bengals can improve their uniforms (no jokes, please); how the Packers shouldn’t change a thing; how one change could improve the Falcons; how the Ravens can improve their uniforms; how the Seahawks mono-neon uniforms should be mothballed; and how you can enter a Jets redesign contest (thanks, Phil). … A Bengals fan had twin babies whose heads need to be reshaped, so he’s had them fitted for Bengals-themed cranial helmets (thanks, Phil). … Steelers WR Antonio Brown is the first player ever to appear on a Madden box cover without a helmet. … The 49ers will wear their white throwbacks for a Week Seven game against the Rams. Here’s hoping the Rams wear their royal throwbacks. … Titans DL Jurrell Casey says he plans to continue protesting during the national anthem, even if he gets fined as a result. … This is interesting: Cowboys QBs don’t wear no-contact jerseys during practices, and nobody seems to know why.

College and High School Football News: New logo for the ACC Network (from James Gilbert). … An Alabama fan wore a clever jersey to yesterday SEC media day (from Josh Claywell). … Drew Canady’s father is working on a website that shows all of New York State’s high school football helmets. … Here are the new rules regarding logos appearing on NCAA gridirons this season. The big change is that corporate advertising logos can now appear on the field for stadiums with corporate-advertised names. Click through the three images in that tweet for the full details, and then scroll down to see the new rules regarding jersey patches (from James Gilbert). … Also from James: Someone at ACC Media Day had a healthy sense of irony.

Hockey News: The SPHL’s Quad City Storm haven’t even played a game yet, but they’ve already announced a logo revision. Apparently their first logo, released last month, was just a placeholder while they finalized the design.

NBA/WNBA News: Here are the uniforms for the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game. … Oooh, a St. Louis community organization has refurbished a local gym with the old Spirits of St. Louis logo (from @mrmichael21). … Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns modified the team’s logo for his own kids’ summer camp logo (from Collin Kottke).

College Hoops News: Kentucky players have been wearing Jordan/jumpman practice gear, which led to speculation that the school’s game uniforms might also be getting the Jordan treatment. But that won’t be happening anytime soon (thanks, Phil). … Nevada tweeted a graphic showing the school’s 2018-19 nonconference schedule. Oddly, the graphic has an Adidas logo at the bottom but shows a player wearing a Nike uniform (from Phil Kudler).

Soccer News: The Thai boys who were recently rescued from a cave appeared at a news conference yesterday wearing their soccer team uniforms. … New home kit for Napoli (from Ed Zelaski). … New third kit for Arsenal. … A Brazilian fan had a Flamengo jersey tattooed onto his body (from Mike Chamernik). … New crest for Ascoli (from @klimberginho). … New kits for Ukraine Kiev Dynamo. … Loudoun United have joined the USL for 2019 and have released their badge (from Josh Hinton). … Defender Jaelene Hinkle has been recalled to the U.S. women’s national team, one year after declining a call-up because she did not want to wear the team’s LGBTQ Pride Month jerseys (thanks, Phil). … Here are the uni- and field-related rule changes for the 2018 NCAA soccer season (from James Gilbert). … New kits for Tottenham Hotspur (from our own Jamie Rathjen).

Grab Bag: New name and logo for the Nigerian national airline. … Interesting piece about the legal issues surrounding tennis player Roger Federer’s “RF” logo. … As we mentioned in the Ticker earlier this week, President Trump was thinking of giving Air Force One’s livery a red/white/blue redesign. Now it’s definitely happening (from @VerbDC). … The Illinois State Police announced the winners of a logo design contest. … New logo for the Trout Creek, Mont., Huckleberry Festival. … There’s a bit of a controversy surrounding a Tennessee company that makes zippers for U.S. military uniforms but has been accused of using some non-U.S. parts. … Nintendo has its own internal sports teams for company employees. Here are some of their uniforms (from Luke Plunkett). … Kim Kardashian is being sued for poaching another company’s logo for her new fragrance line. … New athletics identity for SUNY-Alfred (from Jim Wasko). … A new statistical analysis indicates that people wearing Nike’s top-of-the-line running shoe shave three to four percent off their times (NYT link). That article includes lots of fascinating info on how they crunched the numbers — highly recommended.