Talking Trash: Creating a Tequila Sunrise Garbage Truck

Photo by Tyler Evans; click to enlarge

Uni Watch reader Tyler Evans recently spotted something very interesting on the streets of Houston: a tequila sunrise-themed garbage truck! I was intrigued, so I asked him if this was the first time he’d seen it. Did the trash-collection company have a whole fleet of tequila sunrise trucks? Tyler said he’d lived in Houston his entire life but hadn’t seen the truck until that day.

As you can see above, the company’s full name was obscured by a tree, so I googled “pride disposal houston” and found myself at the website for Texas Pride Disposal, which is headquartered just outside of Houston. The star graphic on the website matched the one shown on the truck, so this was definitely the right company.

As I poked around the website, it quickly became apparent that Texas Pride Disposal is no ordinary garbage operation. The site’s “About” page (how many trash companies even have an “About” page?) includes a well-written, engaging note from the company’s co-founder, Kevin Atkinson. Here’s an excerpt:

Growing up, for as long as anyone who knows me can remember, I have always wanted to be a garbage man. Whether it was riding my bike up and down the street with the regular crew, owning an entire fleet of toy garbage trucks, or even having a few goldfish named BFI [for the garbage company Browning-Ferris Industries], garbage has been my passion for quite literally my entire life.

As I grew up, the toy trucks were retired, but the real trucks continued to catch my eye. After returning home from my freshman year of college, I was hired as a helper for a local company. I spent the entire summer throwing trash on the back of the truck, the hardest job I’ve ever had. … After graduating, I was hired full-time, and quickly became an operations manager. Within a year, I was managing the residential division for the entire Houston market, an operation that consisted of over 300 employees, 200,000 customers, and 80 trucks.

[…]

So here I am today … more passionate about what I do than anyone you will ever meet, and ready and excited to go above and beyond for you and your community.

Now I was really intrigued — Atkinson sounded like a pretty interesting cat. I poked around a bit more and found some additional photos of the tequila sunrise truck, along with a photo of Atkinson posing with what appeared to be an LSU truck (click to enlarge):

That sealed it — I needed to talk to Atkinson. I was able to do that yesterday. Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation:

Uni Watch: Which truck came first — Astros or LSU?

Kevin Atkinson: LSU. I went to LSU for college. When my partner and I started the company, I said, “To really get our brand and name out there, I want to do a really obnoxious truck — something people will notice.” So I wanted to do an LSU Tiger truck. He’d already been in the industry for 40 years, and he wasn’t a big fan of the idea, but he said, “How about this: Let’s get 20 of our basic black-and-white trucks going. And if you can sell 20 trucks’ worth of business, you can do the Tiger truck after that.”

UW: When would this have been?



KA: When we first started, in 2013. I think it was about two and a half years later, we’d sold 20 trucks’ worth of business. It was time to order truck No. 21, and I said, “Hey, you said I could do this.” He said, “Have at it,” so I called my truck guy, told him what I wanted to do.

He loved the idea and sent me a mock-up. It had a standard white cab and a white body with a purple logo. And I said, “No, that’s terrible. I want this to be the most obnoxious truck you guys have ever designed, ever.” So he came back with this full-blown purple and gold design. It’s got purple underglow lights that you can’t see in the photos. So we did that, and it got a lot of attention. And for something LSU-related, being in Houston, it was something of novelty.

UW: Yeah, I was going to say, it’s sort of like putting the truck in enemy territory.

KA: Yeah, this is Aggie country, for sure. My business partner was a little concerned that we’d have, like, people throwing tomatoes at us.

UW: They’d throw garbage at a garbage truck!

KA: Right, exactly! But it was popular, and a lot of fun.

UW: Have you ever taken it to an LSU game?

KA: LSU played in the Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium here in Houston in 2015. I wanted to bring it on the field and have it parked in the corner or something like that, but it didn’t work out. If LSU ever plays here again, I’d probably bring the truck out to a tailgate. That’d be a lot of fun.

UW: Would you consider driving it to a game in Louisiana?



KA: No, I wouldn’t take it that far.

UW: Do the people at LSU know about you and your truck?

KA: The Houston LSU Alumni Association definitely knows. The very first day I picked up the truck, I drove it straight to the alumni association’s annual crawfish boil, which was taking place that day. So it was parked there. There were all these kids crawling around in it. It was a really cool experience.

UW: And what about the Astros truck — how did that come about?

KA: After [Hurricane] Harvey came through in 2017, and then the Astros winning the World Series, there was this spirit that grew throughout the whole city. At one point I was sitting in a bar with my girlfriend and I was drinking this beer that had the Astros’ retro jersey design on their can. So I was looking at the can and I was like, “This would be a fantastic truck wrap.” So I took a photo of it, and got a photo of the rainbow uniforms, and told my truck guy that I wanted to do that.

So it’s an Astros truck, but it’s also a Houston truck. It embodies the pride and perseverance that people here had after Harvey, and it embodies how the Astros turned their franchise around from being a bad team to World Series champions, and it also embodies our company’s spirit, because we had some setbacks early on, including a terrible fire that burned four of our trucks. So this truck has a lot of meaning to us.

UW: Do you prefer that uniform to the Astros’ current uniform? Do you wish they’d go back to it full-time?

KA: I like the current uniform. But those rainbow jerseys were so unique.

UW: How have people reacted to the Astros truck?

KA: It’s gotten way more attention than the LSU truck — which makes sense, since it’s Houston. At one point we brought it to the Minute Maid Park parking lot and took photos of it with the ballpark in the background.

UW: Have you been in touch with the Astros, or have they been in touch with you?

KA: We kind of teased the truck on Instagram, and we tagged lots of players in those photos. But no, I haven’t actually heard from anyone connected to the team.

UW: Were you concerned about trademark issues, or using their design without getting permission?

KA: The way we look at it, it’s really just a color scheme. And the star on the truck is not the same star they use. So we just kinda went with it.

UW: You mentioned that there was that beer that also had the rainbow theme as part of the can design. Are there lots of businesses in Houston that use that pattern on their signs, or their vehicles, or their package designs, or whatever?

KA: Yeah, I’d say it’s one of the more popular designs. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other examples, but I do feel like you see it around town.

UW: For these specialized truck designs, is that a paint job, or a vinyl wrap, or what?

KA: It’s a vinyl wrap for both of them. Actually, for the LSU truck, they painted it purple for the base, but all the gold was a wrap.

UW: Do you have any other sports-themed trucks, and do you plan to have more of them? What about a Houston Rockets truck, or a Houston Texans truck?

KA: We’ve talked about it, and it would definitely be fun to have a whole family of sports trucks. But I think it would be tough without pushing the copyright or trademark issue, because for those other teams you can’t really do a color scheme — you’d need to use the team logo, and that’s a lot harder to do without consent from the team. We haven’t gotten there yet.

———

And there you have it. Let’s hear it for Kevin Atkinson, who’s achieved his lifelong dream and put a uni-related spin on it to boot.

(Major thanks to Tyler Evans for getting the ball rolling on this one.)

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Click to enlarge

Something you don’t see every day: I’ve always said I’m not particularly interested in fans wearing overpriced polyester shirts. But I never said anything about chainmail shirts.

That’s what a Devils fan appears to have been wearing during Tuesday night’s Devils/Blue Jackets game in Columbus. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen anything like that before. Is this a new category of retail merch?

Update: Yes, it’s apparently a thing:

(My thanks to K. James for the Devils screen shot.)

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Where there’s a Wilson, there’s a way: I was channel-surfing last night and ended up watching part of Cast Away — my first time watching it since it came out in 2000, I’m pretty sure. Naturally, I found myself thinking about the volleyball, Wilson.

When the movie came out, I remember reading about how it was such a plum product placement for Wilson Sporting Goods (which ended up capitalizing handsomely). But if you were making this film today, would you still use a Wilson product?

In the late 1990s, when Cast Away was being made, Wilson was a pretty major sporting goods operation. (As late as 1997, they made the uniforms for six NFL teams.) Two decades later, Wilson — like Spalding, Rawlings, Champion, and the other legacy sporting goods companies — now seems like a relic from another era. They still make the official NFL football, but that almost seems quaint. Wilson and the other legacy operations were in the sporting goods business; the companies that have eclipsed them — Nike, Under Armour, Adidas — are in the lifestyle business. It’s a different world.

Hollywood, of course, is also in the lifestyle business. If you were making Cast Away today, you wouldn’t want the movie’s key supporting role to be played by a stodgy old brand like Wilson, right? You’d want Nike or Under Armour.

Then again, Wilson makes for a much better character name, so maybe you’d still use a Wilson product after all. Still, it’s good food for thought.

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Membership update: A bunch of new designs have been added to the membership card gallery, including Kevin Oliveira’s card, shown at right, which is based on the Brazilian national team’s jersey. Card designer Scott M.X. Turner did a great job with this one, no?

I have three slots open in the current batch. So the next three people who sign up will get their cards pretty quickly.

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, quite frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, a Uni Watch membership card entitles you to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise in our Teespring shop. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me.) As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: During a recent NLL game between the Philadelphia Wings and the Georgia Swarm, the Wings’ PA announcer suggested that everyone should “snip the pony tail” from Swarm player Lyle Thompson, who’s Native American. Fans also suggested scalping him. The Wings later issued an apology, as did the PA announcer himself, who was then fired (from @PhillyPartTwo).

Baseball News: Back in the 1970s, a baseball card collector and photography enthusiast got the idea of making a set of trading cards featuring famous photographers posing in baseball gear (great find by Paul Friedmann). … Yesterday’s Ticker showed the new La Crosse Loggers logo. Here’s their new cap. … Charlotte Knights skipper Mark Grudzielanek’s nameplate extended all the way to his sleeves — and the “G” extended beyond the nameplate! Never seen anything like that before (from Mark Springer). … The new logo for the PGA Tour’s Houston Open has an Astros-style tequila sunrise theme. … Newly acquired Mets INF Jed Lowrie, who wore No. 8 with the A’s, will wear No. 4 for the Amazin’s. He previously wore that number while playing for the Astros in 2012. … Love this old shot of fireballer Bob Feller and football great Otto Graham trading equipment (from @cDud1970).

Football News: Although there’s been no official announcement, this year’s Pro Bowl uniforms are apparently the same as last year’s. … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Love this old shot of baseball great Bob Feller and QB Otto Graham trading equipment (from @cDud1970). … Falcons P John James wore a foot-warmer while standing on the sidelines during a 1978 playoff game against the Eagles (from Mike Selock). … Here’s a weird one: Some runway models at a fashion show in Paris wore Chargers and Longhorns football helmets. Additional info here and here (from @_STODD and Phil). … New Oregon recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux says the team’s uniforms had nothing to do with his school choice (from Lendsey Thomson).

Hockey News: “Stick It to Cancer” uniforms tomorrow for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. … One-game food-based team makeovers, already popular in baseball, are catching on in hockey. Case in point: The Maine Mariners will become the Wild Blueberries on March 9. … Here’s a photo gallery of Northern Ontario Junior teams wearing throwbacks. … The Flames are expected to announce the retirement of Jarome Iginla’s No. 12. It would be only the third number retirement for Calgary, following Mike Vernon’s No. 30 and Lanny McDonald’s No. 9. … NASCAR driver Erik Jones visited a Red Wings practice on Tuesday. They gave him a No. 20 Wings jersey (Jones drives the No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing) and he gave autographed racing helmets to several Wings players. … Golden Knights G Marc-Andre Fleury got caught building a snow wall in front of his soon-to-be-empty net on Tuesday night. … Here are some really nice 1932 photos showing hockey teams from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Really nice uniforms (big thanks to Benji Hainault). … The AHL All-Star jerseys have been unveiled (from Kristopher Sharpe).

NBA News: NBA players’ feet take a beating, so many of them are getting pedicures (WaPo link). … The D League’s Grand Rapids Drive will wear Flint Tropics jerseys uniforms tomorrow. … Logan High School in Utah wore the Jazz’s red rock uniforms last night (from @macpm15). … Rockets G James Nunnally’s uni number looked badly off-center last night.

College and High School Hoops News: New BFBS uniforms for the Iowa State women’s team (from Sean Jankowski). … Awesome throwback warmups last night for Southeastern Louisiana (from @EddieScissons). … Cross-listed from the NBA section: Logan High School in Utah wore the Utah Jazz’s red rock uniforms last night (from @macpm15).

Soccer News: New shirts for the Urawa Reds (from Ed Zelaski). … Many players on the Chinese national team have been wearing long-sleeved undershirts, even in stiflingly hot weather, because of the country’s sports officials have banned visible tattoos (NYT link). … Here’s a closer look at the match ball for the USL Championship (formerly the USL, and the current second tier of USA soccer), the new league USL League One (USA 3rd tier), and USL League Two (formerly the PDL, and the current fourth tier of USA soccer) (from Josh Hinton). … English League One team Scunthorpe United is having a poll to choose next season’s kits (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … And so it has come to this: The Seattle Sounders are doing a countdown clock to hype the announcement of their new jersey sponsor advertiser. … New away kit for Venezuela (from Ed Zelaski).

Grab Bag: Interesting piece about modern chefs’ attire. Key quote: “The exact origins of the classic chef’s uniform are murky. Amy Trubek, a professor at the University of Vermont, said the outfits were white, like the uniforms of many other professions in the 1800s, because they represented ‘the 19th-century idea of purity, sanitation and cleanliness.’” … The Chinese smartphone brand OnePlus will become the jersey advertiser for the esports organization Fnatic. … Cross-listed from the baseball section: The new logo for the PGA Tour’s Houston Open has a Houston Astros-style tequila sunrise theme. … Speaking of the PGA, golfer Bryson Dechambeau carries a yardage book personalized with his initials — but the period after his last initial is missing (good spot by Jerry Kulig). … Cross-listed from the hockey section: NASCAR driver Erik Jones visited a Detroit Red Wings practice on Tuesday. They gave him a No. 20 Wings jersey (Jones drives the No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing) and he gave autographed racing helmets to several Wings players. … New logo for Slack. Additional info here (from Eric Bangeman and our own Brinke Guthrie). … The Polish men’s volleyball club team Trefl Gdańsk has a bizarre number font (from Jeremy Brahm).

A Story About the 1997 World Series

It’s looking like I’ll probably be traveling for at least part of the day on Sunday, when the NFL’s two conference championship games will take place. There’s also a vaaaaague chance that I’ll be traveling two Sundays after that — the date of the Super Bowl.

These potential travel plans have reminded me of a story I hadn’t thought about in a long time, about the 1997 World Series (Marlins/Indians). The story isn’t uni-related, but it’s interesting and fun, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never told it here on the blog, so I’m going to share it with you today.

So: In October of 1997, my then-galpal Alleen and I flew to Wisconsin for a four-day weekend. The fourth day — the day when we’d be flying back home to NYC — was Sunday, Oct. 26, which was scheduled to be the day for Game Seven of the World Series, if the Series went that far. When booking the flights, we thought, “Hmmm — we could take an early flight that would get us home in time to watch the game, or we could get a later flight that would get us home in time to catch the end of the game, which we could watch at a bar at LaGuardia after we landed.”

We decided to go with the later flight, because we wanted to maximize our time in Wisconsin. And besides, what were the odds that the Series would even go to a seventh game? Sure, booking the later flight meant we might miss most of the game, but we felt good about our choice.

The Wisconsin trip was a good one. Among other things, we went to Door County for the first time, bowled at the great Holler House for the first time, and, thanks to a random development, met two people who would end up becoming my close friends and heroes (R.I.P., Julie). Travel was very different in those days — there was no such thing yet as WiFi, neither of us owned a cell phone, and I didn’t own a laptop (Alleen did, but she didn’t bring it). I remember the second day we spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find a place with a fax machine so my editor at Spin, where I was a columnist at the time, could fax me a proof of that month’s column.

Naturally, the World Series did go to a seventh game. As it turned out, there were terrible thunderstorms in Milwaukee that day and our flight was delayed. Our late-afternoon departure kept getting pushed back, and back, into the early evening — and then the game started. So we began watching the game at an airport bar near our departure gate, sticking our heads out every so often to see the latest status of our flight.

At some point during the game — I no longer recall which inning this would have been — they announced something bizarre: They were going to drive us to O’Hare in Chicago (only about an hour away), where the weather wasn’t quite so bad, and then we’d fly home from there. This seemed like a huge hassle, but whatever — we had to get home.

I expected them to put us in a bus or a van, but instead they brought out a series of limos — each of which had a TV. Great, we thought, now we can keep watching the game! But this prompted an argument, because everyone else in the limo wanted to watch Sunday Night Football. “Look,” we said, “this is the last baseball game of the year. After tonight, you can watch all the football you want.” We won the argument, but as I recall things were a bit tense in the limo. I remember huddling close to Alleen, staring at the tiny limo TV screen, and trying not to feel everyone else glaring at us.

Under normal circumstances, the game would have ended either during the limo ride or soon after we arrived at O’Hare. But as you may recall, Game Seven of the ’97 Series went into extra innings, so the game was still going when we boarded our plane. Again, there was no WiFi, no smart phones — we were completely in the dark. I wondered if the plane’s captain might announce the game’s outcome during the flight (I think maybe we even asked a flight attendant about that), but he didn’t. So when we arrived at LaGuardia, we had no idea who’d won.

Because of all the flight delays, it was now very late — after midnight, I’m pretty sure — and almost all of the airport concessions were closed for the night. No restaurants, no bars, no TVs. So as we went through the airport and prepared to get a cab to go home, we still didn’t know who won.

I asked the cabbie to put on one of the all-news radio stations. After 20 minutes, they finally did the sports report, and that’s when we learned that the Marlins had won a title in only their fifth season. Although I usually root for the National League team, I had been rooting for Cleveland, mainly because I disliked the Marlins’ uniforms (Uni Watch was still nearly two years from being born, but the seed had already been planted in my brain), so I was disappointed, but finding out about it after the fact, while riding home late at night in a cab, felt oddly anti-climactic.

What a difference 20 years make. If I do end up traveling this Sunday and/or on Feb. 3, it’s a safe bet that I won’t have much trouble finding out what I missed.

Thanks for listening. We’ll get back to more traditional uni-related content tomorrow.

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Hmmmmm: Yesterday was National Hat Day, which I didn’t know until a bunch of people pointed it out on social media. (If I had known, maybe I would’ve done a headwear-centric post yesterday.) The Pirates apparently didn’t know either because, as you can see above, they waited until 8:09pm to unveil their new G.I. Joke cap “in honor of” National Hat Day.

Leaving aside the timing and the optics, it’s worth noting the the Pirates — one of the few teams to have a military-themed alternate uni as part of their regular rotation in addition to the MLB-wide Memorial Day costume — are now on their fourth different G.I. Joke alternate cap in as many years (click to enlarge):

I’m assuming that sets some sort of record. Yep, nothing says support for the troops (or for National Hat Day) like trying to get your fan base to buy another piece of merch every 12 months.

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Worth a closer look: The Grab Bag section in yesterday’s Ticker included a small item about Trusox being mired in some messy business affairs. Having now read the entire article, I can wholeheartedly recommend it — it’s full of interesting details about the lengths some soccer players will go to wear Trusox even when they aren’t an approved uniform element, the intra-family spat at the heart of Under Armour’s founding, nonsense “branding” efforts, and a lot more. Good reporting, good writing, good stuff all around.

You’ll have to spend a Washington Post click to read it, but it’s worth it. Trust me.

Meanwhile, as long as we’re talking about corporate theater, Deadspin’s Dan McQuade has written a pretty amusing and revealing piece about how insidious Nike’s sneaker hype is, and how a lot of reporters — including, at one time, McQuade himself — are basically in Nike’s pocket. There’s something rather conveniently self-serving about this piece, because it’s basically a confessional to assuage McQuade’s guilty conscience for his past sneaker-hype sins (nice try, Dan), but there’s still a decent amount of wisdom here. Worth reading.

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Culinary Corner: In my recent Cincinnati travelogue, I mentioned that we loved eating goetta, the unusual breakfast sausage created generations ago by Cincinnati’s German immigrant population, and planned to try making it ourselves. On Saturday we did just that.

There are tons of goetta recipes on the internet, and we read a lot of them. Almost all of them use the same basic ratio of 2.5 cups of steel-cut oats (also called pinhead oats) to one pound of ground beef, one pound of ground pork, one large onion, and eight cups of water and/or beef broth, but we were surprised that most of the recipes called for no seasonings other than salt, pepper, and bay leaves. The goetta we enjoyed in Cincinnati seemed like it had a greater flavor complexity. Hmmmm.

We decided to make two batches, so we could compare. For one, we just did the basics — salt, pepper, bay leaves. For the other, we used several additional flavorings, toasted the oats, and, following the advice of one particularly interesting recipe, cooked the goetta in the oven instead of on the stovetop.

For the basic recipe, the process was pretty simple: We put four cups of water and four cups of beef broth in a big pot, brought it to a boil, added 2.5 cups of steel-cut oats along with salt, pepper, and two bay leaves, and let the whole thing simmer for two hours. Then we added a pound of ground beef, a pound of ground pork, and a large chopped onion, and let it cook for another hour. It’s basically making meat/onion oatmeal.

Before I get to the next steps, let me explain the process for the spiced batch, which was slightly more involved:

1. We toasted the oats (again, 2.5 cups) in a big pot, along with some minced garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and marjoram (for all photos, you can click to enlarge):

We then removed the toasted oats from the pot and set them aside. Here’s a comparison of the toasted oats (on the left) compared to the non-toasted oats we used for the basic batch:

2. We added liquid to the pot (again, four cups each of water and beef broth), brought it to a boil, and added the toasted oats, a large chopped onion, the meat (again, a pound each of ground beef and ground pork), and two bay leaves:

3. We covered the pot and put it in a 200º oven for four hours, stirring occasionally.

———

There’s no way to sugar-coat this: After both batches were done cooking, they looked, well, not very appetizing (although the house smelled really good). Here’s the basic batch:

Goetta is usually formed into loaves and then sliced, so we took a bunch of loaf pans (for some reason we had seven of them in the house, of varying sizes, and we ended up needing all of them), lined them with plastic wrap, and spooned the cooked goetta mix into them. We labeled the loaf pans so we knew which ones were the basic goetta and which ones were spiced, and we also used one pan for a half-and-half hybrid batch.

After the loaf pans cooled a bit, we put them in the fridge overnight so the goetta could set.

The next day, our friend Carrie came over to help sample the goetta. We brought some of the loaf pans out of the fridge, used the plastic wrap to help turn the goetta out onto a cutting board, and made a few slices (sorry about the varying lighting conditions — the light in our kitchen really sucks):

Then we put the slices in a non-stick skillet. Some recipes said to use oil or butter, but one article I read said that it’s easier to keep the slices intact, without having them fall apart when you turn them, if you cook them without any added oil or fat, so we tried that. One of the slices broke apart anyway, but it wasn’t a major problem. The slices browned up beautifully:

Now came the moment of truth — we tasted it. Both varieties were really good (like, really good), but they didn’t taste quite like Cincinnati. I found myself wishing we’d brought home some of the authentic Cincy stuff, so we could compare.

While I tried to figure out how our goetta differed from what we’d had in Cincinnati, the next step was to make some breakfast sandwiches:

The sandwiches were great. I had some more of our goetta Monday (it tasted more like Cincinnati, maybe because it had dried out a little more, or maybe just because I’m getting used to our version), and then I made some goetta hash on Tuesday (so good!).

All in all, a really fun experiment — one that we’ll definitely try again. Here are some adjustments we might make the next time around:

• Our spicy version is a bit too spicy for my tastes (too much cayenne). My favorite version is the hybrid batch. So next time maybe we’ll just cut down on the spices a bit.

• Our version definitely isn’t as toothsome as the goetta we had in Cincinnati. We’re wondering if we could remedy this by cooking the oats for a shorter amount of time and/or by using less cooking liquid.

• We’re a little puzzled by the large onion. Every recipe calls for it, and the chopped onion bits are therefore very visible and tangible in our goetta, but the goetta we had in Cincinnati had no visible or tangible onion. Maybe we need to chop the onion more finely next time.

But that next time is probably a long way off, because our fridge and freezer are now stuffed with goetta. I look forward to being able to say the same thing in the days and weeks to come.

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ITEM! Call for entries: I am very much in the market for new entries in my Key Ring Chronicles project. If you have a special item on your key ring with a good story behind it (like the quarter on my own key ring, whose story is told here), please get in touch.

If you want to get a feel for the sort of stories I’m looking for, you can see the full archive of KRC entries here. Thanks.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: The Pirates released this logo to celebrate Steve Blass’s 60th season with the club, both as a player and a broadcaster (from Jared Grubbs). … July 27 is the 20th anniversary of when the Mets and Pirates wore their futuristic uniforms. As it happens, the Mets and Bucs are playing each other again on that same date this season, so Mets Police blogger Shannon Shark is calling on the Mets to revive the “throwaheads” for that game. … Proof that Spider-Man Gets It™: Peter Parker has a uni-centric Mike Piazza Hall of Fame pennant on his wall in the new Spidey movie trailer (from Zeke Perez Jr.). … In yesterday’s lede, Paul wondered if the minor leagues had any costumed mascots before the 1950s. Turns out the Milwaukee Brewers, a minor league team not affiliated with the current Brewers, employed a Barrel Man mascot in 1942 (from Chance Michaels). … The Potomac Nationals, a minor league affiliate of the Nats, released their promo schedule for 2019. … Here’s an aerial view of Trinity High School’s new field in Louisville, Ky. … New caps for UC Santa Barbara. … New caps for FAU (from Jake Elman). … New uniforms for the University of Miami. … New logo for the La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods League. … Towns County High School in northern Georgia, whose teams are called the Indians, has poached Chief Wahoo and the Twins’ “TC” logo (from Mark Eiken). … Derek Vergolini showed off his college cap collection for National Hat Day.

Football News: Worlds of Fun, a theme park in Kansas City, Missouri, has temporarily renamed its Patriot ride to “Patrick” ahead of the AFC Championship Game. … Bert Church High School in Airdrie, Alberta, is poaching the Rams logo while using “Chargers” as its team name (from Joe Bettinelli). … Helmet manufacturer Vicis designed a helmet for comedian Adam Carolla inspired by actor Paul Newman’s Porsche 935 (from Jeff, who didn’t give his last name). … Saints WR Dez Bryant showed up at a Dallas Stars game last night in a custom Stars sweater (from Bo Childers). … Bryan Station High School in Lexington, Ky., has probably the biggest midfield logo in existence (from Josh Claywell).

Hockey News: Hurricanes F Brock McGinn had a bit of trouble with his helmet decal, as the “2” on his helmet came loose (from Tom Faggione). … The Rangers celebrated Pride Night last night. There was a rainbow puck and rainbow-bladed sticks at the pregame ceremonial puck drop (from Alan Kreit). … Here are some shots of the Red Wings’ Salute to Service sweaters. … This Maryland youth club, named the Maple Leafs, is wearing sweaters with their team name on a Capitals template. This photo is taken from a WaPo article documenting how the team stood up to racist taunts and defended their black teammate (from our own Phil Hecken). … Cross-listed from the football section: Saints WR Dez Bryant showed up at a Dallas Stars game last night in a custom Stars sweater (from Bo Childers).

NBA News: The Hawks wore throwback uniforms last night against the Thunder, who wore their Statement edition uniforms (from Max Strauss). … 99% Invisible, a podcast that focuses on design, wrote about NBA uniforms in the early 1990s (from Gabe Whisnant). … The following three items are from Etienne Catalan: F Julian Washburn will wear No. 4 with the Grizzlies, F Corey Brewer will wear No. 00 with the Sixers, and F Bonzie Colson will wear No. 50 with the Bucks. … Conrad Burry came up with this 2019 NBA All-Star Game uniform concept based on the 1991 ASG uniforms also held in Charlotte.

College/High School Hoops News: Central Michigan men’s F Rob Montgomery suffered a cut on his face during last night’s game against Northern Illinois. He had to change into a new jersey, and the only one available was a No. 30. His regular number is 5 (from @so_it_gohs). … South Florida men’s wore some hideous BFBS neon uniforms last night against Cincinnati (from @rwilzb001). … San Diego State men’s showed off their custom Air Jordan XXXIIIs last night (from Nathan Clark). … Here’s Pounce, Georgia State’s mascot, participating in the viral 10 Year Challenge (from Hans Hassell). … Brad Eenhuis sent us this photo of the 1952-53 Klemme High School girls team from Klemme, Iowa.

Soccer News: Brazil’s yellow, green, blue, and white kit is iconic now, but it wasn’t always that way. Brazil used to play in an all-white football kit. In 1953 they held a competition to design a new one. The only rule was that it had to include the four colors of Brazil’s flag. 18-year-old Aldyr Garcia Schlee sent in three sketches. The one on the left won. Schlee died in November at the age of 83 (from Sergio A. Garcia). … Austin FC, MLS’s newest expansion club, has revealed its colors and crest (from Griffin Smith). … The crest of the Portuguese top-tier team Santa Clara is essentially the same as that of Benfica, one of the biggest teams in Portugal. So not only are Santa Clara poaching another team’s crest, it’s one that they now play twice a year (though this is only their fourth season in the top tier) (from our own Jamie Rathjen).

Grab Bag: Cross-listed from the football section: Helmet manufacturer Vicis designed a helmet for comedian Adam Carolla inspired by actor Paul Newman’s Porsche 935 (from Jeff, who didn’t give his last name). … A Bangladeshi cricket team has just introduced MNOB — Mother’s Name on Back (from @wolicyponk). … South Africa’s Super Rugby clubs unveiled Marvel-themed uniforms (from Eric Bangeman). … Cloud9, an esports league, has inked an apparel deal with Puma (from Sara, who didn’t give her last name). … An internal survey showed that two-thirds of fans didn’t really care that F1 changed its logo. … The following three ticker items are from David Firestone: NTT is the new title advertiser of IndyCar. … Pennzoil bought the naming rights to Houston Raceway Park. … Drag racer Cruz Pedregon is seeking fan input for potential car names. … Lehigh men’s lacrosse team members get issued this sweater (from Chris Jastrzembski). … The University of South Carolina has officially changed its abbreviation from “USC” to “UofSC” to avoid confusion with the University of Southern California. … Michael, who didn’t give his last name, showed us the committee logo for commissioning of the USS Wichita this past weekend. The background is the flag of Wichita, Kan., with the Wichita Native American symbol for “home” in front of the Keeper of the Plains statue, where Keeper of the Seas comes from. … According to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s staffers, mockups of her presidential campaign logo found on a coffee shop table in New York are fake (from multiple readers).

From Connie Mack to Mr. Oriole: A Conversation with Dick Armstrong

Photo courtesy of Dick Armstrong; click to enlarge

The photo shown above was taken during spring training in March of 1950. The gentleman on the right is Philadelphia A’s owner/manager Connie Mack, who was then 87 years old and was preparing to manage his 50th season — and, as it turned out, his last. The man standing next to him is Dick Armstrong, who at the time was the team’s new public relations director.

Nearly seven decades later, Dick Armstrong is now 94 years old and is believed to be the only remaining A’s employee to have worked with Connie Mack. In other words, he’s the last living link to a key chapter in baseball history. Armstrong also played an important role in Baltimore Orioles history, helping to establish their first logo and creating their (and MLB’s) first costumed mascot.

I recently had the pleasure of doing a phone interview with Armstrong about all of these subjects. Here’s an edited transcript of how our conversation went.

Uni Watch: You played in the minor leagues, is that right?

Dick Armstrong: I did. I signed as a utility infielder and a pitcher in the [Philadelphia] A’s farm system.

UW: How did you make the transition from being a player to working in the A’s front office?

DA: Art Ehlers, who was the Athletics’ farm director, had signed me to my first contract. And because I was a college graduate, I guess he took an interest in me. The A’s were just starting a farm system, and at the end of my first season he called me into his office and said, “Look, you’re getting married soon, and you’ll have a family to support. How long do you want to bang around in the minor leagues wondering if you’ll make it to the majors?” He suggested that I should consider the front office, which I thought was the best news I’d ever heard. I was thrilled!

UW: How old would you have been at this point?



DA: Let’s see … 23. So they sent me to become the business manager of one of their newly acquired minor league teams, in Portsmouth, Ohio.

UW: So you worked in minor league administration and then worked your way up to the majors?



DA: Right. I was at Portsmouth for two years. That was a class “D” team — a good one, but still limited in terms of salary and so forth. I was ambitious, and I went to see Art Ehlers, and I had a speech all ready to give him, explaining how I wanted to move up in the organization. My wife was waiting outside for me, and I was all set to go, but before I could say anything he said, “How’d you like to be the PR man for the Philadelphia Athletics?” So after I picked myself up off the floor, I said, “I’d love to do that.”

UW: Did most teams have PR men in those days, or were the Athletics one of the first teams to do it?

DA: The Yankees and Red Sox had their own PR men, and maybe one or two other teams. But most teams usually had arrangements with local advertising agencies or PR firms — the A’s and the Phillies used the same one, Adelphia Associates — with an account rep who’d handle publicity. The A’s contract with them was expiring, and they were opening up to other possibilities. Other agencies were vying for the account, but Art was a man of vision and a creative kind of person, and he was impressed by what we’d done in Portsmouth, so his philosophy was, why shouldn’t major league clubs be more fan-friendly and fun, like minor league clubs?

So Art wanted to hire me, but the team’s board of directors still had to be convinced. I learned that Connie Mack was approaching his 50th season as the team’s manager, as well as the owner, so I spent three days building a promotional idea around that — a season-long celebration, called the Connie Mack Golden Jubilee. Apparently none of the other agencies had thought about doing something like that, so that convinced the board, and that’s how I got the job.

It was a big success. We had a yearbook, which wasn’t so common in those days, and it celebrated Mr. Mack’s anniversary. That’s what everyone called him — Mr. Mack. I also wrote a song, called “The Connie Mack Swing.” That was introduced on Opening Day, and we sent copies of the disc to every club, and whenever the A’s came to town, they all celebrated Mr. Mack’s 50th season. The Phillies were jealous, because they couldn’t compete with the attention we were getting.

Unfortunately, the A’s had a terrible season, lost over 100 games [they went 52-102 — PL], and at some point that began to diminish and even throw a wet blanket over the whole thing. Mr. Mack would poke his head out of the dugout and fans would boo — it was sad. Meanwhile, the Phillies had the Whiz Kids, won the pennant. Lost four straight to the Yankees, but they won the pennant.

UW: Speaking of Mr. Mack, he was famous for wearing a business suit, instead of a uniform, when he managed the A’s. But there’s one thing I’ve always been unclear about. I’ve seen photos of him wearing the suit in the dugout, but did he also go out onto the field to make pitching changes, or to argue with umpires? I’ve never seen him wearing the suit on the field — only in the dugout.

DA: He would sometimes go out onto the field, but very seldom. He’d often come out to the edge of the dugout. You know, one time in spring training I got him to agree to wear a uniform.

UW: Really?


DA: Yes, very early in the morning, long before anyone else got to the ballpark. He had been a catcher, so I had him in catcher’s gear. I chose one of the photos and sent it out as a publicity release that said, “A’s Sign New Rookie.” It was used everywhere, everywhere. It must have been in every newspaper in the country.

UW: Later on, you ended up working for the Baltimore Orioles, and my understanding is that you arranged a design contest among local artists to help create the Orioles’ first logo. Could you tell me about that?

DA: Yes. A group of Marylanders had been awarded the St. Louis Browns’ franchise, and that franchise was going to be called the Orioles for 1954, and I got the chance to work for them. There had been a minor league Orioles, but since we were now a major league club, we wanted our own logo and also a live mascot, which had never been done before to my knowledge.

UW: Which came first, the logo or the live mascot?

DA: Here’s how that happened: We had a contest for people to submit sketches of a bird. I had something in mind, and we finally got what we wanted from a guy named Jim Hartzell, who was one of the leading cartoonists for The Baltimore Sun. He was a good artist, and he had just the right character in the bird’s face, at least for me. I bounced it off the other executives, and they all approved.

I think what we did was suggest a couple of possible names for the bird and have the fans vote, and the one they chose was Mr. Oriole. So that became his name, and Jim Hartzell depicted him in different poses and emotions. We paid him $350 — that was the award for winning the contest.

So then the next idea was, how about having a stylized, three-dimensional costume of the bird, with someone in the costume. So I got my friend Johnny Myers to do it — a high school teammate and friend of many years. I used to jokingly say that he had the perfect legs for the part, because his legs looked like bird legs. Anyway, Johnny knew this guy named Tinker — I don’t remember his first name, but I think he was a related to the Tinker who was part of Tinker to Evers to Chance, a nephew once removed or something like that. He was a costume designer, and he said he could do what we wanted. He made the most beautiful costume, with feathers and all that. So Johnny Myers agreed to be the first human being in this costume.

When he made his first appearance — and of course we drumrolled him onto the field — he cavorted and so on, led cheers, and people went wild. They loved it! What they didn’t know was that Johnny was a jazz musician — he was a fantastic trumpet player. Played with big bands. Under his wings, completely hidden, he had his trumpet. So he gets up on the dugout, whips out this trumpet and starts playing jazz. We jokingly said we had the only jazz-playing bird in captivity. It was so sensational, you can’t imagine the impact it had.

UW: You mentioned that no major league team had ever had a costumed mascot before. What about in the minor leagues — had it ever been done there?

DA: I don’t know about the minor leagues.

UW: What happened to the costume?



DA: I have no idea. It still exists somewhere, I’m sure. Someone has it in their basement or something. Who would throw it away?

UW: What do you think of today’s costumed mascots, and do you consider yourself sort of the grandfather of all of them? Do you feel some sense of ownership over everything that mascots have become?

DA: I don’t feel I deserve that title or honor. But I do feel that to be historically accurate, people should know that Mr. Oriole was the first costumed mascot — not Mr. Met, as is sometimes claimed. He came 10 years later! There’s a Mascot Hall of Fame in Indiana, and they didn’t even know about our Orioles mascot until I told them.

———

There was more — a lot more. A year later, in 1955, Armstrong, who up until that time had never been particularly religious, felt a spiritual calling. A year after that he left the Orioles and began studying at the Princeton Theological Seminary. He later became an ordained minister.

Although Armstrong never worked in baseball again, he loves talking about his time in the game. You can learn more about his life on his blog, and he’s also written this book. He’s been facing some medical challenges, but he was extremely gracious throughout our conversation, and it was a pleasure to speak with him. Take care, Dick.

(Major thanks to my old college pal Jeff Katz, the former mayor of Cooperstown, for pointing me toward Dick Armstrong, and extra-special thanks to Dick’s son Andy Armstrong for arranging the interview.)

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NBA All-Star leak: Over the weekend I corresponded with a source regarding the uniforms for the NBA All-Star Game, which will be taking place on Feb. 17. Here’s what he had to say:

Uniforms are similar to last season’s ASG package. Black vs. white again, current team logo on the chest. The difference this year is they’re making it a bit of a mashup with the 1991 uniforms (as the game was in Charlotte in ’91) — red-white-blue neckline and sleeve trim, stars on the side panels. The shorts are very similar to the ’91 shorts, which I’m actually a big fan of. … KIA sponsor patch again on the left and jumpman logo opposite again.

Everything about the game is supposed to be inspired by ’91, as retro is huge in street fashion right now.

I figured the unveiling would probably come this week or next. But then I woke up this morning to find the following photo waiting for me:

That shot was posted overnight by Twitter-er Josman Suri, who said he took the photo at a Nike shop. It matches the description from my source, so we can treat this leak as legitimate. Can’t say I think much of the design, but I’m intrigued by my source’s description of the shorts and am looking forward to seeing those.

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A feast for the eyes: Great-looking game last night in Boston, as the Bruins reprised their Winter Classic throwbacks and their Canadiens, wore their red home uniforms on the road. Even the fights looked good! Why can’t they do this all the time?

Lots of additional photos here.

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Click to enlarge

Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

I can flat-out promise that we’ve never had a San Diego Chargers gumball machine on Collector’s Corner before. Chargers fans (be they in San Diego or Los Angeles) can console themselves over Sunday’s lost to the Patriots with this — just fill ’er up with some blue and yellow gumballs and you’re all set!

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• One more Chargers item here: This is a “Buffalo Roast” rally towel from October of 2001 — for a game against the Bills, of course.

• This 1970s cocktail napkin says “See Live Pro Basketball In The Salt Palace! All (ABA Utah Stars) games broadcast on KALL Radio!”

• Here’s just the thing for Uni Watch HQ — a set of four 1970s New York Football Giants glasses still in the box. These were a promotion from Shell.

• Nice cover art on this 1969 Atlanta Braves scorecard, although it’s too bad about that Union 76 ad that takes up 25% of the cover. Only 30¢ for this!

• This 1970s Minnesota North Stars key chain features a raised logo as opposed to a screened on. And as long as we’re talking about the Stars, check out this hockey puck bank!

• I remember this! A Dallas Cowboys “World Champions” sign from 1972. Always liked that no-facemask helmet logo.

• You’ll notice that these early-1970s shiny foil Cowboys stickers look very similar to the plaque, just with the facemask. Still have my key ring from 1972 with this helmet.

• This 1970s San Francisco Giants “Sports Caddie” is made of “heavy vinyl” and is a “multi-purpose bag for men or women with so many uses!” As the card helpfully states, it will hold everything from bowling shoes to shotgun shells.

• Nothing says NFL retro like a 1970s helmet buggy from Sportoys. This eBay seller has 13 of them available, including the Steelers, Bears, Packers, and

• This 1980s Boston Bruins jacket by Starter is in nice shape.

• And speaking of the Bruins, here’s one from reader Will Scheibler — a canister of Phil Esposito boot wax!

Seen an item on eBay that would be good for Collector’s Corner? Send any submissions here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsThe White Sox will give away these great Hawaiian-style shirts on June 15 (from Charlie Kranz and Nick Johnson). … The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Brewers’ Class A affiliate, will again play as the “Brats” in lederhosen uniforms on May 31 (from Eric Baker). … This graphic includes a new alternate logo for the Sussex County Miners of the independent Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball (from John Cerone).

NFL NewsGood catch by Andrea Janzen, who notes that the Rams are forced to alter their horn decals on some helmet models — note how the tip of OT Andrew Whitworth’s helmet horn is broken up in this photo. … Two teams introduced new coaches yesterday: The Browns’ Freddie Kitchens and the Jets’ Adam Gase. Both wore team-colored ties (from Brian Speiss and Alan Kreit). … Speaking of Kitchens, he reportedly wanted to wear his trademark orange hoodie to his introductory presser, but Cleveland’s front office nixed that idea (from @Cdud1970). … Kitchens also said he liked the Browns’ uniforms when he was growing up (from Mike McLaughlin). … Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb is a Saints fan, so she wore black and gold on set yesterday (from Josh Claywell). … Here’s a sensational shot of an old Rawlings helmet with one of their clear plastic “Safe-T-Vue” facemasks (from Goat Jerseys).

Hockey News: Wild C Luke Kunin’s memorial patch for Bob Naegele was missing last night (from Giles Ferrell). … The Grand Rapids Griffins will debut the excellent unis designed by Uni Watch reader Mattew Harvey on Saturday. Can’t wait to see how they look on the ice!

Basketball NewsThe D League’s Erie BayHawks will wear these uniforms for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Saturday. … More D League news: The Wisconsin Herd will wear “Curd” jerseys (get it?) on Jan. 18. … The University of Chicago supposedly switched from Nike to Adidas, but they’ve continued to wear Nike-branded uniforms at home (from Frederick J. Nachman). … A central Indiana high school that’s replacing its gym floor is auctioning off a coffee table made from the old floor (from Kyle).

Soccer NewsIt appears that Nike is recycling some of its old kit designs for the upcoming season. I guess that’s what happens when you only have two or three companies supplying uniforms for just about every professional sports team on Earth (from Josh Hinton). … New kits for Philadelphia Union. Good move: Making your jersey ad more discreet. Better move: Removing it entirely (thanks to all who shared). … U.S. Soccer has signed an advertising deal with Volkswagen, who will put their logo on training tops (from Ian Thomas). … Dundee F.C. of the Scottish Premiership has signed a kit deal with Macron (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Italian club Torino has signed a new kit deal with Spanish company Joma (from Ed Zelaski). … The San Jose Earthquakes called out a Chinese soccer club that appears to have poached their logo (from Scott). … Here’s a graphic showing Man City’s David Silva in every home kit they’ve worn since he joined the team (from Josh Hinton).

Grab BagA former CEO tried to forge documents in an attempt to shield his assets from creditors, but he was foiled when a font detective determined that the documents were written in a font that didn’t exist at the time when they were supposedly created (from Ted Arnold). … USA Rugby has a new kit supplier (from Andrew M.). … The Army is testing new combat boot prototypes (from Jason Hillyer). … Here’s the guy behind the new America’s Cup logo explaining his design (from James Gilbert). … A portion of US Route 23 in northeast Kentucky is dubbed the “Country Music Highway.” Chris Bain found some marketing materials for it and noted that they use an interstate highway sign instead of a US Route sign. … Voters in Hurley, Wis., will decide whether it’s time to change the school district’s “Midgets” team name (from Alan Filipczak). … The company behind Trusox is an utter mess (WaPo link).

Monday Morning Uni Watch

The photo above is from a 2005 Chiefs/Pats game. The two teams’ uniforms have barely changed in the intervening 13 seasons, so this is roughly how this Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Kansas City will look. Not a bad-looking matchup, aside from the Pats’ side panels, right?

Unless, that is, the Chiefs choose to do what they did the last time these two teams played at Arrowhead, in 2014:

That was the second time the Chiefs ever went mono-red. I certainly don’t expect them to do it this Sunday (jeez, let’s hope not), but I never would have expected them to do it in the first place either.

As for the NFC Championship Game, the Saints and Rams played in New Orleans just two months ago (the Saints won, 45-35). Here’s how it looked:

I’m assuming that the Saints will once again go mono-black (sigh). The Rams could go with white pants, instead of blue. Either way, it’ll be a grim-looking game. I hope everyone will be rooting for the Rams, because (a) we don’t want to see a mono-black team in the Super Bowl, and (b) if the Rams win, they’ll presumably wear their throwbacks in the big game.

A few other notes:

• Saints running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II wore gold visor clips yesterday (click to enlarge):

That was new — they had previously gone with black.

• Speaking of Kamara: As you can see in that last photo (he’s the one on the left), he has a septum piercing and wears it on the field. If the Saints win on Sunday, would he be the first such player to appear in a Supe? I’m not aware of anyone else having done so.

• Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been wearing an unusually large number of jersey patches this season:

If the Saints beat the Rams, how will they fit the Super Bowl patch on his jersey? Will they scrap one of the other patches (maybe the “C”) to make room?

• After all four of the winners in the Wild Card round wore white jerseys, all four winners in the Divisional round wore colored jerseys.

• If the Saints and Chiefs win this Sunday, we’ll have the unlikely spectacle of both Super Bowl teams wearing blank nose bumpers. There are only three blank-bumpered teams in the league (the other one is Washington), so the odds of two of them meeting in the Supe are pretty long.

• All four teams in the conference championship games have two-word geographic locators: New England, Kansas City, New Orleans, Los Angeles. The last time that happened was in 2008: New England, San Diego, New York, Green Bay.

(My thanks to Adam Triesler, Joey Harvey, Robbie Margason, and @HelmetStalker for their contributions to this section.)

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Click to enlarge

Too good for the Ticker: There are bowling pins, and then there are bowling-themed pins! DIY genius Wafflebored recently scored one of the latter. Is that spectacular or what? Looks like it was presented to someone who tossed a 232 — one pin more than my high game. So this pin is something for me to aspire to, in more ways than one.

It was particularly nice of Wafflebored, who’s Canadian, to use an American dime for scale. Thanks, man!

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The state of criticism, continued: I’ve written before about the role of cultural criticism and my own role within that world. Now movie and music critic Rob Harvilla has written a good piece for the Ringer about the role of the pan (i.e., the negative review). Lots of interesting stuff here — worth reading.

To my surprise, though, Harvilla’s piece does not mention what I consider to be ur-pan of the past decade or so: New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells’s controversial 2012 takedown of Guy Fieri’s restaurant in Times Square, which went viral and is probably the thing for which Wells is best known. I like and respect Wells, but I’ve always thought it was a huge mistake for him to have written that review (among other issues, nobody who goes to Guy Fieri’s tourist trap cares what the NYT’s food critic thinks of it, and nobody who reads NYT food criticism would ever go to Fieri’s tourist trap in the first place, so the whole exercise seemed masturbatory). Seems like a big omission in Harvilla’s otherwise solid Ringer piece.

While we’re at it: New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis recently ran a very interesting piece on what it’s like to be a female film critic. Also recommended.

(My thanks to longtime reader Jason Hillyer for bringing Harvilla’s piece to my attention.)

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: Looks like the Braves’ “Chop Fest” event, which takes place this Saturday, will feature a uniform unveiling (from David Welch). … Also posted in hockey: The ECHL’s Worcester Railers wore Red Sox-themed uniforms, because the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox are planning to move to Worcester in 2021 (from MB Whitehead and Zach Pearce).

Football News: Reader Art Savokinas found a website that uploads original broadcasts of old Steelers games and sent us an example picture showing the Browns’ one-off orange numerals from the 1984 preseason. … FNOB alert! That’s Falcons OL Brent Adams in a 1977 game against the Bills. Interestingly, he was the only Adams on Atlanta’s roster that year, but the roster also included Bob Adams in 1976. So this jersey was apparently a holdover from the previous season and they didn’t bother to update the nameplate (from Dave Buchanan).

Hockey News: The OHL’s London Knights wore throwbacks — with a different shoulder yoke — to the 1994-2002 “Spiderknight” era, when they wore the same purple and teal as the then-Mighty Ducks and had a cartoonish logo. The Knights’ colors have otherwise always been green and gold, and in the ’80s they wore these helmets with a frontal stripe and logo (from Wade Heidt). … More from Wade: The QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes have also been wearing throwbacks (white and blue). … The ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers and Indy Fuel dressed up like SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs, respectively, even using the show’s font for their numbers (from Yancy Yeater). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: The ECHL’s Worcester Railers wore Red Sox-themed jerseys, because the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox are planned to move to Worcester in 2021 (from MB Whitehead and Zach Pearce). … Tris Wykes sent us this picture of a New Hampshire youth team using the old Thrashers template.

Basketball News: A huge Jazz fan who passed away this summer got his entire family Donovan Mitchell jerseys, which they received at Christmas (from Mike Chamernik). … In this 1960-61 team picture of now-Division II Elizabeth City State, they’re wearing jerseys with names-on-front (from Jerry Pemberton). … Here are the uniforms from yesterday’s Chinese Basketball Association All-Star Game.(from Jeremy Brahm).

Soccer News: An English amateur team in Leeds believes it’s the first to wear an anti-gambling shirt “ad”. … West Ham United’s women’s team have been wearing a proprietary, but plain, number font this season that I believe hasn’t appeared on the men’s team. … Japanese top-tier teams to have released kits or shirts recently include Shonan Bellmare, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, and Yokohama F. Marinos (first, second, and a local cities-based sleeve patch). … Two of the great shirt numbering-style idiosyncrasies of the past can be seen in this picture from Scotland: Celtic’s no-numbers-on-back and Airdrieonians’ tiny numbers shrunken to fit inside their trademark red chevron.

Grab Bag: Loud curling pants are now becoming a thing outside the Norwegian national team (from Ted Arnold and @ohhhsourry). … The NLL’s Colorado Mammoth wore solid black alternates (from Wade Heidt). … There’s a company that’s promoting mental health awareness by creating caps for a “sports league” with “teams” representing different disorders, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder, with “expansion teams” to come (from @bryant_rf).