What you see above is a spreadsheet showing the year-by-year facemask color progression for each NFL team since 1974, which is when the Chargers and KC became the first teams to deviate from the then-standard grey. The numbers across the top are the years, from 1974 to 2021, and the sequence of the teams in the left-hand column is based on when each team adopted a non-grey facemask (so the Chargers and KC are first, and the teams that still wear grey are last). The row for the Titans includes the years that the franchise played as the Oilers.
The lower chart shows how many teams wore a particular color in a season. The number in red above each year is the number of NFL teams that season.
The spreadsheet (which you can see in its native state here) was created by longtime Uni Watch reader Lee Stokes, who also provided a summary of his findings:
I didn’t include alternate or throwback facemasks — just the teams’ primary masks. The colors are not exact matches to the on-field masks but are the best representations my spreadsheet would allow. For the Seahawks, for example, you can see (I hope) that they’ve worn three different shades of blue.
Also, I categorized silver/chrome masks separately from grey (for example, the Lions wore grey from 1974-83 and chrome from 2017-21), although those two color designations on the spreadsheet look very similar.
• After the Chargers and KC, the next teams to abandon grey masks were the Giants and Browns in 1975 — two teams generally considered “old-school.” Both subsequently returned to grey (although the Browns then switched again, to brown).
• The Chiefs have had the same non-grey facemask for the longest period of time — 48 seasons. The Saints (46 seasons) and Steelers (45 seasons) are next.
• Raiders, Cowboys, and Cardinals are the only teams that have never worn a non-grey facemask.
• The Panthers, Jaguars, Ravens and Texans are the only teams to have worn only one mask color for their entire existence.
• With the Bills changing to white this season, they have changed facemask color five times. That ties them with the Jets for the most changes.
• In 1974, 88.5% of teams still wore grey facemasks. By 1978, it was down to 53.6%; by 1982, 25%. The grey percentage bottomed out at 9.7% in 1999. When the Giants went back to grey in 2000, that marked the beginning of a slight grey uptick: Four teams wore grey that year; by 2011 that number was up to eight.
That’s some good work there by Lee — my thanks to him for sharing it with us.
• • • • •
• • • • •
Click to enlarge
Casey at the bat: So much to like in this 1916 photo of Casey Stengel. The windowpane check pattern, the glove in the back pocket, the hip-positioned belt buckle — chef’s kiss!
(Big thanks to Phil for this one.)
• • • • •
• • • • •
Click to enlarge
Too good for the Ticker: Love this 1966 photo showing Versailles and North Dearborn High Schools, both from Indiana. My god, those checkerboard shorts!
(Big thanks to @BallparkHunter for this one.)
• • • • •
• • • • •
Uni Watch Screening Room: I’m not sure how many Uni Watch readers are into free jazz — not too many, I’m guessing — but if you are into it, or if you just want to learn more about an important form of avant-garde music, you should definitely check out the documentary Fire Music: The Story of Free Jazz, which my brother and I saw last night.
The movie is packed with performance footage and interviews with essential geniuses like Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Rashied Ali, and many more. Spectacular stuff, and some great storytelling and reminiscing. Here in New York, it’s playing at Film Forum; other cities where it’s playing are listed here.
Speaking of the movies, I was sorry to see that pioneering Black filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles died yesterday. He’s best known for his 1971 hit, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, which demonstrated the commercial viability of Black cinema, inspired a generation of Black filmmakers, and became the template for the Blaxploitation genre (and later became the basis of the excellent biopic Baadasssss, directed by his son, Mario Van Peebles).
But Melvin was also a novelist (in English and in French!), a successful Broadway director and producer, a successful options trader (he wrote a book about it), an enthusiastic amateur astronomer, and a lot more. Much like the musicians profiled in Fire Music, he was an American original and a unique character. He’ll be missed. R.I.P.
Baseball News: The Red Sox, who’ve currently won seven in a row, including the last five while wearing their yellow CC alternates, plan to keep wearing that uniform as long as they keep winning (thanks, Phil). … Blake Noud was looking at game-used Cardinals jerseys for sale at Busch Stadium and noticed that a Yadier Molina jersey had a little Velcro placket patch. I’ve seen that before here and there — some players prefer it. … On at least two occasions in the mid-2010s, switch-hitting Dodgers C Yasmani Grandal wore the wrong-handed batting helmet. … Blue Jays slugger Vlad Guerrero Jr. is now selling his own signature bat design. … Reader Jason Margolis was donating blood at Nassau County Police HQ on Long Island (thank you, Jason!) and saw this vintage NCPD baseball uni, along with an old team portrait. Look at the flap pockets on those jackets! … This article is from last year, but once more won’t hurt: Here’s a look at MLB uni numbers by historical WAR value (from Neil Vendetti). … This story about the history of baseball in Los Angeles’s Mexican-American community includes several great old uniform photos and a chorizo ad featuring a baseball-playing cartoon pig (from Kary Klismet). … This is pretty awesome: Hall of Fame curator John Odell schooling Lindsey Berra — Yogi’s granddaughter — on what a squatchee is (big thanks to Dan Cichalski).
Soccer News: New third shirt for Scottish side Hibernian (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: Here’s an animation showing the uniform history of German side Hertha BSC. … Kansas City NWSL will start playing at Sporting KC’s stadium next year. “This is a big deal, because SKC wouldn’t let them play there initially, so they’ve been playing at a minor league baseball stadium, which is as weird as it sounds,” says our own Jamie Rathjen. “They’ve had to cover over the diamond and pitcher’s mound, so it’s really seam-y and patchy in one corner of the pitch.” … A clue on Jeopardy! this week referred to “the Blackburn Rovers.” “A Brit would never talk about the Blackburn Rovers — they’re just Blackburn Rovers,” notes Max Weintraub. … Nike-outfitted teams across Europe’s top-tier leagues have new third kits (from Kary Klismet).
Grab Bag: Not uni-related, but longtime Uni Watch pal and ace glove restorer Jimmy Lonetti, who lives in Minnesota, embarked on an epic culinary project to create his own Detroit-style Coney sauce, and documented it in this absolutely heroic Twitter thread. Highly recommended. … With the Ryder Cup taking place in Sheboygan, Wis., the European team wore cheeseheads! (Thanks, Phil.) … Here’s a comparison of a modern auto racing firesuit with one from 2000. “It should also be noted that the newer suits are much more breathable than the old ones,” says David Firestone. … New logo for car maker Volvo. … NAIA school Evangel University has changed the name of its teams from “Crusaders” to “Valor” (from Phillip Dowden).
Good morning, and happy autumnal equinox! Autumn is my favorite season and “autumnal” is my favorite adjective (I like how the silent “n” suddenly gains a voice), so I count this as a Very Good Day.
Now then: One of MLB’s lesser-known initiatives is something called Fans at Bat, an program in which fans can register to offer feedback via online surveys. Fans at Bat participants are asked about things like their experiences at the ballpark, health and safety protocols — and, sometimes, uniforms.
The other day I heard from a Fans at Bat participant who had just been sent a new survey. It began like so:
The survey then offered views of several different throwback uniforms. The first two were road designs keyed to the Tigers’ last two championships — 1984 and 1968:
Next was a Detroit Stars design from the Negro Leagues:
My source, who prefers to remain anonymous, says there were two other designs that he didn’t get screen shots of: a road version of the Stars set and a uniform that he initially described as “a navy blue jersey with a white old English ‘D’ and white pants.”
When I heard this, I thought to myself, “Wow — they’re bringing back the one-day Sunday alternate from 1995!” But when I asked my source if that’s what he meant, he said it was just a plain navy jersey with a plain white “D” (no orange trim, no tiger walking through the “D”) — more like this recent spring training design:
Okay, so that’s as much as we know. It’s not clear what the timeline would be for any of these being added to the Tigers’ uni set, but they clearly have something cooking. Aside from that ill-fated 1995 Sunday alternate, which was retired after one game, the Tigers have never had a solid-colored alternate jersey. They’ve done a fair number of throwbacks over the years, but all as one-offs — never as a full-fledged season-long alternate. So if they’re thinking about adopting any of these designs as a true alternate, that would be a major shift for them.
It’s worth noting that, according to Bill Henderson’s jersey guide, the Tigers have worn all of these designs as throwback one-offs in the past. The 1984 road design, for example, has appeared as a throwback on three previous occasions: once in 2007 and for two games in 2012. (In each case, the Tigers wore it on the road as part of another team’s throwback promotion, not on their own initiative.) They have also worn the 1968 road throwbacks on two occasions: on the road in Seattle in 2006 and at home in 2018. They’ve worn the home version of the Detroit Stars uniform many times over the years for Negro Leagues throwback games, and they wore the road version just a few months ago. So while it would be a big change for them to adopt a new full-time throwback or alternate, they’re not really breaking any new ground with the design options.
Meanwhile: I encourage everyone reading this to sign up for Fans at Bat. We need to pack that survey electorate with Uni Watch readers!
• • • • •
• • • • •
The Ticker By Lloyd Alaban
Baseball News: A data card apparently came loose from Blue Jays C Alejandro Kirk’s wristband during a play at the plate last night, and Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier picked it up and brought it back to the Rays dugout. … Pirates LF Yoshi Tsutsugo appears to still be wearing blue socks from his time with the Rays instead of the Pirates’ black socks. The socks also have his former number, 25, instead of his new number, 32 (from Joanna Zwiep). … Nats IF Alcides Escobar (left) has his helmet logo riding higher than those of his teammates (from John Muir). … The Mets’ broadcast used the Red Sox City Connect number font when showing Boston’s lineup last night (from Shane Bua). … Former Astros Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio received Houston Sports Hall of Fame rings. Inside the rings are tributes to the late Ken Caminiti (No. 11) and Darryl Kile (No. 57) (from Ignacio Salazar). … The El Paso Chihuahuas, affiliate of the Padres, unveiled Loteria-themed jerseys (from our own Phil Hecken). … Six years after the Huntsville Stars of the old Double-A Southern League left for Biloxi, Miss., the city is renovating their abandoned ballpark into a new multi-use stadium (from Kary Klismet).
Hockey News: Flyers G Martin Jones’s new mask shows the team’s retired numbers inside the logos running along the backplate (from @kodywiddak). … The Coyotes have released renderings of their proposed new arena in Tempe (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Colorado College has opened the doors to its newly completed arena. … Here’s a video of the Abbotsford Canucks, affiliates of Vancouver, placing their inaugural logo at center ice (from Wade Heidt). … The Rochester Americans of the AHL added the city’s logo to their home ice red line (from Mike Weston).
Soccer News: There’s going to be a new USL Super League, which is to be the women’s equivalent of the USL Championship. It has a logo in the same style as the other USL leagues (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Burnley wore shirts with Alzheimer’s Society ads on them yesterday (from Mark Coale). … New shirts for Shamrock Rovers AFC of Ireland’s Wexford Football League (from Kary Klismet). … A CBS Sports graphic included Louisville City FC in their announcement of the expanded Leagues Cup. The problem is Louisville City plays in the USL Championship and is not eligible for the Leagues Cup (from Adam Franz).
Grab Bag: New logo for the NASCAR Xfinity Series (from Dell Michaels). … New kits for France’s national rugby union teams (from Sy Hart). … New unis for the Albany FireWolves of the National Lacrosse League (from Wade Heidt). … Golfer Justin Thomas revealed America-themed golf shoes for the Ryder Cup (from Griffin Smith). … Salford Red Devils, an English rugby league side in the Super League, have a new mascot (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: New marching band uniforms for the University of Nebraska at Kearney. … The U.S. Space Force unveiled prototype dress uniforms (from many readers). … New patches for the California City Police Department (from Timmy Donahue). … The Olympia Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, has sold its name, and people are angry about it (from Scott Turner).
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images; click to enlarge
There are few things in sports more routine and less novel than a Lions/Packers game. The two teams have been playing each other twice a year for nearly a century. But last night’s game between the two NFC North mainstays was uni-unusual on several levels.
The weirdness started yesterday morning at 8:30am Eastern, when the Lions announced via social media that they’d be wearing white pants:
#Lions will be wearing their white-on-white uniforms for tonight's road game against the Packers❕🏈
As you can see, that animation featured illustrations, not photos, and it wasn’t clear how photo-realistic the illos were. For example, would the pants really be plain white, with no stripes, or was that just a bit of stylistic minimalism? And would they really be going with white facemasks, as shown in the illos, or was that another bit of stylistic license?
Either way, the Lions were clearly staking out some long-dormant aesthetic turf. According to the Gridiron Uniform Database, the team’s long uniform history includes only two previous years in which they wore white pants: 1948 (the white britches were worn four times with red jerseys and three times with black jerseys that season) and 1949 (10 times, all with the team’s now-familiar Honolulu blue, which debuted that season). Here’s a shot from that era, showing Lions receiver Bob Mann:
So prior to last night, the Lions hadn’t worn white pants in over seven decades, and they had never gone mono-white.
Aside from the history, it seems a bit odd that the Lions waited until gameday to announce their new pants, right? But there are no NFL rules governing how many sets of pants a team can have or how much notice they need to give regarding pant choices. Remember how the Ravens surprised everyone by wearing gold mustard pants in 2015? Or when the Browns suddenly broke out the orange pants last year? In a hopelessly regimented NFL, pants are one of the last bastions of spontaneity.
Anyway: Once the game started, we learned that the pants really were striping-free, just like in the illustrations. No white facemasks, though — the Lions stuck with their usual grey (lots of additional pics here and here):
From my perspective, this was a case of “less is less.” The plain white pants were too minimalist, especially when paired with the white socks. Get some striping on the pants, some blue in the socks, and then you have a serviceable uniform — although I think they’d still be better off pairing the white jersey with the grey/silver pants or the blue pants.
I’ll say this much for Detroit’s mono-whites: At least they’re better than the mono-greys.
The question now is whether they’ll try these new white pants with the blue home jersey. From a strictly uni-based perspective, I’d say, “I hope not.” But when looking at the larger aesthetic framework, I find that Lions home games tend to look very drab because of the dome lighting and plastic turf (the Falcons and Saints have similar issues in their domes), so maybe the white pants would brighten things up a bit. I’d be willing to see them try that, just from a curiosity standpoint.
Okay, enough about the Lions — let’s talk about the Packers. As I mentioned in last week’s Monday Morning Uni Watch report, Green Bay wore a “TT” memorial decal for former GM Ted Thompson in their season opener two Sundays ago. The team made no announcement about this decal at the time (I just happened to notice its existence while looking at game photos), and I didn’t see anyone else report on it. I was wondering if maybe it was going to be just a one-game thing for the season opener.
Nope! Yesterday afternoon the Packers announced the decal’s existence, making it seem like a new thing (although not explicitly stating that):
USA Today’s packers blog basically copy/pasted the team’s tweet, reporting, “Packers to Wear Special Helmet Decal” — but not mentioning (or, probably, realizing) that it had already been worn the week before.
Last night was the Packers’ home opener, and they held a memorial for Thompson at halftime, so that helps to explain why they put special emphasis on the decal for this game. But why didn’t they even announce the decal’s existence for the previous game? When they finally announced it yesterday, why didn’t they acknowledge that they had worn it the week before? If they wanted to showcase the decal for the home opener, why not just skip it for the first game and then add it for last night’s game? It all seems a bit awkward to me.
Here’s a 1969 plastic Rico Petrocelli Red Sox figure, made by Transogram. On the back of the box you got a player card, and the box says “realistic reproduction” and “interchangeable parts.” Hmmm, does that mean you could stick his leg on his shoulder?
Now for the rest of this week’s picks:
• Let’s go back 113 years (!) for this May 1908 copy of The Baseball Magazine. Just 15¢, or $1.50 a year. Nice how the artist stuck the player’s arm right between the “E” and the “B.”
• The year 1974 brought us a short-lived upstart challenger to the NFL, in the form of the World Football League. It didn’t even last two full seasons, but teams such as the Southern California Sun did push the uni design envelope, as shown on this media guide. Hot pink over orange? A worthy predecessor to “Color Rash”!
• Check out the artwork on this ticket for the 1964 World’s Championship Games (also known as the World Series) between the Yanks and the Cards, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Not good if detached!
The reality, of course, is that for athletes who wear uniforms and fans who appreciate uniforms (to say nothing of journalists who write about uniforms), equipment managers deserve recognition every week. They help keep the players safe and looking good; they make sure all the gear is where it’s supposed to be; they react quickly to the endless churn of roster moves; they coordinate with suppliers, vendors, stitchers, and other specialists; they respond to player requests for customized gear; and a lot more.
Throughout my career, I’ve tried to shine a spotlight on the great work that equipment managers do (my recent interview with A’s equipment guy Steve Vucinich is a good example), but the reality is that I should probably do more to make people aware of the essential work that these dedicated professionals do. They are truly the unsung heroes of the uni-verse, and so much of what we enjoy would not be possible without them.
You can learn more about equipment managers this week by following the #EQAppreciationWeek2021 hashtag. And for any EQ guys who are reading this, thanks for all you do!
• • • • •
• • • • •
The Ticker By Alex Hider
Baseball News: Back on Sept. 10, Giants 1B Brandon Belt took the field wearing a homemade captain’s patch fashioned out of black electrical tape. It’s a little hard to see, but he took the captaincy theme a step further on Sunday by donning a boat captain’s hat in the dugout. Jameson Costello’s brother snapped that photo at the game in San Francisco. … Reader Raymond Neal found himself uni-watching while browsing a real estate listing — check out the framed Postum Cereal baseball team photos in this house. … Red Sox 2B Kiké Hernandez had a new “B” decal placed over his pine-tar covered City Connect helmet this weekend (from Sean). … The Twins, like many teams, allow their starting pitchers to choose the team’s uniform combo. Here’s how Minnesota’s starters make their picks (thanks to all who shared).
NFL News: Browns QB Baker Mayfield commissioned a pair of custom cleats to honor a fallen Cleveland-area military member, though he did not wear them in Sunday’s game. … Chargers lineman Michael Schofield III is on his third stint with the team and wearing his third different number (from Phil). … Remember when Panthers QB Sam Darnold tried (and failed) to draw the team’s logo? The Panthers put Darnold’s drawing on a helmet shell as a social media gag (from Rob Harrigan). … Woof! The movie poster for American Underdog, the Kurt Warner biopic, uses the wrong NOB color on the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” jerseys (from @JayJayDean). … Brandon Savokinas found a listing for a Steelers item that includes a helmet logo I’ve never seen before. … A Giants helmet visible during the Eli/Peyton Manning feed of last night’s Packers/Lions game appeared to have smaller front numbers than a typical Giants helmet (from @WFTuniforms).
Hockey News: The Coyotes have confirmed that they are reviving the white version of their Kachina sweaters for the team’s 25th anniversary this year, and that the colored and white versions will serve as their primary home and road jerseys for the upcoming season. They’ve also made the “Kachina” logo their new primary mark, and have relegated their old red coyote head sweater to alternate status — it’ll be worn eight times this season (thanks to all who shared). … It appears the Flyers’ sweater crest for this upcoming season has a thicker white outline than in years past (from @egajdzis). … Here’s a series of fan-designed NHL BFBS “dark-mode” jerseys (from Phil). … Neil Hochman found this 1990 Pro Set hockey card featuring Kings G Kelly Hrudey in an LA uniform, but still wearing Islanders pads and gloves. … The University of Maine will have a memorial helmet decal for head coach Red Gendron, who died in April (from Wade Heidt). … The Granite City Lumberjacks of the NA3HL will wear their 15th-season logo on the chest of their sweaters this upcoming season (from Paul D. Vold).
Basketball News: The Lakers have a new patch partner jersey advertiser. The first photo also provides a good view of the diamond-style maker’s mark that the NBA is using for its 75th-anniversary season. (thanks to all who shared). … The Arizona Republic (hard paywall) has more on the controversy surrounding the Aztec-inspired uniform concept the Suns floated last month (from Phil). … A player for Italian club Virtus Bologna recently suffered a serious knee injury after he slipped on an on-court decal (from Greg Franklin). … Two number changes for the Heat: PG Marcus Garrett will wear No. 0, and guard/forward Caleb Martin will wear No. 16 (from NBA numerologist Etienne Catalan). … We have our first look at the Nike-made, Jordan-branded uniforms that the UCLA women will wear this season (from Phil).
Good morning, and welcome to our second Monday Morning Uni Watch report of the 2021 season. Let’s start in L.A., where the Cowboys were forced to wear their navy jerseys because the Chargers opted to wear white at home. The same thing happened to the Cowboys for their season opener in Tampa, which means they’ve now begun the season by wearing navy jerseys for their first two games. According to the Gridiron Uniform Database, the last time that happened was all the way back in 1983!
Also, as you can see in today’s header photo, Dallas paired the navy tops with their white alternate pants, instead of the usual silver. The last time they wore that navy/white combo was Week 15 of the 2019 season.
In other news from a fairly uni-uneventful day around the league yesterday:
• The Colts wore pregame T-shirts featuring assorted messages relating to mental health awareness:
• An NBC graphic during the Ravens/KC game inexplicably showed a KC helmet with a black facemask — something the team has never worn:
• Speaking of that Ravens/KC game, I thought that was a pretty good-looking matchup — purple and all. The uniforms complemented each other really well, and football looks so much better on natural grass:
(My thanks to all contributors, including Cory Fisher, James Gilbert, Michael Hochman, Ryan Maquiñana, and @NFL_Journal.)
• • • • •
• • • • •
For all photos, click to enlarge
Halos get new halo: Notice anything unusual about Angels pitcher/DH Shohei Ohtani’s batting helmet logo in the photo shown above? It’s not the standard flat decal that most MLB teams use, nor is it the rubberized 3D logo that an increasing number of teams have been using in recent years.
No, it’s a peel-and-stick embroidered patch! The Angels began wearing the new headwear mark a little over a week ago, during a road series in Houston. Here are some additional views, plus a side-by-side comparison:
Only one other team uses an embroidered batting helmet logo. That would be the Cubs, who’ve used a cloth “C” patch since the late 1960s. To my knowledge, no other team has ever worn anything comparable until now, so the Angels are venturing into rarefied air here.
It’s odd that an also-ran team would make a change like this in the middle of a September road trip. Then again, maybe the perfect time to test-drive something new is when you’re playing out the string, away from the media glare. Either way, I was hoping to speak to Halos equipment manager Guy Gallagher to learn more about the thinking behind this move, but two different team sources told me that he prefers to keep a low profile — too bad.
(Big thanks to Twitter-er @ShrubbyG for spotting the logo switcheroo.)
Soccer News: All three Premier League games yesterday featured both teams wearing black armbands in memory of English striker Jimmy Greaves. … Bayern Munich revealed, and wore, a green and black Oktoberfest-themed kit in the Bundesliga on Saturday. … New second shirt for Australia’s Adelaide United, and two for A-League-only Western United. … Unusually for UEFA, a Women’s World Cup sleeve patch has been very inconsistently appearing on teams playing in those qualifiers, with most that I saw pictures of not wearing it. In their men’s competitions, various types of sleeve patches are ubiquitous. … In Japan’s men’s second tier, Blaublitz Akita midfielder Tomofumi Fujiyama ripped his shirt yesterday (from Jeremy Brahm). … Top-tier Polish side Legia Warszawa’s fourth kit has leaked (from Ed Zelaski). … FIFA is pushing to increase the frequency of the men’s World Cup to every two years, instead of the current four-year cycle.