I recently received an email from a guy named Dan Skinner, who explained that he was (a) a longtime Uni Watch reader and (b) the brand communications manager for Hebrew National hot dogs. He said an all-Jewish softball team that plays in a church league in Albuquerque, N.M., had contacted him a few months earlier to ask if it would be alright to change their team’s name to the Hebrew Nationals. “We decided we could do a lot more than just that,” said Skinner. “We designed a complete set of softball uniforms for them!”
I followed up with Skinner on the phone, after which he put me in touch with the softball team’s coach, Scott Fliegel, who agreed to a phone interview. Here’s an edited/condensed version of our conversation:
Uni Watch: First please tell me a little about yourself. Where do you live, how old are you, and what do you do for a living?
Scott Fliegel [shown at right]: Sure. I’m 55, I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I’m a project manager.
UW: Tell me about your team and the league that you play in.
SF: It’s a city league, called the Church League. Almost every team is affiliated in one way or another with a church. There’s a church on every corner here in Albuquerque, so there’s a lot of teams, in five divisions.
Our team, we’re not a super-religious bunch, but we were affiliated for many years with one of the four Jewish synagogues here in Albuquerque. But we recently decided to change the name of our team, and also to end that specific affiliation. Most everyone on our team is Jewish, and maybe involved with the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Federation, or any number of other Jewish organizations, but we didn’t feel we needed that connection to this one synagogue.
UW: Are the other teams all affiliated with Christian churches, or are there Muslim teams, Buddhist, or whatever?
SF: I wish there was more diversity, but all the other teams are affiliated with Christian churches. At one point a few years back our group had enough players to field a second team, so there were two Jewish teams.
UW: What was your team’s previous name?
SF: We were the Congregation Albert — that’s the name of the synagogue — Lions.
UW: And what sorts of uniforms did you have?
SF: We just had a V-neck jersey with “Congregation Albert Lions” on the front and a number on the back. We didn’t have uniform hats or pants. The requirement from the city is that we have a team jersey with a number on it.
UW: And how did you get the idea to change the name to Hebrew Nationals?
SF: The whole team had a vote toward the end of last season, because we knew we were going to change the name for 2019. There were a couple of other names in the running — I can’t remember what they were — but most people seemed to like Hebrew Nationals.
UW: I think a lot of people would have just chosen the name and not worried about asking the company for permission. I mean, if you had simply gone ahead and done it, they probably would never have heard about it, and probably wouldn’t have cared even if they did hear about it, don’t you think?
SF: Probably. But we have some lawyers on my team, and I was thinking I might as well call them, because I didn’t want to get in any trouble. But I had another motive, which was this: If they were okay with us using the name, would they also be willing to send us a logo that I could put on our jerseys? I liked the font, the colors, the whole thing.
UW: So instead of that, they offered to make a full uniform set for you?
SF: Exactly. Dan Skinner, our contact at Conagra [Hebrew National’s parent company], he said, “I don’t know if it’s okay to use the name — let me check with our legal department.” And then he got back to me and said, “Not only are we fine with it, but we all love the idea and want to sponsor the team.”
UW: And what was your reaction?
SF: I was like, are you kidding me? That sounded great! I said yeah, let’s do that.
UW: How involved were you and your teammates, if at all, in the design process?
SF: They came up with a few versions and sent us mock-ups, and we chose the one we liked best.
UW: I was a little surprised that they didn’t add an “s” to their logo on the jersey, so that it would say “Nationals,” to match your team name, instead of “National.” Did you discuss that with them?
SF: No, I didn’t — and I haven’t. We’re grateful for the uniforms. But I did notice that, and I do wish they’d included the “s.” [Dan Skinner, the Conagra guy, told me that changing the logo to pluralize it would have been too involved. — PL]
UW: They’re giving you caps, pants, and socks along with the jerseys. Do any of the other teams in your league do the full uniform like that?
SF: No, never.
UW: So you guys are really going to stick out as the most fully uniformed team in the league this year.
SF: No question.
UW: Do you have any concerns about looking like Hebrew National billboards or advertisements, or even looking like hot dog vendors?
SF: No, I really don’t.
UW: Were you a Hebrew National customer before this?
SF: I was! They sell ’em at Costco, and we all grew up eating Hebrew National hot dogs. And now I’ll definitely be a Hebrew National customer going forward.
UW: Are there any vegetarians on your team?
SF: You know, that’s a great question. I don’t know!
UW: If you did, you’d probably know. It would come up as part of the social camaraderie of the team — or it would have come up when you started talking about naming your team after a hot dog brand!
Nice story, right? Hebrew National also supplied the team with a pair of bats. The team won’t use them on the field (wood bats aren’t allowed), but they plan to use them as rally sticks:
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Paul, I thought you were opposed to corporate marketing on uniforms!” True enough. But come on, this is church softball league. And I like how everyone here has operated with such a sense of goodwill: The team didn’t have to ask permission to use the name (like I said in the interview, the company would probably never have known about it), but they asked anyway. And the company didn’t have to grant them permission, but they did — and then they decided to go the extra mile. And I’m happy to say that the word “branding” didn’t come up even once in my discussions with Skinner and Fliegel. The whole thing strikes me as more of a feel-good softball story than a corporate story, which is to the credit of everyone involved. I say it’s kosher.
One last thought: Having been to Albuquerque, and being a big neon sign fan, I know that the town has a gorgeous hot dog joint called the Dog House. Check this out (but you might want to mute the sound):
So good! Perhaps the team could pose for some photos under the Dog House sign, or get the restaurant involved in some way..? Alas, according to Fliegel, the team coach, the Dog House serves Vienna Beef dogs, not Hebrew National. Dang.
The Hebrew Nationals’ season begins on Monday. I for one will be rooting for them.
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NFL schedule announcements: It wasn’t so long ago that NFL teams would just say, “Here’s our schedule” and leave it at that. But nowadays teams commit some serious creative energy into publicizing their schedules. With the 2019 NFL slate announced yesterday, I was amazed by the lengths that some teams went to. The Packers, for example, came up with a fantastic Pac Man-inspired video clip — check this out:
Okay, so they got the Lions’ helmet wrong and apparently didn’t have time to update the Chargers’ facemask color, but still — so good! Kudos to all involved.
The Steelers’ announcement was based on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — a sweet nod to Pittsburgh’s own Fred Rogers, and it runs nicely against the grain of the NFL’s usual shock-and-awe messaging style:
More out-of-date helmets, but whatever. It’s about the most un-Cowboys-like thing I can imagine, and I mean that as a compliment.
I don’t know who’s coming up with these, but they’re more interesting that 90% of what we see during halftime reports, sideline reports, and so on.
(My thanks to CB Mallow, Anakin Forrest, Ephraim Vorzman, and Victor Quintana for bringing these to my attention.)
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Photo by Doug MacCash, NOLA.com; click to enlarge
Un-bead-able: The gentleman shown above is Vernon Martin Jr., and the photo was taken at last month’s Uptown Super Sunday Mardi Gras Indian procession. Martin’s incredible coat featured lots of incredible bead mosaics, several of which were Saints-themed. Dig (all photos by Doug MacCash, NOLA.com; click to enlarge):
(My thanks to Uni Watch New Orleans bureau chief Scott M.X. Turner for this one, along with my apologies for taking so long to post it.)
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Very belated (but welcome) response: I receive a lot of really special emails from Uni Watch readers. I think it’s safe to say that it’ll be a while before I receive one as good as the one that came in last night from a reader named Dennis:
Way back in 2004ish, when Mr. Lukas started his “Uni Watch” column on ESPN, I read his work and was a bit dumbfounded by the basis of the column. I struggled with the fact that a writer was writing about athletes’ uniforms rather than their accomplishments.
After reading the article several times, and pondering, I sent Paul an email. I don’t recall the details, but it was likely an unsuccessful attempt to be humorous by pointing out what I felt was the silliness of the “uniform” concept. I do however recall that I ended the note with the comment that “I hope I never meet you.” That’s a pretty horrible thing to say to anyone, but again, I was trying to be funny.
To my amazement, Paul responded with something along the lines of “Uh, thanks? I hope to never meet you too.”
Since that time, I have followed Paul’s column when I tripped across it, and really enjoyed the insight. But for 15 years my troll-like email has bothered me. It came across as mean-spirited.
So I apologize, Paul. You proved me wrong (not hard to do, so don’t let it go to your head).
Good luck in your new endeavor. I will follow, and someday I’d be happy to meet you.
That’s pretty amazing.
I don’t remember my original exchange with Dennis, although I do recall that there were plenty of emails like the one he describes during my early days at ESPN. I hope Dennis isn’t the only one who eventually Got It™ after some initial skepticism.
More importantly, Dennis’s note shows that it’s never too late to apologize — a lesson that’s good for all of us to remember from time to time. After I read his note, I called my brother and apologized for something petty I’d said to him a while back. It led to a good conversation. A win-win.
This whole episode is also a teachable moment about communication on the internet. Would Dennis have said something rude and demeaning to my face? Of course not. But the internet has this way of lowering inhibitions, erasing boundaries, and providing a sense of invisibility, anonymity, and lack of consequences. We’ve all been there (sometimes in the comments section of this website), but that doesn’t make it okay. Fortunately, as Dennis’s latest email shows, the internet often provides an avenue to make amends as well.
So thanks for that, Dennis. I’d be happy to meet you, too.
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Click to enlarge
ITEM! One-day T-shirt raffle: Reader Jon Eidukas likes our new Goodyear-inspired T-shirts so much that he bought one for himself and has generously offered to purchase one for a lucky raffle winner.
To enter this raffle, send an email with your color preference (green or grey), size, and shipping infoto the raffle address by 10pm Eastern tonight. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.
Meanwhile, for those who’d rather purchase a shirt instead of (or in addition to) winning one, here’s where you can order the green and grey versions.
Baseball News: Here’s some great newsreel footage from the first game ever played at Shea Stadium. See the uniform being worn by this ticket-taker? Sure enough, that matches up with the uni shown in an old stadium uniform catalog that I wrote about last year. … The Double-A Mississippi Braves, who play in Jackson, Miss., will wear 1990s Jackson Generals throwbacks on June 28. Their opponents will be the current Jackson Generals, a Diamondbacks affiliate based in Jackson, Tenn. So the game will be Jackson (Miss.) Generals vs. Jackson (Tenn.) Generals! (From Bill Hetrick.) … Two Padres — SS Manny Machado and LF Wil Myers — appeared to be wearing glossy batting helmets, instead of the team’s usual matte, in the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s game. They had worn matte up until that point. It was raining at the end of the game, so you might think that could have caused the glossy effect, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve asked Padres radio broadcaster and longtime uni-watcher Jesse Agler to investigate (good spot by Chris Fahrman). … The jersey logo for Adair County High School in Kentucky is positioned awfully high, and also manages to poach both the Braves and Florida State (from Josh Claywell, who says the team, which is called the Indians, also has Wahoo on the outfield fence for good measure). … Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper says he’d love to redesign many MLB teams’ uniforms (from Jason Diebold). … A street in Baltimore has been renamed for Frank Robinson, with the Orioles’ logo on the street sign. … Pepperdine will wear 1979 tequila sunrise throwbacks on April 28. The interesting thing there is that they were wearing that design when the Astros were still wearing it! (From Max G.) … New “Beer City” uniforms, celebrating regional craft breweries, for the Asheville Tourists. … Here’s a guide to the 24 Cincinnati locations with statues of Mr. Redlegs in throwback uniforms. … Here’s some rare newsreel footage of one-armed St. Louis Browns OF Pete Gray in action. … Not uni- or visual-related, but still pretty amazing: Reds 1B Joey Votto popped out to first base last night — the first time in his 13-year career that he’s ever done so. Really! … White Sox SS Tim Anderson appears to have a “TA”-monogrammed belt (from Malcolm MacMillan). … The Mets apparently misspelled P Noah Syndergaard’s surname on their own scoreboard (from Eric Abneri).
Football News: Broncos coach Vic Fangio is having the players wear their game jerseys, instead of practice jerseys, in minicamp. He says it’s because the game jerseys are tighter-fitting, so the players won’t develop bad jersey-grabbing habits. One positive result of this is that the ads normally worn on the team’s practice jerseys are nowhere to be found on the minicamp game jerseys (from Brian Spiess). … Here’s a video clip that shows keyboardist/vocalist Mike Lindup of British band Level 42 wearing a Bears jersey with an inaccurate number font (from Jim Vilk). … 1970s Packers RB Barty Smith wore a “B. E. Smith” NOB early in his career, because WR Barry Smth was also on the roster. Rare to see two initials! … The NFL will have four games in the UK this season, including two at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium. According to this ESPN article, the Packers are the only NFL team not to have played in the UK. … Some new uni number assignments for the Colts (from Jarrod Campbell). … The AAF filed for bankruptcy yesterday (shocker). According to this paywalled WSJ article, the league listed among its assets “property including jerseys, pads, and other football equipment,” which will presumably be sold off to help pay creditors. … Hmm, did the Jags’ schedule announcement include a tease of a new 25th-anniversary logo? (From Jason Farmand.) … What’s even better than TV numbers on the sleeves? TV ads! That’s a player for the Kragujevac Wild Boars, a team in the Central European Football League (from Jim Roddy). … I’m not sure what a “custom compression top” is, but Florida has them and they look pretty weird (from Hunter G).
Hockey News: After the Wild agreed on Tuesday to keep playing in their current arena through 2035, team owner Craig Leipold and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter posed with a No. 2035 Wild jersey (from @faithson77). … Athletic Knit — a company that I confess I’d never even heard of before — is now the official jersey provider of the ECHL. … At a memorial service for a longtime Maple Leafs usher who died earlier this month, family members wore Leafs jerseys with No. G1 — short for Gate One, which was the gate where the deceased usher worked.
Basketball News: Inaugural uniforms for the Fraser Valley Bandits of the new Canadian Elite Basketball League. “The team is based in Abbotsford, British Columbia,” says Canadian uni specialist Wade Heidt. … Here’s a Baylor uniform that apparently wasn’t part of the school’s recent uni unveiling (from @squatcheeontop).
Soccer News: New kit outfitter for Reading FC (from Ed Zelaski). … Some of next season’s kits are being released, even though it’s still this season. Among the new releases: for Liverpool and Scottish junior team Clydebank (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … The first pictures of the next-gen Adidas Nemeziz 19+ boots have leaked, and so have new kits from Leicester City, São Paulo, and Santos (all of those from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh: New kits for CA Bragantino.
Grab Bag: New uniforms for Italian volleyball officials (from Jeremy Brahm). … Cycling news: Team Sky will officially become Team Ineos on April 30, a day earlier than planned, with the new name to debut at the Tour de Romandie, but their new kit will be held back for the Tour de Yorkshire (from Matt Dowell). … The sports world is noticing that if rapper Drake wears a team’s jersey, it often turns out to be bad luck. … After a bit of local controversy, the Laguna Beach (Cal.) City Council has voted to keep the American flag-based deisgn on the city’s police cars. … U.S. special operations forces are getting a new combat helmet. … A comment from Adidas Tennis on this Instagram post indicates that the company will no longer include the “RG” logo, for Roland Garros, on its French Open attire: “[O]ur official partnership with this tournament has ended, so we’re no longer in a position to include that logo on our outfits” (thanks, Brinke). … Helvetica, the world’s most popular typeface, is getting a facelift. … I still call it Gateway Motorsports Park (from Chris Hickey). … The Olentangy (Ohio) Local School District’s new logo is a bit of a head-scratcher for local residents. … Oh, for fuck’s sake: The flight-progress maps on airplane seat-back video screens are about to become flooded with targeted advertising (WSJ link) (from Jack Wade). … Notre Dame has hired its first female leprechaun mascot (from Kary Klismet).
Photo by Mike Nowak/Los Angeles Chargers; click to enlarge
In a total surprise move that I hadn’t heard even a whisper about, the Chargers announced yesterday that they’re redesignating their powder-blue alternate uniform as their primary colored uni. Fans have been clamoring for this move literally for decades, and now the team has finally responded.
Even better, as you can see above, they’re going with a yellow facemask. In recent years, they’ve worn their usual navy masks with the powder blues, but the yellow mask on the white helmet shell nicely echoes the yellow shoulder bolts on the white background — a big improvement. (As an aside, you may recall that the 1974 Chargers were the first team ever to have a colored facemask. I told the behind-the-scenes story of that move for ESPN two years ago.)
A few thoughts:
• While I heartily approve of this move — who wouldn’t? — I’d love it even more if the Chargers ditched their current jersey template and number font and went back to this version.
• I’d also like to see the Chargers bring back the yellow pants, which pair quite nicely with the powder blues. We’ve seen teams occasionally add new pant options without any warning (the Ravens, e.g.), so maybe the Chargers will do that at some point this season. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping for.
• The announcement didn’t mention if the navy uni, which had been the primary, will now become the alternate. I asked a team source about that and was told, “I’m not sure. I think there will be more info on our full slate of unis like we usually put out sometime shortly before training camp.”
• This announcement provides us with another view of the NFL 100 logo on the collar. I’ll say it again: While I didn’t like the logo design itself when it was unveiled, I think it works surprisingly well on the collar.
One final thought: I imagine the elevation of the powder blues is a bit of salt in the wound for fans in San Diego who are still smarting from the loss of their team. If you’re one of those fans, I feel for ya. Hang in there.
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Click to enlarge
Saving face: Remember these? Ski masks that looked like NFL helmets — they were called Game Faces, and they were sold in the early 1990s.
If you ever wore one of these — or if you still wear one now, for that matter — I’d like to talk to you for a story I’m working on. Thanks.
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ITEM! Important dates approaching: Two big dates on the Uni Watch calendar will soon be upon us. One at a time:
• Friday, May 17 — exactly one month from today — will be the 13th anniversary of the first post that ever appeared on this website. That means it will also be our annual Purple Amnesty Day — the one day of the year when I accept purple-inclusive membership card orders. So if you’re a Vikings, Rockies, Hornets, or Northwestern fan, get set to place your order! Once those 24 hours elapse, the purple window will slam shut and you’ll have to wait until next year.
As has been the case for the past few years, designer Bryan Molloy and I have been working on a special piece of purple Uni Watch apparel, which will likewise be available for only 24 hours (here’s what we offered in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018). I don’t mind saying that what we have planned for this year is very, very good. It is brilliantly, deliciously hideous, and I think you’re really going to like it. A lot!
• Nine days after that, on May 26, is an even more important date: the 20th anniversary of the very first Uni Watch column being published in The Village Voice in 1999. In other words, May 26 will be Uni Watch’s 20th birthday.
I have some things in the works for that, but the calendar is working against us this year, because May 26 falls on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. So what should I do — should I do a big celebratory anniversary post on the actual date (I’m sure Phil would gladly cede the Sunday to me), even though our readership is usually lower on weekends and lower still on holiday weekends? Should I do the celebratory post on the preceding Friday, even though that will actually be two days before the official anniversary? Should I do it on the Tuesday after the holiday, even though that will be two days after the anniversary?
Hmmmm. If it were a less momentous anniversary, I’d just push the announcement to Tuesday. And that’s probably what I should do this time as well — but there’s something about the 20th anniversary that brings out the literalist in me.
What do you folks think?
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The Ticker By Lloyd Alaban
Baseball News: Angels C Jonathan Lucroy, who wears No. 20, wore a No. 21 belt last night (from Andrew Hallonquist). … The Yankees weren’t home on Sunday, so yesterday was their Jackie Robinson Day game. Although every player on both the Red Sox and Yankees wore Robinson’s No. 42, the Yankee Stadium scoreboard listed each player with their regular numbers (from Alan Kreit). … Umpire Tony Randazzo’s No. 42 patch honoring Jackie Robinson was peeling off as he officiated last night’s Giants/Nationals game (from Tim Haller). … Majestic has fixed the Brewers’ “ball-in-glove” logo on their alternate jersey sleeve patch to add the white spot in the webbing of the logo, matching what New Era did with the new cap (from Chance Michaels). … More Brewers news: OF Christian Yelich wore a California Strong logo on his right batting glove last night. You may recall our recent Uni Watch entry about Yelich’s connection to that charity (from Jakob Fox). … The Trenton Thunder, Double-A affiliate of the Yankees, will be the Pork Rolls for a handful of nights this season. Here’s a Frankenhat they’ll be giving away for one of those nights (from John Cerone). … The Cedar Rapids Kernels, Single-A affiliate of the Twins, wore their road greys at home again last night (from Josh Claywell). … No pictures yet, but the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Single-A affiliate of the Brewers, will be the Brats for two games this season (from Brian Kerhin). … The Lakewood BlueClaws, Single-A affiliate of the Phillies, are letting fans choose the team’s caps for a game in August. Fans will have to choose between a pork roll-themed cap, an egg-themed cap, or a cheese-themed cap (from @NachoScout). … The Salem Red Sox will become the Beer Mongers for Thursday home games (from Clark Ruhland). … The Toledo Mud Hens, Triple-A affiliate of the Tigers, will become the Toledo Stingers to celebrate the Toledo-based Ohio National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing during Military Appreciation Weekend (from Patrick Horne). … The Round Rock Express, Triple-A affiliate of the Astros, have released six tequila sunrise-themed caps to celebrate their 20th anniversary (from Ignacio Salazar). … Singer-songwriter Prince Buster is seen here wearing a Reds cap in the 1964 BBC documentary This Is Ska. Note the white outline, which was only worn by the Reds in 1955 (from Scott Rogers). … This sportswriter picked the best and worst designs from MLB’s most recent holiday merch dump (from our own Phil Hecken). … The University of Central Arkansas will be auctioning off the cancer awareness jerseys they will be wearing this weekend. Proceeds from the auction will go to a fund for a local high school student who is battling ovarian cancer (from David M. Kuhn). … Philadelphia will host the 2026 MLB All-Star Game. Former Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel was on hand for the announcement and wore a jacket with a patch from the 2009 ASG. He managed the NL squad in that game (from @HOF_for_Charlie). … This is interesting: We all know how players will sometimes wear an influential player’s number as a way of honoring him, but many Hispanic players avoid wearing No. 21 (NYT link) as a way of honoring Roberto Clemente, creating a sort of de facto number retirement.
Football News:Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki, who wore No. 86 last season, will be wearing No. 88 for this season, a number he wore at Penn State (from Blake Fox). … Like many of us, some Michigan State football fans aren’t too pleased with the team’s new alternate uniforms (from our own Phil Hecken).
Basketball News: From Magic reporter John Denton: “A member of the @OrlandoMagic bought several of the headbands that tie in the back and PG DJ Augustin is debuting one of them in the morning shootaround. ‘You look like you work at Bennihana,’ a teammate said to DJ. Augustin said he would not wear the headband in tonight’s game” (from Mike Chamernik). … Here are the uniforms for the Saskatchewan Rattlers of the new Canadian Elite Basketball League (from Raul Garcia). … Former NBAer Shaquille O’Neal was quizzed on his old uni numbers (from Mike Chamernik).
Soccer News: Paris Saint Germain’s team store has a €5 option to add a Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral patch upon purchase of any shirt. The €5 will go to the funds to restore the cathedral (from Mike D.). … Mexican League club Club America wore mismatched socks on Sunday in support of diversity and inclusion (from John Flory).
Grab Bag: Hockey One, a new Australian field hockey league, has released the kits for all seven of its clubs (from EP Conrad). … The State of Michigan has released new license plates featuring the logos of Detroit’s Big Four sports teams (from Mike Cole). … The University of Washington Hand Center has a really clever Washington Huskies-inspired logo (from Matthew Spencer). … Here’s a Time article on how the Champion brand became popular again. … New logo for IKEA. … The logo for the DC Comics movie Birds of Prey has leaked. … Stade Toulousain, a rugby union team in France’s Top 14, will wear shirts featuring an outline of the Notre-Dame on Sunday (from @Stumpy7780).
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Our latest raffle winner is reader Scott Curl, who’s won himself a free Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to him, and big thanks to reader Blair Hough for purchasing and donating the membership. We’ll have another raffle (not for a membership this time) tomorrow. — Paul
Yesterday was Jackie Day, so everyone wore No. 42. It’s one of my favorite uni-driven promotions and unquestionably Bud Selig’s greatest (only?) positive legacy. I understand why some people think only one player per team should get to wear No. 42, I understand why some fans and broadcasters are annoyed when they can’t keep track of the players, and I understand why reader Mark in Shiga will inevitably complain that most of the teams didn’t vertically center their numbers properly after removing the NOBs, but I like Jackie Day just the way it is. I love the sea of 42s, I love all the NNOBs, I love to see more players going high-cuffed for the occasion, and I love seeing all of the team rosters on MLB.com showing nothing but 42s. Would I want them to do this more than once a year? No. But for one day each season, it’s a treat.
The new wrinkle this year is that the Dodgers wore Brooklyn throwbacks — a nice idea, but the execution was a bit of a hodgepodge. The caps were supposedly based on 1947 — the year of Jackie’s MLB debut — but the cap logo, as you can see in the photo above (that’s Jackie’s children, Sharon and David, posing with Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts and catcher Russell Martin), was comically large compared to the real thing. Here’s another shot:
As for the jerseys, the Dodgers didn’t add red numbers to their jerseys until 1952, so it didn’t make sense to include that for yesterday’s game either. And why couldn’t they have used throwback batting helmet logos instead of using their usual “LA” logo?
They did make certain throwback adjustments, though. The back numbers, for example, were thicker than usual. Here’s a side-by-side-comparison (I managed to get almost identical shots of Clayton Kershaw, exactly one year apart; click to enlarge):
They also used raglan sleeves instead of set-in sleeves — a subtle but discernible tailoring modification (click to enlarge):
They also used a retro version of their chest insignia, although the differences are extremely subtle and hard to discern (click to enlarge):
In other Jackie Day developments:
• Yesterday was Patriots Day in Massachusetts, so the Red Sox wore their “Boston Strong” uniforms — the first time that that uni has gotten the 42 treatment:
• The Angels — one of a handful of teams that wore solid-colored alternate jerseys yesterday — had particularly large uni numbers, or maybe it’s just that their number font has such thick strokes:
• As you know, the Reds are the only team not wearing the MLB 150 patch this season, because they’re wearing their own 150th-anniversary patch instead. But last night they did wear the MLB 150 patch, in conjunction with the Jackie patch:
• Speaking of the Reds, shortstop Jose Iglesias wore the wrong cap. He had the team anniversary mark instead of the Jackie Day logo (click to enlarge):
• Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper wore lots of UCLA-themed gear. Jackie did attend UCLA, of course, although I suspect this particular tribute owed more to the fact that Harper has an endorsement deal with Under Armour, which is UCLA’s outfitter.
• Did you know that former MLB outfielder Dave Henderson wore No. 42 as a shout-out to Jackie? I didn’t. His sons threw out the first pitch in Seattle last night, wearing replicas of their dad’s old Mariners jersey:
Nice moment prior to tonight's #Mariners game when Dave Henderson's sons threw out the ceremonial first pitch wearing their dad's trident jersey. Hendu wore #42 to honor Jackie Robinson. #Jackie42pic.twitter.com/uW2tEtL6LH
• As usual, the umpires also participated in the uni-driven celebration:
• The 42isms did not include dugout gear, however — or at least not for the Red Sox:
So that was yesterday. The 10 MLB teams that had yesterday off will wear No. 42 today. This will result in certain teams doing the 42 thing for a second consecutive day. The Orioles, for example, were 42-clad yesterday against the Red Sox, and they’ll maintain the 42 treatment for tonight’s game against the Rays, who did not play yesterday. Similarly, the Red Sox, who wore 42 at home yesterday, will wear 42 on the road for their game tonight against the Yankees, because the Yanks were off today. (Personally, I wish they’d restrict the 42 treatment to one day. If a team has the day off, they can wear 42 the next year.)
As a fascinating footnote to Jackie Day, here’s a really interesting article about how the Dodgers misguidedly assigned No. 42 to a rookie pitcher in 1969. Highly recommended reading.
Finally, there’s this, which is a good note to go out on:
(My thanks to all contributors, including Mike Barnes, Mike Chamernik, Jakob Fox, @ejl1984, and of course Phil. My thanks also to Chris Creamer for research assistance.)
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Who’s got the button: As longtime readers may recall, back when Pedro Martinez pitched for the Mets in the late 2000s, we noticed that he often had his top jersey button buttoned but his second button unbuttoned, which sometimes created a Napoleonic gap in his jersey that a reader — I no longer recall who — dubbed the “Pedro Porthole.” Last night I noticed Mets second baseman Robinson Canó doing the same thing (see above).
I figured his button had come loose and that it was just a random thing. But just in case, I did some quick photo research — had Canó previously sported the Pedro Porthole during his brief tenure with the Mets? Yup:
Hmmm. Had he also done this with the Mariners? Yup:
Hmmmmmmmmm. Had he also done this with the Yankees? Yup!
(In case you’re wondering: I chose photos of road jerseys because it’s harder to discern the buttons and buttonholes on a white jersey. But he does it with home jerseys too.)
To be clear: Canó doesn’t always leave the second button open. But based on my admittedly uncomprehensive photo research, I’d say he does it a good 85 to 90 percent of the time. That’s a much higher rate of Pedro Porthole-age than Pedro himself had. Perhaps we should rename this phenomenon the Canó Cavity or something along those lines. The Canópening? Something else?
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EPL uni-tracking project: I received a note last night from reader Tom Gronek, as follows:
For a while now, I’ve been trying to find something that would show me what Premier League teams have worn from week to week. So about a month ago I decided to start my own website where I created a “road map” of what each team has worn. Since I don’t have a fancy graphics software, I did the jerseys up as a cross-stitch with a full-season recap as well as individual weekly recaps.
I tried to keep true to the real things but some may not have ended up 100% accurate. In most cases, I included special patches, alternate advertising, etc., such as the poppies that every team wore during Week 12.
Had these, you bet I did! Here’s a set of 1971 Kentucky Colonels Pro Star Portraits from one of the masters, Nick Volpe. We bought our gas at Marathon in the Louisville suburb of St. Matthews to get these. They also offered a poster and a set of thermal cups, one of which I still have!
Now for the rest of this week’s picks:
• Last week we featured a 1970 game program for the Boston Red Sox. More good stuff this week with this 1979 Minnesota Twins scorecard. Nice and clean with current team logos on the cover. And just 75 cents! The seller notes this was for the 1979 home opener vs. the Angels (a 6-0 loss against Nolan Ryan, as it turns out).
• Look at this 1970 movie ad. Joe Willie had just pulled off his Super Bowl win, and the bright lights of Hollywood beckoned. The movie was called Norwood. The ad proclaims “It’s Good Time Glen and Super Joe, Doin’ What They Do Best!” With a cast that included Pat Hingle, Dom DeLuise, and Meredith MacRae, how did I miss this one? Wait, I would’ve been 10, that’s how.
Luv Ya Blue! This Houston Oilers gumball helmet is still MIC (mint on card) and has an offer for Orange Products’ great goalpost kit — just a buck!
Seen an item on eBay that would be good for Collector’s Corner? Send any submissions here.
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ITEM! Another one-day raffle: Reader Blair Hough, who won one of our recent membership raffles, has generously paid it forward by purchasing another membership, which we’re going to raffle off today.
To enter, send an email to the raffle address by 7pm Eastern today. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Please join me in thanking Blair for donating this prize.
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’Tis the season: Don’t look now, but Cinco de Mayo is just a few weeks away, which means it’s the perfect time for our Uni Watch Spanish-language T-shirt, available in a wide range of colors (click to enlarge):
You can order them here. My thanks, as always, for considering our products.
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ITEM! Cap update: Eighty-some Uni Watch Classic Caps arrived yesterday at the home of reader Mark LaFountain, who, as I explained last week, will now become our official Uni Watch Cap Fulfillment Manager. Mark has placed the caps in some storage bins that I provided for him, and now we’re just waiting for some cardboard box mailers. Looks like they’ll arrive by Thursday, so we should be open for cap business on Friday. Stay tuned, and thanks for your patience.
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KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is about a little metal thingie with geographic coordinates stamped into it. Check it out here.
Hockey News: Kellogg’s has been running a Frosted Flakes commercial during the NHL playoffs. Reader Ted Arnold notes that the snippet of game footage at the very beginning of the ad shows the Canucks vs. the Golden Knights. “The Canucks aren’t even in the playoffs (nor were they last year), so no way this is even remotely accurate,” he says. “How hard would it have been to have at least gotten a clip from an actual playoff game, even if it was from last year? A bit lazy on the part of the Kellogg’s marketing team and their ad agency.” … The statue of Sir Walter Raleigh at the Raligh Convention Center has been dressed in a Hurricanes uniform (from James Gilbert). … Beginning this fall, all ECHL sticks, helmets, visors, gloves, and pants will be supplied by Warrior (from Thomas Hill). … New uniforms for the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders (from Wade Heidt).
As you probably know by now, MLB released its holiday uniforms on Friday. Phil had a full rundown on Saturday. If you haven’t already read that, start there so you’re up to speed on who’s wearing what.
Personally, I’ve never seen the need for any of this stuff and I’d be happier if teams just wore their regular uniforms on the various holidays. This program has always been more of a merch dump than an on-field design program (the latter following from the former, which is the opposite of how it should work), and it’s hard to think of a single instance of a team whose look has ever been improved by one of these holiday uniforms. I know some of you like to buy some of the caps, and that’s fine, but it’s neither here nor there from a Uni Watch perspective. As far as this website is concerned, the only thing that matters is how it looks on the field.
That said, some of this year’s holiday sets are better than others. Here are my thoughts. (One aside: SportsLogos.net’s Chris Creamer’s article about the unveiling had the web’s best graphics, showing all 30 teams’ designs for the five cap collections. He has graciously allowed me to reproduce those graphics here; for all of them, you can click to enlarge.)
Ma’s Day (May 12)
Thank god they’ve abandoned the pink-trimmed jerseys and are only doing chest ribbons this year. The caps, meanwhile, are an embarrassing mess. They really need to stop this promotion already. Grade: F
Armed Forces Day Long Weekend (May 17-19)
The never-ending quest to celebrate the military and create camouflage merch continues, this time with a three-day celebration for a one-day “holiday” that most people weren’t even aware of. Thankfully, there are no camouflage jerseys, although the little chest patch is both too much (any excuse to use stars/stripes, sigh) and too little (having type on the top of the circle but not the bottom makes the patch seem oddly unfinished). As for the camo caps, they’re brutal, as usual. Three fucking days of this nonsense? Ugh. Grade: F
Memorial Day (May 27)
I never thought I’d live to see the day when an American sports league adopted the remembrance poppy as its symbol of mourning. (For the record, the Cowboys and Jags wore poppies for an NFL game in London in 2014, but no Big Four league has ever gone poppy-clad on a league-wide basis.) It’s actually an appropriate symbol for the holiday! And they’re only wearing it for one day instead of for the entire weekend, imagine that! And in the biggest surprise of all, they’re not selling the poppy-clad jerseys and caps, perhaps because they finally realized how inappropriate it is to merchandize people’s deaths.
I would’ve preferred just the poppy by itself, without the “Lest We Forget” inscription, and the cap patch is pointless, but this is still a huge step in the right direction. Bravo. Grade: A-
Pa’s Day (June 16)
They can call the cap fabric pattern “tie-dye” all they want, but that ain’t tie-dye. A cynical merch dump. Looks better than pink, but that’s about the best thing you can say about it. Grade: D
Independence Day Festival (July 4-7)
Did you know that Independence Day is four days long? Neither did I, but that’s how long we’re going to have to look at these caps. It’s not clear why MLB was willing to scale back the holiday creep on the other holidays but not for this one.
Anyway: Most of these designs leaked two weeks ago (the Brewers’, Tigers’, Mariners’, and Angels’ leaks turned out to be wrong). As I wrote at the time, “It’s always nice to see throwback logos, of course. It would be even nicer to see them without the stars/stripes nonsense.” On the plus side, no pandering jerseys this year! And some of the caps are actually pretty nice (the finished versions look more polished than the video game leaks). But many of them look awful. Did I mention they’ll be worn for four days?Grade: C
All-Star Workout (July 8)
Sorry, but I cannot bring myself to assess workout gear for an exhibition game. Let’s move on to…
All-Star Game (July 9)
Not bad! While I’d prefer to see the players just wear their regular caps, these are pretty tasteful, if not quite tasty. No ridiculous star-shaped metal grommets this year, either. Grade: B+
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Gross: In case you missed it, the Reds and Cardinals wore advertisements on their batting helmets for their two-game weekend series in Mexico. The ads, which were not announced ahead of time, were bigger than the team logos. Naturally, they were placed on the camera-facing side of the helmet, depending on whether the batter was left-handed or right-handed. The result looked a lot like a replica giveaway helmet for the first 5,000 kids (or 50 ballplayers) in attendance.
According to a source, “It’s just for the Mexico Series. It’s an MLB initiative — the teams had nothing to do with it and had no option to decline or opt out.”
To my knowledge, this is the first time MLB teams have had uniform advertising for a regular season game anywhere other than Japan. (Previous games in Mexico have been ad-free.) It raises the question of whether the Red Sox and Yankees will have uni ads for their games in London in late June. And if you think the Yankees would never do that, think again — they already did it for their season-opening games in Japan in 2004.
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April 15: Today is Jackie Day. As usual, all uniformed MLB personnel, including the umpires, will wear No. 42 and go NNOB, causing consternation for broadcasters (and a few Uni Watch readers), although I love love love it. There will also be a “42” sleeve patch (unnecessary) and a “42” cap patch (ugly, like all cap patches).
Today is also Patriots Day in Massachusetts, which means the Red Sox will have their traditional 11am start and wear their “Boston Strong” uniforms. I believe this is the first time since the advent of those uniforms that Pats Day has coincided with Jackie Day, so we’ll see these uniforms get the No. 42 treatment for the first time.
The 10 teams that aren’t scheduled to play today will go 42-clad tomorrow. You can see additional plans, events, and festivities that are in store here.
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Rough night for my old employer: When I started following baseball in 1972, my favorite player was Mets outfielder Tommie Agee. I quickly learned that the way to tell a serious sports media outlet from a frivolous one was that that the serious ones correctly spelled Agee’s first name as “Tommie,” while the frivolous ones got it wrong as “Tommy.” So I cringed when ESPN ran a little retrospective about the 1969 Mets during last night’s Mets/Braves broadcast and got Agee’s name wrong (see above).
Turns out that was the least of ESPN’s problems last night. At one point they had Hank Aaron in the booth for an extended chat (he sounded great), and they showed an image of Aaron and Jackie Robinson. Great idea, what with Jackie Day taking place today, except for, well…:
(My thanks to @data_guy for the Agee screen shot.)
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The old woman and the sea(food): My mom turned 95 (!) last week. She wanted to celebrate with a lobster lunch, so yesterday my brother, the Tugboat Captain, and I took her out to a seafood restaurant that was one of her favorites back when our family still lived in the town where I grew up. She hadn’t taken apart a lobster in several years, but it turns out that it’s like riding a bike.
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The Ticker By Jamie Rathjen
Baseball News: Now that the Yankees have P Adam Ottavino wearing No. 0, they currently have players on the roster representing all the tens digits from zero through nine. Do any other MLB teams meet that standard? (From Eric Abneri.)
Hockey News: Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy got new pads for their series against the Blue Jackets, proceeded to lose twice, went back to the old pads, and lost again (from @TheGoalNet45). … Every NHL arena has an extra referee’s uniform that is always No. 35 and an extra linesman’s uniform that is always No. 85, just in case the officials’ luggage gets lost. That’s what apparently happened to ref Francois St. Laurent in Calgary on Saturday (from @Univers47). … In the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs, two teams used mirror-image Penguins-style unfiorms.
Basketball News: The Hawks’ NBA 2K esports team, Hawks Talon GC, now have their own uniforms and court for use in the game (from @unavion). … Iowa United, a team in this summer’s The Basketball Tournament made of alumni from the state’s four Division I teams, will have former Iowa PG Nicholas Baer wear No. 40 in honor of former Hawkeye PF Chris Street.
Soccer News: The NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars revealed this season’s first shirt. They have ironically undergone a bit of an identity crisis with their solidly city flag-based scheme, having worn both white and blue as first choice in the past, as well as black last season (from Allie Kutrubis and Steve Johnston). … League-mates Utah Royals have a new second shirt. … The NWSL also has a new NOB font to go with its new number font, which hadn’t appeared yet because no teams wore NOB in preseason. … Twitter-er @UntillTheNight sent us this picture of New York City FC center-back Anton Tinnerholm wearing long sleeves, which Adidas was to no longer offer MLS this season. As NYCFC’s second kit was held over from last season, it would seem they still had some long-sleeved shirts around; Tinnerholm has worn short sleeves with the first kit. … Bayern Munich fans continued their season-long uni-related protest last week against not only the use of colors besides red and white in the team kit, but now the mint-green color of this season’s second shirt, calling it “something you would wear on holiday.” … Japanese team Yokohama F. Marinos released a shirt ostensibly comemmorating the creation of the city’s port in 1859 as one of the first Japanese ports to be opened to foreign trade. … A game was delayed for five minutes when a player from Scottish junior side Renfrew FC was told to remove his underwear (from Mark Coale).
Grab Bag: Reader Justin Hicks tells us that golfer Alex Norén apparently fixed a hole in his glove with a bandage at the Masters. … Cross-listed from the football section: Tiger Woods’s caddie, Joe LaCava, is a huge New York sports fan, so he regularly wears team apparel while caddying — including a Saquon Barkley jersey at the Masters — and also has a Giants-themed yardage book (from Phil and Joe Loch). … The NLL’s Saskatchewan Rush wore jerseys in the University of Saskatchewan’s colors on Saturday for a USask alumni night. “Uni Watch colours!” says Wade Heidt. … The day before, the Rush were on the opposite end of another uni-related promotion for “cancer awareness” by the San Diego Seals (also from Wade). … Reprinted from Friday’s comments: A number of Formula One drivers wore one-off helmet designs for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, which was the championship’s 1000th race (from reader/commenter Dane). … Staying in motorsports, Antonio Losada began a database of MotoGP liveries. … Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign provides color codes as well as “storytelling” for the campaign colors (from Joel Bingham). … Uniform advertising has now spread to rugby scrum caps (from @stumpy7780).
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Our latest raffle winner is Daniel O’Connell, who won the copy of Todd Radom’s book, Winning Ugly. Congrats to him, and thanks to Jeff Drumheller for donating the book. We’ll have another one-day raffle tomorrow.