[Editor’s Note: Today we have a very special guest entry from Chris Callan, who’s going to tell us about his incredible bobblehead-restoration work. Enjoy. — PL]
By Chris Callan
Bobblehead dolls, or “nodders,” have been an interest of mine for years now. I had a couple of them when I was a kid, but I didn’t start collecting them until 2001, when my hometown St. Louis Cardinals added them as part of their stadium giveaway promotions. My first one was for my favorite player (and the team’s current manager), Mike Matheny. Although I’ve missed a few along the way, I’ve tried to keep up with the Cardinals’ stadium giveaways since.
After the first few years collecting the these stadium giveaways, my focus widened a bit, and I began going after some of the vintage bobbleheads. Unlike today’s giveaways, these 1960s dolls were made of papier-mâché, not resin, and are much more susceptible to being damaged. Finding one that has survived the past 55-plus years unscathed is pretty rare. Therefore, a vintage bobblehead in excellent condition will command a premium price, which makes collecting them a bit more of a challenge for the average fan on a budget.
About five years ago, I stumbled across a vintage Cardinals mascot bobblehead on eBay for only $25. The price reflected the very poor condition of the doll, which had numerous chips, cracks, faded paint, and 50 years’ worth of dirt. My initial reaction was to pass, but then it occurred to me: “Hey, I’m a professional artist, and capable with a brush — why not try to fix it up myself?” So that’s exactly what I did. I won the doll without a bidding war and set out to fix it up.
First I had to give it a good cleaning, and then address damage that needed repair. Cracks, dents, and chips had to be filled in and sanded down smooth. I used modeling compound and plastic wood filler for this. Next came repainting, trying to match as closely as possible to the original colors (although in this case I turned the gold base green). Once all the paint was dry, I replaced the original uniform decals with ones that I had created on my computer and printed on water-slide decal paper. Here are some before/after shots [for all photos in this entry, you can click to enlarge]:
It would be fair to say that there was a bit of a learning curve with this first attempt, but I was still pleased with the results, and it went straight into my collection.
Having completed this experiment, I did the same thing with another vintage Cardinals doll, and then another. Realizing how much I enjoyed this process, I started searching for other damaged vintage nodders, which I fixed up and resold on eBay (making it clear that they were restored and not original). I also started to receive requests from collectors. As I went, the projects all seemed to fall into one of three categories:
1. Restorations: Taking a damaged/deteriorated vintage doll and bringing it back to its original condition/appearance.
2. Replicas: Taking an original vintage doll and making it look like another vintage manufactured doll (usually one that is more scarce, and more valuable).
3. Customs: Converting a vintage doll into a unique, one-of-a-kind creation never before made.
One replica project I did a while back was to try to create a Houston Colt .45s bobblehead featuring a black player, which is one of the scarcest, most sought-after nodders in the hobby, often selling for prices in the thousands. In addition, the first edition of Houston Colts dolls showed the player holding a pistol. This was changed to a glove and bat in subsequent releases, making the pistol dolls even more desirable. Here’s an example of one of those dolls:
The primary challenge I faced with re-creating this bobblehead was establishing a starting point. Acquiring an original Colts doll to use as my base — even one in poor condition — was not easy, or affordable. So instead I chose to modify a more common bat/ball vintage doll, adding the pistol myself. This required some additional sculpting to achieve the right form. The bat had to be removed and replaced with a pistol; the chest lettering had to be raised; and some variations in the facial features also needed to be addressed.
Here are some photos showing the modification process, followed by the finished product:
I had no intention of deceiving someone into thinking they were getting an original Colts doll. When I posted it on eBay, I included a detailed description of the work that was done, along with progress photos. My goal was to provide an opportunity for a collector who would otherwise have no chance of owning an original Colts doll, at a fraction of the cost.
I received a lot of very positive feedback, but I also heard from serious collectors who were concerned about how a replica could be misrepresented down the line. Even if I was being honest and upfront, the next guy might not be. These concerns seemed valid, and I didn’t want to do anything to harm the hobby, so I decided not do any more replica projects. Since then, I have stuck to straightforward restorations, and custom projects that can’t be confused with an original production doll.
Here are some before and after pictures of a few of the restoration projects I have done — a Washington Senator, a Houston Oiler, and a Los Angeles Dodger:
And here’s a custom job I created — a Mr. Redlegs doll that I turned into a Reds boy. (There were no Reds boy bobblheads produced in the 1960s, so this would never be mistaken for an original production piece.)
My most recent project a Willie Mays mini-bobblehead. A few popular player dolls, including Mays, were rendered as full-size dolls, but Mays was never made as a mini. I had to sculpt the head completely from scratch, using a full-size Mays doll as a guide.
I continue to receive special requests from collectors. The majority tend to be restorations, but the custom projects are probably the most enjoyable! It’s very rewarding to take something that has deteriorated and bring it back to life, making it beautiful and desirable once again.
Paul here. Is that some great stuff or what? Big thanks to Chris for sharing his expertise with us.
And there’s more: A week or so after Chris sent all of this content to me, I received a package in the mail from him. Here’s what was inside (click to enlarge):
Pretty cool, right? For the helmet logo, Chris created a variation on the Uni Watch “winged stirrup,” transforming it into a winged football sock:
Like the rest of Chris’s bobbles, this one started out as something else. Here’s the original. (Also, it’s worth noting that this isn’t the first Uni Watch bobblehead. Comrade Robert Marshall created a series of Uni Watch bobbles back in 2009, and those were custom-cast from scratch, not repurposed vintage dolls. One of the all-time great DIY projects!)
But no Paul Hornung betting slips or Brett Favre painkiller prescriptions: The PBS show Antiques Roadshow recently made a stop in Green Bay, and naturally some people showed up with Packers memorabilia. Of particular interest to us from a uni-related perspective is the helmet shown above — a prototype of the gold helmet design that Packers GM Ron Wolf wanted to introduce in 1993 as part of a new uniform design. Wolf even got then-scout and future Packers GM Ted Thompson to model the new uniform but eventually backed off on the uni-redesign plan.
The guy who brought in the helmet to Antiques Roadshow said he got it at a thrift shop for $25. He later got Wolf to autograph it.
Another person brought in a big helmet-shaped sign that her father stole from Lambeau Field during the celebration/melee following the Packers’ victory in the Ice Bowl. She later got it signed by former Ice Bowlers Jerry Kramer and Doug Hart.
You can see the full Antiques Roadshow episode here. The segment with the Ice Bowl sign comes up at the 1:05 mark, and the helmet prototype appears at 29:29.
(My thanks to Miles Cliatt for letting me know about this one, and to Don Stein for the Ted Thompson factoid.)
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It’s officially a trend: Last week I noted that Mets players Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Céspedes were wearing uni-numbered belts. Last night A’s starter Kendall Graveman was doing likewise. So this is definitely a thing.
Belts are the most overlooked part of an MLB uniform. I know that the ones with the slightly larger, flashier buckle are made by Mizuno, but I have no idea who makes the more standard-looking ones. I’ll try to find out today.
Does anyone collect MLB belts? I did a search on “game-used MLB belt” (which was complicated significantly by the existence of Giants first baseman Brandon Belt) and came up with two auction listings: one for a belt and cap once worn by former Mets reliever Scott Schoenweis, which sold for $31.67, and another for a lot of six belts worn by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, which sold for $179.25. (It’s not clear why Larkin saved a bunch of belts from various stages of his career. Hmmmmm.)
About the only time an MLB belt gets any attention is when it breaks. Articles about the future of the baseball uniform often mention that the belt is an antiquated accessory that needs to go. And of course it did go in the 1970s and ’80s, as many teams switched to elastic-waistbanded pants. But by 1993, they’d all switched back to belted pants, and pants have remained belted in the quarter-century since then. So belts are a fixture, if a rather inconspicuous one. Which is why I’m all geeked out about these uni-numbered belts — it’s the first real change in this uniform element in a generation.
(My thanks to @justin_sr for letting me know about Kendall Graves’s belt last night.)
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Two Giants in their field: Who’s that posing with Giants skipper Bruce Bochy, while holding a Bochy gnome figurine? It’s none other than our own “Collector’s Corner” columnist and diehard Giants fan Brinke Guthrie, who got to meet Bochy last night when he made an appearance at a San Francisco sneaker shop. Looking good, Brinke!
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Raffle reminder: In case you missed it earlier this week, our friends at Ebbets Field Flannels are raffling off a super-cool Santurce Cangrejeros T-shirt. Full details here.
While we’re at it: As you may have noticed, Ebbets is currently running an ad in our right-hand sidebar, and they’re also partnering with us to create and sell the first Uni Watch cap, which should be available in mid-May. They have great stuff — please consider them, and the rest of our advertisers, for your shopping needs. Thanks.
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The Ticker By Paul
’Skins Watch: A high school in Turners Falls, Mass., whose teams had previously been called the Indians, is asking students and residents to vote on a new team name. The voting runs from now through May 16.
Baseball News: What, no anniversary patch? The Phillie Phanatic made his debut 40 years ago yesterday. … I haven’t heard anything about the D-backs’ bullpen cart since the beginning of the season, when it was reported that most relievers were declining to use it. Also, the Tigers were reportedly introducing a cart, but I haven’t heard anything more about that either. Has the whole project been quietly shelved? … Why were the Expos and White Sox playing each other, and why were they both wearing road uniforms? That photo’s from the 1970 Hall of Fame Game (from Chris Mayberry). … The New Orleans Baby Cakes will become the CrawDaddys for one game on May 1. … Highly touted Braves prospect Ronald Acuña Jr., who was just called up, has a tilde and JROB on his jersey (from Richard Grossman). … Peoria Richwoods High School in Illinois has striking green uniforms with white pinstripes, similar to the Cubs’ old reverse-pinstriped powder blue road uniforms (from Ben Zoss). … After the Houston Rockets won their NBA playoff game last night, Rockets G Gerald Green wore a Nolan Ryan Astros tequila sunrise jersey (from Ignacio Salazar). … Several readers have noticed that the Blue Jays now have uni numbers on the back of their sweatshirt/pullover thingies. Does any other team do that? … Speaking of new pullovers, the umpires appear to have a new design with a grey shoulder yoke. Or at least I think it’s new — a few people have told me it actually debuted last year, although I don’t recall seeing it until now.
Pro Football News: “I work for a wine and spirits chain in Florida and we are always getting promo items that vendors hope we will sell,” says Jon Solomonson. “This Broncos koozie caught my eye. They aren’t shown on the manufacturer’s website yet.” … The 2019 Grey Cup will be played in Calgary (from Wade Heidt). … The Titans have been working out with their new helmets and practice jerseys. Not liking that new number font. Lots of additional photos are in a gallery that you can access by scrolling down on this page (from Nathan Dearman). … The Vikings are holding a “garage sale,” in which they’ll be selling off lots of team gear. … Buncha good stuff from Pro Football Journal, including shots of Bears P Bobby Joe Green going without a facemask in 1970 and Bears QB Bobby Douglass with a serious rear-jersey tear.
Hockey News: It’s a little hard to see, but former Boston Celtics coach Tommy Heinsohn was on hand for last night’s Bruins playoff game, and the team gave him a Bruins jersey with green uni numbers (from Lance Harris).
Basketball News: Cross-listed from the hockey section: It’s a little hard to see, but former Celtics coach Tommy Heinsohn was on hand for last night’s Boston Bruins playoff game, and the team gave him a Bruins jersey with green uni numbers (from Lance Harris). … Here’s the backstory on the logo for the Augusta 706ers, a new team in the ABA. … Cross-listed from the baseball section: After the Rockets won their NBA playoff game last night, G Gerald Green wore a Nolan Ryan Houston Astros tequila sunrise jersey (from Ignacio Salazar).
Bob Andrews was the first of several readers who recently alerted me to some amazing footage that has just been posted to YouTube. It’s from Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 14, 1931, when the Red Sox were in town. I definitely recommend watching the whole video (see above), but here are some choice visual details that I picked out along the way:
1. The Yanks were using what many people now call “the Red Sox font.” The font is actually called McAuliffe, and has been used by many MLB teams over the years:
As for the Sox, here’s the number font they were using at the time:
2. Here’s a good pregame shot of the Yanks’ Earle Combs, Tony Lazzeri, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth. As you can see, their pinstriped jerseys were blank. The interlocking “NY” wouldn’t be added until 1936. Also, note the centered belt loops, the grey and white undershirts, and the varying sleeve lengths.
3. Here’s a good look at the Red Sox cap (along with a nattily uniformed usher in the background). 1931 was the only year that they wore this cap design:
4. As for the rest of the Sox uniform, the video doesn’t provide many good looks at it, but here’s a decent shot, alongside the Dressed to the Nines mock-up for reference:
5. This is interesting: The video shows Babe Ruth taking batting practice — with a catcher! The catcher is wearing an unnumbered jersey.
6. There are several shots that show the Yankees’ first base coach wearing a dugout jacket:
7. Speaking of jackets, in this next shot you can see Yanks pitcher Red Ruffing wearing a jacket on the bases as he advances from second to third. Nothing unusual about that, of course — we’ve all seen pitchers wearing jackets while running the bases — but it got me wondering when pitchers started doing that. Anyone know? Also, this shot shows that Yankee Stadium, like many ballparks of that era, had a dirt path from the mound to the plate.
8. Prior to the start of the game, a brass band came out and played the national anthem while both teams stood at attention and the American flag was raised on a flagpole — all of which took place in deepest “Death Valley” reaches of centerfield. Yes, the flagpole was in centerfield:
Here are two more shots that show the flagpole. In the second one, you can see that the Yanks’ first base coach removed his jacket later in the game:
(The centerfield fence was later moved in a bit, and the monuments — which were in play — were added.)
9. Behind one of the dugouts — I’m not sure which one — there were some bigshots seated in what appear to have been “normal” chairs, rather than stadium seats:
10. Finally, here’s a shot of the crowd that shows two African American gentlemen in the foreground. When I spotted them in the crowd, it made me realize that old baseball crowd shots almost always show nothing but white people — something I hadn’t thought about before. Interesting to see that these black men were there on Opening Day.
That’s it. Again, I strongly recommend watching the whole video — great stuff. My thanks to everyone who brought it to my attention, and especially to Bob Andrews, who was the first to do so.
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Raffle reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, our friends at Ebbets Field Flannels are raffling off a super-cool Santurce Cangrejeros T-shirt. Full details here.
While we’re at it: As you may have noticed, Ebbets is currently running an ad in our right-hand sidebar, and they’re partnering with us to create and sell the first Uni Watch cap, which should be available in about three weeks. They have great stuff — please consider them, and the rest of our advertisers, for your shopping needs. Thanks.
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The Ticker By Alex Hider
Baseball News: Stance is releasing a new line of MLB mascot socks. We’ll see if any of these designs actually make it on the field. … The good news? Yankees SS Didi Gregorius is getting his own commemorative bat day. The bad news? The Yanks misspelled his name on an ad behind home plate (from @njmaxrod and Chris Riz). … The Mets wore their blue road jerseys for the first time all season last night. That Rusty Staub memorial patch kind of gets lost, doesn’t it? (From Tyler). … Mike Colvin spotted a DIY Gleyber Torres T-shirt at the Yankees game on Monday. … Jose Bautista is currently playing Triple-A ball in the Braves’ system, and has been wearing a single-flapped Braves helmet with a Gwinnett Stripers logo. Minor leaguer helmets are normally double-flapped. MLBers can wear their single-flapped MLB helmets while they’re on rehab assignments, but Bautista isn’t rehabbing an injury — he’s just getting into game shape (from Steve Vibert). … Brad Eenhuis has noticed that the Mariners’ NOB lettering leads to some kerning issues. … Bryan Brunsell came up with a series of MLB concepts based on city nicknames. … At least a couple of Texas Southern players were wearing Tulane batting helmets when the two teams met last night (from Andrew Alvarez and @MrCatsPatrick). … Penfield High School and Hilton High School in New York played each other on Monday in nearly identical black-and-red uniforms (from @kurtblumenau). … And that wasn’t the only red/black-vs.-red/black matchup this week. Two high school softball teams near Lafayette, Indiana, also dressed similarly (from @Jffdmrly). … Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Kentucky has added a memorial patch for the team’s coach, who passed away on Monday (from Josh Claywell). … Jack 9 Baseball Magazine saluted this year’s Hall of Fame class on its latest cover design but, oddly, chose a shot of Trevor Hoffman in a Marlins uni. … Angels rookie P Justin Anderson’s left-sleeve team logo patch was missing last night (from Chris Cooper).
NFL News: This graphic about the NFL Draft chatter on Twitter uses a strange logo to represent the Bears. I believe this graphic took the logos from team Twitter avatars, but the Bears have since changed theirs. Anyone know what this logo is? (From Danny Pedroza.)
NBA News: Someone went full Larry Legend at the Celtics/Bucks playoff game in Boston last night (from Martyn Bailey). … Rapper Meek Mill was released from jail yesterday afternoon and subsequently rang the bell prior to last night’s Sixers playoff game. According to Blake Fox, the Sixers usually give the ringer a customized jersey, but Meek Mill was presented with an Embiid jersey — probably due to the short notice.
Soccer News: Couple of 2018-19 kit leaks from Josh Hinton, including Dortmund’s and Newcastle’s home kits. … FC BATE Borisov of the Belarusian Premier League unveiled 2018-19 kits yesterday (from Ed Zelaski). … Still don’t understand soccer’s offsides rule? This scarf, made by supporters of Chattanooga FC of the NPSL, will help you out (also from Josh Hinton). … The San Francisco Glens of the Premier Development League have a new jersey advertiser. …This podcast packs lots of soccer kit talk, and features Classic Football Shirt’s Douglas Bierton and Museum of Jerseys’s Denis Hurley. … Remember that time when Manchester City’s Joey Barton had his shirt stolen by an opposing team’s fan and couldn’t enter the game? (From James Gilbert).
Grab Bag: All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team, are adding rainbow hues to their iconic black kits as part of a “Diversity Is Strength” campaign (from Michael Scebold). … The Melbourne Demons and Richmond, both Australian rules football team, wore uniforms commemorating Anzac Day — a holiday commemorating fallen Australian and New Zealander soldiers — during yesterday’s match (from James G). … The Chicago Steel, a junior hockey team in the USHL, are keeping fans updated through the playoffs with a bracket that includes all the team’s logos (from Steve Johnston). … The teams at Bradley-Bourbonnais High School in Illinois go by the Boilermakers, and they take plenty of inspiration from Purdue (from Jim Stone).
[Editor’s Note: Collin Wright has been tracking the NBA’s uniform matchups throughout the 2017-18 season. With the regular season now over, here’s his final report. Enjoy. — PL]
By Collin Wright
When the NBA announced that home teams would be free to wear whichever uniforms they chose this season, we wondered how that would play out. After crunching the final numbers here are the results: 43% of all games had the home team in white and road in color; 32% had the home team in color and road in white; and 25% were color vs. color.
Here our final week-by-week chart, complete through the end of the season (click to enlarge):
Some interesting notes and numbers of note to wrap up the season:
• Here’s a look at how frequently each uniform “edition” was worn at home, on the road, and overall:
• Similarly, here’s a look at the frequency of each uniform color at home, on the road, and overall:
• White vs. blue was the most common matchup throughout the season, occurring 373 times, and red vs. blue was the most common color-vs.-color matchup, occurring 65 times. Here’s a chart showing all color matchups — the two colors in each bar represent the color pairing (click to enlarge):
• The Lakers had the most color-vs.-color games — 35 (but 12 of those were when they wore gold at home, so those same matchups would have occurred under the old uniform system). Close behind were the Rockets, who had 34 color-vs.-color games, and the most color-vs-color wins (28). Here’s a chart showing the relative frequency of color-vs.-color games for all teams (click to enlarge):
• The Knicks had the fewest color-vs.-color games (five) and did not win any of them.
• The Nets, Bulls, and Rockets did not wear their primary white uniform at home at any point during the season (although the Bulls did wear their white fauxback “City” design at home five times).
• The 76ers were 8-0 in their light cream-colored uniform and the Rockets were 4-0 in their “City” design. Those are the only designs that were undefeated during the season. The Timberwolves (green) and Raptors (“North”) each had a uniform with only one loss.
• The Grizzlies were 1-13 in their light blue uniform, “earning” it the title of the season’s least successful uniform. The Suns were 1-11 in their throwback set, the second-least successful design.
• Seven games featured both teams wearing blue, and two games featured both teams wearing grey.
• Neither Denver nor Phoenix ever broke from the unitard look — their leggings and socks always matched the base uniform color.
• At the other end of the spectrum, the Pelicans were the most likely to wear contrasting elements. They were mismatched in 76% of all games, including their final 58 games. The last time they went full-unitard was December 4th.
• And here’s how matching and mismatching accessories varied by uniform “edition” (click to enlarge):
That’s it for 2017-18. Thanks for the chance to share this information with you during this season — it’s certainly appealed to the more meticulous side of my personality.
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War paint on the mound: The Twins were getting blown out last night at Yankee Stadium, so they brought in a position player — center fielder Ryan LaMarre — to get the last two outs in the bottom of the eighth, thereby creating the rarely seen spectacle of a pitcher wearing eye black (see above).
That got me thinking about what is probably the most famous instance of an eye black-clad pitcher: Game Four of the 1990 ALCS, when Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens wore eye black (and was ejected for barking at umpire Terry Cooney in the second inning). I found some video from the game and discovered something interesting: Clemens wasn’t wearing eye black while warming up before the game:
But just as I had remembered, he did indeed have eye black during the game:
(My thanks to @ajs0889 for letting me know about LaMarre being on the mound last night.)
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Another raffle: Last week our friends at Ebbets Field Flannels raffled off a New York Knights T-shirt to a lucky Uni Watch reader. This week they’re raffling off one of these awesome Santurce Cangrejeros T-shirts.
To enter, send an email with your preferred T-shirt size and your shipping address to the raffle address by 7pm Eastern this Sunday, April 29. I’ll announce the winner next Monday.
Also, if you scroll down to the bottom of any Ebbets web page (including that one with the Santurce Cangrejeros shirt), there’s a link where you can get on their email list. Feel free to sign up if you like.
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Collector’s Corner By Brinke Guthrie
Found this set of Cleveland Browns media guides from the 1970s. Pretty plain and nondescript, using the same helmet art every year, until the end of the decade. But the 1979 edition immediately caught my eye as an old Cowboys fan from back then: I would swear the Browns used a 1975 photo of Cowboys lineman Blaine Nye and running back Robert Newhouse for that shot. (Here is a close-up.) I recognized their helmets right away. You can see the resemblance in this photo from later in the play. Am I right?
• The eBay seller notes that this 1970s custom-made Steelers rug was “commissioned by a fan” and is “one of a kind.”
• I’ve never seen a 1970s Chargers helmet buggy with the navy blue helmet, until this one! No yellow facemask, but looks to be in perfect shape (although it looks like they put the bolts on the wrong way, no?).
• The seller for this Celtics jacket says it was game-worn from the 1960s, and fits more like a sweater. Did they have the NBA patch on jackets back then?
Seen an item on eBay that would be good for Collector’s Corner? Send any submissions here.
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KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is a really good one — it’s about a beer can tab. Check it out here.
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The Ticker By Alex Hider
Baseball News: Twins P Jake Odorizzi paid tribute for his former teammate, White Sox P Danny Farquhar, by writing “FARQ” on his cap last night. Farquhar remains in critical condition after suffering an aneurysm rupture during a game this weekend (from Chris Hanel). … Seattle also paid tribute to Farquhar by hanging his Mariners jersey in the dugout last night as they played the White Sox. Farquhar played for the Mariners from 2013 to 2015 (from Mike Chamernik). … This Memorial Day, Lids and New Era invite you to celebrate monarchy. Of course, hundreds of thousands of US servicemen and -women have given their lives to uphold democratic values and fight tyranny, but “We Salute Our Kings” seems like a particularly bad holiday slogan for a country whose founding was based on opposing the concept of royalty (from Casey Hart and @DapLajoie). … In an effort to combat sign stealing, Rockies catchers have been wearing quarterback-style wristbands that contain an elaborate code (from Mike Chamernik). … The Astros will give away a purple-and-gold Alex Bregman jersey at this weekend’s Bayou Bash Street Festival. Bregman played college ball at LSU (from Ignacio). … Baltimore Magazine has a feature about the hot dog race videos the Orioles play at Camden Yards (from Andrew Cosentino). … Brian Hertz was re-watching a 1999 Dodgers game and found a sign that would probably fit better in Nationals Park. … The Durham Bulls will wear jerseys designed by a local clothing company on May 31 (Paul Beardsley and @GoatJerseys). … New road pullovers for the Kannapolis Intimidators, a Single-A White Sox affiliate (from Sean Jankowski).
NFL News: Playing into the whole pirate thing, the Bucs will have a parrot deliver their third round draft pick to an announcer at the pirate ship inside Raymond James Stadium later this week. … This 1979 TV Guide cover has a great example of infinite regression on a football helmet (from Ray Hund).
College Football News: Alabama posted a video yesterday that includes a look at the team’s national championship rings (from Hayden Kay). … It’s always been rumored that birds flock to Boise State’s blue turf because they think it’s a lake. Now, we have photographic evidence (from Mike Chamernik). … Many HBCU fans cheered when Russell Athletic decided to stop making uniforms. But that now means more expenses for already taxed athletic departments (from Steven J. Gaither ). … IMackulate Vision Gaming has announced it will be releasing an college football video game — the first since EA Sports killed NCAA Football amid a lawsuit scare — in 2020. The game will come pre-loaded fictional teams, though players would be able to create up to 126 teams filled with custom-made players — meaning players could conceivably create, share and download most of the NCAA.
NBA News: Reggie Bullock of the Detroit Pistons says he’d like to see NBA teams wear rainbow jerseys in support of the LGBT community (from Mike Chamernik). … Ohio State will use one of these four court designs beginning next season (from KT).
Soccer News: Our own Jamie Rathjen has an update from yesterday’s lede: D.C. United wore theirEarth Day kits on Friday in scrimmages against Maryland and the USL Richmond Kickers, since they didn’t play this weekend. … Tons of stuff today from Josh Hinton: Manchester City has clinched the Premier League championship, and will wear these jerseys for pre-match workouts for the remainder of the season. The shirts include the word “CHAMPIONS” above the team’s crest. … Qatar Airlines has agreed to buy advertising on AS Roma’s jerseys. It’s a disappointing development, as Roma was one of the few remaining European clubs to regularly go ad-free (also from Ed Zelaski). … Club America of Liga MX has that new kits pay homage to Mexico. … Olympique Marseille’s home kits for 2018-19 have leaked (also from Ed Zelaski). … Finally, clubs often add stars to their jerseys to commemorate championships, but Louisville City FC supporters did them one better. They bought the club an actual star to commemorate Louisville’s 2017 USL title. Thanks Josh! … We may have had this before, but Arsenal’s 2018-19 home kit has leaked (from Megan Brown). … Remi Walter of France scored a goal for OGC Nice earlier this year — with the retail tag still attached to this jersey (from Hue).
Grab Bag: The Chicago Tribune has a good one-on-one with Tom O’Grady, a sports design expert (fom Phil and @GameplanChicago). … The Worcester Railers, a minor league hockey team in the ECHL have turned the faceoff dots in their arena into Pepsi ads (from Stan Cupp). … New chrome helmets for Syracuse lacrosse (from @PhillyPartTwo).
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A quick final thought: My latest ESPN column, about the new Defender catcher’s mask and its interesting implications for the realm of equipment endorsements, was published fairly late in the day on Friday, so you may have missed it. I’ve gotten a lot of very positive feedback on this one — I think you’ll like. If you haven’t already read it, check it out here.
[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Ticker assistant and soccer maven Jamie Rathjen, who’s going to fill us in on the latest MLS developments from the weekend. Enjoy. — PL]
By Jamie Rathjen
When this season’s MLS kits were revealed, many observers, including myself, felt that they were bland. Too many monochrome and mono-white kits, not enough use of team colors.
Then the league had this past weekend’s Earth Day promotion.
MLS gave us a glimpse of a dystopian uniform landscape, because all of the teams were outfitted in mono-white or mono-black for the promotion, supporting the charity Parley for the Oceans:
The Earth Day promotion started last year with four teams participating: New York City, Orlando City, LA Galaxy, and the Seattle Sounders. They wore either grey or white.
This year, though, every game throughout the league looked essentially the same. It was impossible to pick out which team was which from a distance:
There was no pattern regarding which teams wore which colors, though most home teams wore black. As the league has an odd number of teams this year, there was one more black than white shirt released because of D.C. United, the team not playing this weekend.
The kits were the exact opposite of each other, except for the New York Red Bulls’ black shirts, which were combined with another promotion for autism awareness and featured sky blue numbers on the back:
Each team wore its name, or an abbreviation of it, on the rear neckline. A close-up look reveals that this was rendered in team colors on a white box, even on the white shirts:
In addition, socks carried the Parley for the Oceans logo:
Goalkeeper kits were apparently not included in the promotion, as they were in conventional colors such as blue, red, and orange without monochrome team crests:
League-wide uniform standardization actually was proposed more than a century ago. England’s Football League took more than 30 years after its 1888 founding to come up with the convention that the away team changes if there’s a kit clash. At the 1906 league meeting, it was reported that the Liverpool representative, perhaps partial to his team’s colors, proposed ending the kit clash problem by having the league annually declare a universal home uniform. One of two options would be chosen: red over white or white over a dark color, with the remaining kit worn by all away teams. That is, every game would look the same.
Nothing of the sort ever came to pass — until this past MLS weekend.
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The most overlooked uni element: Paul here. As a lifelong Mets fan and dedicated uni-watcher, not much escapes my notice regarding the Amazin’s. But reader Joanna Zwiep spotted something I missed in this shot of pitcher Noah Syndergaard, which is from Opening Day:
That’s right — Syndergaard was wearing a uni-numbered belt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before on an MLB player, and definitely not on a Met.
And there’s more: Joanna also found that Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes has worn a numbered belt on at least three occasions — once in spring training and then on April 17 and 18:
Have other Mets been wearing numbered belts? This bears further investigation — stay tuned.
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Click to enlarge
Camera-raderie: My father was a photography buff. When he died in 2009, he left behind a bunch of his old film cameras. I sold a few of them but still had several of them stowed away in a cupboard when I met the Tugboat Captain in 2015. She was an enthusiastic and talented photographer, plus I liked her a lot, so I gave her one of my father’s cameras, along with one of his old light meters.
She has other cameras that she likes to use (plus, like most people, she takes a lot of photos with her phone). But every now and then — just often enough to surprise me — she brings my father’s camera with her on one of our outings, including when we visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Saturday (see above). It always makes me so happy to see her using it. I know Pop would be happy to know that his gear is in good hands.
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Culinary Corner: My local butcher shop is always coming up with interesting new cuts and presentations (read: always coming up with new ways to recontextualize low-priced cuts as higher-priced cuts). One example of this came last Friday, when the Tugboat Captain and I stopped in at the shop to pick up some meat for burgers. While we were there, I noticed that the butcher’s case included something I’d never seen before: “Greek-style Rolled Lamb Belly Roast.”
Much like pork belly, it was fairly fatty, but it still looked intriguing, with a stuffing of spinach, herbs, and garlic. I was intrigued, so I had them hack off a small portion for us — it weighed out at a little over a pound. Here’s how it looked when we got it home (for all photos, you can click to enlarge):
Two days later (i.e., last night), we had it for dinner. The prep couldn’t have been simpler: Salt, pepper, and a 375º oven for a little over an hour. We added some new potatoes to the mix:
So good! Very rich — all that fat takes its toll — but very, very tasty. Okay, so I basically got suckered into buying something based mostly on the presentation, but still — made for a swell dinner.
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Raffle results: The winner of the New York Knights T-shirt from Ebbets Field Flannels is William Hart. Congrats to him, and thanks to all who entered. More raffles coming soon.
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The Ticker By Jamie Rathjen
Baseball News: The Orioles wore green-trimmed jerseys and caps for Earth Day yesterday. No photos, but the pants and batting helmets were unchanged (from Will Shoken and Joseph Willock). … The Phillie Phanatic is still wearing last season’s Dallas Green memorial patch (from Frank McGuigan). … The Phillies’ batting helmets seem to have a mix of 3-D logos and flat decals (from Joe Nocella). … The Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers are to wear a runza-themed cap and uniforms several times this season. What is a runza, you ask? “It’s essentially our [Nebraska’s] take on the German/Russian bierock. Ground beef, onions, cabbage and salt/pepper all sealed up in bread dough and then baked to a perfect shade of brown,” says Brett Baker. … The seats at Angel Stadium still have logos from when the stadium was known as Edison International Field from 1998-2003 (from Andres Cardenas). … Here’s a look at one of Japanese Central League team Chunichi Dragons’ blue alternates. They have another one (from @GraveyardBaseball). … Virginia wore mysterious bluepullovers Saturday (with white pinstriped pants, on the road) which appear to be throwbacks. In any case, the jerseys haven’t made an appearance since the 2016 NCAA tournament and the team didn’t say anything about them either time. Anyone know more? … This article about Brewers P Josh Hader (NYT link) includes the following: “As Hader thrives, he would clearly merit a more traditional uniform number than 71. He used to wear 17 — the number his favorite Oriole, B.J. Surhoff, wore in Baltimore — but the Brewers have not issued 17 since their longtime second baseman, Jim Gantner, last used it in 1992. ‘It’s like a retired number that’s not retired, so I just said 17 backward is 71, and I just rolled with it,’ Hader said. ‘I’m not that picky; 71 works perfect for me.'”
Football News: Reader Bill Schaefer was looking for photos of a 1965 Browns/Packers preseason game and found this newspaper report featuring Packers QB Bart Starr wearing No. 42, instead of his familiar No. 15. … Gene Sanny did an excellent painting of Cardinals S Larry Wilson, who played for the team in St. Louis for his entire 1960-73 career and remained with them in some capacity until 2002. … Someone on Reddit found a bunch of old game-used Bills jerseys at a thrift store (form Josh Allen).
Hockey News: Following up from yesterday’s lede, Ray Hund sent us pictures of both Chicago Stadium and United Center under construction. Both stadiums briefly stood together before Chicago Stadium was demolished in 1995. … Swedish sports newspaper Sportbladet has a tradition of doing photoshoots with gold-painted athletes who have just won championships. That’s Vaxjö Lakers winger and Canucks first-round draft pick Elias Pettersson, who was the playoff MVP as his team won the Swedish Hockey League championship. He’s also wearing a golden helmet, which the entire team received post-game. … Many teams allow season ticket holders to paint their ice sheets after the end of the season. Here’s Penn State’s effort (from María Canales).
Basketball News: Also posted in hockey: Following up from yesterday’s lede, Ray Hund sent us pictures of both Chicago Stadium and United Center under construction. Both stadiums briefly stood together before Chicago Stadium was demolished in 1995. … The Portland (Ore.) school board wants to investigate Nike’s providing of sneakers to some of the state’s high schools, separately from any apparel deals with the company the schools may have (from Tom Turner).
Soccer News: Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz had his numbers falling off Saturday (from David Kendrick). … The NWSL’s Portland Thorns debuted their second-choice kit at home against the Washington Spirit. … Also in the NWSL, the Chicago Red Stars (black) and Sky Blue FC (white) changed against one another, though New Jersey-based SBFC’s blue shorts and socks saved the game from resembling MLS. … Scottish team Celtic wore a pink and black kit from last season as a fourth kit against Hibernian, as they did on their previous visit this season. … German team VfB Stuttgart released its first-choice kit for next season (from Josh Hinton). The article claims the kit is to be worn May 5, the last home game of this season, which is a growing practice for the revealing of kits and other uniform elements. … VfB also replaced its advertiser Saturday against Werder Bremen with slogans and hashtags supporting the DFL Foundation, run by the organizers of the Bundesliga. The promotion extended to the match balls as well. Each player’s shirt featured a different hashtag, which led VfB to claim they were the first Bundesliga team to play with 18 different shirts. … Here’s a logo-based overview of the winners of every U.S. men’s and women’s outdoor professional league since 1968, the Canadian Championship since it was founded in 2008, and the U.S. Open Cup since 1990 (from Andy Moeschberger). … Aston Villa has a new “technical kit partnership” with Fanatics and the menswear brand Luke 1977 (from @LiamC191).
Grab Bag: NASCAR team members now wear sleeve patches identifying their role on the team — whether pit crew or logistical — and to what number car they belong. This is part of an effort this season to standardize the team personnel present at the track (from David Firestone). … New 2018 guernseys for Australian netball (from Jeremy Brahm).