Welcome to Purp Walk 2021!

Hello! As many of you are already aware, today is the 15th anniversary of the very first post on this website (not to be confused with the first Uni Watch column, the 22nd anniversary of which is coming up next week). By longstanding tradition, that means it is also Purple Amnesty Day — the one day of the year when I grudgingly acknowledge the world’s most accursed color.

The usual ban on purple-inclusive Uni Watch membership cards has been lifted until midnight Eastern tonight (you can order yours here), plus we have some special purple content and merchandise today.

But first, some historical background: The idea for Purple Amnesty Day came from reader Tim Cox. On the blog’s fourth birthday — May 17, 2010, 11 years ago today — Tim posted the following comment:

Congrats on 4 entertaining years, Paul & company. I’m a daily reader but not a member because I can’t do a Rockies membership card without purple. The 4th anniversary seems like the perfect occasion to grant amnesty to all the Rockies, Vikings, LSU, Northwestern, etc. fans out there.

I then responded:

[Y]our idea for a one-day purple amnesty program is a good one. If anyone wants to sign up for a purple-inclusive membership card, today — and only today — I will honor all such requests!

And just like that — very informally — Purple Amnesty Day was born. It has continued to evolve since then:

• A few years later, in 2015, membership card designer Scott M.X. Turner came up with the ingenious slang term “Purp Walk.”

• 2015 is also when designer Bryan Molloy and I began collaborating on Purple Amnesty Day merchandise (all available for only 24 hours, of course).

• I believe 2015 was also the first year that I changed all of the website’s green elements to purple for the momentous day.

I love how the culture of the annual tradition has continued to grow and take on a life of its own. It’s now one of my favorite days on the Uni Watch calendar, even though I hate looking at all that purple!

Speaking of which: People sometimes say I have “purplephobia.” But as I always explain, that’s not accurate, because “phobia” means fear. Folks, I don’t fear purple; I loathe purple. If anything, purple should fear me.

People often ask why I detest purple so much. As I always explain, I think purple in nature is quite nice — violets, plums, eggplants, etc. But purple as a human-imposed design element almost always strikes me as tasteless and tacky. It’s the diva of colors, the Celine Dion of colors — loud, grandiose, never content to do just enough when it can do way too much.

Now then: A year ago, longtime reader and Ticker-submission stalwart Kary Klismet gave us a good analysis of the Lakers’ infamous mismatched-purple uniforms. This year he has a follow-up report. Take it away, Kary!

Doubling Down on the (Dis)Pleasure: More on the Lakers’ Mismatched Purples
By Kary Klismet

For last year’s Purp Walk, I revisited the story of the Los Angeles Lakers’ mismatched purple uniforms, one of the uni-verse’s most infamous uniform irregularities. I uncovered evidence that contradicted some of the long-held assumptions about these uniforms, including the common belief that the use of different fabrics created a “consistent inconsistency” between the jersey and shorts colors.

This year, I’ve found information that challenges more of the conventional wisdom surrounding these uniforms. Not only did the Lakers wear mismatched purple for far longer than I originally thought, but their road threads weren’t the only uniforms affected by this chromatic calamity.

The two-toned purple uniforms are closely associated with the Lakers of the early to mid-1980s. Indeed, I myself assumed this uniform quirk was specific to that era. But photos show that Lakers players wore road uniforms with different shades of purple at least as early as 1970, and that the light/dark hierarchy occasionally flip-flopped — sometimes the jersey was darker, and at other times the shorts were darker (just like the “Showtime”-era uniforms I discussed last year). The peculiarity persisted through the mid- and late ’70s, and all the way to the early ’90s.

I’ve heard suggestions that this abnormality was just an illusion caused by photographers’ bright fill-flashes intensifying the reflection of light off of certain fabrics, making variations in the shades of purple appear more pronounced in photos than in person or on television.

There might be some truth to that. If you look at old game footage, the purples look more uniform. I would note, however, that the lower-resolution TV signals and poor-quality VHS storage in the ’70s and ’80s might not be capable of capturing such subtle details. Even so, this video of a 1984-85 Lakers/Clippers game offers compelling proof that the mismatched purples could be seen on television:

Throughout the contest, James Worthy’s jersey appears noticeably darker than his shorts (it’s particularly noticeable around the 27:00 mark). I also found a photo of Worthy from the game, confirming the uniform color mismatch.

The Lakers’ road uniforms weren’t alone in sporting mismatched purples. In many ways, inconsistencies in the purple trim on their gold home uniforms were more widespread and lasted longer than the issues with their away unis.

Perhaps the most noticeable discrepancy was that the Lakers often struggled to match the purple on the waistband of their home shorts to the shade worn on the side panels. Not only did this affect the Showtime Lakers, it continued through the mid-’90s to 1999. And sometimes, dating back to 1974, the waistbands didn’t match each other.

But the trim problems didn’t stop there. As long ago as the mid-’70s, the piping on the shorts was significantly darker than the side panels. And the purple numbers and lettering on the jerseys was frequently a deeper shade than the purple on the shorts.

Interestingly enough, although the Lakers may have been the most egregious offenders, they weren’t the NBA’s only purple perpetrators (“purple-trators”?). The Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, and Phoenix Suns (who deserve extra demerits for not even trying to match their warm-ups to their road uniforms) have all had moments when color-coordinating their purple uniform components proved too tall a task.

So the issue of mismatched purple uniforms wasn’t just a momentary blip on the Lakers’ uniform radar. It actually has a firm foothold in the NBA’s visual history.

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ITEM! This year’s 24-hour Purp Walk merch: Back in 2015, I was working with designer Bryan Molloy on the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club. He suggested that we pretend to do a purple design as an April Fool’s stunt, but I nixed that. So instead he proposed selling a purple shirt as a 24-hour offering on Purple Amnesty Day, which I agreed was a fun idea, so that’s what we did. Bryan and I have continued to collaborate on 24-hour purple merch offerings in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, so of course we have something special for you this year as well.

First, Bryan has created a sensational new shirt. Based on the idea of purple being associated with royalty, it features a heraldic-style chest design with — wait for it — a uni-corn. You can see the chest design above, and here’s the full shirt, which also includes a sleeve emblem:

This shirt is available here until midnight Eastern tonight and will never be offered again. You snooze, you lose — no exceptions!

In addition, we’re once again offering a purple snapback version of our winged stirrup cap:

The cap is available here until midnight Eastern tonight. As I mentioned last year, the cap will be an annual 24-hour offering each year on this date.

Also: If you order the shirt and the cap, a $5 discount will automatically be applied to your order. Not bad, right?

Meanwhile: Today is the only day of the year for you to order a purple-inclusive membership card. You can do that here. I’ll even sign all of the cards ordered today with a purple pen!

In addition, out of all the purple membership orders placed today, I will randomly select one order to receive this excellent purple card-holder pocket, made by ace DIYer Wafflebored:

Okay, that’s it for today’s purple-centric content. But before I move on to the rest of today’s post, it’s worth noting that 15 years of daily blogging is a pretty amazing thing — for all of us, not just for me. It’s a testament to this comm-uni-ty being so vibrant and interesting for so long, and that in turn is something we should all feel good about. Thank you!

(My everlasting thanks to Tim Cox for coming up with the idea for Purple Amnesty Day; to Scott Turner for coming up with the term “Purp Walk”; to Bryan Molloy for continuing to collaborate with me on Purp Walk merch; and to all the readers who make this day so much fun. Cheers!)

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: Rockies P Jhoulys Chacín’s NOB was apparently off-center on Saturday (from Daren Landers). … Reader Kevin Clark’s room at a Pittsburgh hotel had a framed silhouette of Roberto Clemente. … The Single-A Fresno Grizzlies wore mono-red for the first time ever (from Chris Harris).

Football News: WFT rookie players got their numbers, though the team noted that Nos. 25 and 35 are duplicates and they can obviously change. … One of those rookies is WR Dyami Brown, who is keeping his No. 2 from college (thanks, Brinke). … Sam Houston State made itself an FCS championship logo (from multiple readers).

Hockey News: The Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association’s traveling exhibition games came to St. Louis this weekend. As part of land-recognition gestures, players wore helmet decals representing Indigenous tribes in the areas that their teams are from (from Taylor Crabtree). … Capitals players’ wives got jackets featuring the 1997-2007 Capitol dome logo, or as we now know it, the ЯR shoulder patch (from @the_casserole).

Basketball News: The WNBA’s Washington Mystics finally hung their 2019 championship banner. … Meanwhile, last season’s champions, the Seattle Storm, got their championship rings (from Kary Klismet).

Soccer News: Macron, the outfitter of UEFA officials, revealed their design for Euro 2020. … English club Leyton Orient’s new third shirt again features the charity Mind, with the ad space bought and donated by Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane. … The NWSL’s Orlando Pride aren’t done with things they launched into space: they sent up five patches which are to be added to shirts to be auctioned in support of charities. … The Pride also wore warm-up shirts with several variations on the phrase “believe Black women”. … OL Reign left-back Lauren Barnes got a framed No. 150 shirt for becoming the second NWSL player to reach that appearence milestone. … After winning the Women’s Champions League yesterday, FC Barcelona players put on their first shirts for the trophy presentation over the third shirts that they wore. … ESPN started using the new Columbus Crew/SC crest in its scorebug (from @anthonytx42). … Lots of smaller South American clubs have the same name as larger clubs and/or poach their logos — this River Plate is one of at least 12 on the continent or in the Caribbean, for example. But the logo of that one, in the Argentine city of Bell Ville, looks much like the logo and shirt design of the big River Plate’s rivals, Boca Juniors (from Miguel Olaya).

Grab Bag: The U.S. women’s field hockey team has new kits made by Osaka, a brand mostly restricted to that sport that usually does minimalist designs. Their shirts now have sleeves, but they still wear both blue and red as previously. The number font also has a zero-with-slash — that’s a No. 30 visible. … Some more Australian Football League Indigenous designs are out, for St. Kilda (from Ash Norris) and the Western Bulldogs. … Virginia men’s lacrosse midfielder Chris Merle was wearing two different colored shoes yesterday (from Max Weintraub). … Meanwhile, Division II Davenport’s women’s lacrosse coach has a pithy argument involving their Panthers name for why you should always qualify both women’s and men’s sports or neither (from Ben Whitehead). … The trophy for NASCAR Cup races at Dover International Speedway is the track mascot, a big grey monster as a reference to its “Monster Mile” nickname, and yesterday a mask was added to it (from @btownmoose). … McLaren’s Formula One team is to have a one-off livery next week in the colors of Gulf Oil, which has a long history advertising in motorsports with McLaren and otherwise (from @tonsoffun57).

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What Paul did last night on Saturday: In light of the new CDC guidelines, Mary and I did something on Saturday that we hadn’t done in well over a year: We went to one of our favorite taverns — the very excellent Tamaqua Bar & Marina — and sat at the bar for a few hours.

It was a little nervous-making to be indoors among strangers without masks, but Tamaqua is a huge, barn-like space, and on warm days (like Saturday) they open the windows and let the sea breeze waft through, so it’s almost like being outside. We figured it was pretty safe.

After a year-plus of drinking canned and bottled beer, it was nice to have suds from a tap. Plus we did all the things we usually do at a bar: kibbitzed with the bartender, reconnected with old friends, yakked with strangers (one of whom took the photo shown above), met a new dog, bought a round for someone, got a free round from someone else — simple pleasures that we had sorely missed. It felt really, really good.

One of the old friends we reconnected with was Captain Jack, the world’s best bar cat. He prowls around the marina and occasionally pops into the bar. We had wondered how he was doing and if we’d see him. Sure enough:

Meanwhile: As I’ve said all along, we planned to keep doing Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ until we could comfortably and safely sit at the bar at one of our favorite watering holes. Now that that condition has been met, the PPC™ project has come to a close. We may still convene on the porch some days, or maybe even most days — it’s something we’ve come to look forward to — but we will no longer feel compelled to do it every single day, and I will no longer photograph the proceedings. So the PPC™ photo set — 424 daily pics spanning nearly 14 months, from 3/17/20 through 5/14/21 — is now final.

I have mixed feelings about the end of PPC™. On the one hand, it was a satisfying and interesting project, and I’m sad to see it end. On the other hand, its end signals a major step in our return to normalcy, which is something to feel good about.

Like any good creative project, PPC™ has taught me a few things, including the following:

• Given the opportunity, I have a strong tendency to turn anything and everything — even a global pandemic — into an obsessive ritual.

• When confronted with the worst batch of lemons, it’s still possible to make lemonade. Or to put it another way: We’re all probably more adaptable than we think we are.

• It’s definitely worth taking some time each day to just stop and watch the world go by.

Many, many of you — way more than I would have expected — have emailed over the past year to let me know how much you’ve enjoyed PPC™. My thanks for all the positive response and encouragement. And for those of you who haven’t liked or cared about the project, thanks for putting up with the daily photos without getting cranky about it.

Finally: I think the photos would make a fun exhibit. If anyone has connections in the art/gallery world who might be interested, please let me know. Thanks. — Paul

NHL Reverse Retros: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

By Phil Hecken

Good Sunday Morning, Uni Watch readers — I hope everyone had a good Saturday and an even better Armed Forces Day.

With the NHL Playoffs now underway, I thought today would be a good day to take a look at the NHL’s Reverse Retro (RR) program, which as you probably all know added a third (or fourth) jersey (and sometimes uniform) to every team’s current stable of uniforms. If you for some reason aren’t sure what exactly the Reverse Retro program entailed (or why certain designs were chosen), I recommend you read what Paul wrote about it back in November, and for an even deeper dive, Paul’s Unified podcast partner Chris Creamer really went all in with the “inspiration” for each new sweater. That should bring you up to speed, if you weren’t already.

I wanted to take a look at each design and how it looked on ice, and rather than deem a uniform “good” or “bad” or what have you (although I will indicate if I like or dislike a particular uni), I wanted to see if any of these were worth bringing back, if it were possible, for another season. When I first saw the RR jerseys, I liked about half, and thought the other half felt forced and were mere merch dumps. There definitely are some great designs (and many not so great to awful), but how many would be worth making a permanent part of a team’s uniform set? Maybe more than you’d think.

There’s a LOT to get to, so I’ll stop with the intro. Here’s what I think of the 31 RR designs, and whether they’re worth keeping or should be forever ditched. Let’s go!

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East Division

Boston Bruins

While I think five of the O6 teams have great home and roads (and don’t really need any alternates), I absolutely LOVE the Bruins RR unis. The gold sweaters and socks are fantastic! I wish the NHL didn’t mandate a white sweater, because this would be a perfect look to swap with the white jersey (to be worn as the “light” jersey).

Keep or Ditch? Keeper for sure.

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Buffalo Sabres

Not a huge fan of the crossed swords logo, and the “Buffalo” wordmark on the hem is brutal, but otherwise this is a pretty nice looking uni. They don’t really need a second white jersey, so if one had to choose between this or the classic whites, I stick with their regular uni.

Keep or Ditch? No need to keep this one.

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New Jersey Devils

I have always loved the Devils in red and green, and was very disappointed when they swapped in black for green a few decades ago, so this is a no-brainer. One of the guys I curl with actually bought and wore this during league night this past winter, and it’s even better in person. They should make this a permanent alternate (and return to green pants full time).

Keep or Ditch? Absolutely they need to keep this.

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New York Islanders

The Isles have a perfectly fine uni set — this one (especially in navy) is completely unnecessary — although it’s far better than their current third uniform. If they had to have three unis, I’d ditch the current third and replace it with this one, but I don’t think they need either.

Keep or Ditch? Dump this one yesterday.

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New York Rangers

I never liked this look, nor the look upon which it was based. To me, the Rangers own the diagonal wordmark, and *that* is a signature look. The Lady Liberty logo and “NYR” just feel like something one of their minor league affiliates should wear, not the big club.

Keep or Ditch? Buh-bye.

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Philadelphia Flyers

I get where they’re going with this but it’s too similar (and therefore not necessary) to their regular orange unis. At least it isn’t black.

Keep or Ditch? See ya.

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Pittsburgh Penguins

Another Pennsylvania team where I get where they’re going, but I’m not along for the ride. The team already has three fine unis, and this one needs to go. Besides, the Rangers own that diagonal wordmark (sorry Pens fans).

Keep or Ditch? One too many. Ditch it.

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Washington Capitals

This is a jersey I should hate: bad logo, asymmetrical design, superfluous wordmark. I don’t even particularly like the predominate red color. But…I actually do like this look. And honestly, aside from the current wordmark, I’m not particularly in love with the Caps’ current kits. But they surely don’t need two red sweaters, so this one has to go.

Keep or Ditch? So long, farewell.

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North Division

Calgary Flames

The Flames look so much better when their unis contain no black, and their current regular unis — in ketchup and mustard — are definitely some of the best unis in the league. While I kinda like the flame snorting stallion logo, that should definitely appear as no more than a shoulder patch. It’s a fine secondary logo (if a bit cartoonish), but it should never be front and center.

Keep or Ditch? This was fun for a few games, but that’s it.

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Edmonton Oilers

This is one of my favorite NHL unis, nevermind it being an RR. When the NHL released the RRs, I knew immediately I’d want to see as much of this as possible. The orange yoke and breezers are just gorgeous. Man it would be great if this one could see a few more seasons.

Keep or Ditch? A keeper if there ever was one!

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Montreal Canadiens

This one is another winner, although seeing les Habs in a blue sweater is absolutely jarring. But it works. My only complaint is that most (if not all) players’ breezers are a slightly different shade of blue than the jersey/socks. Not so noticeable as to ruin it, but different enough as to mess with my OCD. If players could match the blues, I’d be in seventh heaven. Currently, I’m in sixth heaven.

Keep or Ditch? This should definitely be a permanent alt, but it should be kept to 5-6 games a season. It’s that special.

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Ottawa Senators

I’m not a big fan of these, but I’m not particularly enamored with any of Ottawa’s current unis. I will give them points for having three almost identical sweaters, just with flipped colors, but that alone isn’t enough for me to want to see these in the regular rotation. I’m probably in the minority in disliking these, but they just don’t do much for me.

Keep or Ditch? Yeah, dump them.

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Toronto Maple Leafs

Simply because of the order, Toronto is one of several teams that add a color I don’t think should ever be on a hockey uni: gray. I know it’s tough when your color scheme involves white plus one other color, but adding gray to an alternate is NOT the answer (only adding black would be worse). The club has had some great sweaters over the years. This ain’t one of them.

Keep or Ditch? Drop these like third period French.

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Vancouver Canucks

If there was a more widely reviled RR, I’m not sure what it could be, by fans, players, and people with eyes alike. Gradient is never a good look for a hockey jersey. A blue/green gradient, with the Orca logo, just can’t look good. We know this one is done for good. Now if they could just burn all the remaining ones.

Keep or Ditch? This never should have seen the ice to begin with.

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Winnipeg Jets

I’ll be honest, when I first saw this jersey unveiled, I thought I would absolutely detest it. It grew on me, and I’m actually pleasantly surprised how well the dark blue and anthracite go together. But still, it’s basically GFGS, and that’s no bueno.

Keep or Ditch? It’s not the worst look ever, but it’s certainly not worth keeping around either.

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Central Division

Carolina Hurricanes

This one should have been a slam dunk. Instead, Carolina completely wasted a golden opportunity to show off the best hockey logo of all time — that being the Hartford Whalers. Instead of wearing a white sweater and socks (keeping everything else the same as it currently is), they inexplicably made the jersey and socks gray. WHY? This was literally sitting on a tee, and the team swung and missed. Maybe more than most, I want to see the Whale back, but NOT. IN. GRAY. FFS.

Keep or Ditch? Ditch these and never add gray to a Whalers throw/fauxback ever again.

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Chicago

Chicago has, if you can discount the Native American imagery/appropriation and name, one of the best looking regular set of unis in the NHL. Unfortunately, we cannot discount these things (let’s face it, it’s just a matter of time before this team rebrands with a new name and logo — they’re “on the clock” as Paul likes to say). So the RR (which I don’t like nearly as much as the red or white sweater the team currently wears) won’t be worth keeping no matter how good it was.

Keep or Ditch? Sorry Chicago. It’s gotta go.

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Columbus Blue Jackets

This is another jersey I hated when it was first revealed, but it has grown tremendously on me. I’m not as big on “if your team has a color in its name, then it better wear it” as some, so the predominately red jersey and socks (plus blue breezers) actually looks pretty damn good to me. Not so good I want it to become a permanent fourth uni, or even replace the current alt, however.

Keep or Ditch? It was cool for this season, but there isn’t any reason to keep it around.

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Dallas Stars

I’m gonna give Dallas props here. Between this mono-white uniform (almost unheard of in ice hockey, as white pants are almost never worn) and their new black and neon green alternate, they’re seemingly trying to be the Oregon Ducks of hawkey (which IMO isn’t such a bad thing so long as 20 other teams don’t also try to be the Oregon Ducks of hockey). I also am torn on whether an all-white uniform is bad, or so bad it’s good. It was fun to see it a few times, but maybe being the Oregon Ducks of hockey isn’t what the NHL needs now.

Keep or Ditch? While I still believe there is a place in hockey for white pants, this probably isn’t the place.

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Detroit Red Wings

Detroit, like Toronto, is one of those one color plus white teams, so of course the NHL decided to add a third, neutral color, to their palette. Gray doesn’t belong on a Red Wings sweater and socks any more than it does on a Toronto uni. Detroit has great home/road unis. That’s all they need.

Keep or Ditch? Sayonara.

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Florida Panthers

The pros: I love how the sleeve, hem and socks striping all perfectly align. The cons: You can tell that like many of the teams, the RR gimmick was pretty much forced on the team. I get how they’re trying to make a fauxback with it, but it doesn’t jibe with their home/road unis and just feels like a TJFTJS (Third Jersey For Third Jersey’s Sake).

Keep or Ditch? No need for this one.

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Nashville Predators

Normally I’m a yuge fan of gold sweaters, so any time there’s a new one, I’m generally in favor of it. But the Preds already have a gold sweater as their home jersey, and this one isn’t all that different. And it’s not a particularly good looking uniform either. So, this one is done.

Keep or Ditch? Totally superfluous.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

Again, I get where they’re going, but I was never fond of that look in black. It’s a little better in blue. But black and blue are, at least to me, two colors that don’t pair well, and this kit is no exception. Sadly this team has never really worn a uniform I’ve liked very much, but they always looked better when they didn’t mix black and blue elements.

Keep or Ditch? Nah. Not a keeper.

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West Division

Anaheim Ducks

I totally prefer the Ducks in teal and eggplant, but of all the crazy third jerseys of the 90s, “Wild Wing” was easily the worst. Not even in a so bad it’s good way. It was just awful. So I won’t shed a tear if this never sees the ice again, in any form.

Keep or Ditch? The original was bad. This is worse.

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Arizona Coyotes

Unlike a certain uniforms scribe, purple doesn’t bother me as a color. And I have always loved the Kachina/Peyote Coyote look the team has sported for many years, so I’m on board with this one. Arizona’s current identity tries to span two eras, and I’d prefer if they returned their white sweater to the peyote motif, and kept this one around for their third.

Keep or Ditch? Yeah, let’s keep this one around for another season or two.

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Colorado Avalanche

When I first saw the Avalanche’s Nordiques fauxback (in Colorado colors no less), I knew this one would be one of the better RRs, but when I saw them on the ice for the outdoor game in Lake Tahoe, I was smitten. I know Colorado hasn’t really acknowledged their Quebec roots, but this is such an outstanding look it really needs to join the Av’s rotation. Such a great logo and it’s even better when rendered in Colorado’s burgundy/teal color scheme!

Keep or Ditch? This one is for sure one of the best RRs ever!

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Los Angeles Kings

Who knew that mashing up two eras (the logo of the black/silver era, with the original forum blue/gold colors) could look so great? Also, it just shows you that the Kings had it right, color-wise, from the start. This needs to be the team’s PRIMARY jersey, and add a gold jersey as an alt, in the same style. Dear God, this is near uni perfection.

Keep or Ditch? Keep keep keep keep keep….

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Minnesota Wild

There must have been something in the water that allowed the NHL to outfit the West Division in such great looking RRs, because this is another uniform that needs to be made the permanent road (and get a green jersey for the home) — not only are the colors perfect, that Wild logo (which I have always loved) just POPS. Dallas doesn’t seem to want anything to do with North Stars iconography or colors, so it’s time for the Wild to reclaim it.

Keep or Ditch? For the love of all that is holy, please wear these uniforms all. the. time.

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San Jose Sharks

And just when I thought the West would rip off another hat trick for uni goodness, along came the Sharks and the apparent need for gray on an NHL uniform. No, NHL uniforms do not need gray. Ever. Don’t feel bad San Jose, at least you’re not the only team to have gray foisted upon you. But like the others, these need to go.

Keep or Ditch? Ditch. A very big ditch.

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St. Louis Blues

I’ve always hated this asymmetrical design, and I especially don’t like it rendered in red. I’m not wedded to a team with “blues” in their name to wear a predominately blue uni, but when it’s this design, well, it doesn’t even work in blue. I’m generally a big fan of St. Looey’s kits, but this was another 90s design that should have stayed back in the 90s.

Keep or Ditch? Nope. Not a keeper. Not by a long shot.

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Vegas Golden Knights

Purely as a hockey design, I like this one — and I really dig the logo. But this team just added a spectacular gold jersey (which I am pretty certain will actually become their primary home jersey next season), so this was fun to see, but it needn’t stick around, especially since all of their other uniforms have barely any red and this one doesn’t fit the template as well. I know that wasn’t the intent, but I for the most part I really appreciate symmetry throughout a uni set.

Keep or Ditch? It was fun for a few games, but we’re good now.

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And there you have it. This ended up being a bit longer than I’d originally intended, and for my lack of brevity, I sincerely apologize. But if you made it this far, then you probably have some strong opinions of your own. Love to hear what you think in the comments below.


Uni Concepts & Tweaks

Time for more Uni Tweaks from the UW readership.

I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).

• • •

Today’s concepts come from Dan Bodurtha:

The following were originally sent to Paul, but since I’m the “concepts” guy, he forwarded them to me as well. He writes…

Hello,

Hi,

I think most Uni Watch readers know your thoughts about the color purple in the uni-verse, but thought I would share my Minnesota Vikings concepts based on the original concept sketches from 1961. Although purple may not be in your color palette, I think a nod to the past is something to appreciate and I hope you enjoy!

Thanks,
Dan Bodurtha

And here are his concepts:

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OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.

Guess The Game…

from the scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Casey Calvert.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.

Purp Walk reminder: Paul here, reminding you that tomorrow is the (15th!) anniversary of the very first post on this blog. By longstanding tradition, that means it will also be Purple Amnesty Day. A few things about that:

• Tomorrow’s post will go live at (or about) midnight Eastern tonight. It will include some special purple-centric content.

• As soon as the post goes live, the usual ban on purple-inclusive Uni Watch membership card orders will be lifted for 24 hours, so get those Vikings, Ravens, Rockies, and LSU orders ready!

• The post will include links where you’ll be able to order this year’s Purp Walk merchandise items. Those too will be available for 24 hours.

It’ll be excruciatingly loathsome! See you then.

Now back to Phil.

Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: In the Mets game vs. Arizona on May 8, Joey Lucchesi got on base in the third and was wearing what seemed to be the previous year’s Majestic-branded jacket instead of Nike (from Vladimir Gonzales). … Here’s a fun story about when the Philadelphia Phillies were nicknamed the Blue Jays (from Kary Klismet). … With the state of MiLB these days, I guess it’s an achievement to have a 10-year affiliation with the big club. I don’t know if it’s cap patch worthy, but the RC Quakes are doing it anyway (from Minor League Promos). … On the first Thursday home game of every month, the South Maryland Blue Crabs become the Bleu Cheeses (from SoMD Blue Crabs). … Good to see not everyone is willing to play along with the Armed Forces socks nonsense (from Sal X Traction). … ICYMI: On May 11th and May 12th, the Mets started Marcus Stroman (#0) and Taijuan Walker (#99) in back to back games (I believe this has happened on consecutive days more than once). Submitter Marcus Hall adds, “What a range in uni-numbers.” … Check out how differently the RAL is for the Nationals Kyle Schwarber, depending on whether the uniform has a headspoon or not (from Capital Sports Forecast). … The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy wore purple and gold cleats to honor Kobe Bryant last night (from M Wolfram). … Here are six players from the last 25 years who spent a year or two wearing a uniform that doesn’t quite align with how they’re remembered.

Football News: As you may know, Jim Vilk loves old school kickers. He found one from 1988, in 2nd year of Arena Football. Straight-on kicker!. He adds, “Ken Olson’s stats may have been abysmal, but he’s going into my personal Kickers Hall of Fame. He post-dates the last NFL straight-on kick (Steve Cox, Washington, 1987).” … Washington is getting new turf at Husky Stadium (from Kary Klismet). … Here’s a look at the uniform for the Frisco Fighters’ inaugural game at Spokane last night. They play in the Indoor Football League (from Chris Mycoskie). … This short gif focuses on helmet numbers, but what caught my eye were the apparent ghosted numbers on one of the players (from Old Time Football). … Whoops! New York Giants’ Kadarius Toney had to do a drill shoeless due to ‘wrong size’ cleats (from Timmy Donahue).

Hockey News: The University of Maine gave new head coach Ben Barr a team jersey with his name and the number 5 on the back during his introductory press conference. Barr is the fifth head coach in program history (from Kary Klismet). … The Washington Capitals wives will rock Reverse Retro-inspired jackets during 2021 playoffs (from William Yurasko). … Whoa. Here’s a look back at all of the uniform match ups in the 2020-21 season including all Reverse Retro games (from Taylor). … Check out the banners depicting the jersey backs of Avalanche players ahead of the playoffs. That’s Larimer Square in Denver (from Wade Heidt).

NBA/Basketball News: Our own Jamie Rathjen writes, “Looks like at least several NBA teams are wearing WNBA 25th anniversary logo warm-up shirts (this is just one example).” … Ever wonder what Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would look like as a mixed martial artist? Now you know! The photo is from this article about the basketball great’s career, which mentions how he squared off against Bruce Lee in the 1970s film The Game of Death (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: The Basketball Hall of Fame has unveiled a Kobe Bryant exhibit to coincide with the late Lakers superstar’s enshrinement yesterday. He’s the first player honored with his own exhibit since Michael Jordan. … One more from Kary: Rapper Drake celebrated his rec team’s league title by designing championship rings for himself and his teammates. … Russell Westbrook just became the all time leader in “triple doubles,” so the Wizards gave him a special numbered jersey to commemorate the achievement. … Good article here on how artist Daniel Arsham is reshaping the look of the Cleveland Cavaliers (from Tom Turner).

Soccer News: Olympique Marseille’s 2021-22 home jersey pays homage to the 1989-90 Squad. … Here’s a “Great FA Cup Final kit winners graphic from classic shirts” (from Iain McHugh). … MLS has launched “Pride Training Jerseys” as part of its soccer for all campaign. Here’s a bit more on that. … Celtic will wear a special crest on their jerseys against Hibs to mark National Famine Commemoration Day. … J2 side Matsumoto Yamaga has a jet black special uniform that pays homage to Matsumoto Castle, with its black exterior (from Jeremy Brahm). … We have a new home shirt for Śląsk Wrocław (from Ed Żelaski).

Olympics News: Ben Sherman is outfitting Team Great Britain’s athletes and delegates for the Tokyo Olympic Games opening and ceremony uniforms this summer. Here’s a look at what they’ll wear.

Grab Bag: On Friday, Jim Vilk asked if I’d be covering some kind of cornhole championship that was shown on TV yesterday. I demurred. Last night he wrote, “I don’t blame you for not covering this… the shirts are an ad-filled mess. So are the Cornhole boards themselves.” … Grand River Academy, a K-12 school in Grand Junction, Colo., has added two statues of its raptor mascot to the school’s entrance (from Kary Klismet). … Costumed mascots for libraries? Why the heck not! The Sawyer Free Library in Gloucester, Mass., has added “Clawdia the Library Lobster” to its “staff” (also from Kary). … More from Kary (the next four are from him): San Antonio (Tx.) College, which dropped “Rangers” as its team name last year, has chosen “Armadillos” as its new team name and mascot. … The annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., now has an official logo. … Rocky Mountain Middle School in Idaho Falls has unveiled a new school mascot and logos. … New logos for the El Paso Elementary School Cougars of Derby, Kansas. … Check out this Marathon medal with moving parts (from James Gilbert).

Uni Tweet of the Day

Please, Lord. Please rescind the “One Shell” rule.

And finally… that’s a wrap for this weekend. Hope everyone had a good one and you’re all staying safe! You guys have a good upcoming week and I’ll catch you again next weekend.

Let the Purp Walk countdown begin…

Peace,

PH

Happy Armed Forces Day!

By Phil Hecken

Good Saturday morning, Uni Watchers, and please let me be the first to wish you a Happy Armed Forces Day! According to MLB, it’s actually “Armed Forces Weekend,” so I hope all of you who have returned to in-person working all have a nice long weekend. I’m pretty sure this weekend is also the unofficial start of summer too. No? And please let me know if anyone else wishes you a Happy Armed Forces Day today. It’s such an important holiday!

Of course I kid. But let me also add that my grandfather was gassed by the Germans in the Great War, my dad served in Korea, and both my uncles were in the service (one in the Navy and one in the Air Force). I can tell you the date of D-Day, V-E Day, V-J Day, of course the end of WWI (which we do actually recognize with a federal holiday), and a few other assorted important dates in the military history of the United States. But if you had asked me recently the date of Armed Forces Day (it’s actually today), I’d have been hard pressed to give you that particular date (it’s actually a moveable date). And I’m pretty sure that most Americans couldn’t tell you the date either. Because it’s not really a big deal.

Except to MLB. And only since 2019. Prior to that year, I’m pretty sure not too many folks involved in baseball could have told you what month Armed Forces Day even was, much less the specific date. So why are we “celebrating” Armed Forces Day with a three-day camo-cap and olive/tan sock extravaganza? Two words: Memorial Day.

It’s not that MLB doesn’t love camo — hell, a bunch of MLB teams love camo (including the Mets, Padres, Reds, and Pirates). And for several years, MLB decided to make Memorial Day the official camo day for all teams. There was only one problem — MLB was incredibly tone deaf to the true spirit of Memorial Day (a solemn day to remember those who perished defending America), and NOT to glorify the military. That all changed (thanks to people like Paul, among others) who fought to STOP the fellating of the Military on a holiday on which that was completely inappropriate. So, in 2019, MLB refocused its camo-fatuation on Armed Forces “weekend” and gave us a much more appropriate treatment for Memorial Day itself. The simple poppy patch (and separate cap patch) replaced the camo-fest that had defined baseball on Memorial Day weekend.

But there was still the great need to bust out the camo, so MLB searched for a different day weekend to peddle camo, and lo and behold, the incredibly important Armed Forces weekend was born. After all, what better way to honor our soldiers, airmen, space men, and seamen than with camo right? Right! Did I mention the caps are for retail sale (socks too, which we’ll get to in a minute)? After all, what good is all the goodwill Armed Forces weekend generates without some way to show-and-sell, er, show and tell about it.

So, yesterday, today (which is actually Armed Forces Day — celebrated on the third Saturday in May, if you didn’t know) and tomorrow, teams will wear camo caps and olive/tan socks, with umps wearing camo caps, and some catchers adopting beige/tan/olive gear. It’s not quite the pink fest that Mother’s Day is, but it’s also going to be worn for three full days.

I wasn’t sure of the origins of Armed Forces Day, but as far as holidays(?) go, it’s actually somewhat recent. According to Wikipedia,

First observed on 20 May 1950, the day was created on 31 August 1949, to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches – the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard – following the consolidation of the military services in the U.S. Department of Defense. It was intended to replace the separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Days, but the separate days are still observed, especially within the respective services.

So, for 2021, each team wore (last night) a camo cap and Stance socks that don’t quite go with the cap.

As always, neither element matched anything to do with the team color scheme (isn’t camo supposed to blend in rather than stand out?).

For those who chose to wear high cuffs, the socks actually had more of a “blending” effect than the cap — and for those teams wearing gray pants, the socks almost looked as though they weren’t even being shown…

…compare that to a gray-pants player who didn’t go high-cuffed (but wore camo cleats):

Some catchers did choose to wear gear that “matched” the camo caps/olive-tan socks…

…but since almost no catchers go high-cuffed, and, like batters, wore their regular helmets, this looked mismatched as well.

Our pal Chris Creamer, who had the scoop on the Armed Forces Weekend look, came up with the following graphic showing the patches each cap has (5 stars for USA-based teams, 4 Maple Leaves for the Canadian-based club):

It’s not quite the same cap patch worn in 2019. But the five stars representing the five U.S. military branches remained in 2021. But there’s even a problem with that. On December 20, 2019, the US added a sixth branch of the Armed Forces (Space Force) — so, at least technically, the cap should bear six stars instead of five, right? I’m not 100% sure on the protocol here, so the five stars may still be correct, but if a sixth star should be added, then MLB has dropped the ball here, much like they did when they screwed up the Independence Day caps back in 2018. If anyone out there knows whether five or six stars is correct, please let us know in the comments below. It’d be a shame if MLB botched this one too.

With today actually being the third Saturday in May (and the actual Armed Forces Day), all teams will for today only add a special patch to the left breast of the uniform, noting that today is, in fact, Armed Forces Day:

Unfortunately, that’s the best view I can find of the patch — but it looks to be the same one worn in 2019.

So, if you weren’t up to speed on Armed Forces weekend — hopefully now you are. MLB certainly won’t let us forget ever again.

Happy Armed Forces Day!

Guess The Game…

from the scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from George Howard Skub.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.


Uni Concepts & Tweaks

Time for more Uni Tweaks from the UW readership.

I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).

• • •

Today’s concept comes from Dan Bodurtha:

He writes…

Hello,

Another Minnesota concept. This time it’s a “City Edition” based on the state bird, the Common Loon. The back of the uniform would transition to black with white spots.

Hope you enjoy!

Thanks,
Dan Bodurtha

And here is his concept:

• • • • •

OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.

Fit For The King?

What you see above is one of the newest releases from the great Ebbets Field Flannels, and it’s a 1966 Boston Patriots jersey. Beauty, ain’t it?

UW reader, and my pal, Jimmy Corcoran (son of QB “King” Corcoran), saw that jersey, and it brought back some memories for him. I’ll let him take it from here:

Phil,

Did you see the new Patriots jersey Ebbets just came out with? They did an amazing job on this. But I think they made a mistake Phil, isn’t this a King Corcoran 1968 jersey? he did play two games for the Patriots that season and lost both of them😄 Actually when the Patriots signed him he asked for 15 because he wore it at Maryland. They gave him a used Parilli jersey and he was mad he didn’t get a new one?

Jimmy included the following photos of his dad from that season, and indeed the jersey looks very much like the one King was wearing in 1968 (with shorter sleeves, obviously):

He also appeared in a game wearing the gorgeous red jersey worn by the Pats that season:

He closed with this:

This picture of me is from 2010, this was one of the prop jerseys that NFL Films used for a movie about my father. Boy, after seeing Ebbets Field Flannels Patriots jersey, I’m glad I sold this one, yikes! not even close!

Just goes to show you the quality of the craftsmanship that goes into EFF products!

Thanks for sharing, Jimmy!

And I know Jimmer Vilk will have something to say about those Oilers unis…

More HOVG Cribs: Tim Jenkins

I’ve featured video a couple times on here from pal Shawn Anderson, who runs the Hall of Very Good website, and which has a “cribs” spinoff, as it were. These highlight sports memorabilia collections. Words cannot sufficiently explain the collection below. It’s just mind boggling — Tim resides in the Northwest and while he has an incredible amount of Pilots and Mariners memorabilia, it goes way way WAY beyond that. While it’s mostly baseball related, there are other sports featured as well. It’s probably more of a museum than some museums, and possibly the most impressive collection I’ve ever seen. He’s got everything from caps and pennants to bobbleheads, baseball cards, collectors items galore, and more. If you’re into this sort of thing, then this is for you. You will be blown away…

Purp Walk reminder: Paul here. May 17 — that’s Monday, two days from now — is the (15th!) anniversary of the very first post on this blog. By longstanding tradition, that means it will also be Purple Amnesty Day. A few things about that:

• Monday’s post will go live at (or about) midnight Eastern on Sunday night. It will include some special purple-centric content.

• As soon as the post goes live, the usual ban on purple-inclusive Uni Watch membership card orders will be lifted for 24 hours, so get those Vikings, Ravens, Rockies, and LSU orders ready!

• The post will include links where you’ll be able to order this year’s Purp Walk merchandise items. Those too will be available for 24 hours.

It’ll be excruciatingly loathsome! See you then.

Now back to Phil.

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: We may have seen this before, but just in case, here’s an advertisement featuring Luis Tiant in a pullover Yankees jersey, that of course was never worn on-field (from Steven Dodell). … The Athletic ranked each MLB team’s primary cap (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer). … The Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs will wear these “Healthcare Heroes” unis during Opening Weekend (from Timmy Donahue). … The American Association’s Gary SouthShore RailCats will wear these…interesting jerseys on May 31 (thanks, Phil). … Looks like Yadi Molina changed gear (from camo to “regular” catchers gear) between innings last night (from JL and Eric Spoonmore).

NFL News: KC has revealed their rookie uni numbers (from David Streeter).
.
.

NBA News: New Heat C Ömer Yurtseven will wear No. 77 (from Etienne Catalan). … The Washington Mystics have announced their jersey schedule for this season (thanks, Phil).

Soccer News: Paris Saint-Germain have unveiled some pretty nice new home kits. Note that PSG’s kits are now carrying the Jordan logo, not Nike (from multiple readers). … Arsenal’s away kits have been unveiled (from multiple readers). … Italian side Parma have a special Black Lives Matter kit that will be worn for their next home game (from multiple readers). … Ligue 1’s Olympique de Marseille have unveiled their new home kits (from multiple readers). … German club Borussia Mönchengladbach have revealed their new home kits (from multiple readers). … Tottenham’s kit man put together an auction of over 100 shirts, including all the Premier League and EFL clubs and some from other sports, to raise money for charity and in memory of his father (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … New kits for FC BATE Borisov of Belarus (from Ed Żelaski). … Also from Ed: 2.Bundesliga side FC St. Pauli has unveiled their new road kits, which will make its on-field debut tomorrow. Instead of an advert, the kit will have the slogan “Kein Fussball den Faschisten” or “No Football for Fascists.” St. Pauli is world famous for their left-wing and antifascist club culture. … Former MMA fighter Connor McGregor shared an old photo of himself in a semblance of a Manchester United kit as a kid. “We hadn’t got the money for the real jersey and kit but that was never going to stop me!” he tweeted (from Artimus Naugin). … Some branding experts have thoughts on the Crew’s controversial new look (from Kary Klismet).

Grab Bag: Great Britain’s field hockey team has added two patches, one an NHS patch similar to the Premier League one, and the other the logo of the Stick it to Racism initiative (thanks, Jamie). … Gaming chat service Discord has updated its logo and colors (from @Bobb_O). … The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s highway division in British Columbia has rebranded as the BC Highway Patrol (from Wade Heidt). … The Pensacola, Fl., Police Department has decided to remove the Confederate flag from their patch (from Kary Klismet). … The logo for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s first congressional campaign has served as an inspiration (NYT link) for other political logos throughout the country, and indeed the world (from our own Brinke Guthrie and Jason Criss). … New logo for Middlesex College (from Timmy Donahue).

Uni Tweet of the Day

Great look at the one-year wonder “Blue Jays” logo for the Phillies:

And finally… that’s all for today. I hope everyone has had a good week! Have a great Saturday (and once again, Happy Armed Forces Day!), and I’ll catch you back here tomorrow.

Peace,

PH

Talking MLB Player Caps with Aced Out Prexy Steve Adler

I don’t usually write about retail merch, but I recently learned about a company called Aced Out that has an intriguing niche: They have a license from the MLB Players Association, so they sell caps featuring the names of various ballplayers. The caps are usually rendered in the team colors of the featured player but don’t include any team logos.

Even more intriguingly, I learned that Aced Out is basically a one-person operation, run by an Arizona-based guy named Steve Adler (shown above). I was curious about how he ended up with such a specific merchandise niche, and about what goes into getting these caps made, so we recently did a phone interview (and then, as you may have noticed, Aced Out became one of our Unified podcast advertisers, although the interview took place before Steve decided to do that). Here’s how it went.

Uni Watch: What did you do before you started Aced Out?

Steve Adler: Prior to jumping into apparel, I was a sports talk show host in San Diego, covering the Padres and Chargers. And then in 2013 I decided to step away from radio, moved out to Arizona, and felt like I could create something from an apparel standpoint that would really speak to fans, so I had launched America’s Finest Apparel [whose “Jew Crew” T-shirt for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic was the subject of a Uni Watch entry — PL]. And there was Arizoniacs, which is my Arizona brand.

Those brands do just fine. And then in 2018, I felt like I was at a point where I could start to take on some licensing. So initially, it was some collegiate licensing, and then I sat down with the MLBPA in 2019. I feel as though the MLB players are not showcased well. A lot of the players just don’t get marketed like you’d like to see in other leagues. So I felt it was a great opportunity for us to be able to create a brand that highlighted the players from a headwear standpoint. And it made sense for baseball because they’re always wearing hats. So it seemed like it would be a natural fit.

UW: Did this type of product — caps featuring players’ names and so on — already exist, or did you basically invent this category?

SA: My understanding is that there have been a handful of companies that have tried this in the past. But when I brought it up, nobody was doing it. I essentially had to create the market for it.

UW: And are you the only one doing it now? Is your license exclusive?

SA: New Era and 47 Brand are dual licensees — they have MLB licenses and player licenses. But we’re the only one that has just the player license.

UW: So it’s your bread and butter, whereas, presumably, it’s just a small sliver of their overall product line.

SA: Yeah, completely.

UW: When did your first caps become available?

SA: May of 2020.

UW: Oh, man — just as the pandemic was unfolding.

SA: Yeah, we had put together a proposal for the Players Association in February. Obviously, it was a pre-pandemic proposal. And then their offices got shut down and things started getting delayed. And at one point it looked like players were going to get on the field, so they said, “Okay, green light, you’re good to go. License starts May 1.” And obviously once the license starts, the clock starts ticking.

UW: Once you have the license, can you basically go ahead and make a cap for any big league player? Or does the PA give you permission only for specific players? How does that work?

SA: We can make hats for any big league player on a team’s active roster.

UW: Obviously, you’re not gonna do a cap for the last guy on the bench, the 26th guy on the roster. How do you decide who’s worth doing? Do you look at jersey sales and use that as a guide?

SA: I did take a look at that initially, because we really didn’t know what direction to go. Our initial rollout was two Yankees, two Cubs, Mike Trout, and Bryce Harper. And then from there it was, okay, let’s start to feel out the market, who do we think has a large social following, who can we effectively target from a marketing standpoint — that kind of thing.

You know, a lot of it is based on how well the player is doing, how the team is doing, and if we feel that fans are going to emotionally invest in this player, which will then allow them to financially invest in the player.

It’s definitely a lot of trial and error. That’s one thing I’ve had to do with the PA — I bounce stuff off of them constantly, because I want to be able to make sure that I’m making proper decisions.

UW: Do you ever work directly with a player?

SA: A handful of players, yes. For example, at some point somebody on Twitter had had tweeted at us, and they said we should come out with a hat for [Royals second baseman] Whit Merrifield. And Whit doesn’t necessarily fit into our equation — not super-well-known, plays in Kansas City, which is not a huge market, and the team was struggling. But my response was, “Well, hey, if Whit’s on board we’ll totally do it.” And 15 minutes later, here comes a tweet from Whit Merrifield, “Hey, I’m totally down. Let’s do it.”

Also, Whit and I have a mutual friend, who’s the strength and conditioning coach for the Royals. So we were able to connect fairly quickly. So I sent out a couple designs, he picked one, and a week later we had a Merrifield hat.

UW: But if you’re not working directly with the player, does the player have to approve or sign off on the design?

SA: No. So for someone like, say, Fernando Tatis, who we do not work directly with, I can make anything that I want. Obviously, it needs to be tasteful. But I can design anything I want, send it over to MLB Players, they approve it, and we can go to market with it.

Some players like to be involved. [Brewers second baseman] Kolten Wong is a guy who really likes to be involved with the design work. So with him, I’ll come up with something, I’ll send it over to him. He’ll throw some ideas back and forth. And that way he gets to control his own brand, so to speak, in his sphere of influence. He’ll tweet about it, post it on Instagram, post it on on Twitter and TikTok, whatever their social media preferences are. So that obviously gets us a lot more traffic when a player does that.

UW: In that type of situation, are you literally communicating directly with Kolten Wong, or whoever the player might be? Or are you going through his agent, or someone else?

SA: It depends on the player. With a guy like Kolten, I deal directly with him. Now, I do know his agent, who also happens to represent Aaron Judge. So if there’s an opportunity, then I’ll reach out to the agent and say, “Hey, just want to let you know we’re doing a cap for Aaron.” And he’ll take a look at it. And if he has a chance, he’ll share it with Aaron and see if he’s interested in getting involved. Most of the time, the player’s not going to be interested,

UW: I figure most of them have bigger things to worry about and don’t have time to micromanage a hat design.

SA: Exactly. And the reality of it is most of these guys are making so much money doing what they do, plus endorsements, so they’re not really worried about a couple of cap sales. But they love the fact that they have their own headwear. As you know, many of them love designing their own cleats. So they work with whoever their shoe sponsor is, whether it’s Nike or Under Armour, whoever it is, and they love to show off their custom cleats. So we hope to tap into that same feeling, where we can sit down with players and agents and show them styles and do some more creative designs.

UW: I’m a Mets fan, so let’s talk about your Jacob deGrom hats. Do you work directly with him?

SA: No, unfortunately.

UW: So for something like this, you can include his name, obviously, and you have his signature on the side. And you can render the product in Mets colors, blue and orange. But you can’t actually use the Mets team name or logo, is that right?

SA: That is correct. And we don’t necessarily try to do an exact match of the team colors — we just try to have our embroidery match the colors of the stock hat. Obviously, we want it to be in the general area for the team colors that we use, but the royal blue on that deGrom hat is not necessarily the Mets’ shade of blue, because we use that same royal blue for all our blue caps.

There’s a good chance that the orange on that deGrom hat is a bit brighter than the Mets’ orange. And that’s just more my style — I like things to be a little loud and a little noisy, so they have a pop. So we will typically use brighter colors. We don’t try to necessarily match PMS for PMS on team colors.

But regarding your question, we don’t use the team name or the team’s trademarks. That would be a no-no.

UW: So Jacob deGrom wasn’t personally involved in the design for this cap. Would someone show the design to him, just to get his approval? Does his agent approve it? Or just the union?

SA: Just the union.

UW: Do you think deGrom is even aware that this cap exists?

SA: It’s likely the player has no idea it exists. That’s the way it works most of the time. I mean, we have people who are family members, and girlfriends and moms who buy stuff from us, but it’s likely that the player doesn’t know it’s out there. Similarly, they probably have no idea about most of the T-shirts and things that are made with their names.

UW: Can you recall any instances the union asked for revisions in one of your designs?

SA: Early on, I did a Mike Trout design, and they kicked it back because the lettering I used was pretty spot-on with the Angels’ font.

UW: So it was too similar to their branding, basically.

SA: Yeah. So that’s been their only concern, if we’re veering into trademark territory and that kind of thing.

UW: What’s the typical production run for these types of caps?

SA: Sometimes it’s as small as 24, sometimes as large as 144. All our embroidery is done domestically, so we can turn it around quick and we can order in smaller batches.

UW: Are there are this similar caps for players in the other major pro sports leagues? Like, is there an NFL equivalent of what you’re doing?

SA: No.

UW: Are you looking to get into that market as well?

SA: I did approach the NBA and the NFL. The NBA said they didn’t see a market for it, and they shut it down pretty quick. And it turns out that the NFL Players Association goes completely through Fanatics. So for now we’re sticking with baseball.

———

So interesting! And although we didn’t cover it in this interview, Aced Out also has some officially licensed T-shirts for Baseball Hall of Famers (another very specific niche) and a handful of colleges.
Big thanks to Steve for sharing his story with us. Again, you can see his product line here.

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Full slate of MLB holiday slop released: What you see above is the completely ridiculous cap that the Dodgers will wear on July 2, 3, and 4 for Independence Day Weekend. SportsLogos.net had an exclusive on this one, along with the new Father’s Day caps. Full details are available in Chris Creamer’s report.

A few other noteworthy items from Chris’s article:

• The G.I. Joke caps for Armed Forces Day (which we had already seen several weeks ago via a retail leak) will be worn for a full three-day weekend, starting today. So MLB has turned an obscure “holiday” that most people have never heard of into a three-day on-field merch dump.

• As was the case in 2019, teams will wear poppy patches on their jerseys for Memorial Day. That will be done just for the actual holiday — May 31 — not for the full weekend. This seems like the proper way to address this holiday, and I applaud MLB for taking this approach.

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NHL Power Rankings reminder: In case you missed it on Thursday: With the NHL playoffs starting this weekend, my latest piece for InsideHook is a set of NHL uniform power rankings. You can check it out here.

I’ll be doing NBA rankings — but with a fun twist — in about a week, just in time for the start of their playoffs.

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Too good for the Ticker: The Steelers’s new schedule-release shows their season as a series of pierogi pairings — brilliant! I particularly like that they used a neon-green pierogi for the Seahawks. Even the way they handled bye week is clever! Nicely done.

(Big thanks to Pat Dougherty for bringing that to my attention.)

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ITEM! Purp Walk countdown now in progress: Next Monday, May 17, is the (15th!) anniversary of the very first post on this blog. By longstanding tradition, that means it will also be Purple Amnesty Day. A few things about that:

• Monday’s post will go live at (or about) midnight Eastern on Sunday. It will include some special purple-centric content.

• As soon as the post goes live, the usual ban on purple-inclusive Uni Watch membership card orders will be lifted for 24 hours.

• The post will include links where you’ll be able to order this year’s Purp Walk merchandise items. Those too will be available for 24 hours.

It’ll be excruciatingly loathsome! See you then.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: In a recent episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, a Cubs hat is worn by the protagonist. But during the “deeper look” video about the episode, the Cubs logo is missing from the hat (from Robert Brashear). … The Royals came very close to adopting the most 1969 logo ever after their inception. Unfortunately, less groovy heads prevailed (from Ryan Sloop). … Here’s a really cool article about the artist behind the Carolina Mudcats’ logo (from @RUNCMD52).

NFL News: KC has a new logo for their now corporate-named field/stadium (from Timmy Donahue). … Lots of new rookie uni-number assignments for the Jets, Giants, Steelers, and Titans (thanks to all who shared).

Hockey News: Gross: A new betting ad will appear on the ice throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs (from Griffin Smith). … Clarkson’s men’s team is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a patch, but unfortunately it refers to 100 seasons. No, guys, it’s your 101st season! (from multiple readers). … The Penguins will wear their gold alternate sweaters for all home playoff games (from multiple readers). … The Hurricanes will do likewise with their black alternate sweaters (thanks, Phil).

Basketball News: After four seasons, the Heat are retiring their popular Miami Vice unis (from multiple readers).
 

Soccer News: Chelsea have unveiled their new home kits, and they’ll make their on-field debut during tomorrow’s FA Cup Final. The somewhat odd design is allegedly inspired by ’60s London culture (from multiple readers). … Minnesota United ST Ramón Ábila celebrated a goal on Wednesday by lifting up his jersey and revealing a picture of his brother on his undershirt. His brother died by suicide last year (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Also from Jamie, yesterday Liverpool wore warm-up shirts honoring Jordan Banks, a young fan who was killed by a lightning strike. … Here’s an article wondering if Tottenham Hotspur are missing out by not selling the naming rights to their new stadium. Only four of the 20 current Premier League stadiums have corporate names, although that number could be five next season depending which side wins the final promotion spot (from Timmy Donahue). … The USL Championship’s Colorado Springs Switchbacks have revealed their new kits (thanks, Phil).

Grab Bag: The Girl Scouts are updating their “Cadette” rank uniform. Old on left, new on right (from Blake Jackson).

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That’ll do it for this week. Enjoy Phil’s weekend content, get those purple-centric membership orders ready, and I’ll see you back here on Monday for Purp Walk 2021! — Paul