[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Jake Jahimiak, who’s going to tell us about some very unusual shopping experiences he recently had. Enjoy. — PL]
By Jake Jahimiak
On May 6 and 7, Ripon Athletic — the longtime uniform manufacturer located in Berlin, Wis., which has made many NFL jerseys over the years — held a warehouse sale. As a Wisconsin resident and a longtime collector of game-used and -issued items, I decided to check it out, so I made the roughly 90-minute drive from my suburban Milwaukee home.
On the morning of May 6, I was first in line. Right before the sale opened, I saw racks of jerseys roll into the pop-up tent that was serving as the “warehouse,” including a Jerry Rice 2003 Raiders sample jersey, a Josh Sitton Packers throwback jersey, and Kahlil Mack’s 2020 Pro Bowl jersey — all jerseys not usually available to the public. At that point I realized that this would not be like a typical team garage sale — it was going to be a sumptuous buffet of product.
Once they opened the doors, it was fairly hectic, sort of like the Black Friday news footage of people running amok. Definitely not a casual shopping experience (which is why I didn’t get many photos on-site). You might think I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, but I actually felt closer to Augustus Gloop. I came across all sorts of unexpected treasures, like a prototype Buccaneers hand-warmer pouch that was not the correct shade of pewter — a real gem for a Bucs fan like me.
And that wasn’t the only prototype I snapped up. As many uni fans know, Packers GM Ron Wolf tinkered with the idea of changing the team’s yellow to gold in 1993. Although they eventually thought better of it, I found what appears to be a prototype version on the racks at Ripon:
Next to that jersey sat a couple hideous Dolphins prototypes, circa 2008. They looked like, at best, bad Miami Hurricanes concepts — so distant from the Dolphins’ visual DNA that I’m surprised they took the time to convert the design to a physical product. I didn’t purchase these, but one of them later showed up on eBay:
The most entertaining thing I saw were a couple of sample Pro Bowl jerseys. Nothing overly special about them, but I smiled at the thought of someone wearing a jersey with “Sample” or “Player Name” as the NOB.
I believe this was Ripon’s first warehouse sale. The morning of the sale, their Facebook page had fewer than 100 followers; within 24 hours, they had nearly 1,000 and were being flooded with calls asking when the next sale would occur, so they scheduled another sale for June 23. I made the trip for that event as well.
This sale had 10 times the attendance of the first one (I know some people who traveled from as far away as California). The most unusual item this time was a blue Colts prototype. Much like the Dolphins prototype, I would have taken this for a fan-made fake or an amateur jersey if I hadn’t seen it at Ripon:
For a uniform fan, it was more like a museum experience than a sale, although I did come away with a few thousand team-issued Pro Bowl patches — product that’s never available to the public as standalone items:
All in all, these sales were like a visit to the island of misfit jerseys. I’m just happy my hands will be kept warm this winter in my slightly mis-colored Bucs hand-warmer.
Paul here. Please join me in thanking Jake for sharing all of this with us.
As an aside: Uni Watch didn’t yet exist in 1993, but I was already very uni-aware and, of course, was a big fan of the Packers’ green/yellow color scheme. So when word began circulating about them changing their uniforms, I sent a note to the team (I didn’t save a copy, unfortunately) and received a response from team prexy/CEO Bob Harlan, as follows:
Note that the description of the jersey matches Jake’s prototype!
In 1989, Florida Southern College hosted the Russian Olympic baseball team for two exhibition games at Joker Marchant Stadium (spring training home of the Tigers). Florida Southern won both games, 23-0 and 8-0. We were lucky enough to find a PA guy who spoke Russian, so he would throw in various baseball terms in Russian throughout the game.
The first game was televised on a regional cable channel. At one point, a Russian player broke his leg while attempting to slide into second base and the game was delayed as an ambulance was called and drove out to second base. Not exactly must-see TV.
The photo above shows Florida Southern head coach Chuck Anderson and his USSR counterpart, Alexander Ardatov. I think we’d have to say that Ardatov had the better uniform!
Here’s a shot of Ardatov watching as reliever Alexey Ovsyannikov took his warm-up tosses. Looks like they were wearing two-in-ones:
And here’s a nice shot of the Soviet jersey and cap, as worn by first baseman Nugzar Pophadze:
Big thanks to Wayne for sharing all of this with us!
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Sock it to me: Oakland pinch-hitter Tony Kemp’s two-in-ones were the subject of some uni-related chatter by San Diego broadcasters Mark Grant and Don Orsillo during the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s A’s/Padres game. Here’s how it went:
Mark Grant: You know, I’m a big fan of these uniforms for Oakland. I love Tony Kemp rockin’ the two-in-one stirrups, but I’m not a big fan of the two-in-one. Two-in-one is the sock with the stirrups knitted in, as one. It’s not a separate sanitary sock and then a stirrup. Love the look, though — the green and yellow.
Don Orsillo: So you like the uni, you just don’t like the socks.
Grant: Yeah, because it’s two in one. One sock with the appearance of wearing st — see, the stirrups don’t go down all the way to the shoe!
Grant: Yeah. But I love the look, though.
Orsillo: Yeah, that’s a fugazi stirrup.
Grant [laughing]: Right, exactly!
Footnote: Grant, who was a journeyman MLB pitcher in the 1980s and ’90s, does appear to have worn real stirrups throughout his career, but he usually went so low-cuffed that his stirrups were essentially rendered moot. Too bad he didn’t practice what he now preaches!
(Big thanks to Aaron M. for letting me know about this broadcaster banter.)
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ITEM! August pin launch (a few days early): Okay, so it isn’t quite August yet, but I’m going to be taking my annual break from the site next month (more on that tomorrow), and I know some of you don’t follow the site as closely in August either, so I wanted to get the new pin out there while I still have your attention.
So: With football training camps gearing up, Todd Radom and I thought it would be fun to do a Tecmo Bowl-style pin, complete with 8-bit graphics. I really love how this one turned out. This is a numbered edition of 200 pins. You can order it here.
College and High School Football News: Washington’s No. 44 has long been retired for Roland Kirby, but the number will be worn this season by CB Bookie Radley-Hiles. Kirby’s family OK’d the use of the number. … Interesting uni-related quote from Arizona coach Jedd Fisch, buried in the middle of this article: “I do believe in tradition. I do believe in basics. I believe in being able to wear the same helmet for every game.” That certainly goes against the current trends in college football (from Rocky De La Rosa). … Jamie Rathjen, following up on an earlier Ticker item, says: “A few weeks ago I sent in an item about Iowa wanting to rename its football field after Duke Slater, a pioneering Black player from 1918-21. They’ve now officially said they’re doing so and that article includes a mock-up of the field with the new name added on the 25-yard lines.” This means the team’s stadium and field will both have non-corporate names — imagine that. … Wanna see a doozy of a signature? Check out Big 12 commish Robert A. Bowlsby’s John Hancock (thanks to all who shared).
Basketball News: The Rockets’ jerseys were blissfully ad-free last season, but that won’t be the case going forward. … The Cavs’ D League affiliate, the Canton Charge, is moving to Cleveland. They’ll still be called the Charge but have a new logo. … I don’t usually share jersey concepts, but here’s an above-average set of NBA mock-ups from Roberto Custodio. The Bucks design is a particularly nice mix of old and new, and several of the other designs are similarly sharp — nicely done.
Olympics News: Want to look ahead to the 2024 Olympics? The logo for those Games has received a lot of online mockery. … Looking even further ahead, cheerleading could become an Olympic sport in 2028. … French men’s handball player Ludovic Fabregas lost part of his front jersey number yesterday (from Bernd Wilms). … Here’s an article on the helmet rules for Olympic skateboarders (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Good articles about the history of sexist uniforms for women Olympians here and here. … In a related item, here’s a funny cartoon about the sexist uniform thing (from Jeremy Brahm). … USA women’s BMX cyclist Felicia Stancil has daisies on her helmet because that’s the name of her Covid puppy (thanks, Phil). … During the medal ceremony for the women’s individual time trial for road cycling, two Netherlands cyclists — Annemiek van Vleuten, who won the gold, and teammate Anna Van der Breggen, who won bronze — wore different shirts. “I couldn’t determine why they were dressed differently,” says Peter Hymas. “During the competition itself, they wore identical skinsuits issued by their federation.” … Allison Schmitt, a swimmer on the Team USA relay team, appears to have covered up the maker’s mark on her swimsuit. Also, it’s weird that the relay team members all wear different uniforms (thanks to all who shared). … The Chinese water polo team has really nice warm-up bathrobes (from Steve B).
Grab Bag: Students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will no longer wear uniforms and will instead follow a gender-neutral dress code. … New jerseys for the the East and West divisions of Minor League Cricket (from Peter Kurilecz). … The next two are from Kary Klismet: New girls’ volleyball uniforms for Nederland (Tex.) High School. … New athletics logos for John Paul II High School in Greenville, N.C. … Wade Heidt writes: “Looks like players in the MSL Classic — the Ontario-based Major Series Lacrosse’s month-long return-to-play tournament — brought their own helmets and gloves. Makes sense from a cost-saving perspective, as it is not a complete season. Interesting visuals from a uni-watching perspective.” … Here’s a really great story about a retired couple who recently learned that the gorgeous neon sign from their old corner store in Vancouver had been saved by a local collector, so they got to have a reunion with the sign (from Wafflebored). … New uniforms for Japanese men’s volleyball team VC Nagano Tridents (from Jeremy Brahm).
[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Michael Kimball, who’s going to share a really sensational story about a very unusual uniform. Enjoy. — PL]
By Michael Kimball
Potter County Memorial Stadium, a now-vacated minor league and college ballpark in Amarillo, Texas, was never anyone’s idea of a Cold War showdown site. Fans could gaze beyond the advertisement-studded outfield wall and see a grain elevator in the background. From the top of the stands you could see the nearby stockyards, their omnipresent feedlot aroma mixing with the odors of fresh popcorn and just-mowed grass.
As a six-year-old in 1990, I spent many a summer evening there watching the Amarillo Texans in the now-defunct collegiate Jayhawk League. But July 17 of that year was different. For starters, fans were allowed on the field for handshakes and autographs after the game, which was the most exciting part for me. More notable to my dad and most of the other fans were the Texans’ opponents that night: the USSR National Baseball Team.
After the game, baseball and ballpoint pen in hand, I slipped past the first base dugout toward the players, in search of an autograph. Dad suggested I use a particular word to get the attention of the broad-shouldered, visiting player near the baseline.
Spinning around to face me, his attention duly caught just as Dad suggested, was a player on the Soviet Union’s National Baseball Team. In Amarillo, of all places. It was all part of a goodwill tour that the team was on at the time.
The player smiled as I wordlessly handed him the ball, and Dad said a couple of welcoming words he knew in Russian. Splashed across the player’s white pullover jersey were four red letters with gold trim: “CCCP.” Those same letters appeared on his red cap.
I collected four autographs that day. Most of of them were largely indecipherable, but one of them remains legible to this day. It came from a guy named Bunny Mick, an American baseball lifer who was in between stints as a hitting coach with the Cardinals and Astros and had been recruited to coach the Soviet players during this tour. The roster consisted of professional athletes in the Soviet system who were fringe players in other sports. “Good athletes, not yet very good baseball players,” as Dad put it.
The program was essentially started by an American businessman living in Moscow named Rick Spooner. The Soviets sought to build a program to compete in what was then a new Olympic medal sport. Mick and coaches like him brought expertise and equipment to help spread the American national game on the other side of the weakening Iron Curtain. The team that played in Amarillo was part of a U.S. tour before the Goodwill Games in Seattle.
“[Amarillo] was an awesome place for baseball and southern hospitality. It drew their best crowds,” said Bob Protexter, another one of the Soviet team’s coaches, in a recent Facebook Messenger interview. “The Soviets loved Amarillo.” It’s not hard to imagine why. As exotic as real, live Soviets seemed to me at the time, the western wear, Texas accents, cowboy hats, and 72-ounce steaks no doubt seemed just as exotic to a Russian athlete. (You can read more about Protexter’s experience with the Soviets here.)
The baseball product was not quite as sharp as the uniforms, which were made by Russell Athletic and likely picked up when the team arrived in the United States (information is scarce, from what I could find). The Texans scored nine runs in the first inning and cruised to a 13-3 victory, although the Amarillo crowd got behind the visitors and roared with support to reward good play.
This all happened more than 30 years ago, but the memories were brought back to the surface for me when I recently found my autographed baseball in a trunk of keepsakes. That sent me down a rabbit hole to learn more about the Soviet team’s tour, which in turn led me to an eBay listing for an authentic, game-worn “CCCP” coach’s uniform from 1990. (Some of the photos in this entry are from that eBay listing.) This seemed like a great find — not just a legitimately unique and interesting item, but one from a now-defunct country, and that I saw as a kid with my own eyes.
The listed price was a bit high, but the seller immediately accepted my “Best Offer” bid. I was delighted – not only is the uniform itself cool and valuable to me, but the hat and warm-up jacket looked plenty wearable.
I was so excited about this that I told Paul about it. He invited me to write something about the vintage Soviet uniform once I received it from the eBay seller, and I readily agreed. And then … it got lost in the mail.
Yes, really. The seller did everything right – sent it insured with signature confirmation – but it just disappeared. It was last in the USPS tracking system on June 8. Since then, despite a missing mail search on my end and a package intercept on the seller’s end, the parcel remains missing.
Everyone is financially whole because of eBay’s refund policy and the insurance, but a unique and irreplaceable item is apparently gone forever. Very frustrating and disappointing.
Meanwhile, the Russian baseball program continues, although it didn’t attempt to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. And I still have the ball. Thanks, comrades.
Special thanks to Sam Jones, reference librarian at Amarillo Public Library, for locating and providing scans from the July 16-19, 1990, editions of the Amarillo Daily News.
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Uni Watch Screening Room: There’s a new documentary, called The New Bauhaus, about the great Hungarian artist, designer, and educator László Moholy-Nagy, who taught at the Bauhaus in Germany and then founded what’s now known as the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago.
I’ve been a huge fan of Moholy-Nagy’s work since I first encountered it while editing graphic design books about 30 years ago. Much like another one of my favorites, the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, Moholy-Nagy leaned heavily on geometry, so that even his abstract art felt more like design. Check this stuff out (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):
Is that awesome stuff or what?
In addition to being a great artist/designer, Moholy-Nagy was a highly influential teacher. He felt that when an artist or other creative person is creating something, what they’re really working on is themself. In other words, personal growth is the true finished product. I like that way of thinking.
Moholy-Nagy is one of those people who make you realize how little you’ve accomplished. He died of leukemia at 51, which means, as the joke goes, that when he was my age, he’d been dead for six years. But the movie includes interviews with one of his daughters, two of his grandsons, and several of his former students, creating a reasonably fleshed-out portrait of a complex character.
You can stream the movie on Google Play for $4.99, which is a bargain. (It’s actually $3.99 for SD, but spend the extra buck for the HD version — it’s worth it.) If you’re already a Moholy-Nagy fan, it’s essential viewing; if you’re not yet a fan, you’ll likely become one after watching this. Don’t miss.
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The Ticker By Lloyd Alaban
Baseball News: The way the “Minnesota” script broke across Twins 3B Josh Donaldson’s jersey yesterday made it look like “Minmesota” (from @MileHighFan29). … The Florence RedWolves of the collegiate wood-bat Coastal Plain League will announce their new name and logo on Saturday (from our own Phil Hecken). … P Wade Davis wore old cleats from his past days with the Royals last night. Davis currently wears No. 71. He previously wore No. 17 with the team (from @shelbyrays). … Here are the championship rings for the Sarasota Circus of the Florida Gulf Coast Softball League (from Griffin Smith).
Hockey News: Hockey-themed band and longtime friends of Uni Watch the Zambonis have a new song: “The Gretzky Twist.” … Winners of the WHL’s sweater design contest comment on their work (from Wade Heidt).
Olympics News: The Dutch women’s gymnastics team wore leotards with “The Netherlands” in Japanese on them (from @bryanwdc). … Tokyo’s mascots aren’t getting as much exposure as past Olympic mascots. … Here’s why gold medal-winning table tennis player Jun Mizutani of Japan wears sunglasses indoors (from Jeremy Brahm). … This CNN article takes a look at some Olympians’ tattoos (from Timmy Donahue). … Beach volleyball players love that they have options on what to wear during matches (from multiple readers). … The next two items are from Kary Klismet: The head of the Olympic Broadcasting Services is trying to curb the sexualization of female athletes in televised coverage of the Games. … Here’s an article about how women Olympians are taking control of their uniforms.
Grab Bag: New logo and branding for the D3 Northwest Conference. … Campbell’s Soup cans are getting their first redesign in 50 years, although the changes are fairly minor (from Tom Turner). … The Hamilton County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office is wearing new badges to honor victims of 9/11 and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the attacks (from Timmy Donahue). … Pocatello High School in Idaho has a new mascot costume (from Kary Klismet).
A few weeks ago I showed you photos of Kevin “Gashouse” Cearfoss’s 1970 NFL merchandise catalog, the oldest item in his collection of sport merch catalogs. Today we’re going to take a look at the next catalog in his collection — NFL 1971.
Like all of Kevin’s catalogs, this one was intended for retailers looking to stock their stores, not for consumers. The embossed cover is shown above, and here’s the introductory note (“No other spectator sport in history has generated the interest and excitement of professional football!”) and table of contents:
The section dividers featured the now-familiar montage of NFL team wordmarks:
“In-store promotion means profit and prizes!” and “Window displays put team loyalties out front!”:
The 1970 catalog didn’t mention anything about Punt, Pass & Kick, but the ’71 catalog had a page devoted to it. Note that all of the kids are wearing Northwestern-striped socks, and most of them appear to be wearing Adidas footwear:
“Sweet dreams of pajama profits” is my favorite line in the entire catalog. Check this out:
Here are some additional pages from the Apparel section. Note that one of the photos features a Black boy hanging out with two White boys — the first of several Black models who appeared in this catalog. That’s a shift from the 1970 edition, whose models were all White.
Here are some pages from the Toys and Games section, including a two-page spread devoted to Electric Football, which wasn’t mentioned at all in the 1970 catalog:
Moving on, here are some pages from the Novelties and School Supplies section (although, as I’m sure is apparent by now, some designations of which products went in which category seem to have been fairly arbitrary). Note that the left-hand page on the third spread begins with the line “The NFL’s got a brand new bag” — whoa, the NFL quoting James Brown!
And now a few pages from the Specialty Gifts section (again, these category distinctions seem pretty random — I’m not sure what the difference is between a “Novelty” and a “Specialty Gift” — but whatever). In the first spread, left-hand page, check out that poster on the wall behind the director’s chairs, with “the national football league” heading — all-lowercase lettering! Such a period-specific detail.
Here’s an anomaly: One of the spreads in this section featured Bears linebacker Dick Butkus! As far as I can tell, he’s the only player to be shown in any of these catalogs:
Just like the 1970 catalog, the ’71 edition concludes with a page about the NFL Mascot of the Year competition, along with a photo showing the previous year’s winner at the Pro Bowl:
And then there’s a foldout spread showing all of the then-current NFL helmet designs:
Once upon a time, the Arizona Cardinals were in St. Louis. And before that, they were in Chicago. So here’s a 1959 Chicago Cardinals trading card from Topps. Nice design, even if the yellow lettering on the pennant looks a bit misaligned.
Now for the rest of this week’s picks:
• Proving once again that any product can be licensed by the NFL, here we have an empty carton of “Frozen Tundra Chip ice cream,” from Edy’s. This rolled out following their 1997 Supe victory.
• The Seattle Pilots existed for only one season, so you don’t often see much memorabilia from them. But check out this 18″ Pilots medallion/pendant from 1969!
• This 1970s Blatz Beer coaster says “NFC/AFC,” so it could theoretically appeal to every fan.
• Tom “The Bomb” Tracy of the Steelers, Norm Van Brocklin of the Eagles, and Bill George of the Bears recommend “Favorite” chewing tobacco on this reproduction 1950s store display stand. “You Can Taste The Quality!”
• In honor of the Milwaukee Bucks winning their first NBA title since 1971, here’s a Bucks watch from that era, “made in Switzerland for basketball fans of all ages!”
• I think whoever did the layout for this 1979-80 Seattle SuperSonics T-shirt thought, “Let’s jam as much text on this design as we can.”
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Too good for the Ticker: Reader Matthew Houk recently came across a copy of the Feb. 18, 1952, issue of Life magazine, which featured an article on Red Wings goalie Terry Sawchuk, who was then 22 years old. Man, look at that blocker — the waffleboard style didn’t yet exist!
Here are some additional photos from the article:
Love that last photo, including the ref wearing the old-style sweater!
(Big thanks to Matthew Houk for sending these great images my way.)
NFL News: The Broncos have unveiled their 2021 uniform schedule. They’ll wear their blue jerseys twice and their Color Rash getup once (from Wade Heidt). … Here’s what the Superdome will look like with its corporate-name ad signs (from Dan Kennedy). … KC team execs say they have no plans to change their team name but will stop running “Warpaint”, a Native American-themed horse, before games this season (from Brinke). … Also from Brinke: The NFL Players Association is opposed to the use of colored wristbands to distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated players on the practice field. … Browns LT Jed Wills shared a good side-by-side comparison of the team’s home and throwback uniforms (from Griffin T. Smith). … Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has inked an exclusive memorabilia deal with Fanatics.
College Football News: If this retail posting is to be believed, this will be the “Shamrock Series” jersey that Notre Dame will be wearing against Wisconsin when they face off at Soldier Field in Chicago in September (from Jeff Cox). … NC State will wear a new helmet design featuring a throwback logo for their season opener (from Kary Klismet). … Mizzou players have apparently leaked the team’s new uniform design (thanks to all who shared). … New uniforms for Towson (from Ben Rosenbaum). … Here’s more on Texas’ new FieldTurf (from James Gilbert). … The Pac-12 has sold its championship game’s naming rights to a beef jerky brand (from Timmy Donahue). … New front bumper design for BYU.
Soccer News: The Athletic (hard paywall) continued its “football kit week” by having writers share their all-time favorite uniforms (from John Flory). … Crystal Palace has unveiled their new third jersey for next season. The design draws from a previous Crystal Palace club that was founded in 1861. The club says the design is the first shirt the old Palace club ever wore, but as Jamie Rathjen points out, there’s no evidence that the pattern was actually used (also from @CrystalPalaceDC). … New jerseys for second-tier South African side Royal AM Football Club (from Kary Klismet). … FC Dynamo Kyiv teased new uniforms yesterday (from Ed Żelaski). … New jerseys for English fifth-tier club FC Halifax Town (from Neil Barraclough). … New second shirt for Scottish club Aberdeen. “I absolutely do not mind that it’s blue and orange,” says our own Jamie Rathjen.
As you probably know by now, there was a lot of Cleveland-related uni news over the past few days, as the Cleveland MLB team announced its new “Guardians” identity and the Browns finally unveiled their 1946 throwbacks (part of their 75th-anniversary celebration). Before I get to my own thoughts on those developments, let’s have a standing O for Phil, who provided great coverage over the weekend. If you haven’t already read his stories on the Guardians and Browns, I strongly urge you to do so.
As for me: Let’s start with the Browns, since that’s a fairly straightforward situation. Just to refresh your memory, here’s a look at the design:
As Phil did a good job of explaining, this isn’t a true 1946 throwback, because the one-shell rule makes it impossible for them to use the era-appropriate white helmet. So instead they’ve added TV numbers and a white stripe to their standard orange shell, mimicking the look they had in the late 1950s.
While the resulting uni may be more fauxback than throwback, it still looks great. I love the helmet, the block-shadowed jersey numbers, and the sleeve/sock stripes. My only gripe: The “1946” jersey patch seems really cheesy to me. I mean, imagine if every throwback uni had a patch indicating its year of origin — lame-o. And the matching “1946” decal on the back of the helmet isn’t even accurate, since that helmet design didn’t yet exist in ’46.
Those are minor quibbles, though. Overall, this gets a big thumbs-up from me.
Okay, now let’s talk about the Guardians, going one element at a time:
Ever since the team announced that it would be changing its identity, people have been asking me what I think the new name should be. My answer has been the same all along: “I have no dog in this fight. As long as they move away from the Native American theme, it’s an upgrade.” And that’s still what I think — “Guardians” is way, way better than “Indians.” (And yes, they both end in “dians,” which was no doubt a factor in the final choice.)
As you’ve probably heard by now, the new name is based on the city’s “Guardians of Traffic” statues (you can learn a lot more about them here). That’s a very local reference — I’ve been to Cleveland at least half a dozen times but was not even aware of the statues’ existence until the name change was announced on Friday, and I get the feeling that I’m not alone in that regard — which makes this feel very much like a City or City Connect approach. Similarly, the party line throughout the team’s messaging about the new identity has been “It’s the first name that counts; Cleveland, that’s what counts.” Again, that feels very City Connect to me. That’s not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing — it’s just the vibe I get from the name, its inspiration, and how they’re framing it.
I do worry a bit that “Guardians” lends itself to all sorts of comic book/superhero nonsense, but let’s see how they leverage the name in the months and years to come. Any way you slice it, it’s better than the old name, and the local Indigenous community seems pleased with it. I’m happy for them.
Given how many other teams out there use red and blue, I was wondering if they might use the new identity as an opportunity to stake out some new chromatic territory. But that would probably be too jarring a change for the fan base, so I understand why the team has chosen to stick with the existing color scheme. Sensible, if a bit conservative.
I hate the script. H-a-t-e the script. It’s all sharp corners and clunky angles. In this regard, it reminds me so much of the Milwaukee Bucks’ “Cream City” script from a few years ago (which itself was clearly based on the Milwaukee Tools logo), except the Guardians script feels more ham-handed, sort of like a Flintstones version of the Bucks script:
The use of corners instead of curvatures is apparently supposed to evoke a chiseled-in-stone effect, because the Guardians of Traffic are made of stone. In any case, the resulting script feels both brutal and Brutalist — no elegance, no flow.
The “Winged Baseball” Logo
This logo, which will be used as a sleeve patch and maybe as an alternate cap logo, feels very, very minor league to me — although with a few tweaks it could look Major League:
Sort of bizarre that the stitches on the new logo are oriented almost exactly the same as the stitches on the Major League logo, no?
More importantly: It seems odd that this “G” doesn’t match the one in the script.
The Wordmark and “C” Logo
Again, this feels very Flintstones to me: clunky, uneven, unpleasant to process with the eye. The standalone “C,” which will be used as a cap logo, is a particular disappointment — after the boring block-C, I figured they’d go for something with a lot more character. Also, the standalone “C” doesn’t match the one in the wordmark (are you sensing a pattern here?).
The font is called “Bridge Print” — again, an apparent reference to chiseled letters in the bridge where the Guardians of Traffic stand sentinel. This is the same mistake the Tennessee Titans made with their chiseled-font uni numbers — type that looks like it’s chiseled into stone might make for good “storytelling,” but doesn’t read well on a uniform.
Speaking of the uniforms, the team has released these mock-ups:
I’ll say this much: Most of the graphics look better on those mock-ups than they do on their own, although the overall effect is still pretty underwhelming. I’ll reserve further judgment until we see the full uniform set in real life.
To longtime Indians fans: I realize that this is hard for you. I totally get the emotional connection that forms between fans and their favorite team’s visual identity — hell, that connection is a big part of why Uni Watch exists — so I understand that you may be mourning a bit about the name change, even if you were in favor of it happening. Please accept my condolences — I feel for you.
(My thanks to Twitter-er Brian Chesnick for the ‘Major League’ joke and mock-up, and to Rick Moreno for pointing me toward the roller derby thread.)
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“When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”: On Friday we drove up to western Massachusetts, where we saw some music and spent the night with Mary’s brother and his family. The next day we drove southwest to the Hudson Valley, where we met up with friends and spent the night near Kingston, N.Y. Along the way, we passed the town of Rock City, N.Y., where there’s a fork in the road — two of them, in fact.
The forks are at the intersection of Routes 199 and 308. The two roads split around a grassy triangle of land, where a local artist named Stephen Schreiber erected a 31-foot-high fork in 2000. The sculpture is locally famous and has been featured in various road guides, but we had no idea it was there until we drove by it. Seemed worth a stop, so we pulled over and took a few pics:
As we were getting set to move on, we noticed another piece of playful art (by the same artist, I’m pretty sure:
After being stuck at home for so long during the pandemic, it’s great to see roadside attractions like these. Looking forward to more of the same next month, when we have a nine-day road trip planned.
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LAST CALL for the new cap: I’ll be putting this cap concept into production with Ebbets Field Flannels in the next day or two. I’ll be ordering enough for readers who’ve expressed interest, plus a few extras — but not many extras. So if you want in on this cap, you must tell me now.
If you emailed me to say you’d be willing to purchase this cap, I will soon be getting in touch to ask you to pre-order and confirm your size.
If you missed my previous posts about this cap concept, here are the details:
• This will be an eight-panel cap (not the more common six-panel) with green piping as shown in the mock-up.
• Just like the Classic Cap, this one will be 100% wool and made in the USA by Ebbets.
• That green brim is a Kelly green. As I recently explained, Ebbets no longer has the shade of green we were using for the Classic Cap. I don’t want to do a solid-Kelly cap, but I think the combination of Kelly, grey, and piping works really well.
• Speaking of the brim: The photo that I used for the mock-up showed a cap with a short, soft visor. But the real-world cap will have a conventional-length stiff visor.
• No visible maker’s mark, of course.
• It should be available to ship around the end of September.
• Based on the quote Ebbets has given me, the price will be $43 plus $6 shipping.
If you’re interested in pre-ordering this cap based on the info I’ve just provided, please send me a note indicating that you’d be on board. If you want to list your preferred fitted size, that would also be helpful. I’ll be back in touch soon to arrange your pre-order payment. Thanks!
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The Ticker By Jamie Rathjen
Baseball News: The Orioles usually wear black jerseys only on Fridays but have now worn them for three games in a row (from multiple readers). … Reader Darick Sears sent us a picture for the Ticker item yesterday of Bally Sports Wisconsin using the new Guardians logo in its graphics, which didn’t have a picture. … Double-A Harrisburg Senators manager Tripp Keister was ejected for removing his cap and jersey during an argument (from Max Weintraub). … The Single-A Lansing Lugnuts are doing a promotion for Tool Time, the show-within-a-show on the sitcom Home Improvement.
Football News: The Buccaneers are planning to use colored wristbands during practices to distinguish between players who are and aren’t vaccinated (thanks, Brinke). … South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium has a new banner that clearly uses the wrong shade of garnet, and the school admitted as such (from David Sharples).
Hockey News: The KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk have new jerseys (from Conan Smeeth).
Basketball News: Ohio 1804, a team in The Tournament, comprised of former Ohio University players, has interesting Ohio-themed uniforms (from @TreeWeezel).
Soccer News: On Friday, Germany’s 2. Bundesliga’s Schalke 04 wore black armbands for the victims of the recent German floods (from my brother Nate Rathjen). … New second shirt for Portugal’s Sporting CP. … Scotland’s women’s team are to start playing all their games at the men’s home of Hampden Park in Glasgow. … Kansas City NWSL goalie Katelyn Rowland was traded to the team from North Carolina last week and kept her No. 0, remaining one of the few pro players to wear it. Kansas City also has a No. 99, midfielder Victoria Pickett, and not only does KC now have both 0 and 99, Rowland was previously sometimes listed as No. 99 on scoring apps and websites like ESPN that can’t display somebody wearing No. 0. Now that Rowland’s at Kansas City, ESPN duly switched her to No. 98.
Grab Bag: Here is an overview of the shirts for The Hundred, a new English men’s and women’s cricket competition that started last week using an also new short-form 100-ball format. … New pandemic surges are slowing down production in Nike’s and Adidas’s Asian factories.