Is There Such a Thing as a ‘Perfect’ NOB?

Sometimes people get in touch with me and propose good topics to write about. If I’m busy, those topics sometimes get back-burnered — and then I sometimes forget about them.

That’s what happened with a great topic that was suggested nearly three years ago by reader Tony Bruno. Here’s the email he sent to me in the fall of 2016:

I have tried to explain this to several people, but no one understands. Hopefully, you can relate.

I have been printing uniforms [via a sublimation business] for about 10 years now, and I’ve recently tried to come up with the perfect last name to create the perfect NOB. For example:

• The perfect NOB would have to be the right length, which I think is seven letters. That seems to fill up the nameplate or area above the number perfectly.

• It should have symmetry. If vertically arched, it should have square letters at both ends or rounded letters at both ends. For example, my own last name, BRUNO, is an example of a square letter on the left (B) and a round letter on the right (O). This makes the lower-left corner sit below the lower-right corner, which ruins the symmetry.

• It should be comprised of letters with no negative spaces. That means no A, F, J, L, P, T, V or Y. [Note: I don’t think “negative spaces” is really the proper term for what Tony means here, since almost every letterform has some sort of negative space. I think he means it should fill its width fully from top to bottom instead of tapering. — PL]

• It shouldn’t have any letters that are unusually wide (M or W) or unusually narrow (I), since that throws off the spacing.

• It should look good in the main fonts used for NOBs.

With all that being said, the only name I can come up with is CORDERO. Seven letters, all pretty much the same width, round letters on both ends,

This may or may not interest you, but you are the only person I can vent to about this!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I bet most Uni Watch readers have had some thoughts, or at least some intuitive notions, about the Platonic ideal of NOBs. It’s definitely something I’ve thought about a lot as we’ve produced more than 2,000 Uni Watch membership cards over the years. I can’t say I’ve come up with a list of rules and standards like Tony has, but some NOBs are definitely more pleasing than others.

On some of our membership cards, for example, the NOBs look Just Right:

While others look a bit, well, unsatisfying, at least to me:

In those two cases, the open, empty space around the J (in the first card) and the L (second card) throw off the balance, at least to my eye. Having those letters at the beginning or end of a name can result in a less satisfying NOB. (I want to make it clear that I’m not critiquing anyone’s name. I’m just saying that some names feel more balanced and centered than others when rendered as NOBs.)

Anyway: When Tony first got in touch with me about this — again, that was nearly three years ago — I showed his email to membership card designer Scott M.X. Turner to get his take. Here’s the response that he sent to me at the time:

Intriguing! I do indeed think about this — every time I create a membership card, in fact.

Tony makes good points. Seven letters sounds about right, and I agree that CORDERO is a good-looking NOB. But Tony’s idea of perfection is a Brutalist construct — all clean lines, squared, and even-steven (although).

There are a couple of other ways to approach perfection, or at least satisfaction. Certain symmetrical letters look good in the middle, for example, particularly with an arc or vertical arch: A, W, O, I, X. Names that begin and end with the same letter are good, too.

I’m sure Tony, with his experience, has taken these other issues into account:

Font: The specific font can change the look, weight, and feel of certain letters. A rounded, modern font can give Ws the same width as other letters, for example.

Arching: Sometimes the arching is so subtle that it might as well be straight. And sometimes it’s so severe that the kerning looks off even when it’s correct.

Colors: Yes, colors. It makes a difference.

Layers, outlining, drop-shadows, etc.: An “I” with a two-layer treatment gains enough weight to not weaken the overall layout. Yes, I know that proportionately the other letters gain weight too, but a two-layer “I” crosses the line from being a 98-lb. weakling at the beach to at least having a shot at kicking sand in someone else’s face. (If that Charles Atlas reference is too dated, so be it.)

One final thought: Two letters that are always challenging are Q and Z. No offense to anyone whose name includes either of those letters, but they often make the NOB look awkward.

Good stuff. Shortly after Scott weighed in, I heard again from Tony, who had this to say:

After our last email, I told my daughter about our exchange. She told me that the perfect last name had to be objective, not subjective (college girl).

So here is the “NOB Scale”: 10 points is the perfect NOB. Every name starts with 10 points, then points are deducted in four categories.

1. Names lose points for every letter that is more or less than seven. (Example: LUKAS, minus a point for each letter less than seven, minus two points total.)

2. Names lose a point for each letter with negative space — A, F, J, L, P, T, V, and Y. (LUKAS, minus a point for the L and another point for the A.)

3. Names lose a point for each letter too wide, narrow, or tall — I,M,Q,W. (LUKAS, no points deducted.)

4. For arched NOBs, names lose a point for not having symmetrical end letters. (LUKAS, minus one point for L and S, because the L is square on the left side and the S is rounded on the right side, which throws off symmetry when name is arched.)

So LUKAS gets five points on the 10-point NOB Scale.

I wasn’t so sure that this could be boiled down to a formula or a numerical point system (so many variables!), but I liked that Tony was thinking so hard about all of this.

I was busy at the time, so I saved the email discussions and planned to write about them later. But at some point I forgot, and I apparently forgot to list this topic on my blog “to do” list, so the whole thing sort of languished in a murky corner of my brain until I recently resurrected it, and here we are.

My own two cents:

• Let me echo what Scott said about fonts — they matter a lot. NOBs look particularly bad when rendered in serif fonts, as any Brewers fan can probably tell you:

• Some letters look particularly pleasing when placed next to one another. Look at this membership card, for example:

V and A almost always look good next to each other (in either sequence) because the letterforms nest into each other. (The same goes for A and W.) By contrast, look at the E followed by the J — ugh. Very clunky!

I should add that while the VA combo is excellent, having the V as the first letter doesn’t pair very well with the S as the final letter — feels asymmetrical, because the V is tapered while the S is not.

• The numbers matter, too. The numeral 4 often feels particularly problematic on a membership card, even if the NOB looks fine on its own terms. The 4 makes the whole design feel out of balance, especially if there are no other numerals:

Even as part of a double-digit number, a 4 can make things feel out of whack and make the NOB seem uncentered, even though it is properly centered:

I could go on, but I have a strong suspicion that many of you are going to want to comment on this topic, so I’ll stop here and encourage everyone to chime in. My thanks to Tony Bruno for getting the ball rolling, and my apologies for the ridiculously long delay at my end. Hope it was worth the wait!

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And speaking of NOBs: Remember when the only athlete with a hyphenated NOB was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Nowadays, as we’ve noted several times here at Uni Watch, hyphenated NOBs are on the rise, mirroring the trend in our larger society — and resulting in some very awkward-looking NOBs.

A writer/designer named Jan Diehm has created a really excellent piece for The Pudding (a site that specializes in “visual essays”) about the rise of hyphenated surnames in pro sports. It features lots of research, lots of data, and entertaining graphics. I can pretty well guarantee that you will enjoy it. Highly, highly recommended.

(Big thanks to John Kuhl for this one.)

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Oh, for fuck’s sake: Longtime Reds radio broadcaster Marty Brennaman is retiring after this season, so he’s been on something of a farewell tour. Last night’s game in Chicago was his final game at Wrigley, so there were lots of photos and video clips of him floating around — including the one shown above, which just happened to show an ad patch plastered on his back. What a heartwarming way to send a legendary broadcaster off into the sunset!

Got some free time this weekend? Watch Idiocracy. Only $3.99 on YouTube.

(Thanks to Michael Kinney for bringing this depressing development to my attention.)

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You reap what you sew: Marge Switzer, who has been the Packers’ seamstress for decades, is the subject of an in-depth article in Women magazine (“The most trusted local magazine for women in Northeast Wisconsin”).

The article includes all sorts of interesting stories and details, including Switzer’s record-keeping system for each player, the one time she misspelled a player’s nameplate (only on a practice jersey, fortunately), the time she had to create a jersey just before gametime for referee Ed Hochuli, how she watches games on TV with a very critical eye, and a lot more. Highly recommended!

(Big thanks to longtime Uni Watch reader/pal Jeff Ash, who also happens to be Switzer’s former next-door neighbor.)

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Gumball update: In case you missed it on Thursday, I made a bunch of Uni Watch gumball helmets and are offering them for purchase. Full details on how I made them and how you can order them are available here.

If you want one of these, move fast — yesterday’s orders ate up about 30% of my original inventory. Here’s an update on how many are left as of this morning:

• Green shell with old-school mask: 29
• Green shell with linebacker mask: 1
• White shell with old-school mask: 1
• White shell with linebacker mask: SOLD OUT

The green shells have been more popular so far, but I had very few of the white shells to begin with, which is why they’re already nearly gone. I may have a line on a new supply of white shells, however, so that supply may be replenished soon. Stay tuned.

Also, a signal flare: Thomas Tell, I received your payment (thank you!), but you didn’t email me to say which color you want, your shipping address, etc. Please let me know. Thanks.

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ITEM! Final closeout price drop: The price of the Uni Watch 20th-anniversary patch, which was originally $9.99, and then $6.99, has now been reduced to a final closeout price of $3.99 plus $1 for shipping (or $2 for shipping for non-USA orders).

The patch was made for us by Stitches, the same shop that does all the sewing for the Mets, Yankees, and Islanders. It measures four inches across and is suitable for sewing onto a jersey or jacket, or just for displaying.

To order, send payment via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee), Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com), or Cash App (plukas64@gmail.com). If you want to use Apple Pay or a paper check, or if you’re outside the USA and can only use PayPal, shoot me a note and I’ll fill you in.

Once you send payment, be sure to send me your shipping address. Thanks!

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Cap update/reminder: Remember, we now have two different caps with different designs, different fabrics, different price points. That’s our Classic Cap on the left (wool, fitted or strapback, $42.99, available here) and our new Gold Circle Cap on the right (cotton, strapback, $24.99, available here).

My thanks, as always, for your consideration.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: @squatcheeontop got a pack of 1989 Donruss cards that featured a couple of Blue Jays players in royal blue jerseys and powder blue pants. Was this just a Spring Training look or did they wear this for a regular season game? … The Pirates are saluting Steve Blass’s retirement after 60 years of being connected to the team next weekend, and the baseball will have a commemorative logo (from Stephen Burns). … @BSmile posted some amazing footage of the 1920 silent film Headin’ Home, starring Babe Ruth. “Note the memorial armbands on the Yankees uniforms for Cleveland’s Ray Chapman,” he writes. … Fox Sports South and Southeast have created an “Ñ” logo to flash on screen whenever Braves OF Ronald Acuña Jr. hits a home run (from @DFRSH757). … All Braves relief pitchers have personalized bathrobes, complete with uni-accurate uni numbers and NOBs (from E.I. Pérez). … Did Manny Ramirez really bat one time with his jersey fully untucked? Sure looks that way. … The Dodgers once had warmup jackets with jersey-style numbers and NOBs.

NFL News: Derek and J.J. Watt’s parents are wearing Chargers/Texans crossover apparel to support both of their sons when they face off this Sunday (from Ignacio Salazar). … Arrowhead Stadium in KC will have throwback end zones and a throwback midfield logo for Sunday’s home opener (from Terrance Carter and @incognito95123). … Former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson attended last night’s Titans/Jaguars game in Jacksonville and wore a Jags jersey, but not this year’s model.

College Football News: Iowa State is going white-red-red tomorrow (from Chad Lehman). … NC State is going mono-black tomorrow (from @ACC_Tracker). … UNC is going blue-blue-white against Appalachian State, while Appalachian State is going black-white-black (from Thad McKinnon and James Gilbert). … The Lobos are going white-red-red tomorrow for the intra-state contest against New Mexico State (from Frank Mercogliano). … According to @ASU_Uniformity, these weird lines in ASU’s endzones are actually topographical maps of the Tempe Buttes. This is so cool! … Here’s a nice graphic giving a visual history of BYU’s helmets (from Jacob Gibb).

Hockey News: Good catch by Roland S., who noticed something about the Canucks’ “flying skate” jersey. In the original version that was worn in the late 1980s and early ’90s, the space above the “S” in the chest wordmark was white. A recent Reebok-era throwback also had the white space. But in the new throwbacks that will worn this season, that space is black. “I know I’m nitpicking, but isn’t that what we do?” he says. …New Canucks G Zane McIntyre’s mask pays tribute to his grandmother. When McIntyre was in the Bruins’ organization, he had a similar design but with his grandmother in a Bruins jersey (from Wade Heidt). … Carolina has released its preseason uni schedule, and debuted its new white sweater at home (from Scott M. Trembly). … Gorgeous new unis for the University of Pittsburgh’s club team (from Alan Saunders). … New unis for Maryville University. … An old hockey arena in Canada’s Northwest Territories has been repurposed into a commercial greenhouse (from @walbergLines).

Pro Basketball News: It appears the NOB font on the Pacers’ ‘Statement’ unis has been updated (from Etienne Catalan and Mackenzie Henderson). … Also from Etienne, Raptors G Isaiah Taylor will wear No. 4. … The inaugural unis for the D League’s College Park Skyhawks, formerly the Erie BayHawks, have been released. … As a season ticket renewal gift, the Mavs are giving away replica versions of the key to the city awarded to Dirk Nowitzki during his retirement ceremony (from Sam McKinley). … A c. 1935 team of all-stars from Oshkosh, Wis., refused to carry any corporate or manufacturer’s logo, despite several offers. Oshkosh All-Stars Get It™ (from Jeff Ash). … New uniforms for the Croatian team K.K. Split (from Ed Zelaski).

College Hoops News: Lots of talk yesterday about how similar UConn’s “The Pack” logo looks to NC State’s “Wolfpack” logo, leading to UConn admitting to the crime (from multiple readers). … Absolutely gorgeous new unis for St. John’s (from James Ballow). … New uniforms for Auburn.

Soccer News: “Given how much else changes in the modern game a club’s colours are sometimes the only constant. Football’s continued embrace of extreme capitalism threatens to take them too,” writes The Independent‘s Miguel Delaney (thanks, Jamie). … Manchester United wore white socks at home instead of their normal black for their UEFA Europa League match against FC Astana (from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh, there were third kit debuts for Borussia Mönchengladbach, AS Roma, and Getafe. … One more from Josh: Wolverhampton Wanderers’ cup font features the “wolf’s eyes” from their crest at the bottom of their numbers. Nice!

Grab Bag: English cricketer Ben Stokes had custom-made Harden Vol. 3 cricket spikes (from Joe Hicks). … New bag design for Lay’s potato chips (from Mike Chamernik). … Mark Miller‘s 11-year-old son made him a birthday card featuring various uni patches. Well done! … Here are the liveries for the final race of the IndyCar season at Laguna Seca (from Tim Dunn).

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What Paul did last night: The Tugboat Captain had a class last night, so I hopped in the car by myself, drove to Queens while listening to a podcast, and saw The Scene Is Now, a band I’ve loved since I mail-ordered their first LP in 1985.

Had a few beers, saw and chatted with lots of friends, felt the beginnings of autumn in the air. Nothing remarkable — just a good night, the way life should be. Nice.

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Raffle results: If you go to the gallery of stirrups that we were raffling off this week and hover your cursor over each photo (or just click through the 10 photos), you’ll see that each of the 10 pairs now has a person’s name added to its file name. Those are our 10 winners. Congrats to them, and big thanks to the anonymous reader who donated this fine hosiery!

Uni Watch DIY Project: Our Own Gumball Helmets!

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When I recently launched the new Uni Watch mini-helmet, a Twitter-er named Shane Bua had an intriguing reaction: How about a Uni Watch gumball helmet?

(I’m pretty sure everyone in the Uni Watch comm-uni-ty understands the difference between a mini-helmet and a gumball helmet, but just in case: Mini-helmets are fairly realistic-looking junior versions of real-life helmet models. They’re about the size of a really large grapefruit and typically sell for $30 to $40. Gumball helmets are little toys that fit in the palm of your hand. Many of us grew up buying them for a quarter from supermarket vending machines.)

I bought my share of gumball helmets as a kid, although I never had a big collection of them and didn’t save them like I saved some other prized mementos. In any case, I hadn’t thought of doing Uni Watch gumball helmets until Shane suggested it (just as I hadn’t thought of doing Uni Watch mini-helmets until a few people suggested that two years ago), but I liked the idea. The more I thought about it, in fact, the more necessary it seemed — how had I not thought of this before?

I asked Rocker T Collectibles honcho Casey Tierney, who makes our mini-helmets, if he dealt at all with gumballs. He said no — he’s strictly a mini guy, not a gumball guy.

So I contacted a guy in Texas named Bill Jones. Longtime Uni Watch readers may remember him as the King of Gumball Helmets, because I wrote an ESPN piece about him way back in 2007. I hadn’t been in touch with him in several years, but he responded right away and was eager to help me out.

My first question for Bill was about where I could find suitable helmet shells. There are more modern gumball helmet styles, but I was adamant that I wanted to use the old-school shells like the ones from the 1960s and ’70s. Bill told me those are no longer in production, although old sets can sometimes be found on eBay.

So I poked around and was fortunate enough to find a large lot of several dozen vintage Jets gumballs — mostly green, plus a few white (no one-shell rule here!):

That seemed perfect for what I had in mind, so I bought them. When the helmets arrived from the seller, I had to remove all of the Jets graphics, which entailed several hours’ worth of peeling, scraping, scrubbing, Goo Gone-ing, and, in a few instances, soaking. Along the way, I found that a few of the helmets were cracked, a few others didn’t have facemasks, and so on, so I set those aside and concentrated on the ones that were in good shape.

Meanwhile, I needed new stickers to transform the shells into Uni Watch helmets. Bill very generously offered to help me with that. I explained what I wanted and he created two JPGs for me to use as sticker sheets — one for the green shells and one for the white shells. I would then have to print them on Avery label sheets and cut out the individual graphics. My home ink-jet printer isn’t very good, so I had the label sheets printed at a local print shop (note Bill’s “Gumball King” logo at the bottom of each sheet):

As you can see, the side logo stickers were executed in the familiar crescent shape that will push nostalgic buttons for anyone who ever collected gumball helmets. They didn’t have to be that shape, of course (the Uni Watch logo isn’t crescent-shaped, after all), but that shape, maybe more than any other design element, definitively says gumball helmet, so that’s how I asked Bill to format them.

Unlike real gumball stickers, my DIY stickers weren’t die-cut, so I had to cut out each shape individually. The stripes were easy enough — I used a straightedge and an X-Acto for those. Bill said he also uses an X-Acto when cutting out the crescent shapes for his own DIY gumball projects (and he does it freehand, without a template!), but I found that to be a bit too clumsy. Instead, I used scissors. I botched a few of my first attempts but soon got the hang of it.

Voilà:

As you can see at the ends of the front row, a few of the helmets I bought came with the newer linebacker-style facemasks. For me, that style lacks the charm of the older gumballs (aside from the difference in the mask itself, I like how the older style sits with the mask pointing upward, which seems endearingly rinky-dink, while the newer style sits flat), but I figured I’d go ahead and give those the full sticker treatment as well.

You may be wondering why I opted to put center striping on the green gumball helmet, while our green mini-helmet is stripe-free. The main reason is that the classic gumball shell has a broad, flat crown that I figured would would look really empty without some sort of ornamentation. (By contrast, the mini-helmet has a rounded crown and I thought our green mini-shell didn’t need striping.)

I’ve really enjoyed this project — a nice chance for me to work with my hands instead of just tapping on a keyboard (which also involves my hands, but you know what I mean). I was pretty happy with the way they came out, so I sent a photo to Bill, who said he was impressed. He even offered to make me his Gumball Prince, but I said I was more like the Gumball Apprentice, or maybe the Court Jester.

Anyway: This project seemed successful enough for me to offer the helmets for sale to you folks. But before I could do that, I needed to check off a few more boxes. For one thing, the eBay lot included only 16 of the vintage plastic capsules that gumball helmets are traditionally packaged in — not enough for all of the helmets I’d be creating. I could have just skipped the capsules, but they seem like an integral part of the gumball experience, so I found another eBay seller with a listing for a few dozen capsules and bought those. (They haven’t arrived yet, but I’m expecting them in a few days.) And if I was going to sell the helmets, I’d also need small shipping boxes, so I made arrangements to procure some of those (ditto).

Once I get those last pieces in place, I’ll be ready to go. If you’re interested in purchasing these, here’s what you need to know:

1. Obviously, supplies are very limited. After removing the helmets that were too damaged to use, plus two for myself, here’s my current inventory:

• Green shell with old-school mask: 34
• Green shell with linebacker mask: 3
• White shell with old-school mask: 5
• White shell with linebacker mask: 1 SOLD OUT

I could conceivably get more shells, but I haven’t seen any other large lots like the Jets lot that I purchased, and smaller lots tend to have a higher per-piece price. So it’s possible that this one batch may be the only batch that I offer. But we’ll see.

2. In order to make these available to the largest number of people, I’m going to set a limit of two helmets per customer — one white, one green. Once the white ones are gone, the limit will be one per customer.

3. If you bought gumball helmets from a vending machine back in the day, they came with the mask unattached and the stickers not yet applied, so you got to “build” the helmet yourself. With that in mind, I’ve left most of the shells blank for now. If you like, I can enclose the mask and pre-cut stickers inside the capsule, so you can apply them yourself. If you’d prefer to have me do it, that’s fine too. (Worth noting: Because the stickers aren’t die-cut, it can be a bit frustrating to remove the backing paper.)

4. I’ve been trying to decide how much to charge for these. When sold one at a time (i.e., not in large lots like the one I purchased), vintage NFL gumballs appear to average roughly $5-$7 on eBay. Given the amount of time, money, and effort I’ve spent on this project, I think $13.99 sounds about right, plus $4.50 for shipping (same shipping amount whether you’re purchasing one helmet or two).

I realize that may seem like a lot for something that originally cost a quarter. But if you go back and look at the process I just described for making them, plus the fact that I’ll have to make lots of trips to the post office, I hope you’ll agree that it’s a fair price. Of course, if it’s more than you want to spend for such a small, lightweight item, I completely understand.

5. If you’re ready to purchase, please send me the proper amount — $13.99 for one, or $27.98 for two, plus $4.50 for shipping — via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee) or Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com). If you’d rather use Apple Pay or a paper check, contact me and I’ll give you the appropriate info.

Important: After sending payment, email me with the following info:

• Your preferred shell color(s) and mask style(s)

• Whether you want the facemask and stickers already applied or loose within the capsule so you can apply them yourself

• Your shipping address

You can go ahead and order now. I should be able to start shipping orders by next Tuesday or Wednesday. Thanks for your patience.

6. Sorry about this, but for now I’m not going to take non-USA orders, because dealing with the customs forms would be a major pain in the ass (especially for such a small shipping box — I’m not sure where the form would even fit on the package). If you’re a non-USA reader and reallyreallyreally want to get in on these, contact me and we’ll discuss. Maybe we can come to some sort of arrangement.

I think that’s it. If I’m overlooking anything, I’m sure you’ll all tell me.

(Big thanks to Shane Bua for the idea, and mega-thanks to Bill Jones, the Gumball King, for his invaluable assistance with this project. He also makes and sells trading cards for the WFL and USFL and has a fun Facebook page.)

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Not-so-special delivery: It appears that miserable-looking side panels, having already ruined so many sports uniforms, can also be used on non-sports uniforms. That’s the new UPS uni, which was unveiled yesterday. There’s additional info here, and a very good slideshow of UPS uniforms through the years (none of them with contrast-colored side panels) here.

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ITEM! New Naming Wrongs shirts: We have several new Naming Wrongs shirts to share with you, beginning with this Highbury shirt that several Arsenal fans asked us to do:

With Old Dominion’s basketball arena recently getting a new advertised name, several ODU fans asked us to do a shirt of “the Ted.” We’ve executed it in navy and in grey:

A while back with did a simple design for the Palace in Detroit, in blue and grey. Now we’ve done a script version of it, again in in blue and in grey:

All of these designs are now available in the Naming Wrongs shop, where card-carrying Uni Watch members can get a 15% discount. My thanks, as always, for considering our products.

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

LAST CALL for the stirrups raffle: In case you missed it on Tuesday, an anonymous reader has 10 pairs of old stirrups and has generously offered to raffle them off to Uni Watch readers. You can see all 10 pairs here. Note that each pair is numbered.

To enter this raffle, Send an email to the raffle address by 10pm Eastern tonight. In the body of the email, please indicate (a) your name and shipping address and (b) your preferred stirrup choices, in order of preference, by number. If you’re only interested in one pair, just list that pair’s number; if you want to list more than one, you can do that too, all the way up to 10 choices. I’ll do my best to accommodate all the winners’ preferences.

One email per person. I’ll announce the winners tomorrow. Please join me in thanking our anonymous benefactor for doing this!

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: Of all the places to put Chief Wahoo, a cowboy hat seems particularly ill-advised (from @Titan4Ever2488).
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Baseball News: Good article about a guy in Cleveland who makes custom-designed souvenir bats (from Jason Hillyer). … Reds P Robert Stephenson had an errant lace on his glove last night. “Caused a short delay in the game,” says Griffin Smith. … Rays P Emilio Pagán was wearing a wedding band last night. Looks like it was probably silicone, which is permissible. Metal would be a no-no for a pitcher (from Michael Miller). … Dodgers rookie Gavin Lux used teammate Justin Turner’s bat last night (good spot by Mike Chamernik). … The Pirates had their annual Roberto Clemente Day of Giving yesterday, which included putting Clemente’s No. 21 on the field and the mound. Odd that they did the field numbers in the team’s familiar number font but did the mound number in block numerals (from Jerry Wolper).

Pro Football News: The Packers will wear their throwbacks this week. … “The Toronto Argonauts will continue to wear the vintage ‘football with sails’ logo, which they’ve worn for their past two road games, for two upcoming home games,” says Wade Heidt.

College and High School Football News: Lots of info and photos on Colorado State’s “Aggie Orange” throwbacks, which they’ll be wearing this weekend. … Not sure who these high school teams are, but mono-black vs. mono-black seems pretty rough (from Brian Koperski). … Here are this week’s uni combos for Syracuse and UVA (from Jakob Fox and our own Jamie Rathjen).

Hockey News: Lightning G Scott Wedgewood wore his old Sabres mask in a preseason game (from Marc Mandin). … New mask for North Dakota G Peter Thome (from Greg Enkers). … Gigantic rear uni numbers for the Corpus Christi IceRays (from @BusLeagueHockey). … New light-blue glove cuffs for the Jets.

NBA News: The video game NBA 2 K suggests that the Nets may have a new court design (from Jonathan Vasquez). … Plenty of uni number news on Etienne Catalan’s Twitter feed.

College Hoops News: New uniforms for Troy (from Thomas Gleaton). … Maryland’s new unis have some sort of sublimated pattern “Presumably tortoise-shell,” says Matt Shevin. … New logo for the UConn student section.

Soccer News: A high school in Maine is named after the Telstar satellite that inspired the famous Telstar soccer ball. … As usual, you can keep up on additional soccer uni developments by checking out Josh Hinton’s Twitter feed.

Grab Bag: The NLL’s expansion New York Riptide unveiled their inaugural uniforms. Also, the NLL’s Rochester Knighthawks are now the Halifax Thunderbirds. Here’s a look at their new white jersey (from Wade Heidt). … Here’s an analysis of Volkswagen’s new logo. … The rapper Machine Gun Kelly is inviting fans to design his new logo. … New logo and name for the Motion Picture Association. … I still call it Philadelphia (from Charles Freeman). … After a high school girls’ volleyball team posed for a poster earlier this year, the team members’ fathers wore their daughters’ uniforms and mimicked their facial expressions while posing for a similar poster (from Jon Hollomon). … A high school wrestling ref who forced a New Jersey teen to cut his dreadlocks before competing in a match last winter has been suspended for two years. … Major League Rugby’s Austin Elite will now be known as the Austin Herd.

Warriors Unveil Six-Uni Set for 2019-20

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The Warriors unveiled six, count ’em six new uniforms jerseys yesterday. Most were either already known to be in the pipeline or recently leaked, and several are subtle variations on last year’s versions, but it still qualifies as a big unveiling.

Let’s start with the primary white and blue designs (shown above). These are essentially the same as last season’s, except that the bridge design has been tweaked, the type is now rendered in a new font, and the shade of blue is slightly darker. Those changes to the team’s logo had already been announced back in June.

Another tweak can be found on the team’s “The Town” alternate, which is based on the graphics found on Oakland street signs (and which they’re keeping despite having moved from Oakland to San Francisco):

This is almost identical to last season’s version. The only changes are the collar color and a new (and much improved) typeface. You can see the differences in this SportsLogos.net comparison graphic.

The one truly new design is a yellow alternate with “The Bay” (this will be the “Statement” alternate, a term I hope to use as infrequently as possible):

According to the team, the logo shows a “landscape of seaside cliffs overlooking water accompanied by an overhead fog, a scene reminiscent of the Golden Gate prior to construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.” I wish it didn’t have the three lines that make it look like a basketball. Makes the whole thing feel way too boilerplate.

In an unusual development, there will also be two throwbacks, which seems like overkill, even though I like both designs:

“The City,” of course, is the greatest uniform in NBA history. Still, the Warriors have worn this throwback several times before, so there’s nothing new here (and it seems a bit ridiculous that the team will be wearing The Town, The Bay, and The City all in the same season).

The other throwback design is from 1962, the team’s first year in San Francisco after relocating from Philadelphia. The Warriors have previously worn the gold road version of this design as a throwback, but to my knowledge this is the first time they’ve worn the white home version. It’s a nice uniform, although they appear to have taken some liberties with the typography and colors — original version on left, throwback on right:

It remains to be seen when these uniforms will be worn, and how many of them will be paired with their own distinct court designs.

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Tuck you: I finished watching last night’s installment of PBS’s eight-part country music documentary just in time to switch over to the Mets/Rockies game and see Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman going untucked in the dugout during the top of the sixth. Normally, this might suggest that his night was over, but instead he tucked his jersey back in and went out to pitch the next two innings.

The broadcasters implied, but did not outright state, that he routinely untucks his jersey between innings. I’ve never heard of a player doing that, so I did some quick photo research. I couldn’t find any shots of Stroman going untucked in the dugout, but I did find an untucked photo of him walking to the dugout after having been removed from a game on July 24 of this year, and another untucked shot of him walking in from the bullpen prior to the start of the game on July 4:

I’ve never seen a player doing those things either. Marcus Stroman: King of the untucked jersey (which is a pretty dubious title to have).

(Also: SNY reported Steve Gelbs reported during last night’s game that Stroman Velcros his pant cuffs to his shoes. Yeesh.)

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Premier League Uni Roundup — Week 5 (Sept. 14–16)

By Josh Hinton

Liverpool (red) 3-1 Newcastle (white/black)

Liverpool look excellent in that lovely home strip, but Newcastle’s awful look kills this matchup. 3/10

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Brighton (blue/white) 1-1 Burnley (claret)

I don’t mind this Burnley home kit, but Brighton’s busy kit — striped, with two shade of blue, and paired with out-of-place gold — ruins this matchup. 3/10

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Manchester United (red) 1-0 Leicester (blue)

Royal blue and red, when paired properly as seen here, is absolutely beautiful! 8.5/10

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Sheffield United (red/white) 1-0 Southampton (grey)

This is going to go down as one of the worst matchups of the year. Sheffield United have the worst striped kit in the league, and that awful Southampton third strip needs to go. 1/10

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Tottenham (white) 4-0 Crystal Palace (red/blue)

Yet another lovely matchup this week, involving some of the best home strips in the league. Would be perfect if not for Palace’s green sleeve ad. 9/10

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Wolves (old gold) 2-5 Chelsea (white)

This game loses points for the Wolves’ Tiro19 template and Chelsea unnecessarily sporting their change kit, but gains points for the lovely contrast and the fact that said change kit is probably the best in the league. 8/10

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Norwich (yellow/green) 3-2 Manchester City (black)

While my beloved Manchester City was embarrassed in this game, Norwich’s home kit is stunning. Would be perfect if City had worn their home strip. 8/10

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Bournemouth (red/white) 3-1 Everton (blue)

See Man United vs. Leicester — stunning. Love it when these two sides play each other in their respective home strips. 9/10

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Watford (black/yellow) 2-2 Arsenal (red)

I’ve never been a fan of the increased use of red and black in Watford’s home strip. But as seen in 2016-17, yellow, when done right, works. As for Arsenal, their home strip is one of the best in the league, but the whole matchup looked off due to the black half of the Hornets’ home kit. 4/10

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Aston Villa (claret) 0-0 West Ham (navy)

Villa are excellent in their Kappa claret kit, and West Ham sport a classy Umbro third kit. Nothing exceptional, but a solid matchup to close out the week. 7/10

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Almost sold out already: As of this morning, I have only two remaining sets of Uni Watch coasters. If you want one of them, it’s three coasters for 10 bucks (or 12 bucks for non-USA orders).

To order, send me the appropriate amount via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee) or Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com). If you want to use Apple Pay or a paper check or well-concealed cash, or if you’re not in the USA and can only use PayPal, get in touch and I’ll give you the appropriate info.

One order per person. After paying, email me with your shipping info. Thanks!

Coasters are now SOLD OUT. I can order more, but they will be more expensive (because I had a special deal on this first set) — probably more like $12-$14 for a set of three. If that interests you, please email me. If there’s enough demand, I’ll go ahead and get more. Thanks!

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

Raffle reminder: In case you missed it on Tuesday, an anonymous reader has 10 pairs of old stirrups and has generously offered to raffle them off to Uni Watch readers. You can see all 10 pairs here. Note that each pair is numbered.

To enter this raffle, Send an email to the raffle address by 10pm Eastern this Thursday, Sept. 19. In the body of the email, please indicate (a) your name and shipping address and (b) your preferred stirrup choices, in order of preference, by number. If you’re only interested in one pair, just list that pair’s number; if you want to list more than one, you can do that too, all the way up to 10 choices. I’ll do my best to accommodate all the winners’ preferences.

One email per person. I’ll announce the winners on Friday. Please join me in thanking our anonymous benefactor for doing this!

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball NewsThe Brewers wore their Cerveceros jerseys for Hispanic Heritage Night on Monday (from Mike Chamernik). … A sportswriter has an unusual request for the Twins: Make every night “Obscure Twins Jersey Night” (from Margaret Zverinova).

NFL NewsThe Jets are the latest pro sports team to commission a bunch of cool-looking gameday posters. Note that one of the upcoming ones will be by longtime Uni Watch ally Todd Radom. … Speaking of the Jets, it would be fair to say that radio talker Mike Francesa is not a fan of their new uniforms.

College Football News: Here’s what the ACC wore in Week One (from ACC Tracker). … BYU will wear throwbacks this week (from multiple readers). … Fox Sports tweeted a graphic using Ohio State’s old logo — a logo they haven’t used since 2012. Here’s a side-by-side of their old and current logos (from College Sport Design). … SMU gave Dallas mayor Eric Johnson a “Dallas” jersey and helmet (from Sam McKinley). … The latest helmet collection from Blaise D’Sylva is of Virginia Tech. … New interlocking “TU” helmet logo for Tulane (from Clint Richardson).

Hockey News: The Canucks have revealed a new arena banner featuring many of their uniforms from team history (from @waffleboard). … The Sabres could possibly have a new wordmark (from multiple readers). … Canada’s National Junior A Championship has dropped its corporate advertiser and reverted back to its original name, the Centennial Cup (from Jim Wooley). … Last night’s Sens/Leafs preseason game had blue goalposts. That’s because the game was played at the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers’ rink. The ECHL uses the blue pipes (from @RyanDrifting).

Soccer News: From Josh Hinton : It’s the first group stage matchday for the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League, so defending Champions League winners Liverpool debuted the customary winners’ badge on their sleeve yesterday. … Interesting note regarding Liverpool’s UEFA competition font: When a player, like F Mo Salah, has their first initial on the NOB, the period is raised (right photo), whereas the standard Premier League font (left photo) has it in a more standard position. Our own Jamie Rathjen says it’s a practice that dates back at least to last season. … Two Chelsea UCL notes from yesterday: They are wearing the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League Winners patch on their sleeves and the Plan International charity’s logo on the back of their shirts, as they often do in European competition. … Borussia Dortmund wore their NOBs at the top of their shirts yesterday. In the Bundesliga this season, their NOBs have been at the bottom (from Eric Wilson). … Both Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid will wear their third kits when they face off today. … For more kit-related news, including more news from yesterday’s Champions League matchday, check out Josh‘s Twitter feed. … A graphic designer has made soccer shirts to honor typefaces (from Justin, who didn’t give his last name). … New third kit for AS Roma (from Ed Zelaski).

Grab Bag: The Scotland men’s national rugby team is in Japan for the upcoming Rugby World Cup. They’re seen here wearing kilts in a tartan designed to honor the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The pattern is based on the regular Scottish Rugby Union tartan, but the green and purple is effectively reversed. … This panda is the new mascot for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and this lantern child is the mascot for the 2022 Winter Paralympics, also in Beijing (from Jeremy Brahm).

Gross: MiLB Adds Ad Patches for Triple-A Title Game

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Distressing news yesterday from Minor League Baseball, which announced that the two teams competing in tonight’s Triple-A Championship Game — the Columbus Clippers and the Sacramento River Cats — will be wearing advertising patches on their jerseys.

Man, does that look like shit or what? I considered giving it the Mr. Yuk treatment, but I decided it was worthwhile to show just how awful the ad really looks.

To put this in some perspective, it was only last year that I wrote about how the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs saluted the Brannock Device by becoming the Syracuse Devices for one game. As I wrote at the time, they had wanted to be the Syracuse Brannock Devices but weren’t allowed to do that because “that’s a commercial trademark and would violate MiLB’s rules against advertising on a uniform.”

I guess those rules have been revised just a tad.

Of course, MiLB’s press release doesn’t refer to the ad patches as ad patches. In fact, the word “advertising” doesn’t appear in the release. Instead, the ad patches are described as a “Historic On-Field Jersey Partnership.” Here’s the money quote, from Pacific Coast League prexy Branch Rickey (grandson of that other Branch Rickey): “[W]e are interested in the possibility of this leading to future on-field jersey sponsorships.”

You don’t say.

As has been previously reported, MLB is considering the addition of uniform ads, with a potential 2022 start date. This appears to be the first blow to soften people up for that eventuality.

As you may recall, the NBA eased into the world of uniform advertising by using it in the All-Star Game for two seasons before instituting it in the regular season. I suspect MLB will take a similar route, with uni ads appearing in the 2020 or 2021 MLB All-Star Game. (Just to be clear, I have no inside info on that. Just thinking out loud about what seems like the next logical step.)

It’s amazing what people are capable of when their shame gland has been removed.

(My thanks to Bob Andrews, who was the first to let me know about this.)

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Embed from Getty Images

Fortunately, I was watching the country music documentary on PBS: Tough game to watch last night in the Meadhowlands, in more ways than one. The less said about it the better, but there were a few uni-notable tidbits:

• The Jets went with ugly black end zones, to go along wtih their ugly black uniforms:

• Lots of people pointed out that both teams wore their city names across their chests. When’s the last time that happened in an NFL game? Has it ever happened in an NFL game?

• The refs made Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr. leave the game in the first quarter due to what was reported to be an illegal visor. but there seems to be some confusion regarding the specifics of the illegality. Many reports indicated that officials said the visor was tinted. Now, it’s true that Beckham wore a tinted visor (and a purple compression sleeve, and his treasured very expensive watch) during pregame activities. But he didn’t wear that in the game. In fact, he was definitely wearing a clear visor, not tinted, while making the one-handed catch just before the officials sent him off the field.

Here’s video of that play. Still looks clear to me (with some reflection from the stadium lights):

People on social media speculated that he was sent off because that clear visor didn’t have Oakley maker’s marks. But when he returned with a new visor, that one didn’t have the logo creep either.

So the specifics of the illegality are unclear, at least to me. But whatever — enough OBJ. Let us never speak of him again (until, you know, his next soap opera).

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Can’t un-see it (unless you already saw it): Phil tells me the whole world already knew about this, but I didn’t know about it, and the large number of people tweeting it at me suggests that lots of other people didn’t know either. So I’m just gonna leave this here:

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

   

The Packers held a  ceremony two days ago to honor their late, great quarterback Bart Starr, who passed away earlier this year. Bart was the, uh, star of this print ad for NFL polo shirts. “The same polo shirts NFL teams buy for their players and coaches!” Another salvo: “Because only official team colors are used, you know the shirt you get is exactly like the ones being worn by the players and coaches of your favorite team.” Well, that settles that.

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• Notice this late-1970s Rawlings Seahawks helmet for kids. They wrapped the decal striping around the back, something they didn’t initially do for the on-field helmets (which always bothered me).

• Ah, this sign brings back memories of Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati: With a 1970s interior done up in classic Brady Bunch brown and orange as I recall, it was the home for the WHA Cincinnati Stingers, as immortalized on this neon sign.

• This 1960s glass has a football player on it and says “Cowboys,” but no team logo or uniform detailing to suggest it’s a team item. The seller mentioned “Cornell Green” in the auction headline, and Mr. Green did indeed wear No. 34, but that’s a stretch.

• This 1970s baseball glove has the Cincinnati Reds “running man” logo on the wrist strap.  

• Here’s a 1970s photo of Jarry Park in Montreal, original home of the Expos. Look how small that stadium was! When the Expos started play in 1969, capacity was 28,500. 

• The “SF” decal on this 1970s Niners helmet plaque is a bit faded, but otherwise this is in good shape. 

• Had this! A 1971-1972 Pro Football Hall of Fame appointment planner. Didn’t have too many appointments when I was 11, but I loved the cover art and the inside photos, and that’s all that mattered.

• Back in the day, cartoonist Jim Davis used to market the heck out of his Garfield cartoon cat. (I had a Garfield Bengals Christmas ornament from Big Lots.) Here Garfield shows up on this Vikings mug as a “fan-atic.”

• One more for the Vikes — this 1970s garbage can decorated with the Vikes helmet. One of the few I’ve seen on eBay that’s not consumed by rust.

• Tom Brady is deservedly The Man in New England, but once upon a time (1975-1990), that title belonged to Steve Grogan. His No. 14 is shown on this Sears Patriots jersey. Grogan performed the rare feat of playing in the NFL for 15 years, all with one team, the Pats.

Got an item to include on Collector’s Corner? Send any submissions to uniwatchcollectorscorner@gmail.com!

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Who was that masked man were those masked men?: I have a feeling we may have seen this before, but once more won’t hurt: Check out the amazing double-mask action in this 1970 Blues photo!

Here’s another shot:

In the first photo, the masked non-goalie’s glove has No. 8, indicating that it would be defenseman Barclay Plager. But according to this newspaper article, it was actually his brother Bob, who was rehabbing a broken nose. Either way, it’s unusual to see an NHL player wearing a goalie-style mask!

(My thanks to Jerry Wolper for bringing the first photo to my attention, and to @Casual_Mats and Tom Hawthorn for the second photo and the newspaper article.)

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ITEM! Uni Watch coasters: A coaster manufacturer was offering an introductory deal, so I thought sure, why not? The UPS man brought them yesterday just as I was sitting down on the front porch with a Diet Coke. They look great!

I only have a few dozen of these. I’m going to sell them in groups of three — three coasters for 10 bucks, including shipping. For non-USA orders, it’ll be three coasters for 12 bucks. One order per person — no hoarding!

To order, send me the appropriate amount via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee) or Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com). If you want to use Apple Pay or a paper check or well-concealed cash, or if you’re not in the USA and can only use PayPal, get in touch and I’ll give you the appropriate info.

After paying, email me with your shipping info. Thanks.

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

ITEM! Stirrup raffle: An anonymous reader has 10 pairs of old stirrups and has generously offered to raffle them off to Uni Watch readers. You can see all 10 pairs here. Note that each pair is numbered.

To enter this raffle, Send an email to the raffle address by 10pm Eastern this Thursday, Sept. 19. In the body of the email, please indicate (a) your name and shipping address and (b) your preferred stirrup choices, in order of preference, by number. If you’re only interested in one pair, just list that pair’s number; if you want to list more than one, you can do that too, all the way up to 10 choices. I’ll do my best to accommodate all the winners’ preferences.

One email per person. I’ll announce the winners on Friday. Please join me in thanking our anonymous benefactor!

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsThe A’s celebrated Mexican Independence Day by wearing Atléticos jerseys. Note that the Majestic maker’s mark was white on white. Also: No MLB 150 patches (from Jakob Fox and Samuel Lam). … That game also featured very visible evidence of Sunday’s Raiders game (from Ramon Meza). … Speaking of which, here’s a good article on what it takes to convert the stadium from football to baseball (from @brianspeaksnow). … Mets 1B Pete Alonso’s cap appeared to be squatchee-free last night. … Back in 1969, when the Japanese team now known as the Chiba Lotte Marines was called the Tokyo Orions, Pepsi wanted to name them the Pepsi Orions (from Jeremy Brahm). … Did you know that bluegrass music pioneer Bill Monroe once had a barnstorming baseball team? It’s true. Too bad the uniforms weren’t better, eh? Additional info here (from Max Weintraub).

NFL NewsIt appears the Chiefs may have an old-school field paint scheme at Arrowhead this weekend (from Ryan Smith). … Bojangles is using blue and black boxes as part of a Panthers tailgate special (from Joel). … Joseph Bailey was watching old Browns/Niners highlights on YouTube and noticed the end zones — in San Francisco — included the Browns nickname and Brownie the Elf. He says he thinks the game was in 1970. … A new Baltimore restaurant’s dress code bans all sports jerseys except Ravens and Orioles jerseys on game days (from Carrie Klein). … One on of the segments hosted by Randy Moss on Monday Night Countdown last night, the accompanying graphic showed him in a modern Vikings jersey that he never wore in his career (from Caleb Pardick).

College Football NewsOklahoma coach Lincoln Riley must have something against collared shirts. He hasn’t worn one yet this season (from Sam McKinley). … Weber State’s pants have a big ol’ logo on their butt (from Brice Wallace).

Hockey NewsIf this retail listing is to be believed, the Bruins will have a new alternate sweater this season — and it appears to be brown and gold (from Kenny Saidah). … The Estevan Bruins of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League are responding to criticism of their all-white (and I mean all-white) away jerseys (from @BootedBlog). … We have our first on-ice look at the Sabres’ 50th-season patch (from James Trexler). … An old Zamboni with Hartford Whalers graphics recently ended up in a Hartford scrap metal yard.

Basketball News: The Nets are having a jersey giveaway that will include not only the basic front-chest ad patch but an additional ad on the back (from Christophe Davy). … Speaking of the Nets — could these be their new “Statement” jerseys? (From Etienne Catalan) … Wizards new G/F C.J. Miles will wear No. 34 (also from Etienne Catalan). … New floor for Stony Brook (from Alex Peck).

Soccer News: Spurs F Harry Kane wears white tape on his ring finger during games (from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh: Women’s club CD Tacon, who will be rebranded to become Real Madrid, removed the Real Madrid printing/numbers after their humiliating 1-9 loss against rivals Barcelona. … Scottish team Stranraer has a new third kit (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … USL League One’s Forward Madison FC and NPSL’s Milwaukee Torrent have a new rivalry logo for the  “Astonishingly Shiny Cup Of All Cups” (from Scott Rogers). … One more from Josh Hinton: We’ve all seen the basketball floor to hockey rink time-lapse. But have you seen a baseball field to soccer field time-lapse?

Grab Bag: This piece offers great behind-the-scenes tennis insights from the US Open. Apparently Justin Gimelstob was one of the “sweatiest” players of all time (from Brinke). … Fun project from Hunter Hook: Collegiate logo mascots stripped of all their hair. … Harvard Business Review has a new study about which logos are most effective (from Mike Chamernik). … “I just read a new book called One Way Ticket: Nine Lives on Two Wheels, by former cyclist Jonathan Vaughters,” says Bernie Langer. “After he retired from cycling, he founded a new team, which has been known in various iterations as Slipstream, Garmin, Cannondale, and now EF Education First. Despite all the name changes, the team is known for the argyle motif on its kits, and the book has a very interesting backstory on that. It’s a bit to read, but it’s worth it.”