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Pandemic Driveway Chalk Artistry

By Phil Hecken, with Matt Esterich

Hey guys! Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe as we pass the mid-point of the month of September in the Year From Hell.

As you will recall, back in July/August, I put out the call for readers to share articles with the readership as we were facing somewhat of a dearth of uni-news…and you guys responded in spades! Today I want to share a piece with you by a (sort of) neighbor, who is also a Uni Watch reader, Matt Esterich (who, like me, resides on Long Island). At the time Matt made his pitch, I told him I probably had enough content to run out the month, but I’d love to run his piece in September if he wanted to still send it in to me — and he did, about a week and a half ago. Since last weekend featured the opening of the Premier League and the first Sunday Morning Uni Watch of the season, I am running his piece today.

In his initial e-mail, Matt wrote,

I have an idea for some content in the upcoming Dog Days. First, a little background on myself: I live in Plainview, NY (I think we’re neighbors, sort of). I was a TV sports anchor in Virginia from 2010-2017 and I’m currently the TV color analyst for the Long Island Nets of the NBA G League. I’m also in charge of keeping my two boys (six and three) entertained during quarantine. To that end, we spend a lot of time in the driveway doing chalk drawings. And most of our subjects are sports logos. I draw the outlines and my six year old helps to color them in (though lately he has ventured into doing his own work). It’s been a great way to pass the time, get outdoors, learn about art and, most importantly, classic sports logos. Below is a look at some of our work. I know there are plenty of guys out there that are professional artists that could probably do better stuff, but I think it comes out pretty cool and our story isn’t too bad, either. Father/son bonding, with nothing more than an iPhone for reference and a 64 box of Crayola chalk.

I know we’ve had some chalk art before, but these are pretty special. So, here’s Matt with the promised article (click any photos below to enlarge):

• • •

Chalk Driveway Art with my Sons
By Matthew Esterich

Having finally sent my boys off to school this week, it feels like a good time to reflect on how we spent (all 182 days of) our summer vacation*. First a little background – I was a TV sports anchor for eight years and I’m currently the TV color analyst for the Long Island Nets of the NBA G League. My boys have grown up surrounded by all sports, so when the G League season went on hiatus in March and I needed to keep them occupied, we resorted to what I called #DrivewayArtClass.

Like many in the Uni-verse, I grew up doodling sports logos. From March through June, virtual school was only an hour. I figured I could provide some art education if I schlepped our sidewalk chalk and my iPhone to the driveway. My oldest son Max, who is five, immediately gravitated toward my sports drawings. Soon we became a team. I would sketch the main designs, and he would color them in. Our earliest work centered on vintage NBA logos:

I quickly realized that not only were we creating art, but I could use our driveway time to teach about teams and players. Max has long been able to recognize current sports logos, but defunct teams and old logos facsinated him (specifically my all-time favorite team, the Hartford Whalers, and our local hockey club’s ill-fated flirtation with a Fisherman).

I taught my son about the proliferation of cartoon logos in 1970’s and 80’s MLB and the hidden messages found inside others:

And we had a particularly poignant conversation a few weeks ago when Major League Baseball honored the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues. We talked about Jackie Robinson and the bravery of those who helped integrate the game. It turns out talking about difficult subjects like these with kids is a lot easier when you’re sketching baseball logos in the driveway.

Then there were times where we just wanted to have some fun. After watching the iconic Simpsons episode “Homer at the Bat” together, Max and I ran outside to draw Ken Griffey Jr., nerve tonic in hand. We’re VCU basketball fans, but when I messed up and made the Ram’s nose too short, I slapped a mask on it to cover the error. Also in the collage below you’ll see the logo for Bethpage Black Golf Course (we live down the street) and Ozzie Smith flipping on his way to short (I always loved that).

My younger son – who is three – particularly enjoyed our Minor League Baseball logo phase. It’s not hard to see why they might appeal to a youngster:

We also touched on the time-honored practice of ‘brownie points.’

I hope you enjoyed reading about one small way my kids and I kept our sanity these past six months. I encourage anyone who is interested to buy a box of chalk (it’s like $5 for a 24 pack at any office suppy store) and try for yourself. My only artistic training was doodling my way through high school and college. I’m sure you can do it, too — and who knows — somebody might learning something along the way.

• • •

OMG, Matt — that’s fantastic! And what a tremendous bonding experience for you and the boys! Seems like a few people have spend their COVID-19-induced “free time” in really special ways, and it looks like you and your sons certainly had a terrific experience. I literally wiped a tear from my eye as I was preparing this piece.

Thanks for sharing. Readers? What say you? Did any of you have any special sports/uni moments with your kids during the pandemic? Love to hear your stories!

Stanley Cup Uni P/review

Longtime reader Mike Engle has prepared a *bit* of a uniform p/review for the Stanley Cup Final, which features the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Dallas Stars and begins today. Here’s Mike:

• • •

Stanley Cup Preview
by Mike Engle

If yes, the first thing that comes to mind about the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning together is: They actually have a lot in common based on what they don’t look like anymore!

1. First up, upon cursory nhluniforms.com research, it looks like we will have the first ever Stanley Cup winning uniform with round shoulder patches. Plenty of teams have had shoulder patches of a logo, but I haven’t seen a *circular* one in the Final since the last Tampa Bay Lightning…they still have that logo and the Stars have their own roundel. So history will be made!

2. Another weird coincidence: both the Lightning and the Stars changed to what is their current look upon hiring a Detroit Red Wings executive as general manager. Steve Yzerman (who since went back to Detroit) for Tampa Bay, and Jim Nill for Dallas. Yzerman worked for the Lightning in the last year of their previous look, but Nill did not. Based on how long it takes to get new jerseys through, Jim Nill’s coincidental timing should be proof he didn’t bring any Detroit design with him per se. But no matter what happens, the winning team will have a signature moment of glory in a uniform that doesn’t quite look “second nature” to them…as compared to a team like the Red Wings, where if you, your dad, and your grandpa all close your eyes, you imagine the same look. Tampa and Dallas have gone through a lot of looks, and some from the past might be more memorable than what they wear currently.

3. Now, what they used to look like. Both teams used to have primary black jerseys…and also wore black since the beginning of their times in their cities. (Yes, Minnesota, I see you.) Not anymore. In your Tampa/Chicago preview of the 2015 Final, you questioned the wisdom of Tampa abandoning a black jersey (stormy weather!)…frankly, the same might be said for Dallas! You can’t see stars without a black sky!

4. Also, both teams abandoned a text-heavy logo up front and now have a more traditional (for lack of a better term) graphic. Tampa Bay went from having “Tampa Bay” and “Lightning” on their logo, to having a bolt logo on the blue but still having “Tampa Bay” up top on the whites…to now just having, well, a logo. Similarly, the Dallas Stars went from a logo that incorporates their name in the logo, to literally just a wordmark, to now a star with a D in it.

5. Speaking of a home and road mismatch like that, the Stars had that too in 2007! A white jersey that had their logo for away, but a black jersey that just had “Dallas” at home. (Cue the “wear white at home” and the “don’t wear your city at home…everybody knows you’re home and where they live” music.) Stars eventually release a white alternate jersey that also says Dallas to echo the black jerseys, and then the old white jersey with the proper logo gets decommissioned for 2011.

6. Both teams abandoned front numbers. Good riddance. Everybody has a number on the back, sleeves, and on the helmet since 2011.

7. Both teams have dabbled in truncated names on the front. The Lightning once had an infamous “Bolts” jersey. Meanwhile, the then-Minnesota North Stars ended their Minnesota tenure with jerseys that carried over as the original Dallas Stars jersey, that just said “Stars” without “North.” I’m calling that a truncation.

8. Both teams used to incorporate a state map in the shoulder patch. Too bad they’re gone, I like state shapes and those were fine logos. The Stars still have one, it’s just on the pants.

9. Both teams have thankfully abandoned a really embarrassing alternate jersey. Would you rather play with a rainstorm on your jersey with numbers that are supposed to be electric but just look shivering, or the Mooterus?

10. Finally, both teams used to have a cute uniform quirk that each appear to have been lost to modern templates. The Lightning used to have victory stripes in their axillae (you only see the stripes in celebrating goals and raising the Cup). Adidas jerseys don’t have those gussets anymore. The Stars also used an All Star Game template as their own, wearing a star logo on a star jersey. Sadly they don’t really make jerseys like those anymore.

11. PS: Walter White (Bryan Cranston’s character) in Breaking Bad says “No half measures.” The Lightning, by contrast, are the kings of half-measures.

• From 1992 to 2007, the fronts of the core black and white jerseys were consistent, but had four different looks on the back. Original custom font, italicized custom font, the air-brush-y number font with VAL NOB’s, and finally the block font. The equivalent of changing the couch but refusing to change the wall color!
• 2007: Lightning plan to have front right upper chest numbers on the away whites only. They backtrack and get permission to add them to the home blacks too, just in time for the season.
• 2011: Lightning make new uniforms with literally no black at all. Fans revolt because they don’t want to look like the Red Wings in almost-Maple Leaf blue. So the bolts go back on the pants, and the jersey numbers get a black middle layer. To this day, there is no other black in the stripes or anywhere else. Black looks like the afterthought it is here.

o But in the epitome of half-measure, in 2011, the Lightning hang on to the previous “Bolts” alternate that has some black but also has the old logo…
o The old logo gets updated to the new logo on the old jerseys for 2012…
o Finally, the old blue Bolts jersey finally gets replaced by a black Bolts jersey in 2014. Holy shit.

• • •

Thanks, Mike! I’m disappointed my Isles couldn’t make it past the Bolts (that series could have easily gone the other way) — but great p/review of the Lightning and Stars’ unis!

Hoop Dreams

Occasionally I will not only feature reader “Concepts and Tweaks,” but I do also occasionally have some beautiful artwork shared with me for your pleasure. That’s the case today, as you’ll see below.

If you enjoy the NBA, and some classic stars and uniforms, then you’re going to love this. These come from Arjun Ramesh. I’ll let him take it from here:

• • •

Hello!

My name is Arjun Ramesh, Artist from Baltimore MD, I’m a longtime Uni Watch reader, big NBA fan. NBA jerseys and player portraits are a passion of mine, I can spend hours talking to my friends about a specific logo or terrible adpatch. Most often my friends and family question why I spend this much time thinking about logos but you guys are the few people that get it! Below is a series of digital illustrations of NBA Icons. Each I tried to capture their signature style, their playing style, all of their accolades, and the number of championships with stars.

__________

The G.O.A.T.

__________

Mamba

__________

Curry v OKC

__________

The Iceman

__________

The King

__________

The Skyhook

I would love to share these, and you guys in particular get why basketball and art make sense together! Love you guys and keep up the great work. All are available at my website www.arjunrameshdesign.com/basketball. Thank you guys and stay safe.

Arjun Ramesh

• • •

Are those great or what? Thanks for sharing Arjun.

Guess The Game…

from the scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Robert Andrews.

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

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

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

Too Good For The Ticker…

Got an e-mail from Scott Wilkinson earlier this week which is simply Too Good For The Ticker:

Routinely some of the best unis in highs school football reside in Massillon, Ohio. I thought this was pretty neat, though. I don’t recall seeing a logo right in the dead center of the front of the helmet. That’s normally area reserved for stripes. Check it out. (Sorry for black and white. The front logo looks like the second picture. The unis are orange on orange with white lettering/numbers)-

Scott Wilkinson

• • •

Very cool Scott! I’m not real big on high school football, but that certainly seems unique, or at least very rare. Anyone else know of any high schools (or college/pro) who have logos located in the front/center of the helmet?

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: White Sox P Garrett Crochet made his MLB debut last night wearing a glove with his grandfather’s name on it (from Kodie Egenof). … The Chiba Lotte Marines will wear these jerseys for the rest of the weekend (from Jeremy Brahm).

NFL News: The Eagles are going midnight green tomorrow. … We’ll get our first look at Washington’s new white jerseys in Arizona. … The Saints are wearing their white Color Rush jerseys in Vegas.
.

College/High School Football News: Marshall is adding banners in honor of the 75 people who died in the 1970 air disaster (from Brice Wallace). … Black-gray-gray for Southern Miss today. … Middle Tennessee is going silver-blue-white against Troy today. … Campbell/Coastal Carolina looked extra-awful last night (from multiple readers). … Arkansas will wear “equality patches” this season. … Georgia will wear their new jerseys next week.

Hockey News: Some new Canadiens have their uni numbers (from Michael Engle). … Everything old is new again in Ottawa, as the Senators have formally unveiled their new (old) logo (from many, many readers). … CCM is releasing a facemask specifically for use on the ice (from Wade Heidt).

Soccer News: The USL Championship’s Orange County SC are wearing these special one-off kits for Childhood Cancer Awareness. … SL Benfica has unveiled their new third kit. Black and gold have really taken off over the last 12-ish months in European soccer (from @MikeDfromCT). … New away shirt for Italian club Udinese (from Ed Żelaski).

Grab Bag: A Tennessee high school volleyball player was disqualified from a match because she wore her hijab on court (from Jason Hillyer). … Historian Michael Beschloss tweeted a 1928 image comparing the styles of that year’s major presidential candidates, Republican Herbert Hoover and Democrat Al Smith (from Jeff Gdula).

And Finally… Thanks to Matt for the spectacular chalk art, Mike for the Final P/review and Arjun for those hoops portraits! Great stuff from you guys today!

Hit a spate of not-so-nice weather at the summer place the past few days (no sunsets Wednesday or Thursday) and last night’s was less-than-spectacular, due to the low cloud cover and we’re actually still feeling some of the haze that has drifted east from the west coast fires. I actually wasn’t sure we’d even get a sunset, but at the last minute the sun slid below the cloud cover as it sank below the horizon. So, it’s not the finest but here we go:

RIP, RBG

Peace,

PH

Georgia Adds Alternate Unis; Browns Add Orange Pants

For all photos, click to enlarge

There were significant developments on both the pro and college football uniform fronts yesterday — a rare pigskin daily double!

Let’s start with the college news: With the SEC season set to begin in eight days, the University of Georgia unveiled two new alternate uniforms yesterday — one featuring a black jersey and the other a throwback design to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the team’s 1980 national championship.

Let’s start with the black alternate. The jersey features a spiked dog collar motif and a Georgia-themed “Together Equality” patch. The spiked dog collar also appears on a new sleeve patch:

Note that there are no TV numbers.

The plan is for this jersey to be worn with the team’s standard grey pants:

I’m fine with UGA wearing a black alternate — it’s not a bad look for them — but I find that spiked collar repellant. I suppose some fans think it’s intimidating or something like that, but to me it’s just macho nonsense. I always hate when I see a real dog wearing one of those (making a pet seem like a weapon, ugh), and putting that design on a uniform feels disgusting, at least to me.

As for the white throwback, it features the same “Together Equality” patch as the black jersey (I’m assuming all UGA jerseys will have that patch this season, not just these two alternates), along with an anniversary patch commemorating the 1980 national title:

The eye-opener here is the width of the pants striping, which is of Montana-era 49ers proportions:

Does that match the original 1980 pants? I’d say no — the original striping was wide, but not that wide, as you can see from this 1980 Georgia/Tennessee footage:

Odd that they wouldn’t match the original design, but whatever — it’s still a nice uniform. They’ll wear this for their season opener at Arkansas on Sept. 26.

One other thing about the throwback: As you probably know by now, I don’t care about inner-collar slogans (because we can’t see them on the field and they’re just cynical marketing gimmicks to help sell retail merch), but it’s worth noting that the throwback jersey has an inner collar slogan with an apostrophe catastrophe:

It’s not as visually blatant as some other examples (that’s because the quote marks and apostrophes in this font aren’t curly), but if you look closely you can see that the apostrophe is wider at the bottom than at the top — which means it’s actually an open-quote, not an apostrophe. It should be like this:

I know, I know — who really cares, right? But that error drives me nuts, and I especially hate to see it on a uniform (even if it’s only part of a cynical inner-collar marketing gimmick). Grrrrr.

(Special thanks to Nic Schultz for apostrophic Photoshopping.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

Meanwhile, over in Cleveland…: When the Browns unveiled their new uniforms back in April, the one complaint that many people had was that they should have included a set of orange pants. They addressed that issue in last night’s home opener, as they unveiled a new set of orange knickers.

And holy shit did they look great. The striped sleeves, the striped socks, the new pants — spectacular! Somewhere, Brian Sipe is smiling (or at least he should be). You can see more game photos here and here.

In another newly revealed detail, the Browns have become the latest NFL team to match the yard marker font on their field to their jersey number font (click to enlarge):

The end zone design is also new, but we knew about that already (it was in the Ticker two days ago).

(My thanks to @RustyFlynn and @wtfbrowns for the bit about the field numbers.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

Color Remix cap reminder: In case you missed it on Wednesday, the first monthly round of Uni Watch Color Remix caps is now ready to go. The four designs, which I teased a few weeks ago, are shown above and are available here through mid-October, when we’ll launch a new batch with new color combos.

• • • • •

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

NFL News: Following up on an item from yesterday’s post, Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey will join teammate Al Vilanueva by no longer wearing East Pittsburgh police shooting victim Antwon Rose Jr.’s name on his helmet. Pouncey claims that he was given “limited information on the situation.” DB Minkah Fitzpatrick said the initial team-wide decision to wear Rose’s name was made by unspecified “people upstairs and everything like that,” not by a team vote (from Timmy Donahue and Mike Chamernik). … CenturyLink is rebranding as Lumen Technologies, but Seattle’s football stadium is still going to be called “CenturyLink Field” (from Tim Dunn). … Here’s an updated list of which NFL teams are allowing live fans in their stadiums.

College/High School Football News: NC State’s uniforms will feature a chest patch depicting a raised fist and “the three pillars of Pack United,” (from @ACC_Tracker). … Bemidji State posted a Twitter thread of all their uniform combos (from David Brown). … Troy is going red-white-red this weekend. … Miami is going mono-white against Louisville (from Jason Lefkowitz). … North Texas State is throwing it back to the mid-’70s against SMU on Saturday. More shots here (from many readers). … Ole Miss unveiled new light blue jerseys but were obsessive about not showing us anything else about their unis (from Moe Khan and @TheBigJamesG). … Tulane is going white-green-white (from Brian Stelmack). … Deion Sanders is apparently next in line to become Jackson State head coach, but the deal is being held up because Sanders is a spokesman for Under Armour and Jackson State is outfitted by Nike. That sound you just heard was me sighing really loudly (from Chris Mycoskie).

Hockey News: Reader Nick Gratton noticed some uni leaks in the latest video from the upcoming video game NHL 21, including a mix of the Sabres’ new royal blue unis and their old navy blue unis and a new number font for the Flames.

NBA News: Jayson Tatum’s son Deuce was in full uniform to cheer on his dad last night. Maybe if the Celtics had worn their green unis instead of their BFBS monstrosities they’d have played better (from @bryanwdc).

Soccer News: Tottenham’s third shirt has a bit of a tequila sunrise thing going on, no? (from Peter Geiger). … New kits for El Salvador. The design is basically a throwback to 1970, when El Salvador qualified for their first World Cup (from Germán Cabrejo). … New home kit for Scottish side Queen’s Park (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: The keeper’s shirt for Austrian side TSV Hartberg has a “Sperm Booster” ad. … EPL club Wolves have a new Portugal-themed third kit (from David Hanson).

Grab Bag: New (worse) logo for Dollar Shave Club (from Eric Fisk). … Four schools in Newport News, Va., will get new names due to the current names’ associations with segregationists (from Max Weintraub). … Sega has revealed Sonic the Hedgehog’s 30th-anniversary logo (from John Cerone). … The Rockaway neighborhood of Queens now has its own flag. … New rugby union kits for Edinburgh Rugby (from Ed Zelaski).

• • • • •

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

What Paul did last night: Six months ago last night — March 17 — I took the first Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photo. (We had started the daily cocktail ritual a few days earlier, but it took a few days before I started documenting it with daily photos.) So last night’s session marked half a year for this project. Unfortunately, I suspect we’re still closer to the beginning than we are to the end.

As always, you can see the full set of Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos — a full six months’ worth — here.

• • • • •

Happy Rosh Hashanah to all who are celebrating tonight. Everyone have a great weekend, enjoy Phil’s Saturday and Sunday content, and I’ll see you back here on Monday. Stay well! — Paul

How Uni Watch Readers First Got It™, Vol. 3

Earlier this year, I published a blog post featuring Uni Watch readers sharing the stories of how they first got hooked on uniforms — in other words, how they first realized that they Get It™. The post was such a hit that I did a follow-up post a few months later, and today we have the third installment in the series.

Some really great stories here — enjoy.

Christopher Hickey

My dad volunteered as the football team doctor for our local Catholic high school from the 1950s to the 1970s. He kept a collection of the school’s yearbooks (given to him as keepsakes for his service, along with those my brothers received each year they attended) stored in a cabinet in his basement office. I remember being in grade school and making my way downstairs rather often to pore over those books. I’d look for photos of my dad or my brothers, but then found myself drawn to the various uniforms — band, track, baseball, etc. — and how they used the school colors, how styles changed over the years, and the like. It helped me connect with my dad, appreciate his call to service and gain some valuable common ground with my brothers, too. I stop by Uni Watch for some of the same reasons: to share, to learn, to gain perspective, and to connect with “family.”

———

Gordon Blau

I first Got It™ when I was a young fan and noticed the Los Angeles Rams’ helmet. It caught my attention because it wasn’t just a logo slapped onto the side of a helmet; it was a true conceptual design! When their lineman were crouched and ready to collide, it was even more effective — that’s what actual rams do! I wasn’t even a Rams fan, but it was so well executed, I couldn’t help but admire them. I went on to a career in design, so I imagine my early appreciation for the Rams’ helmet foreshadowed that.

———

Scott M.X. Turner

Two early moments:

1) Yankee Stadium, 1969, age eight. A twi-night double-header between the Yanks and the A’s. I’m super-excited to see the A’s all-yellow vest uniforms. They come out wearing their road greys. I am crushed. I sit through the entire game pouting. As the second game is getting set to start, my mom pokes me and points at the field — the A’s have changed into their yellow unis for the nightcap! I am thrilled. Lesson: Good things occasionally come to those who wait.

2) My grandfather’s house, White Plains, N.Y., Thanksgiving Day, 1971, age 11. Kansas City vs. Detroit Lions. I don’t wanna go to Poppo’s house, because the best NFL uniforms ever — KC’s white jersey/red pants — will look awful on his black-and-white TV. Who doesn’t understand this?! I refuse to go, but my mother is having none of it. She scruff-grabs and mom-handles me into the car. We arrive at Poppo’s, I drag my feet into the house, and it’s a Thanksgiving miracle — he’s bought a Sears color TV! The game is on and Kansas City’s red pants are bursting off of the screen. Lesson: Never doubt my Poppo.

To this day, my hopes for a sporting contest rise and fall on what the teams are wearing. Isn’t this everyone’s square one?

———

Chris Mitchel

I used to scour the old Sporting News for any uniform items. That was my first foray into thinking I really Got It™. But I took it to a new level when I started to “detail” my electric football players with very specific uniform anomalies. My favorite was adding the Batman logo to my figure of Buccaneers linebacker Richard Wood. Sadly, those figures were later discarded by my father after I moved out and forgot to take them with me.

———

Casey Siereveld

Growing up as a Detroit Tigers fan, I always found myself fixated on the team’s uniform quirks. The hat “D” was different from the jersey “D,” and this bothered me for years. However, when they “fixed” the jersey logo to match the hat a few years ago, it felt a bit jarring. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but what I know for sure is that I am obsessed with these sorts of details. One of the Tigers’ other quirks — the appearance of orange on the road set only — has heightened my awareness of the color-related quirks of other teams in other sports around the world. For example, the German soccer team Hamburger SV is known for its red shorts, even though the team’s colors are blue, white, and black. I would not be so intrigued by these sorts of things if it weren’t for my beloved, quirky Tigers.

———

JohnMark Fisher

Oct. 14, 2002 –- the Seattle Seahawks hosted their first Monday Night Football game in their gorgeous new stadium, donning their bold new uniforms with the refreshed logo. As someone who grew up near Green Bay, I was constantly exposed to the Packers’ classic look. This Seahawks look was an awakening, like a splash of cold water in the face — “They can do that!?” I was hooked. I was in eighth grade and remember telling my friends the next day about how “cool” the Seahawks were, declared myself a fan, and subconsciously opened my mind to the world of athletics aesthetics.

———

Brian Gunter

In the early 1960s, when I was five or six, my twin brother and I could barely wait for the Sunday paper with coverage of college football, especially Georgia Tech. But the photos in the paper were black-and-white, so we would take colored pencils and color them in. Then I remember our parents somehow got us some gold football pants — we already had Tech jerseys, but the pants, wow! Ironically, after going to Tech for a couple of quarters, I transferred to UGA and became a Dawg. My twin brother has yet to really forgive me!

———

Greg Seher

One year in the late 1980s, my babysitter got me a John Offerdahl Starting Lineup figure. There was something unique about the Dolphins’ aqua-and-orange uniform and logo, and even the idea of a dolphin as the nickname and mascot was appealing. I quickly became a Dolphins fan. That was when I began to appreciate teams with good logos and uniforms. Then a couple of years later my dad took me on a chartered bus trip to check out a game at brand-new Camden Yards in Baltimore. On the trip I won Marc Okkonen’s baseball uniform book in a raffle, and from there I was hooked.

———

Clarke Hall

When I was a kid, probably about 10-ish, I was obsessed with gumball helmets. I loved the collecting, I loved that you had to put them together. The only thing that bugged me, as a Bengals fan, was that their version really sucked. That little patch of stripes on the side was such a bummer. So my grandpa took an orange shell and cut accurate stripes out of electrical tape to make my brother and me a legit Bengals gumball helmet. He even cut out a number 80 for the back. My parents still hang that helmet on the tree every Christmas!

———

Jesus Mora Saenz

Collecting stickers of older MLB teams got me interested in the meaning of logos, especially for the Expos. Never knew what it meant until after high school. The other key moment was watching Super Bowl XXVII and keeping an eye on uniform brands. The Cowboys wearing their usual white attire, made by Russell Athletic, and the Bills wearing Champion, if I’m not mistaken. Then the following year, Dallas was wearing Apex.

———

Andrew Maynard

My first memory of liking a uniform for the sake of the uniform is when I went into the mall hat store and fell in love with the 1998 Canucks logo with the orca on it. I bought it right away, even though I’ve never been to the northwest. My only other hat at the time had “Marvel Comics” on it, so I didn’t follow any sport that closely. I didn’t know any players on the team and I didn’t even follow my hometown Blues too closely at the time, but I loved that logo. Later, I would learn that “Canuck” is a nickname for a Canadian, not for an orca.

———

Shawn Klis

I remember watching hockey on black-and-white TV back in the late ’60s. I’ll never forget when my dad took me to my first Canadiens game at the Forum — seeing how vibrant and bright the Canadiens’ home red jerseys were for the first time was mesmerizing. I fell in love with those sweaters and still love them.

———

Nathan Ellsworth

Hockey has always been my favorite sport and I’m a lifelong Penguins fan. I would have been nine or 10 when they were one of the first group of NHL teams to debut third jerseys in 1995-96. It blew my mind that they could have more jerseys than just home and away. The design was extremely ’90s and doesn’t hold up at all, but that only helped because it was so odd and interesting.

———

Chip Powell

I was probably in third or fourth grade. I had gone from a YMCA league where we just all wore white pants with a YMCA T-shirt and hat in the primary color of our team (red for Cardinals, light blue for Royals, etc.) to a Little League that used MLB jersey designs. I was placed on the Braves, and we wore navy pants so the parents didn’t have to wash white. I remember complaining that we didn’t really look like the Braves in blue pants.

———

Michael Gray

I first got the uni bug when I was about six years old and started using my mom’s ceramic paints to repaint all the players on my electric football set every week. The obsession really kicked in a couple years later, when my dad volunteered to be the equipment manager for our junior football league. We had literally hundreds of helmets hanging in our basement, plus all the uniforms and equipment for a half-dozen teams. I spent many hours cleaning and repainting helmets and helping my dad with inventory. But the best part was the annual trip we made to the local sporting goods wholesaler. My dad let me tag along so I could see all the newest gear (which we never bought, it was strictly plain-Jane stuff for our league). I still remember seeing a prototype helmet that had a clear plastic shell with the graphics on the inside — it sure beat the helmets we “refinished” with plain old rattle-can black before every season.

———

Timothy Medeiros

I was eight years old when the Boston Bruins debuted their now-infamous Pooh Bear design in 1995. I remember my entire Bruins-obsessed family being so upset and embarrassed by the set. I couldn’t understand it and spent the next few years trying to convince everyone it was a fun change of pace and better than wearing the boring spoked-B all the time. I even made it the basis of my my Uni Watch membership card!

———

Jacob King

I loved drawing as a kid. I was maybe four or five years old and decided to draw my first baseball player. For whatever reason, I started from the ground up, drawing the cleat and then the stirrup. I stopped to switch crayons and my older brother said, “Whoa! That’s a perfect-looking stirrup!” I was hooked. I’d do action shots with perspective and distance, spectators in the background, different teams so I could draw different uniforms, etc. Eventually, I filled binders with logos of imaginary sports teams in imaginary leagues, using a lot of alliteration (e.g. “Richland Rattlers”).

———

Scott Durham

I first became fascinated with uniforms in the late 1970s while watching Clemson football games. This was during the tear-away jersey era, and it drove me nuts that some of the players had an outline on their numbers and others did not. I mentioned this to my mom, and her response was something along the lines of “Why would you even notice something like that?” I’ve been hooked since. In 1982, when Clemson and Georgia kicked off the college football season on Memorial Day night, the Tigers took the field with newly designed pants. I went on and on about it (I was 9 at the time) until one of my uncles told me to shut up. As a coach, I’ve always been very particular about what my teams wear, always keeping things simple and clean (I was a high school head baseball coach for 14 years and am in my seventh year as a head football coach). It drives most of my assistant coaches crazy the way I obsess over the uniforms.

———

Lee Stokes

When I was six or seven — 1972-ish — my dad bought me a Minnesota Vikings helmet for Christmas. The bright white horn on purple, man, that was so cool. Because of the Vikings helmet, I studied all of the other helmets in the NFL. Loved the Rams and Eagles, thought the Bears, Bengals (just the wordmark at the time), and Packers were dumb. But even as a youngster, I had a certain respect for the Browns, because they chose to not to have a logo

Shortly thereafter I received a plain white helmet. I discovered that if you drew on it with crayon, you could wipe it off easily. That’s when my obsession for designing my own helmet logos took off. Two of my own designs I remember specifically from back then were for the Vermont Green Lightning (green helmet with way too many little yellow lightning bolts all over it and yellow facemasks) and the Iowa Romans (we lived in Iowa back then and ate Roman Meal bread in our household, so I translated their logo into a football team), who wore burgundy and gold with burgundy facemasks. Even then, I loved colored masks. It made the Chargers’ helmets so much cooler. Whenever I drew NFL helmets (which I did a lot!), I always gave them colored facemasks, well before most teams actually did so themselves. To this day, when rating team uniforms, it’s an automatic point deduction if the mask is grey.

———

Dustin Jensen

I don’t remember not Getting It™. Whether it was looking at baseball cards, sports magazines, or newspapers, it was the details of the uniforms (especially baseball pants/stirrups and football helmet facemasks) that captured my attention as much as the players. When I started playing Little League, it was more important that the stirrups looked right than that the uniform fit right. The same was true of football — I chose an ill-fitting helmet and shoulder pads so I could have the right look.

———

Sam Foss

It all started for me on Christmas Day in I think 2005. I would have been six at the time, and my parents got me Madden 2005 for the Playstation 2. I never was good at the game, but it had a “create a team” feature that for the time had a great uniform designer. I would sit there and design uniform after uniform. I never asked for a new version of the game because I couldn’t care less for the updated rosters or game modes. “Create a team” was all I needed.

———

Austin Meo

Back when I was in elementary school, the Madden NFL games introduced “franchise mode,” where you could design a team from scratch, including stadium, players, and, of course, uniforms. My friends and I would spend hours debating each uniform, from colors to patterns to alternate/throwback uniforms. We’d rarely ever play a game the entire night. I can say with 100% certainty that we never designed a purple team — our top two primary choices were green or orange. We also made it a rule that if we ever played games against each other, we had to use AFL throwback uniforms. Once I saw my first Uni Watch NFL preview on ESPN years later, I was hooked.

———

Ray P

I had to be about seven or eight years old. I saw something with the logos of the two then-new NFL teams, Seahawks and Buccaneers. I was instantly taken in by the Buccaneers’ logo. I can’t describe how I really felt, I just loved it! In my small Massachusetts neighborhood, I was the youngest of the kids who played sports in the street. Everyone had their favorite teams — Cowboys, Raiders, Packers, Saints and of course Patriots. So of course my team became the Buccaneers. I took a lot of ridicule over the years, both for their play and for the uniforms, but I always loved them.

———

Eric Kehlenbrink

I first got the itch when my mom bought me football cards to keep me entertained while she worked and I waited to be taken home after school. The Upper Deck Collector’s Edition was my card of choice. The one that in particular that I will remember is the Kirk Lowdermilk card. I just loved seeing the three Colts helmets lined up before the snap.

———

Scott Pendergraft

I was raised in a family that had sports on TV a lot, so I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with logos, helmets, caps, uniforms, how high stirrups were worn, number fonts, etc. This evolved into me sketching new uniforms for my favorite teams (Giants, 49ers, Trail Blazers), and then going ahead and doing new designs for all the teams in all the leagues. I wish I still had those drawings. A favorite uni memory was watching an MLB game on a small rabbit-ears TV in my bedroom as a 13-year-old. It was black and white, and the picture was “snowy,” but I could still tell that the Astros were wearing something that was blowing my mind. That was my introduction to the Tequila Sunrise Jersey. A thing of beauty to this day.

———

EO Jackson

Although I grew up in the 1970s, my favorite books were published in the ’50s and ’60s, with lots of pictures of baseball players — all high-cuffed, low-stirrupped. So naturally, that’s what I drew. Also, I’m a Cubs fan (I grew up on the South Side of Chicago, but did not and do not like the White Sox because they changed their uniforms too often), and their team rule at the time was to go high-cuffed, low-stirrupped, like the Reds, of which I approved. I may not like some teams — Yankees, Packers, USC — but I like their continuity. You know at one glance who you’re looking at, and isn’t that the point?

———

Dwayne White

I was a teenager in junior high when Cincinnati was getting a “major league” team in the World Hockey Association, the Cincinnati Stingers. I had always followed the Bruins (Phil Esposito was my favorite player) and could hear the Blackhawks on the radio from Chicago, but when I saw the Stingers’ logo printed in The Cincinnati Post, I was immediately hooked and the Stingers became my team. My friend Danny Bromwell strived every year to the Perfect Attendance tickets that the Stingers had as a promotion. We would go to many games and saw some of hockey’s greatest players and a lot of fights, but those Stingers “bumble bee yellow” jerseys were the best in sports.

———

Paul here. Aren’t these stories great? I had so much fun editing them! I still have a few dozen more in the hopper, so we’ll have another installment soon.

If you want to share your own story of how you first Got It™ — no more than one paragraph, please — go ahead and send it here (note that this is not the usual Uni Watch email address). Thanks!

(My continued thanks to Brinke Guthrie for coming up with the idea for “When I First Got It™”.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

Bumper bummer: Following up on a Ticker item from two days ago: The Steelers had voted as a team to wear “Antwon Rose Jr.” on their helmet bumpers. Rose was a Black teen who was fatally shot by an East Pittsburgh police officer in 2018.

But while the rest of the team wore Rose’s name, offensive lineman Al Villanueva — a former Army Ranger — instead hand-inscribed the name of Alwyn Cashe, a Black U.S. Army soldier who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for heroism while serving in Iraq.

According to this ESPN story that ran yesterday, several Steelers players expressed surprise over Villanueva’s move, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger saying, “Unfortunately, it is what it is,” although coach Mike Tomlin said he knew about it and supported it.

This is not the first time Villanueva has gone against the grain of a protest-driven team decision. In 2017, when the team’s players opted to stay in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem prior to a game against the Bears in Chicago, Villanueva stood by himself in the tunnel.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Color Remix cap reminder: In case you missed it on Wednesday, the first monthly round of Uni Watch Color Remix caps is now ready to go. The four designs, which I teased a few weeks ago, are shown above and are available here through mid-October, when we’ll launch a new batch with new color combos.

We also have corresponding T-shirts in the same four color combos:

Here’s where you can get the Black/Yellow, Royal/Orange, Navy/Red, and Red/Navy versions. (The T-shirts will remain available in the Uni Watch Shop indefinitely, and we’ll launch new shirts next month to match up with the October cap designs.)

My thanks, as always, for your consideration of our products.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Seam ripper reminder: I am once again restocked on all five colors of Uni Watch Seam Rippers. They’re available here.

Also: I have two remaining sets of Uni Watch Coasters. Who wants ’em?

• • • • •

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: Pocatello High School in Idaho will no longer call its teams the Indians (from Evan Feick and Brett Thomas).
.
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Working Class Wannabes™: An article new Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito refers to “the blue collar world of ice hockey.” … A player on the Missouri women’s soccer team says, “We’ve been working a lot on keeping, ‘What is Mizzou soccer?’ Which is hard work, a blue-collar-like mentality.” … An article about New York Giants head coach Joe Judge says he has an “old-school, blue-collar coaching style.” … A different article about Judge says he has “blue-collar guiding principles.” … West Virginia football coach Neal Brown has unveiled a new weekly player award, called the Blue-Collar Award, “an honor given to the recipient for [his] work ethic” (from Timmy Donahue). … A newly hired high school soccer coach in Burlington, N.J., says that under his leadership, “You’re going to see a disciplined, hard-working, blue-collar team. We want to outwork everyone.”

Baseball News: Looks like the logos for next year’s spring training are beginning to circulate (from Larry Littman). … The Astros shared a photo of prospect Narbe Cruz signing his first pro contract while wearing a ’Stros jersey. Interestingly, it has a Rawlings maker’s mark on the sleeve, instead of a Nike mark on the chest. That’s because it’s from the Gulf Coast League Astros, Houston’s rookie-level affiliate (from @robertBrownieJr and @fontophile). … More make-up game uniform follies: Giants in cream vs. Mariners in grey last night in San Francisco, even though the Giants were the road team. The game was originally scheduled for the previous night in Seattle but was postponed and moved to SF (thanks to all who shared).

NFL News: Washington is filled with government agencies and institutions, most of which have official seals. So Derek Peabody has come up with one one of the best ideas for a new Washington Football Team identity: the Washington Seals. Works on multiple levels, and you have to love that mascot balancing a football on his nose! … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The Browns have a new end zone design featuring the AFC logo. … Following yesterday’s post on NFL jersey color data graphics, the Titans Uni Tracker created a similar graphic for the Titans’ pants. … Here’s a ranking of NFL stadiums (thanks, Brinke).

College Football News: New throwbacks on tap for UNC. … New uniforms for Bemidji State (from @bry_night). … Look for North Texas to unveil a new alternate uniform today, probably around 1:15pm Eastern. … San Diego State’s new stadium is scheduled to be ready by 2022. Until then, the team will play its home games over 100 miles north of San Diego (from Timmy Donahue). … Ole Miss has a new blue uniform that will be worn on Sept. 26 against Florida (from @RebelNutt18). … Now that the Big Ten is going to have a season after all, there’s some speculation about a grey-sleeved alternate jersey for Ohio State. … Here are this week’s uni combos for Syracuse and Louisville.

Hockey News: You don’t see many afros in hockey, but check out this great 1975 shot of Amarillo Wranglers G Doug Allen (from Ted Arnold). … Plans have been announced for a new arena for the Kraken’s AHL affiliate (from Wade Heidt). … New uniforms for the Danville Dashers of the Federal Prospects Hockey League (from John Cerone). … Also from John: If that same league had given a franchise to Memphis, here’s how their jersey would have looked.

College Hoops News: Following up on a Ticker item from yesterday, it turns out that Louisville’s embarrassingly corporate-named arena may retain its name — or at least its name signage — after the current naming-rights deal expires at the end of this month (from Timmy Donahue). … New court design for UC San Diego. “The Tritons are moving up to NCAA Division I this year and joining the Big West Conference,” says Steve Hartsock. … New collar striping for Baylor.

Soccer News: Australia’s national teams have unveiled two new shirts (thanks, Jamie).
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Grab Bag: Officials in Arlington County, Va., have expressed support for changing the county’s logo. The current logo depicts Arlington House, which was built by slaves and later served as the home for Confederate general Robert E. Lee. … The great SI writer Steve Rushin has a good piece about how head and face protection has always been a sensitive topic in sports. … Welsh Rugby Union will now be outfitted by Macron (from Jeremy Brahm). … Car brand Maserati has tweaked its logo. … Two former employees are suing the grocery chain Kroger because they were fired for not wearing an apron with a pro-LGBTQ logo. … Outdoorwear brand Patagonia has been including tags on its clothing that say, “Vote the Assholes Out.” The slogan is directed at politicians who deny or disregard the reality of climate change (from John Cerone). … Pro tennis’s Fed Cup is changing its name to honor Billie Jean King.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Talking NFL Data Visualization With Anthony Reinhard

Click to enlarge — it’s worth it

The remarkable chart shown above tracks each NFL team’s jersey color over every game for the past 21 seasons. For each team shown, each horizontal row has 16 cells, representing that team’s 16 games in a given season, and each vertical column has 21 cells, representing every season from 1999 through 2019. So the top-left cell is the team’s first game in 1999, and the bottom-right cell is the team’s final game of last season.

It’s an engrossing and very satisfying example of data visualization. As you can see at the bottom, it was designed by a guy named Anthony Reinhard, who created it by using game-by-game jersey info from the mighty Gridiron Uniform Database. I’ll have more to say about Reinhard in a bit, but first let’s explore this wonderful graphic he’s created. Here are a bunch of things that jumped out at me:

1. If you had asked me which team had the fewest colored-jersey games over the past 21 seasons, I would have said, “Duh, the Cowboys.” But the correct answer, according to the data, is the Dolphins, who played 63 colored-jersey games over the past 21 seasons, compared to the Cowboys’ 67:

2. As you can see in the Dolphins’ chart, the team’s different shades of aqua over the years were taken into account — a nice detail. This makes it easy to see how certain teams have changed their primary team colors over the years. Many fans, for example, probably think that the Lions just wear Honolulu blue, period. But the chart indicates that their shade of blue changed quite a bit over the past 21 seasons:

3. You can see certain historical protocols and events play out in the color distribution. For example, remember how Washington used to routinely wear white at home, just like the Cowboys? Their chart makes it easy to see when they did that, and when they stopped:

4. Similarly, what’s that one yellow cell in the Eagles’ chart? It’s from that one time they wore the 1934 throwbacks:

5. And you can also see how the Bills abandoned their classic royal blue for navy for nine years, and then switched back to royal:

6. While most teams have at least two different non-white jerseys represented (the Broncos have four: orange, navy, yellow, and brown), the charts for some teams, like the Steelers and Kansas City, feature nothing but the team’s primary color and white:

———

I could go on, but you get the idea. I’m sure you can find your own examples of interesting things lurking in the chart. It’s all very satisfying to pore over!

The chart does have its limitations. Some teams have two different white jerseys, for example, or two different blue jerseys, or whatever, and the chart doesn’t distinguish between them. Similarly, there’s no information on what the opposing team was wearing, who won the game, or any number of other things that might be fun to explore. But within the limited framework of what the chart sets out to do, it succeeds spectacularly.

Reinhard posted the chart on his Twitter feed two Saturdays ago, which is how I became aware of it. He describes himself on his Twitter profile as a “visualizer of football data,” which sounded intriguing, so I began scrolling through his feed, where I found all sorts of fun graphics (mostly created by him, but also some retweets of other people’s work). None of them were about uniforms, but many of them used team logos, team colors, and so on, so it all felt connected to athletics aesthetics — maybe not uni-related, but uni-adjacent. Here are some of the ones I particularly enjoyed:

After exploring Reinhard’s feed, I wanted to learn more, so I contacted him and asked if he’d be willing to do a phone interview. He readily agreed, and we recently had a really good talk. Here’s a transcript of that conversation, edited and abridged for clarity:

Uni Watch: Let’s start with some basic information about you. How old are you, where do you live, and what do you do for a living?

Anthony Reinhard [shown at right with his wife, Gina, on the day of their engagement two years ago; click to enlarge]: I am 27 years old. I live in Columbus, Ohio. And for a living, I am a data analyst at a midsize insurance company.

UW: What does a person study to get into data analysis? Like what what was your major in college?

AR: I have a Bachelor of Science in actuarial science, which is basically just statistics and math that has to do with insurance.

UW: How and when did you start doing football data visualizations?

AR: I probably started doing this a little more seriously about eight months ago, close to the end of last football season. I’ve followed a few people on Twitter who talk a lot about advanced football metrics and stuff that is, you know, newer over the last six years or so. And one of the best ways to share information about these advanced metrics, which can be kind of complicated, is to make graphs about some of the information. I’ve worked with data a lot and in my professional life, so it seemed like an easy segue. And I’ve always loved football.

UW: Looking through your Twitter feed, it appears that you focus almost exclusively on the NFL — no college football, no other sports. Is that right?

AR: I wouldn’t preclude myself from getting into any other sport in the future, but right now the data for the NFL is so accessible, and the community seems to be right there for me. So it’s definitely the thing I’m focused on most right now.

UW: It’s so interesting that you use that word community, because that was my next question: I get the impression from your feed that there is a community of data visualizers out there. How big would you say that community is? And where do you all congregate online? Are there particular message boards or websites?

AR: I would say it’s small enough so that any person with an interest in visualization or football, I think there’s a place for them if they’re willing to chip in their own stuff. This is going to be a little bit in the weeds, but most of the stuff that I do is in a statistical package called R, or a statistical program called R

UW: Just the letter R?

AR: Yeah. It’s been around for a while, and it’s open-source. So it’s not something that’s owned, and it’s not for sale. You can download it on your own computer and do your own analysis. A lot of companies use it just because it’s so accessible, and a lot of academics use it because it’s available and you can use it across different universities or whatever. But within R you can download other programs that people have built inside this statistical program. So one of the ones that has been built kind of recently is called nflfastR. Basically, it’s a pipeline to get NFL play-by-play data very easily. So you can download a big table of data from every play, all the way back to 1999. And I would say that the folks who use that data and talk about it a lot are really at the nexus of the community.

Of course, there are people who work for ESPN or Pro Football Focus, who have access to other data. But the online Twitter community is mostly people who work with that nflfastR data.

UW: Are we talking dozens of people in this community? Hundreds of people? Thousands?

AR: Closer to hundreds, I would say.

UW: One thing I noticed while looking through your feed is that you often refer to data being “scraped.” Can you tell me more about that?

AR: I’m not an expert at web scraping, but basically it means going to a website, downloading parts of the web page, and then storing them in a secondary file so you can access them later.

For the graphic about the jersey colors, for example, I visited every web page on the Gridiron Uniform Database and downloaded the image of the uniform for each team in each game. And then once I downloaded the image, I could look at individual pixels in that image, and then those were the ones that gave me the ideas for the the colors of the uniform. Once I had all that information, I could make it into a graph.

UW: When you say you visited every page and downloaded the uniform images, did you do that, like, physically, one at a time? Or was there a global command?

AR: Yeah, that’s the magic of web scraping. I can write some code in R that will visit every web page for me — and quickly, too.

UW: I never really thought about this before, but now that we’re talking, it occurs to me that in order to create effective data-driven graphics, you need several distinct skills. First, you need to know what data is available and how to access it. Then you need to have ideas about how to harness or leverage that data in order to provide meaningful information — in other words, you have to know which questions to ask and how you can use data to answer them. And then you need good design skills in order to present that information in visually accessible and engaging ways. Which of those would you say is most important, and which one do you think is your biggest strength?

AR: I think you put it perfectly right there. I would say that to make something like what I made, in this case, you would need all three, probably in pretty equal doses. I think that probably the second one is ultimately the most important — knowing which questions to ask and then being able to, you know, answer those questions in interesting ways.

The third step — how you’re going to show it — is, I think, probably the most underrated of the three. I like to say that the information that you have is only as valuable as you can present it. If you have a really interesting finding but you can’t communicate it, whether that’s in a graph or even in words, then it isn’t worth much.

UW: In the data visualization community, are there people who are known as better number-crunchers, and other people who are known as better designers?

AR: Definitely. In my case, I’m probably a better designer than somebody who is a great analyst, and I think some of that comes with time. I’ve only been really looking at a lot of this data for eight months or so, while other folks have been doing this for a couple of years. For someone like me, I think a lot of people are interested in my designs, sometimes more than the information, which I’m okay with. Other folks might say they’d rather have a really interesting concept than an interesting design. So I think it depends. I think that there’s kind of a spectrum that folks land on in the football data community.

UW: You mentioned that you’ve only been doing this since the end of last football season. Now that the 2020 season is about to start, do you think watching a game will be a different experience for you? Will you be sort of processing what you see in a different way?

AR: Absolutely. One of the things that you quickly realize about the basic beliefs of the community is that a lot of folks think that teams run the ball too much, which is something I really hadn’t thought about too much in the past. And a lot of teams punt too often — probably they can be more aggressive on fourth down, and also go for it on two-point conversions a little more often. So I think those are things I’ll be looking out for. It’s very different once you’ve thought critically about some of the stuff that teams are doing in games.

I’ve always been a Cleveland Browns fan, so I think I’m very lucky that the Browns are, at this moment, one of the more analytically driven teams in the league. So I think I’ll be more comfortable watching Browns games than I would be if I were maybe a fan of the Seattle Seahawks, who are kind of working against some of the larger trends in the league — which I’m sure is very frustrating for a lot of the data-driven Seahawks fans that I know.

UW: You’re still new at this, but would you be interested in doing this type of thing for a living, like if a team wanted to hire you?

AR: That’s a tough question. I’m really happy with my current job, so it would be tough for me to imagine, you know, a whole different world like that. This is a hobby, I think — it’s a great getaway from what I normally do and also allows me to leverage skills that I can still use in my day job. If the right opportunity came along, I guess I would consider it, but I definitely see it as a hobby for now.

UW: OK, now let’s talk about the graphic you made about NFL regular season jersey colors. Is this the first uniform-related graphic you’ve created?

AR: Yes, I would say this first one that deals explicitly with uniforms.

UW: Why did you choose to document 21 seasons, instead of a round number like 20? Is it because of that data package you mentioned earlier, which goes back to 1999?

AR: Yeah, it is. We have really good data for those last 21 seasons. The Gridiron Uniforms site goes back to, I think, like the 1920s, so I certainly could have gotten more data, but most of the data that’s available for other metrics is from 1999 on, so I thought that would be a good year to stop.

UW: You mentioned before how you scraped the data — see, I can say it too! — and then got pixel values from the Gridiron Uniforms images. So is that how you were able to include all the slight color variations from year to year?

AR: Yeah.

UW: So, basically, you didn’t track the color changes — the Gridiron Uniforms site did.

AR: Yeah, they did all the hard work.

UW: Were there any patterns or revelations that surprised you? For example, I would have assumed that the Cowboys wore white more often than any other team during this period. But that honor actually goes to the Dolphins!

AR: Yeah, I guess I never really thought about that either, because I think of the Dolphins having that iconic aqua or teal color — that’s kind of how I think of them — but I guess they wear white a lot more often than I imagined.

UW: Did you happen to tabulate which teams wore white least frequently?

AR: No, I didn’t. That’s an interesting thought, though. I would have to think it would be a team in the NFC East, because of the Cowboys.

UW: But not Washington because there was a period where they also wore white at home!

AR: Oh, yeah. So then I’d have to think it would definitely be the Eagles or the Giants.

UW: From a visual perspective, do you find it more satisfying to see the charts for teams that just have white plus one color, like the Steelers and Chiefs? Or do you like the ones that have additional jersey colors scattered into the mix? I use the word satisfying because that’s the feeling I get from organizing information this way.

AR: I would say that the most aesthetically pleasing one for me was Tampa Bay, where they’re all almost the same shade of red and then their whites and then they have like four of the Creamsicle ones, which is a great color.

I also like the Seahawks, how they’ve kind of gone through waves with their three different uniform colors and then they have — I mean, I don’t like the green ones that they wear, but I think it looks good when there’s just like four specks of the tennis ball color.

UW: Do you think you might be doing any other uniform-related graphics now that you’ve done this one? And for that matter, are you, like, a uniform guy to begin with? Were you aware of my work, or aware of Uni Watch, before I got in touch with you?

AR: I had heard of Uni Watch before, but I wouldn’t say I have a super-big interest in uniforms. I definitely have an interest in design and color, so that relates to being interested in uniforms. Now that I have the data [from Gridiron Uniforms], I could definitely see myself doing a few more things with this in the future.

———

And there we are. I should add that Anthony was an absolute pleasure to talk to — really nice guy, and obviously really smart as well. Big thanks to him for sharing his time and expertise.

(Special thanks to Greg Boone, who was the first to bring Anthony’s jersey chart to my attention.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

Too good for the Ticker: Hmmm, what’s going on in the photo shown above? That’s a shot from 1973 edition of the Baseball Hall of Fame Game, an annual exhibition game that took place in Cooperstown from 1940 through 2008. The ’73 game featured the Pirates vs. the Rangers (a routine interleague matchup nowadays, but a major novelty back in the day), and at least one Rangers player — outfielder Tom Grieve, who would later become the team’s GM — wore a Pirates batting helmet! It’s not clear, at least to me, if Grieve’s misplaced his regular helmet or if the teams were just having a bit of fun.

Moreover, although it’s a little hard to tell in that photo, both teams wore their road greys, because they were both in the middle of road trips when they detoured to Cooperstown for the game. Here’s a photo of the two managers — Texas’s Whitey Herzog and Pittsburgh’s Bill Virdon — where the grey tones are a bit more apparent:

(My thanks to @indywestie and @PolyesterUnis for this one.)

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A teacher who deserves an A+: Longtime Uni Watch reader Trevor Williams is a third grade match/science teacher in Texas. He also has what has to be one of America’s most uni-themed classrooms. To get a sense of how he incorporates sports into his teaching style watch the video shown above — it’s two minutes very well spent, I promise.

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ITEM! Color Remix cap launch: I’m happy to announce that the first monthly round of Uni Watch Color Remix caps is now ready to go. The four designs, which I teased a few weeks ago, are as follows (click to enlarge):

Nice, right? All four are 100%-cotton strapbacks. They’re available here and will remain available through mid-October, when we’ll launch a new batch of color combos.

Meanwhile, in case you missed it last week, we also have corresponding T-shirts in the same four color combos:

Here’s where you can get the Black/Yellow, Royal/Orange, Navy/Red, and Red/Navy versions. (The T-shirts will remain available in the Uni Watch Shop indefinitely, and we’ll launch new shirts next month to match up with the October cap designs.)

My thanks, as always, for your consideration of our products.

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Seam ripper update: I am once again restocked on all five colors of Uni Watch Seam Rippers. They’re available here.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: The Black Lives Matter stencil on the mound was obscured by the score bug in last night’s Cleveland/Cubs game, at least for the Cubs’ TV feed. Cleveland’s feed had a smaller bug, which meant the stencil was unobscured (from Phillip Santos and @CLETribe). … Padres P Zach Davies was still wearing the team’s Roberto Clemente sleeve patch on his cap last night, despite the fact that Roberto Clemente Day was last week (from Jakob Fox). … The Orix Buffaloes of NPB (which merged with the old Orix Blue Wave) wore Ichiro Suzuki-era Blue Wave unis yesterday. The Blue Wave was Ichiro’s former team before he joined the Mariners (from Dustin L. Meador). … The West Coast Baseball League has established a new team in Edmonton (from Wade Heidt). … Also from Phillip: The Paper Stadiums Twitter account made a 1968 replica of Wrigley Field entirely out of paper.

Football News: A vintage 1960 Raiders sideline cape is on display at the Raiders Image store at Allegiant Stadium. Amazing script! (From @khaled74.) … New uniforms for Bemidji State (from @doubleasterisk).

Hockey News: Here’s a video showing the Stars’ equipment staff adding the Stanley Cup Final patch the team’s jerseys (from Bill Larkin).
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Basketball News: Here’s a look at some of the uniforms the Spain national team has worn throughout the years (from Jeremy Brahm). … High school player Nathan Bittle’s dad announced his commitment to the Oregon Ducks with a graphic showing Nathan Photoshopped into an Oregon women’s jersey and men’s shorts (from Derek Buchheit). … Louisville’s arena, which had arguably the most embarrassing corporate name of any sports facility in the country, will be getting a new name, because the current naming rights holder has opted not to renew its deal (from Timmy Donahue).

Soccer News: Two items from our own Jamie Rathjen: England’s Women’s FA Cup now has its own advertiser and a new logo, and new shirts for Australia’s Adelaide United.

Grab Bag: The U.S. Space Force will soon let some members test out dress and physical training uniforms (from Timmy Donahue). … Also from Timmy: Apparently President Trump wanted First Lady Melania Trump to have a hand in designing some of the Space Force’s uniforms. … Tokyo’s Ohta City Gymnasium has created a completely socially distanced seat map for the entire arena. Here’s the layout for basketball (from Jeremy Brahm).

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