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MLS Marks Earth Day by Making Every Game Look the Same

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Ticker assistant and soccer maven Jamie Rathjen, who’s going to fill us in on the latest MLS developments from the weekend. Enjoy. — PL]

By Jamie Rathjen

When this season’s MLS kits were revealed, many observers, including myself, felt that they were bland. Too many monochrome and mono-white kits, not enough use of team colors.

Then the league had this past weekend’s Earth Day promotion.

MLS gave us a glimpse of a dystopian uniform landscape, because all of the teams were outfitted in mono-white or mono-black for the promotion, supporting the charity Parley for the Oceans:



The Earth Day promotion started last year with four teams participating: New York City, Orlando City, LA Galaxy, and the Seattle Sounders. They wore either grey or white.

This year, though, every game throughout the league looked essentially the same. It was impossible to pick out which team was which from a distance:


There was no pattern regarding which teams wore which colors, though most home teams wore black. As the league has an odd number of teams this year, there was one more black than white shirt released because of D.C. United, the team not playing this weekend.

The kits were the exact opposite of each other, except for the New York Red Bulls’ black shirts, which were combined with another promotion for autism awareness and featured sky blue numbers on the back:

Each team wore its name, or an abbreviation of it, on the rear neckline. A close-up look reveals that this was rendered in team colors on a white box, even on the white shirts:


In addition, socks carried the Parley for the Oceans logo:

Goalkeeper kits were apparently not included in the promotion, as they were in conventional colors such as blue, red, and orange without monochrome team crests:





League-wide uniform standardization actually was proposed more than a century ago. England’s Football League took more than 30 years after its 1888 founding to come up with the convention that the away team changes if there’s a kit clash. At the 1906 league meeting, it was reported that the Liverpool representative, perhaps partial to his team’s colors, proposed ending the kit clash problem by having the league annually declare a universal home uniform. One of two options would be chosen: red over white or white over a dark color, with the remaining kit worn by all away teams. That is, every game would look the same.


Nothing of the sort ever came to pass — until this past MLS weekend.

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The most overlooked uni element: Paul here. As a lifelong Mets fan and dedicated uni-watcher, not much escapes my notice regarding the Amazin’s. But reader Joanna Zwiep spotted something I missed in this shot of pitcher Noah Syndergaard, which is from Opening Day:

That’s right — Syndergaard was wearing a uni-numbered belt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before on an MLB player, and definitely not on a Met.

And there’s more: Joanna also found that Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes has worn a numbered belt on at least three occasions — once in spring training and then on April 17 and 18:

Have other Mets been wearing numbered belts? This bears further investigation — stay tuned.

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Click to enlarge

Camera-raderie: My father was a photography buff. When he died in 2009, he left behind a bunch of his old film cameras. I sold a few of them but still had several of them stowed away in a cupboard when I met the Tugboat Captain in 2015. She was an enthusiastic and talented photographer, plus I liked her a lot, so I gave her one of my father’s cameras, along with one of his old light meters.

She has other cameras that she likes to use (plus, like most people, she takes a lot of photos with her phone). But every now and then — just often enough to surprise me — she brings my father’s camera with her on one of our outings, including when we visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Saturday (see above). It always makes me so happy to see her using it. I know Pop would be happy to know that his gear is in good hands.

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Screen shot 2009-10-04 at 10.07.15 PM.png

Culinary Corner: My local butcher shop is always coming up with interesting new cuts and presentations (read: always coming up with new ways to recontextualize low-priced cuts as higher-priced cuts). One example of this came last Friday, when the Tugboat Captain and I stopped in at the shop to pick up some meat for burgers. While we were there, I noticed that the butcher’s case included something I’d never seen before: “Greek-style Rolled Lamb Belly Roast.”

Much like pork belly, it was fairly fatty, but it still looked intriguing, with a stuffing of spinach, herbs, and garlic. I was intrigued, so I had them hack off a small portion for us — it weighed out at a little over a pound. Here’s how it looked when we got it home (for all photos, you can click to enlarge):

Two days later (i.e., last night), we had it for dinner. The prep couldn’t have been simpler: Salt, pepper, and a 375º oven for a little over an hour. We added some new potatoes to the mix:

So good! Very rich — all that fat takes its toll — but very, very tasty. Okay, so I basically got suckered into buying something based mostly on the presentation, but still — made for a swell dinner.

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Raffle results: The winner of the New York Knights T-shirt from Ebbets Field Flannels is William Hart. Congrats to him, and thanks to all who entered. More raffles coming soon.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: The Orioles wore green-trimmed jerseys and caps for Earth Day yesterday. No photos, but the pants and batting helmets were unchanged (from Will Shoken and Joseph Willock). … The Phillie Phanatic is still wearing last season’s Dallas Green memorial patch (from Frank McGuigan). … The Phillies’ batting helmets seem to have a mix of 3-D logos and flat decals (from Joe Nocella). … The Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers are to wear a runza-themed cap and uniforms several times this season. What is a runza, you ask? “It’s essentially our [Nebraska’s] take on the German/Russian bierock. Ground beef, onions, cabbage and salt/pepper all sealed up in bread dough and then baked to a perfect shade of brown,” says Brett Baker. … The seats at Angel Stadium still have logos from when the stadium was known as Edison International Field from 1998-2003 (from Andres Cardenas). … Here’s a look at one of Japanese Central League team Chunichi Dragons’ blue alternates. They have another one (from @GraveyardBaseball). … Virginia wore mysterious blue pullovers Saturday (with white pinstriped pants, on the road) which appear to be throwbacks. In any case, the jerseys haven’t made an appearance since the 2016 NCAA tournament and the team didn’t say anything about them either time. Anyone know more? … This article about Brewers P Josh Hader (NYT link) includes the following: “As Hader thrives, he would clearly merit a more traditional uniform number than 71. He used to wear 17 — the number his favorite Oriole, B.J. Surhoff, wore in Baltimore — but the Brewers have not issued 17 since their longtime second baseman, Jim Gantner, last used it in 1992. ‘It’s like a retired number that’s not retired, so I just said 17 backward is 71, and I just rolled with it,’ Hader said. ‘I’m not that picky; 71 works perfect for me.'”

Football News: Reader Bill Schaefer was looking for photos of a 1965 Browns/Packers preseason game and found this newspaper report featuring Packers QB Bart Starr wearing No. 42, instead of his familiar No. 15. … Gene Sanny did an excellent painting of Cardinals S Larry Wilson, who played for the team in St. Louis for his entire 1960-73 career and remained with them in some capacity until 2002. … Someone on Reddit found a bunch of old game-used Bills jerseys at a thrift store (form Josh Allen).

Hockey News: Following up from yesterday’s lede, Ray Hund sent us pictures of both Chicago Stadium and United Center under construction. Both stadiums briefly stood together before Chicago Stadium was demolished in 1995. … Swedish sports newspaper Sportbladet has a tradition of doing photoshoots with gold-painted athletes who have just won championships. That’s Vaxjö Lakers winger and Canucks first-round draft pick Elias Pettersson, who was the playoff MVP as his team won the Swedish Hockey League championship. He’s also wearing a golden helmet, which the entire team received post-game. … Many teams allow season ticket holders to paint their ice sheets after the end of the season. Here’s Penn State’s effort (from María Canales).

Basketball News: Also posted in hockey: Following up from yesterday’s lede, Ray Hund sent us pictures of both Chicago Stadium and United Center under construction. Both stadiums briefly stood together before Chicago Stadium was demolished in 1995. … The Portland (Ore.) school board wants to investigate Nike’s providing of sneakers to some of the state’s high schools, separately from any apparel deals with the company the schools may have (from Tom Turner).

Soccer News: Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz had his numbers falling off Saturday (from David Kendrick). … The NWSL’s Portland Thorns debuted their second-choice kit at home against the Washington Spirit. … Also in the NWSL, the Chicago Red Stars (black) and Sky Blue FC (white) changed against one another, though New Jersey-based SBFC’s blue shorts and socks saved the game from resembling MLS. … Scottish team Celtic wore a pink and black kit from last season as a fourth kit against Hibernian, as they did on their previous visit this season. … German team VfB Stuttgart released its first-choice kit for next season (from Josh Hinton). The article claims the kit is to be worn May 5, the last home game of this season, which is a growing practice for the revealing of kits and other uniform elements. … VfB also replaced its advertiser Saturday against Werder Bremen with slogans and hashtags supporting the DFL Foundation, run by the organizers of the Bundesliga. The promotion extended to the match balls as well. Each player’s shirt featured a different hashtag, which led VfB to claim they were the first Bundesliga team to play with 18 different shirts. … Here’s a logo-based overview of the winners of every U.S. men’s and women’s outdoor professional league since 1968, the Canadian Championship since it was founded in 2008, and the U.S. Open Cup since 1990 (from Andy Moeschberger). … Aston Villa has a new “technical kit partnership” with Fanatics and the menswear brand Luke 1977 (from @LiamC191).

Grab Bag: NASCAR team members now wear sleeve patches identifying their role on the team — whether pit crew or logistical — and to what number car they belong. This is part of an effort this season to standardize the team personnel present at the track (from David Firestone). … New 2018 guernseys for Australian netball (from Jeremy Brahm).

Building Baseball's Cathedrals

By Phil Hecken, with Ron Bolton

Readers will recall I featured Ronnie Bolton (who posts on Twitter as @OTBaseballPhoto and who you should definitely follow) earlier this year with some great football played on baseball field photos and writeups, and more recently with some MLB Opening Day specials. As his twitter handle implies, Ronnie’s specialty is old baseball photos. I frequently have Ronnie in for sub-ledes showcasing players or uniforms relating to the lede for the day. But that won’t be happening today because Ron has another lede for us, and it’s a great one: a look at some of baseball’s landmark stadiums and ballparks, from their construction through early use.

We don’t often feature baseball stadia on Uni Watch (though I seem to more than Paul), but I don’t know if we’ve ever featured these beautiful buildings before they housed the great (and sometimes not so great) teams of yesteryear. That all changes today.

So without further ado, here’s Ron with a look at …

The Building of Baseball Parks of Yesteryear
By Ron Bolton

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Cleveland Municipal Stadium

March 14, 1931

In the photo above, construction is well underway on one of the first multi-purpose stadiums designed for both baseball and football. It would be known as Cleveland Municipal Stadium, a mammoth-sized ballpark that would cost $2,500,000 to build along the lakefront and could hold up to 78,000 for baseball and 83,000 for football.

Nov 22, 1930. The building in the background is the 52-story Terminal Tower that opened about four months before this photo

It would open on July 1, 1931, and two days later the stadium hosted a Max Schmeling heavyweight fight that drew 37,000. The first Major League baseball game was not until the following year on July 31, 1932, when the Cleveland Indians lost to Lefty Grove and the Philadelphia Athletics 1-0.

One big misconception we keep running into is that this huge venue was built with the hopes of winning the bid for the 1932 Olympics. The problem with that thinking is Los Angeles was awarded the Olympics in 1923, five years before Cleveland Municipal Stadium was approved by voters.

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Forbes Field

Forbes Field was one of the first of its kind (along with Philadelphia’s Shibe Park), in that it was constructed with concrete and steel, unlike most of the ballparks of that era that were wooden structures and prone to fires.

Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss also had it designed as a three-tier ballpark with a 74-foot tall grandstand. Even so ground was broken on January 1, 1909, construction didn’t fully get underway until March 1st and from there it would only take an astonishing 122 days to complete.

The almost completed ballpark. Note the distance of home plate from the stands

The first game at the newly minted 25,000-seat ballpark was on June 30th when they lost to the Chicago Cubs 3-2 in front of more than 30,000. But despite the Pirates losing their first game at Forbes Field, they would christen it that year with the franchises first World Series title when they would beat Ty Cobb and his Detroit Tigers in seven games.

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Houston Astrodome

The inspiration for the Astrodome goes back to the time of the Romans and their use of a type of awning called a velarium that covered the Colosseum, protecting it from both sun and rain. In Houston, this concept was essential to luring MLB to their fair city due to the brutal weather elements. The summer days could reach over 100 degrees with high humidity and also produce thunderstorms.

1964 – Construction workers taking a lunch break from building the “Eighth Wonder of the World”

During the time that the Astrodome was under construction, the Houston Colt .45’s would play three brutally hot and unbearable seasons at Colt Stadium. Rusty Staub of the Colt .45s said of the conditions:

“I don’t care what ballpark they ever talk about as being the hottest place on the face of the Earth, Colt Stadium was it.”

Astrodome completed and open for business while Colt Stadium sits sadly on side abandoned, well, minus the rattlesnakes in the outfield

Construction on the Astrodome began on January 3, 1962, adjacent to Colt Stadium. It would open 40 months later on April 9, 1965 in an exhibition game against the New York Yankees. The first batter ever at the stadium was Mickey Mantle who led off for the Yankees, Mantle would also hit the stadium’s first home run in the game.

April 9, 1965 – The first pitch ever inside a dome stadium is delivered by Astros pitcher Turk Farrell to Yankees legend Mickey Mantle

The Astrodome would close for baseball for good in 1999 and it still stands today.

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Dodger Stadium

There was nothing easy building this Los Angeles ballpark that today stands as the third oldest in the majors in an area known as Chavez Ravine. For one, a mountain was cut down in size and over 300 acres of rocky terrain was leveled that required the moving of 8 million cubic yards of earth. The grading process took over 31 months to complete. Once this herculean undertaking was completed it was on the to the next one – constructing Dodger Stadium.

Over 40,000 cubic yards of concrete and 13 million pounds of reinforcing steel was used in building Dodger Stadium. Some of the precast pieces were too big to transport, so the engineers built a casting yard (three acres big) to make the pieces on site.

Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, 6/1/62 – Fans stream into Dodgers 2-month old ballpark, only it’s not Dodgers fans, its Angels fans arriving to see their team take on Yankees, and lose to them 6-2. The Angels spent four years at Dodger Stadium, but referring to it as “Chavez Ravine”

Despite at one point having a construction crew almost numbering 350, Dodger Stadium nearly missed its opening night due to heavy rains that caused major delays, but in the end they managed to get it built in a timely fashion and on April 10, 1962, baseball’s newest cathedral opened as the Dodgers hosted the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day (Reds won 6-3) in front of 52,564.

Opening Day, April 10, 1962 Reds 6, Dodgers 3

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Weeghman Park/Cubs Park/Wrigley Field

Its hard to believe that Wrigley Field was first built for anyone other than the Cubs, but indeed it was. In 1912, a new upstart league hoping to challenge the American and National League was formed and called itself the Federal League. As expected it had a Chicago team and it was owned by businessman Charles Weeghman, who, knowing to have any chance to chip away at the Cubs and White Sox, would have to make a big splash, like a new steel-and-concrete ballpark at the cost of $250,000.

Ground was broken on the single-deck ballpark on March 4, 1914 and seven weeks, 160,000 bricks and $250,000 later, Weeghman Park was ready for opening day. It also took 45,200 cubic feet of concrete, 1,900 cubic feet of hollow tile and 1,700 yards of plastering and it was designed by architect Zachary Taylor Davis, who also designed Comiskey Park years earlier.

Fans watch a game at Weeghman Park

The Federal League would fold after just two seasons and the following year (1916) the Cubs would move in and Weeghman Park would be renamed Cubs Park. In 1927 they would add an second deck increasing the seating capacity from 18,000 to 32,000 and about the same time it would take the name we know it as by today, Wrigley Field.

In 1922 Zachary would be called back by William Wrigley Jr. for an upper deck expansion

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Yankee Stadium

The New York Yankees and their young slugging superstar Babe Ruth are being chased to the street by their Polo Grounds landlord (Giants resentful owner Charles Stoneham), who mockingly suggested they build a ballpark in Queens. Well, instead of Queens, the Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert built it in the Bronx with only the Harlem River now separating these two hated rivals, furthermore the location was in view from the Polo Grounds as well as positioned so it’s back was facing the Giants ballpark.

Who knows if that was purposely done since most ballparks are positioned with the sun in mind, but I always at least wondered if the enclosing of the Polo Grounds soon after was a result of Stoneham wanting to keep the glimpse of the Yankees newest ballpark away from Giants fans eyes.

Polo Grounds with Yankee Stadium in the distance

Ground was broken in May of 1922 and when Yankee Stadium opened for it’s first game on April 18, 1923, it would easily become baseball’s biggest venue capable of holding over 70,000. It would cost $24,000,000 to build and required 20,000 cubic yards of durable concrete, created personally by Thomas Edison.

An almost complete Yankee Stadium

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Thanks, Ronnie! Great job, as always. Nowadays, stadia don’t get built in mere months (and with proposals, voter referrenda, revotes if those first votes fail, design and construction, etc.) some new parks don’t get built for years, sometimes taking over a decade. But back then, when such pesky things as OSHA and displacement of peoples/condemnation of property not really a problem, these edifices went up with speed. They were all beautiful; some still are. They don’t make them like they used to, that’s for sure. Great look back at the beginnings of these behemoths.


Kreindler’s Korner

I had the distinct pleasure of featuring the wonderful artwork of artist Graig Kriendler on two occasions over the summer and fall of 2017.

For those who don’t wish to click the links, Graig paints baseball heroes (and regular guys) from the past, and is an immense talent.

Occasionally, I will be featuring his work on Uni Watch.

Here’s today’s offering (click to enlarge):

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Title: “King Carl’s Court”
Subject: Carl Hubbell, 1934
Medium: Oil on linen
Size: 29″ x 35″

Carl Hubbell’s claim to fame usually comes down to what he did during the 1934 All-Star Game at the Polo Grounds in New York. Though he gave up a single and a walk to the first two batters, he settled down in time to strike out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx to end the top of the inning, and then Al Simmons and Joe Cronin to start the second. Five Hall of Famers, three of whom are considered legends of the sport. No biggie. It seemed like a natural choice to paint him that day, which was a hot and steamy July 10th. I did my best to make it seem as such with the very bright sun beaming down on him, as well as keeping everything in the painting pretty warm in temperature. Even the cooler greens and blues still shade a bit towards that end of the spectrum. Also keeping those edges in the background pretty soft helps give the illusion of that summer haze. As a cool side-note, the painting also gave me the opportunity to show a little detail that Uni Watch had pointed out years before, the pinned numbers on the back of the player’s jerseys – you’ll notice it floating above the BVD sign in right field.

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Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.

Click to enlarge

And now a few quick words from Paul: In case you missed it on Friday afternoon, my latest ESPN column is about the innovative Force3 Defender catcher’s mask (being worn by the catcher on the right — you can tell by the telltale springs). It’s an interesting design and has some interesting implications for the world of sports gear endorsements. You can get the full scoop here.

While we’re at it, here are my assessments of the new uniforms released a few days ago by the Jaguars and Dolphins.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Phil fiesta.

“A Uni Watcher’s Wet Dream”

On Thursday evening, the boys from the “Hall Of Very Good” (Shawn Anderson & Lou Olsen) hosted Uni Watch pal and logo/designer/writer/genius Todd Radom and me on their show. Todd has a new book entitled “Winning Ugly: A Visual History of the Most Bizarre Baseball Uniforms Ever Worn” coming out next month (I already have a copy and let me tell you, it’s awesome). You can pre-order it now on Amazon. So the focus of the show was Todd’s book and many of the glorious/horrendous/wonderful uniforms contained therein (mostly 70’s and 80’s, but really spanning the 130+ years of baseball history). Todd’s not only a great friend, but an incredible designer and also a damn fine writer too! I recommend everyone get their hands on a copy of this book — I promise you: you will NOT be disappointed!

We had a lot of fun on the show, so if you have a few minutes, give it a listen below:

You can also click here for the show AND notes, which provides some links to the stuff we reference on the podcast.

Hope you guys can give it a listen, and I’d love to have your feedback! Thanks!!!

Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: We don’t normally comment on color vs. color jerseys in MLB anymore, but a couple readers (Andrew Cosentino, Justin Hicks) both pointed out the matchup between the A’s & Red Sox Friday night. Andrew loved the contrast between kelly and navy and Justin loved the old school stirrups. … On Friday night, the visiting locker room at Chase field misspelled Joey Lucchesi’s last name on his locker nameplate (from Adrian). … Also from Friday, the All Star Game patch on Michael Taylor’s jersey was starting to come off (from Joe Nocella). … Some teens still “get it.” Nice stirrup action in a local HS game-Bainbridge v. Ballard HS (from John Kimmerlein). … Some Minor League promos are better than others. Then there are the Potomac Nationals. … Yakult Swallows are wearing some different alts this weekend (from Graveyard Baseball). … Also from Graveyard Baseball, here’s a look at the 2018 Orix Buffaloes alts in action. … The Carolina Mudcats wore special Chewbacca themed uniforms for Star Wars Night (from Carolina Mudcats). … For reasons unknown to me, the Phillies broke out their Sunday alternate uniforms on Saturday (from Blake Fox). … That threw off César Hernández, who was wearing a red helmet yesterday with the Phils’ third unis. Everyone else wearing the typical blue helmet (from Cody Tucker). Here’s another look (from Gary Bates). … “Mississippi State is wearing what might be the ugliest uniforms of all time. Maroon tops with black pants,” writes Logan Ballew, which prompted this humorous reply from Miss State. … The Chicago Cubs have updated the team flag. There are now three blue stars in the center, representing their World Series titles, and 17 red stars for their N.L. pennants (from Kenneth Traisman). … I bet you never thought you’d see Joey Bats in a Black Panther jersey. If you watched the Florida Fire Frogs last night, you would have (from MiLB Promos). Here’s a look at those jerseys in action (from Dustin Smith). … Also from MiLB Promos, “Since 2016 Friday nights in Scranton have been highlighted(almost literally) by @swbrailriders Glow in the Park Nights. Thanks to @adamgiardino we have a look at the new 2018 edition of the Glow in the Park jersey & hat (old version on the left).” … Still more from MiLB: the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes wore these California Earthquake Authority jerseys last night. … As you all (should) know, Paul had a great ESPN piece on the C-flap helmet extension earlier this month. Here’s a nice piece from The Seattle Times examining the Mariners use of the device. … Bryce Starkey writes, “Have we discussed how the Rockies have a picture (sic) #0?” … New uniforms Trinity Baseball (from Taylor Stakes). … OK, just how awesome is this photo of Jose Cardenal riding a turn-of-the-twentieth-century bike? (from SABR Bio Project). … “Renato Nunez has two accent marks on his NOB,” says Steve Dodell, who asks, “Is this a first? Is this getting out of hand?”

NFL News: Tweeter Paul Friedmann “Found this old lunch box in a vintage shop in Northampton, MA. Crappy shape, but @UniWatch worthy.” … Reader Al N. Kreit was channel surfing and caught this glimpse of the jersey creators backstage at the 2015 NFL draft. … Taste is obviously in the eye of the beholder: Here are the “Best” Color Rash jerseys of 2017 (from Michael Sal Anthony Prosciutto).

College Football News: Has a new Oregon Football uni been leaked? Ian Gerig explains: “The recruit on the right side of the picture in the tweet is wearing a black uniform that the Ducks have never worn and a black helmet with a shiny duck head that the team has never worn.” … During their spring game yesterday, Notre Dame was back to their “classic” helmets (from Bryan). … Although the Akron Zips official colors are blue and gold, that didn’t stop them from playing a blue versus white spring game, which displeased Zip alum Jimmer Vilk. … ULM has new uniforms done a “brand refresh” (from Chris Mycoskie).

Hockey News: Merrimack College unveiled new uniforms for the men’s and women’s teams Friday night. For the first time ever, both teams will wear the same uniforms. … Did hockey players wear caps on ice? “While researching the 1926 Pittsburgh Pirates-Montreal Maroons playoff series, I found this in the March 24, 1926 Montreal Gazette,” writes Jerry Wolper. “And, sure enough, if you look at the team photo I used, you’ll see a couple of guys in the back row wearing caps.” … Really nice one from Ray Hund: From the 1998 book Hockey’s Golden Era: Stars of the Original Six by Mike Leonetti. This book features photographs from the Harold Barkley archives.

NBA News: Good article from The New York Times which points out that before a playoff game on Friday, the Cleveland Cavaliers took off-court fashion to a new level, wearing coordinated ensembles by the designer Thom Browne (from Tommy Turner). … A bit old but great: In honor of the NBA Playoffs Quadruple Overtime are doing a very cool bobblehead giveaway! These 4 big men were the definition of 90s basketball. More details in this tweet. … Hon. David Holt, the Mayor of Oklahoma City, was spotted wearing a Jordan Brand OKC jacket (from @RobertD1017). … Looks like the NBA told Joel Embiid to cover the Giro logo on his mask strap with NBA logos between Games 3 and 4 (from Beb Hanna).

Soccer News: Independiente’s new PUMA kit is pure art, and it’s inspired by their 1948 Championship winning side (from FourFourTweet). … Minnesota United FC will be wearing the special Parley jerseys today. Here’s more on that (from Minnesota United FC).

Grab Bag: I don’t watch wrestling, so (apologies) I don’t know who Shane Helms is, but he was sporting the awesome “Caucasians” shirt which pokes fun at the Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo logo, so I have to say I like him (from Zane Tuck).

What's Your Sign(ature) - Kansas City Royals

By Phil Hecken

Back in 2016, I began undertaking a series of entries looking at a team’s “signature” uniform. Loosely defined (and subject to interpretation) a “signature” uniform would be a uniform which one might definitively associate with a team, the one which stood out the most over the years. A signature uniform is not necessarily a team’s best uniform, or one which the team has worn the longest (although either of those could still apply), but rather the one uniform that, when you think of how a team looked at their most distinct, you have their signature uniform. Earlier this year, I resumed the series with the Montreal Expos, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Oakland A’s.

If you missed the previous 2016 entries in the series, you can see them at the following links: Indians, Pirates, Astros, Mets, Rays and Padres.

Today we’ll look at the Kansas City Royals, who are celebrating their 50th season this year, having been born during the 1969 Major League Baseball expansion. The Royals have had a fairly remarkably consistent uniform history (and a solid one for the most part), with the usual dabbling in polyester pullovers and sansabelt pants in the 1970s (extending into the early 80s) and then, regrettably, a BFBS period (like several teams) in the mid 2000s.

The Royals played the 1969 and 1970 seasons in the same unis (with the 1969 season having the MLB Jerry Dior batterman patch), which were beautiful, simple and basic. The home jersey with “Royals” script is basically what they’ve worn for the past 49 years (we could call it their signature home uni), while the roads were a bluish gray with “Kansas City” in an elegant script (and also reminiscent of the font from the Kansas City A’s, the former big league club from KC). Although they weren’t named for the color, it was only natural that the team use royal blue as its dominant color. It would remain this way for their entire existence (though there were brief dabblings in black and gray).

1969-70

The home uniform didn’t change for 1971 and 1972, but the road uniform did. The team dropped the script font and replaced it with a block “KANSAS CITY” in vertically arched lettering across the chest. Royal blue piping was kept to a minimum, existing only on the collar, sleeve hem, and pants. All letters and numbers were royal blue. Although gray, the road uniform definitely had a bluish tint to it.

1971-72

Like many teams, the 1973 KC Royals adopted polyester uniforms, and with it, the (mostly) standard pullover tops and sansabelt pants. The home jerseys would retain the classic “Royals” font, and the sleeves would get huge cuffs with a royal/white/royal pattern at the ends. The pants would get the same treatment at the “belt” line. The roads were similar in their treatment, and became a full-on powder blue. The arched KANSAS CITY wordmark remained the same. On the roads, the numbers and fonts changed from royal to white. They would keep this look for 10 full seasons.

1973-1982

Following their decade-long tenure in polyester pullovers, the Royals returned to buttonfront jerseys and belted pants beginning in the 1983 season. Their move to their signature uniform had now taken place. The home jerseys retained the classic “Royals” script, and for the first three years (1983-85) had thick sleeve stripes. From 1986 through 1994, thinner stripes would be the norm.

1983-1994 Home

The road uniforms would get their signature treatment from 1983 through 1990. They remained powder blue, (and like the homes, had thicker sleeve stripes from 1983-1985), but the “KANSAS CITY” in arched lettering would now be replaced with “Royals” in the same script font as had graced the home uniforms for their entirety. Front numbers would be added to the jerseys this year (both home and road) as well as NOBs. This beautiful monochrome baby blue would last only until 1991 (and that would be the last all powder blue uni in baseball, not counting the Blue Jays throwbacks), but it was clearly their best look. It proved so popular in fact, that the Royals would bring back two versions of the powder blue jersey, but it would never again be paired with the baby blue pants. This (combined with the home uni) is their signature look.

1983-1991 Road

In 1992, the Royals ditched the baby blue for a gray road uni. It was basically the same as the powder blue, except the Royals wordmark returned to royal with a white outline. The numbers were also royal outlined in white. In 1994, the team added a royal blue alternate jersey (their first ever alternate) as well.

1992-1994 Road

1994 Royal Alternate

After a beautiful early-80s-to-early-90s look (how many teams can you say that about?), things started taking a slight turn for the worse beginning in 1995. Not with the homes — those would stay as good as ever, actually removing the collar trim and reducing the sleeve piping down to one thin strip of soutache. It was the roads and alternates that would begin a slight decline in uni-awesomeness. The road gray uniform underwent the same striping treatment as the home, but the beautiful script “Royals” would be replaced with the clunkier “KANSAS CITY”, in royal blue outlined in white. The team also donned an alternate gray crown/royal brim cap for a time. The alternate remained much the same, getting only the thin stripe adjustment of the homes and roads.

1995-2001 Home

1995-2001 Road

1995-2001 Royal Alternate

The 1995-2001 was a slight departure from the beauty of the prior sets, but what followed, beginning in 2002, was a four year lapse of reason. Black was added to the home and road uniforms (though not to the royal blue alternate), and a black alternate jersey was added. The 2002 home jersey removed ALL piping and a black drop shadow was added. The pants had all piping removed.

2002 Home

The team completely ditched the full gray road jersey, opting instead for a sleeveless (faux vest) jersey. This too had black drop shadow beneath the wordmark and number. Black undersleeves were added, and a black crown/blue brim cap was worn. They would keep this style from 2002 through 2005.

2002-2005 Road

The Royal jersey would remain basically the same as before, though the script was slightly altered. All piping was removed.

2002-2005 Royal Alternate

A new, alternate black jersey was added. Unlike the home, road and royal alternate, this one had piping added to the placket and sleeves. Royals in royal blue script outlined in white (as well as numbers in royal outlined in white) would make up the front, while NOB also had blue lettering with white outlines.

2002-2005 Black Alternate

Things actually got worse in 2003, when the team ditched the white jersey in favor of a white sleeveless shirt, but with blue undersleeves. This had the same black dropshadow as the white jersey. They would keep this through 2005.

2003-2005 Home

Fortunately, the BFBS experiment ended almost as quickly as it began (a total of four seasons). In 2006, the sleeveless jerseys were gone, the road jerseys got a script “Kansas City” (very reminiscent of the 1969-70 script), the black was ditched everywhere, and soutache piping retruns to the sleeves on the white, gray and alternate royal jerseys as well as the white and gray pants.

2006-2018 home

2006-2011 Road

2006-2013 Royal Alternate

In 2008, in a nod to the past, a powder blue alternate jersey was (re)introduced. While it has the familiar “Royals” script, unlike the signature uniform, this one has “Royals” in blue (rather than white) and outlined in white. Numbers on the front are white outlined in blue. They would keep this combination until 2011.

2008-2011 Powder Alternate

In 2012, the team would make changes to the road and powder uniforms. The script Kansas City on the roads went from a “thin” tall font to a slightly fatter, shorter font. The powder alternate would have the front script and number coloring reversed: white “Royals” with blue outline, blue number with white outline. This was not quite a throwback to the signature roadie (those had no outlining and white numbers).

2012-2018 Road

2012-2018 Powder Alternate

Beginning in 2014, a change was made to the royal alternate that was not an improvement: piping in powder/white was added to the sleeves and placket, “Royals” was removed, and an interlocking “KC” (same logo as on the cap) was added to the left chest. The logo, as well as NOB and numbers would all be in white with a powder blue outline.

2014-2018 Royal Alternate

And finally, in 2016, after having won the World Series in 2015, the Royals added an alternate white jersey — “Royals” in gold outlined in royal blue, with blue numbers and gold numbers on the back. They would like it so much, they wore it for more than just the home opening series (which is now ‘traditional’ for World Series to do). They wore it as an alternate all season long. In 2017, they changed this up slightly, wearing Royals in script outlined in gold, with gold numbers outlined in royal. The numbers would have this treatment on the back of the uniform as well. Caps and helmets were royal with gold “KC” logo as well.

2016 – 2017/18 White Alternate

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And there you have it. With the exception of a very few years, the Royals home uniform has been their signature look from the beginning, but it’s the road set of 1983 through 1990 that really sets itself apart. The all powder blue with button front jerseys and belted pants is just so fitting and perfect — and Bo Jackson, reducing a Louisville Slugger to mere shards perfectly encapsulates a classic look. If any team were to ever return to wearing mono-powder again, this would get my vote for the uni in which to start.

Your thoughts?

“A Uni Watcher’s Wet Dream”

On Thursday evening, the boys from the “Hall Of Very Good” (Shawn Anderson & Lou Olsen) hosted Uni Watch pal and logo/designer/writer/genius Todd Radom and me on their show. Todd has a new book entitled “Winning Ugly: A Visual History of the Most Bizarre Baseball Uniforms Ever Worn” coming out next month (I already have a copy and let me tell you, it’s awesome). You can pre-order it now on Amazon. So the focus of the show was Todd’s book and many of the glorious/horrendous/wonderful uniforms contained therein (mostly 70’s and 80’s, but really spanning the 130+ years of baseball history). Todd’s not only a great friend, but an incredible designer and also a damn fine writer too! I recommend everyone get their hands on a copy of this book — I promise you: you will NOT be disappointed!

We had a lot of fun on the show, so if you have a few minutes, give it a listen below:

You can also click here for the show AND notes, which provides some links to the stuff we reference on the podcast.

Hope you guys can give it a listen, and I’d love to have your feedback! Thanks!!!

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And now a few quick words from Paul: In case you missed it on Friday afternoon, my latest ESPN column is about the innovative Force3 Defender catcher’s mask (being worn by the catcher on the right — you can tell by the telltale springs). It’s an interesting design and has some interesting implications for the world of sports gear endorsements. You can get the full scoop here.

While we’re at it, here are my assessments of the new uniforms released a few days ago by the Jaguars and Dolphins.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Phil fiesta.

And now a few words from Jimmy Corcoran

He’s back. My pal Jimmy Corcoran (son of the *famous* King Corcoran) has some great (and bizarre) stories of his dad’s football exploits, and here are a couple for today. Here’s Jimmy. Enjoy:

Hey Phil,

I know you sometimes run pieces on football teams that played basketball, well the Pottstown Firebirds had a basketball team. They played against the Eagles but it looks like an intersquad scrimmage since they wore the exact same uniforms. It looks like they wore the same kind of green shiny shorts Joe Namath wore in his commercial.

My father was a good basketball player for being a football player, but when I was a kid I went to Maryland’s basketball camp. The King dropped by and played a pickup game outside when they had basketball courts in the stadium. Brad Davis, John Lucas and some other Maryland players played in this game, to say the King was over matched would be an understatement.

In this picture is Bob Tucker who went on to have a great career with the Giants and Ben Hawkins who played on the Bell with my father and Cyril Pinder who played for the Chicago Fire.

• • •

I wanted you to see these new retro cards that just came out of the King, if things worked out for him with the NFL teams he was with these are what his football cards could have looked like. Matt from Retro Cards did a great job with bringing these cards to life, he had to colorize a couple and even had to build a uniform for the Patriots or change a number like with the Eagles. My part was easy, I just had to supply a few pictures and help write the bio. This is finally a correct bio of my father with the correct birth date and separating fact vs fiction. Boy if the King was still around I could see him pulling these out of his pockets to show people he would talk to in bars, they are a lot smaller than that huge scrapbook he kept in his trunk.

They also did the back of the cards like he really still has a chance to make the team, I will try to get a photo for you. I know the Eagles wore Kelly green but for some reason their 1971 scrimmage jerseys were dark green.

I wanted you to see how they do the back of these cards. I am 53 years old now but when I read the backs of these cards I feel like I am back in 1971 and there is a chance my father can beat out Pete Liske and Rick Arrington for the Eagles number 1 QB spot:

Take care Jimmy Corcoran

Thanks, Jimmy. Love the cards and the shot of your pop shooting hoops!

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: We’ve covered this before, but here are some great pics of Craig Biggio’s Sunshine Kids pin (from Matthew W. Wilson). … The Triple-A Louisville Bats will become the Louisville Mashers for one game on May 26 (from William Adams). … Dick Williams is wearing an Expos-inspired cap in this Miller Lite ad. I guess the “D” is for “Dick”? (from Mike Knapp). … Google News used a weird Manny Machado image for an article about the O’s, showing him in home whites with a road helmet (from Billy King). … Derek Brownlee notes that Cleveland wore their grey jerseys last evening for the first time this season. It was game 17 for the Tribe. … Here’s our best look yet at the throwbacks given away to fans by the University of Houston yesterday (from Ignacio Salazar). … A couple notes on Tucson High School in one image: 1) Nice stirrups. 2) Ugh sleeves. 3) Their cap logo is very close to, but not quite the same as, the Rangers’ cap logo (from Logan Jakubajtys). … Some Army players wore stirrups during their game at Fenway (from @ezbutton11). … Steven Dodell sends along this great analysis of an old George Scott baseball card.

NFL News Josh Gleason writes in saying that the Dolphins have unintentionally (or intentionally?) unveiled the uni numbers for recently-signed Danny Amendola and Frank Gore (a 23, if you can’t tell, which would make sense for Gore). Interestingly, the YouTube version of the video features a closer crop on Gore’s jersey than the one on the Dolphins’ website, cutting out the semi-legible TV numbers.

College/High School Football News: Ray Hund has sent along a great image of Navy’s “Drive for Five” nameplates from the 1963 Army-Navy Game. … Georgia Tech launched their new shade of gold and new wordmarks yesterday. Here’s a PDF of the full style sheet from the Georgia Tech website (from Rex Henry and everyone else who sent in info on Georgia Tech). … So weird seeing a makers mark on a uniform for a communist state, let alone the mark being the Adidas trefoil, which one rarely sees on a hockey uni (from Paul Caruso).

Hockey News: The Blues held their annual paint the ice day on Thursday, and fans had predictable fun at the League’s expense (from Mike Chamernik).
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NBA News: Joel Embiid’s mask has been getting a lot of attention recently. Sports Illustrated has gone into the science behind it (from Mike Chamernik). … Briggs Chaney Middle School in Montgomery County, Md., seems to have poached the Memphis Grizzlies’ logo (from Paul Kim).

Soccer News: Scottish giants Celtic have had their new kits leaked. … Celtic’s archrivals Rangers FC is moving to Hummel from Puma for next season (both from Ed Żelaski and Josh Hinton). … Footy Headlines has all the Earth Day kits the each team in MLS is wearing (from Josh Hinton). … Footy Headlines also posted what they think is a “90% accurate” prediction of Real Madrid’s next home kit.

Grab Bag: Our fearless leader Paul was on the 99 Percent Invisible podcast while Phil joined Todd Radom on the Hall of Very Good podcast! … Yesterday, we asked why tennis player Fabio Fognini was wearing No. 17 in a sport where athletes wearing any numbers are extremely rare. We have our answer, courtesy of an Italian news article: the Italian commentators revealed Fognini and his sponsor view 17 as a “lucky number,” and since Fognini’s match was played on the 17th of the month, they decided to use it (from Douglas Ford). … While we’re on the subject, Syracuse’s women’s tennis team has worn numbers in the past — note the captain’s C on No. 8! (from Thomas Langan). … New look for the Thailand national women’s volleyball team (from Jeremy Brahm). … Also from Jeremy: the Japanese women’s table tennis team has new uniforms. … RIP Gil Santos.

Jags, Dolphins Unveil New Uniforms

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Well, it could have been worse — but it also could have been so much better.

That’s the short version of my take on the Jags’ new uni set, which was unveiled yesterday. The slightly longer version is that they improved almost every part of their uniform (especially the helmet, obviously), but the overall effect is very underwhelming, especially for a franchise that once had one of the best and most underrated looks in the league. The whole thing feels like an overcorrection, as if they realized they were too Oregon-y and made up for it by being too Penn State-y (I’m exaggerating in both instances, but you get the idea). You can get my full assessment in this ESPN piece, which was published yesterday afternoon, and you can see additional photos of the new uniforms here.

In addition, the Dolphins made two small chromatic changes yesterday — deepening their shade of orange and eliminating the blue outlining on their numbers, NOBs, helmet striping, and pants striping — and got a surprising amount of bang for their buck. You can see my assessment of that, including some side-by-side comparisons of the old and new uni elements, here.

I spoke yesterday afternoon with Surf Melendez, the Dolphins’ Managing Director of Brand and Creative, and mentioned to him that it was unusual to see a team making such a small tweak in this era of flashy uniform unveilings and big, sweeping brand statements. He replied (I’m paraphrasing here), “Well, we like our uniforms, so we didn’t feel the need to make a big change. But we thought we could make some improvements with the colors, so we did.”

I don’t entirely agree with him about their current uni set (the number font, in particular, really needs to go, but now we’re stuck with it at least through 2022, because yesterday’s tweaks reset the five-year clock), but it was refreshing to hear someone talk about small changes instead of big, sweeping overhauls. Also, while the Dolphins’ changes are small, they nonetheless went the extra mile by producing this nifty interactive page, which among other things includes a fun slider mechanism that lets you compare the old and new helmet striping. Well done.

Meanwhile, here are two small details — one from each team — that didn’t make it into my ESPN stories:

• I asked a Jags representative if there was any particular significance to the new curved/angled sock stripes. His response was priceless: “According to Nike, it’s shaped like a ‘jaguar’s claw.’ I left that out of the [press] release because I didn’t really understand the significance of it, or ‘how it is actually shaped like a jaguar’s claw,’ but I’d love for you to include it [in what you write].” And now I have. It’s pretty hilarious when Nike’s “storytelling” is too much even for the team/client, right?

• Although the Dolphins excised the blue from their uniform, several fans noticed that the blue outlining was still present in the rear helmet numbers that appear in the press photos. I asked Melendez about that, and he said, “We noticed as well. The decals are still in production. We made the call to keep them on for the photo shoot as opposed to not having numbers on the back of the helmet.”

And that’s a wrap. I hope the next two NFL teams to unveil new uniforms don’t do it at the same time of the same day — that was seriously hectic!

• • • • •

• • • • •

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Meanwhile, over on the diamond: The catcher on the left is wearing a traditional mask. The one on the right is wearing a new-ish model called the Defender, which features spring-cushioned shock absorbers. You can see the springs at his temple, and there are additional springs at his chin and his other temple.

More and more MLB catchers are wearing the Defender, but it’s a tricky situation, because the mask is manufactured by a small startup company and most catchers have lucrative endorsement deals with the big sportswear brands. I’ve written about this for ESPN today, and I think you’ll find it really interesting — check it out here.

• • • • •

• • • • •

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And speaking of masks: 76ers center Joel Embiid, who broke an orbital bone a few weeks ago, returned to action for last night’s playoff game against the Heat and wore a mask. There was some controversy when the mask came off at one point and Miami’s Justise Winslow appeared to go out of his way to step on it and break it:

Winslow did not get a technical foul, and Embiid simply got a new mask. He later said that he has about 50 of them.

(My thanks to Mike Chamernik for this one.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

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TBT: It was Throwback Thursday in the National League last night. First up were the Phillies, who debuted their new powder blue alternates. There were lots of inaccuracies and problems here: The original powder blues were zipper-fronts with vertically arched NOBs, while the current versions are button-fronts with radially arched NOBs; as you can see in that last photo, the side piping is broken by the belt tunnels, which is wrong; if they’re going to wear maroon trimmed uniforms, they should get maroon undershirts and jackets to match; and of course there’s the larger issue of wearing a road uniform at home. (Fun fact: They did that for one game in 1972, and it didn’t go well.) Also, while this wasn’t exactly an error, it seems like powder blue uniforms would be better on an Astroturf field, no? Still, it was fun to see the old look. Additional photos here.

Later on, in Arizona, the D-backs wore their inaugural-season throwbacks (part of their 20th-anniversary retro program), complete with the white caps! I think this set has aged surprisingly well, purple and all. Additional photos here.

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• • • • •

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Too good for the Ticker: Reader Eugene Stolow recently visited a friend at the VCU School of Medicine in Richmond and saw this fantastic baseball uniform display in the school’s library. The accompanying placard says the uni is from 1932. Note the skull and crossbones sleeve patch!

The chest lettering reminds me of the Red Sox’s home jerseys and the Mets’ road jerseys. Here’s another view:

The placard explains that the team had a dismal record, owing in part to the time constraints placed on medical students. Also, check out the team portait, which shows a coach, or maybe a trainer, wearing a jacket with the skull and crossbones:

Sensational stuff. Big thanks to Eugene for sharing this one.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Assorted reminders: In case you missed it earlier this week, we have news on a variety of fronts. One at a time:

• Our friends at Ebbets Field Flannels are raffling off a New York Knights T-shirt to a lucky Uni Watch reader. Today is the last day to enter this raffle! Details here.

• There’s updated news regarding the upcoming Uni Watch cap program, which will likely feature at least three different designs. Details here.

• And we also have news regarding the Syracuse Chiefs’ upcoming Brannock Device Night promotion, where I’ll be throwing out the first pitch. Details here.

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• • • • •

The Ticker
By Kris Gross

Baseball News: Mariners CF Dee Gordon looking good in stirrups last night (from Michael Rose). … The Mets have not worn their alternate jerseys yet this season (from JM Rondello). … Has anyone seen these Lego hats before? (from Brady Phelps.) … Scroll to the bottom of this article for a note stating that the Cubs broadcasts now include an advertiser for their uniform descriptions. Yuck (from Douglas Ford). … If you’re in the Milwaukee area, get to the Brewers game on June 17 for a mini-bullpen car giveaway. … The Orioles have announced their list of theme nights (from Andrew Cosentino). … The Louisville Bats, Triple-A affiliate of the Reds, will become the Louisville Mashers on “Cheers to Bourbon Night” (from Caleb Jenkins). … The city of Amarillo, Texas, is getting a Double-A team, and there’s a contest to name the team (from Bradley Maybin). … LSU softball will wear teal helmets tomorrow to show support for a Mississippi State player battling cancer (from Brian Ogden). … Sticking with a softball, here’s a great-looking matchup between Utah and BYU from Wednesday (from Alex Allen).

NFL News: For the Win lists 10 teams that desperately need a uniform change (thanks Phil). … Check out this video showing the Eagles equipment staff getting the helmets and jerseys ready for the Super Bowl (from Joseph Wolper). … Some NFL inconsistencies spotted by @NFL_Journal: Seemingly different NOB spacing from this old Rams footage, and different fonts on these Saints sideline jackets. … This footage from a 1994 Bills/Broncos game features a Bucky Brooks FNOB. Head to the 0:26 mark (from @EichelTower615). … Awesome: Bucs LB Richard Wood wore a Batman elbow pad in 1979 (from Ray Hund). … As part of the NFL schedule release last night, the Bears created a superhero-style video to unveil their opponents, while the Vikings used team cleats (from RJL, Brinke Guthrie). … This article on the Steelers’ website includes the following news from owner Art Rooney: The team will wear its mono-black uniform for a Thursday-night game against Carolina, and the team will unveil its new throwback uni at the end of May (from Jerry Wolper).

College Football News: LSU will celebrate 125 seasons with this logo, which will be worn as a jersey patch. You can read more about it here (from Griffin Smith). … In advance of their switch to Jumpman jerseys in the fall, Florida Photoshopped the Nike logo out of their latest season tickets promo (from Michael R Carroll). … Georgia Tech’s spring game is today, and there are lots of changes, including a new shade of gold; fewer display options for the “GT” logo; a new color palette for the Buzz mascot; and a new wordmark. More info here.

Hockey News: The Nipawin Hawks, whose colors are black and yellow, continue to wear green helmets in honor of the Humboldt Broncos during the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Finals (from Wade Heidt).

Basketball News: Want to help choose Ohio State’s new court design for the 2018-19 season? The Buckeyes have 10 potential designs in the hoppers and are inviting fans to vote for their favorite.

Grab Bag: Have you ever seen a tennis player wearing a uniform number? Jason DeDonato spotted Fabio Fognini wearing a No. 17 shirt at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. … Indiana has a long history of very creative high school mascots (from Marc Viquez).