Uni Watch Fan Appreciation Day, 2018 Edition


It’s that time of year again — the time when I give something back to you folks, literally. Or, if you prefer to be more cynical about it, the time when I clear out all the freebies that have accumulated in my apartment over the past year (along with some things that readers and advertisers have generously donated). Either way, it’s the day I run a big raffle that all of you can enter.

As in past years, some of you may recognize a few of these items as gifts that you thoughtfully sent my way over the past 12 months. I realize regifting may be frowned upon, but sometimes I have duplicates on certain things, or I don’t have room for everything, or something is too big or too small for me to wear, or I’ve gotten some enjoyment out of an item and am now ready to let someone else enjoy it. No offense intended, and I hope none taken. Thanks for understanding.

For shirts and jerseys, you’ll see a size followed by a measurement (L, 21″, for example). In each case, that’s the tagged size, assuming there is one, followed by the pit-to-pit measurement across the chest. All shirts and jerseys are blank on the back unless otherwise indicated.

Ready? Here we go:

1. A complimentary Uni Watch membership card.

2. A reproduction 1958 Army football helmet, autographed by Heisman winner Pete Dawkins, courtesy of Gridiron Memories. (As you may recall, we also gave away one of these last year. Let’s have a standing O for Gridiron Memories for providing us with another one.)

3, 4, and 5. A 2019 calendar of your choice from Asgard Press. They’re giving away three calendars, and each one is a separate prize.

6. An amazing Uni Watch hockey jersey made by DIY genius Wafflebored speficially for this raffle. No. 7 on the back. 24″.

7. A Delaware 87ers T-shirt. L, 20″.

8. A Trey Mancini giveaway bobblehead. New in box!

9. A Fort Dodge Gypsum Eaters cap. Adjustable leather strap.

10. A print of your choice from artist Dan Duffy’s “Art of Words” site.

11. A navy blue duffel bag with red/white UCLA-style striping. Additional photos and product details here.

12. A 2018 Yankees yearbook.

13. A vintage short-sleeved Pendleton wool shirt. Color is more olive and less brown than it appears in the photo. I ordered this last month from a vintage clothing shop, but they listed the measurements incorrectly and it’s way too big for me. When I contacted them to arrange a return, they said, “We’ll issue you a refund, but just keep the shirt and give it to someone else who’ll enjoy it.” How nice is that? So I’m paying it forward. L, 23″.

14. An Orioles snapback cap. DAP ad on side.

15. An Orioles bucket cap. Miller Lite ad on the back. No size listed, but I’d say it’s about the equivalent of a 7-1/2. Includes strap to keep it in place.

16. An Orioles American flag-themed T-shirt. M, 19-1/2″.

17. A set of Orioles stickers. The 2015 schedule probably won’t be of much interest to anyone, but the logos are still good.

18. An Akron Wingfoots promotional jersey. “Lukas / 18” on the back. 25″.

19. A Jacob deGrom ugly sweater-style shirt. Blank on the back, except for the decorative trim, which wraps around. M, 21″.

20. A Noah Syndergaard T-shirt. M, 20″.

21. A SUNY-Binghamton Bearcats T-shirt. M, 20″.

22. A SUNY-Binghamton Bearcats ugly sweater-style shirt. Blank on back except for the lower trim, which wraps around. M, 21″.

23. A Fordham Rams jersey-style shirt. 23-1/2″.

24. An “Omaha Metro Area” T-shirt patterned after the Mets’ logo. M, 20″.

25. A Uni Watch 2018 Purple Amnesty Day snapback cap. Includes hang tag that doubles as a sticker.

26. A New York Rangers authentic jersey. “Uni Watch / 7” on the back. 50, 23″.

27. A Puppy Bowl XIV T-shirt. Animal Planet logo on the back. L, 20″.

28. An authentic Syracuse Devices cap, which I wore while throwing out the first pitch at the Syracuse Chiefs’ Brannock Device Night promotion on May 31. 7-3/8.

29. A Syracuse Chiefs-branded Brannock Device, one of eight such devices that were manufactured and given away at the Syracuse Chiefs’ Brannock Device Night promotion on May 31.

30. A game-worn Syracuse Devices jersey from the Syracuse Chiefs’ Brannock Device Night promotion on May 31. Worn in the game by left fielder Yadiel Hernandez, who went one-for-four with an RBI. The back has No. 5 and Hernandez’s autograph. 46, 24″.

31. A Carolina Hurricanes “Canes” T-shirt. L, 21″.

32. A Puppy Bowl XIV strapback cap. Animal Planet logo on the back.

33. A 3-D “HC” batting helmet logo for Holy Cross High School in Queens, N.Y. Perfect if your name is, say, Hank Conway or Chris Henderson.

34. A Uni Watch tequila sunrise T-shirt. “Tequila Sunrise / 15” on the back. This is the last one I have from the original polyester/sublimated batch that we sold in November of 2015. (The ones we now sell on Teespring are cotton and the graphics don’t wrap all the way around.) A true Uni Watch collector’s item! 22-1/2″.

35. A “Cycling Stars” card game. Additional product info/details here.

36. A Curler’s Crying Towel. 15-1/2″ x 27″.

37. A champagne cork and a few pieces of confetti. The cork was scooped up off the floor of the Mets’ clubhouse by a sportswriter friend of mine during the team’s celebration for winning the 2000 National League Championship Series on Oct. 16, 2000. The writer then gave it to me. The confetti was gathered off the ground at the conclusion of Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3, 2008, by New York Giants equipment director Joe Skiba, who then sent it to me.

38 (left) and 39 (right). Two Uni Watch Alternate Cap prototypes, which were prepared when we were getting that cap design ready for its launch. Uni Watch script on the back. Each cap is a separate raffle item. Although they look similar, they have different shades of green, different shades of gold, different eyelet colors on the crown, and different script sizes on the back — look at the photos closely for more details. Both caps are flex-fit. I’d say the one on the left (raffle item No. 38) is something like a 7-1/4 or 7-3/8, while the one on the right (No. 39) is a bit bigger, like a 7-1/2. One of these — I think No. 39, but I’m not positive — was worn by the Tugboat Captain for the Brannock-themed event in Syracuse. The final cap we ended up manufacturing was slightly different from both of these, so these are both one-of-a-kind.

40. A copy of We Want Fish Sticks: The Bizarre and Infamous Rebranding of the New York Islanders, by Nicholas Hirshon. 312 pages. Includes a promotional blurb from a certain uniform columnist on the back jacket.


And there we are. Here’s how to enter the raffle:

1) Send an email to the raffle address. If you’re having any trouble with that link, it’s uniwatchraffle at gmail dot com.

2) In the body of the email, please indicate (a) your name and shipping address and (b) your top 10 prize choices, in order of preference, by number. If you’re only interested in, say, seven items, then just list your top seven choices; if you want to list more than 10, you can do that too, but I don’t expect anyone to go that far. I’ll do my best to accommodate all the winners’ choices.

3) One email per person. Overseas readers are welcome to enter, although I may ask you to chip in on the shipping charges if you win something heavy. Entry deadline is next Thursday, Dec. 20, 7pm Eastern. The winners will be announced on Christmas Day.

Please join me in thanking the people who generously contributed some of the items for this raffle, including Dan Duffy, Mike Engle, Tim Flattery, Keith Goggin, Grant Hewit, Andy Hyman, Jerry Kulig, Jim Misudek, Wafflebored, Matt Weidner, and Curtis Worrell. You guys are all aces.

I’d also like to thank all the rest of you who contribute in various ways to Uni Watch. I wish I could provide gifts for all of you — honest.

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Chain crew reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my latest ESPN piece is a deep-dive interview with Tom Quinn, who’s the head of the Giants’ chain crew. Check it out here.

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ITEM! New research discovery: See that logo on the back of Peyton Manning’s helmet as he shared a bro-ment with Tom Brady at the conclusion of the 2004 AFC Championship Game? That’s a memorial decal for the Colts’ team chaplain, Fr. Patrick Kelly, who died on Dec. 30, 2003. Turns out the Colts wore that decal throughout the 2004 posteason — in the Wild Card game against the Broncos on Jan. 4, in the Divisional Round game against the Chiefs on Jan. 11, and then in that conference championship game against the Pats. So we can add this to our list of religious symbols on team uniforms.

I didn’t know any of this until reader Chris Hickey brought it to my attention yesterday. Even the mighty Gridiron Uniform Database doesn’t have this one listed in its extensive list of commemorative helmet decals (although GUD co-honcho Bill Schaefer tells me he was aware of it, and even has that same photo of Manning and Brady, but the decal listing “must have slipped through the cracks”). Just another reminder that research and documentation are always ongoing processes, and that there are probably more gaps left to fill in than we realize.

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Speaks for itself: I’m just gonna leave this here.

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Egg-cellent: It’s funny how some items are typically sold by the dozen — donuts, bagels, oysters, roses, golf balls. (And then there’s beer, which is sold in 12-packs, but somehow the term 12-pack feels different than a dozen, no?) And for some of those items, of course, you often get one extra: the baker’s dozen.

I’ve never seen a baker’s dozen for eggs — until now. The clever design is the result of a partnership between a husband-and-wife NYC design firm and a Nebraska egg farmer. As explained here:

Early on, a few large egg producers had expressed interest in our new 13-egg carton, but their egg-packing machinery was only designed to pack eggs in pairs. They could only handle even numbers like, 6, 12 or 18 eggs. To pack an oddnumber like 13 eggs, they would need to make a major retooling investment.

This meant that, for the time being, our cartons would only be practical for small egg-producers who would be packing their eggs by hand (farm-stands, farmer’s markets and the like).

Faaaascinating. That last page I linked to is worth exploring, and there’s more info here.

Now we need to come up with the baker’s dozen for all the other sold-by-the-dozen items. For oysters, I propose that we call it the shucker’s dozen. That’s what we’ll be calling it at my seafood restaurant, if I ever open one. Which I probably won’t. But it might be worth doing it just to offer the shucker’s dozen!

(Big thanks to my pal Rob Walker for letting me know about this one.)

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The Ticker
By Yianni Varonis

Baseball News: We’ve seen this before, but once more won’t hurt: Here’s a photo of Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams in a Yankees uniform. In 1973, he was set to manage the team before his old boss, A’s owner Charlie Finley, sued and Williams and the Yankees parted ways before the regular season began. More information here (NYT link).

NFL News: The Chiefs went mono-red for last night’s game against the Chargers. They also enshrined Tony Gonzalez’s No. 88 in their ring of honor. … In that same game, Chargers RB Justin Jackson suffered a torn lightning bolt decal. … A Packers fan who owns Bears season tickets has been denied his request to wear green and yellow on the sidelines of this week’s game between the two teams (from Mike Chamernik). … The Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League, will wear Packers-inspired sweaters for “celebrate Wisconsin” weekend before auctioning them off (from Ray Barrington). … A couple years ago, Paul wrote about the unique dilemma equipment managers face when applying helmet stripes on Riddell SpeedFlex helmets. Reader Paul Weisner pointed out that while the Steelers cut through the gap on both their helmet stripes and numbers, QB Ben Roethlisberger does not.

College Football News: Reader Mike Selock was watching a rainy Pitt/Penn State game from 1976, and they showed a guy on the sideline drying the footballs in some sort of device. “The announcers said it turned like a rotisserie,” says Mike. The guy’s jacket appears to read, “Got wet balls? Kermie cures ’em.” … For its bowl game, Tulane will wear a “clean” version of its cartoon angry-wave helmet (from @BabyCastle75 and Ryan Doyle). … Here’s Utah State’s uniform for the New Mexico Bowl (from @akaggie).

Hockey News: It looks like the Senators will be getting a new logo, but not until 2021 at the earliest. … According to this reporter, the Hurricanes’ owner isn’t a fan of the team’s white sweaters, which is why the team wore red on its recent road trip. Last night, at the request of the ’Canes, the Canadiens wore white at home (from multiple readers). … Also in the NFL section: The Green Bay Gamblers, of the United States Hockey League, will wear Packers-inspired sweaters for “celebrate Wisconsin” weekend before auctioning them off (from Ray Barrington). … The National Women’s Hockey League unveiled this season’s all-star jerseys. … Check out this old box of Bauer skates with NHL team logos on the box. … Paul’s “Puck Soup” podcast session with Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski is available here.

NBA News: Here’s a good behind-the-scenes look at how the Heat designed their “Miami Vice” uniforms. The article features this nugget: “The Heat looked over Nike’s [city edition] proposals, which included one jersey featuring a palm tree print, and politely sent them back. They had a plan, and they weren’t deviating.” A good reminder that teams ultimately call the shots on this stuff, not outfitters.

Soccer News: The Los Angeles Galaxy’s stadium has a new naming rights advertiser (from Josh Hinton). … A few items from our own Jamie Rathjen: Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg is required to have an ad-free team name for European competitions, so in such cases it is referred to as “FC Salzburg,” or just “Salzburg,” and wears a different crest; Spanish club Sevilla wears a gold version of the Europa League sleeve patch because it’s won the competition and its predecessor, the UEFA Cup, five times; and English club Chelsea wore an extra ad for a children’s-rights charity called Plan International, though it would also be appropriate for the team to wear an extra ad that would help combat this type of behavior. … This is the new third jersey for Mexican club Tijuana (from Ed Zelaski) … Soccer badge or fashion logo? Take the quiz!

Grab Bag: From Phil: Oregon has signed a deal with Fanatics to produce hundreds of school products and manage its relationship with other licensees. The partnership won’t affect Oregon’s relationship with Nike, however. … Speaking of Fanatics, they’re cutting short their NASCAR trackside deal that was supposed to run through 2024 (from David Firestone). … A Utah state legislator is drafting legislation that would create a commission to edit the state flag, which violates the five basic principles of vexillology (from Brice Wallace). … This article lists the year’s best kids’ picture books “centered on cities, architecture, and design.” … A New Jersey ice cream shop that caused controversy last year for its sexy female cow logo shuttered its doors this week. The owner blames the controversy for the closure. … Here’s a good article about a female video game designer who is trying to change the culture of women avatars often wearing skimpy garments known as “boob armor.” … Here’s a great shot of 1960s track and field star Tommie Smith wearing an awesome San Jose State uniform (from Pro Football Journal).

NBA Finally Unveils Participation-Trophy Uniforms

Amidst an increasing torrent of leaks, the NBA went ahead and made it official yesterday by releasing the cringe-inducingly named “Earned” uniforms — the ones that will be worn by the 16 teams that qualified for last season’s playoffs, beginning on Christmas Day.

The premise of this set has always been laughable, given that more than half the league qualifies for the postseason (boy, good thing the Wizards “earned” a new uniform by finishing four games over .500 and then being eliminated in the first round!), and now it turns out that the designs aren’t even new designs. Most of them are just color-shifted versions of the slightly less cringe-inducingly named City alternates (except for the Jazz, Thunder, and Rockets designs, which are color-shifted versions of those teams’ very cringe-inducingly named Statement alternates). Or to put it another way, the Spurs now have yet another camouflage uniform — their fourth in five years by my count.

Anyway: Some of these color-shifted versions are much better than the City versions on which they’re based (Pacers, Sixers), others are worse (Pelicans, Bucks), and others fall into the “The other design had no compelling reason to exist, and neither does this one” category (Cavs, Rockets, Thunder). Here’s the whole batch of jerseys (click to enlarge, and my apologies for the staggered image pairings):

In addition, 11 of the 16 teams have put additional info and photos on their websites, so we can see more than just the front of the jerseys. Those teams are the Bucks, Cavs, Heat, Jazz, Pacers, Pelicans, Sixers, Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, Warriors, and Wizards. (Many of those web pages have headlines that say, “New Earned Jersey,” even though the photos show more than just the jersey. Sigh.)

Obligatory joke: If the 16 playoff teams are getting Earned uniforms, shouldn’t the other 14 get Spurned uniforms?

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s hard to see how all of this is sustainable. The plan is to keep coming up with new City alternates (and presumably corresponding Participation Trophy alternates) every season, and at some point they’ll want to do a new round of Statement alternates as well. But at some point the Spurs will run out of camouflage options and the Timberwolves will run out of ways to reference Prince, no?

Meanwhile, as long as we’re talking about the NBA, here’s a pair of tidbits that a source passed along to me yesterday:

• You know how the Thunder currently have their team name on the white uni and their city name on the blue uni? They’re planning to flip that next season.

• Orlando’s primary colored uniform (i.e., Icon) is currently blue. Next season it will be black.

Finally, I leave you with this (which would look better without Twitter’s auto-cropping, but you get the idea):

(My thanks to @bignatsnut for bringing that last tweet to my attention.)

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In the sticks: Who’s that with all the first down markers? None other than New York Giants chain crew chief Tom Quinn, who I recently interviewed out at the Meadowlands for a new ESPN piece that I think you’ll enjoy. Check it out here.

Also: Tom is looking for an old-school 1940s or ’50s down indicator, like these. If anyone has a line on where to find one of those, please drop me a line. Thanks.

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Puck me: Who was that posing for an awkward selfie with me on the porch of Uni Watch HQ yesterday? None other than my ESPN.com colleague Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski, who stopped by to interview me for a new segment of his Puck Soup podcast. Super-impressive that he made the trip so we could talk in person instead of just doing it over the phone.

We talked about NHL uniforms and a bunch of other things. I really enjoyed it — Greg’s a great guy and a fun interviewer. I believe the podcast segment will be posted today, so I’ll post the link here once it’s available.

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ITEM! Queen City party details: I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’ll be in Cincinnati during the last few days of the year and that I wanted to convene a Uni Watch party while I was there. After extensive consultations with some of our Cincy-based readers, I’m happy to announce that we’ll be gathering at the Mt Adams Bar & Grill on Sunday, Dec. 30, at 3:45pm. We’ll be there until at least 6pm, and maybe a bit longer. They have food as well as drinks, so feel free to come hungry.

I’m looking forward to meeting all of you Cincinnati folks, as well as anyone who wants to make the trip from Louisville, Lexington, Columbus, and Indianapolis (all less than two hours away). See you soon!

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the wonderfully wacky world of minor league mascots (from Jason Hillyer). … MLB blog Cut4 did an absolutely horrendous job photoshopping P Charlie Morton into his new Rays uniform (from Andrew Cosentino). … This sportswriter thinks the Red Sox need new alternate uniforms (from our own Phil Hecken).

NFL News: The Broncos will wear their navy alternates this Saturday against the Browns (from our own Phil Hecken). … The Chiefs will go mono-red tonight against the Chargers (from multiple readers). … There will be neutral end zones for the Jets and Giants this weekend at MetLife Stadium. Jets play the late game on Saturday, Giants have the early game on Sunday, and rain is in the forecast, so there will be no end zone changeover (from Alan Kreit). … Tim Holleran was watching highlights of a 1977 Falcons/Giants game and noticed that Falcons WR Alfred Jenkins was missing his nameplate. “At first I thought maybe Jenkins was a new addition to the team that week and therefore the team hadn’t had time to create his nameplate,” says Holleran, “but it turns out he had actually been on the team since 1975.” … Odd choice of jersey for Washington QB Josh Johnson for his NFL and Pro Football Reference photos. Johnson has never played for a team that wears a blue jersey (from Jon Solomonson). … Multiple readers sent us these NFL City Edition jersey concepts.

College Football News: Here’s how the Sugar Bowl patch will look on Texas’s whites (from Joey Breeland). … Here’s the Frisco Bowl patch on Ohio’s BFBS jersey (from Ed Zelaski). … North Texas will be going chrome green/green/white in the New Mexico Bowl versus Utah State (from Robert Botts). … It looks like — at least from this video — Fresno State will wear their blue alternates for the first time all year and the first time in the last two years. They play Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday (from Josh Bryant). … For some reason this Belk Bowl announcement has South Carolina’s block “C” logo turned backwards (from Josh Callahan). … Neither we nor Sam McKinley have seen a Nike-branded Heisman jacket before, but here’s one on 2018 winner QB Kyler Murray. … Meet the man who has created Mizzou’s football uniform frenzy (paywalled link) (from Trent Guyer). … K-State head coach Chris Klieman has some thoughts on his team’s uniforms (from Blake Cripps).

Hockey News: Former Blues G Chad Johnson was picked up by the Ducks earlier this week. He made his Anaheim debut last night but was still wearing his Blues mask (from Rick Ho). … This rec league goalie is wearing an NES-themed Duck Hunt uniform, complete with themed pads and masks! (from John Roushkolb).

NBA News: This on-screen graphic shows a Pistons logo that matches their “Motor City” alternates (from Dan Kennedy). … The Sixers’ practice court has integrated special markings — including a four-point line — to enhance their offensive and defensive strategies (from Kurt Esposito). … Here’s a good analysis of how companies like Puma and New Balance are challenging Nike’s dominance (NYT link) in the NBA footwear market (from Tom Turner). … Celtics F Marcus Morris and Wizards F Markieff Morris are twins, but they don’t have matching NOBs.

College Hoops News: South Dakota State men’s went GFGS on Tuesday and dropped 90 points in the first half (from Steve White). … Evansville men’s will wear sleeved jerseys against Jacksonville on Saturday (from Bob Pristash).

Soccer News: In honor of its 10th anniversary, the Philadelphia Union will feature fan-chosen back tags that will be emblazoned below the neckline on the back of each shirt. Local Philly athletes and celebrities had input on what the tags would look like, and fans will choose their favorite tag to be featured on Union’s shirts (from Ryan Schwepfinger). … A teaser photo for the Timbers’ new home shirts has leaked (from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh: New logo for kit maker Macron. … Chelsea F Michy Batshuayi is wearing some very appropriate Batman-themed boots (from Mark Coale).

Grab Bag: Grand Valley State will change its mascot name from “Lakers” to “Sawyers” for one day in February (from multiple readers). … Here’s a look at the Buffalo Bandits’ helmets of the National Lacrosse League (from Willie Stew). … A sportswriter has shared what he thinks are 21 uniforms “that should have stayed in the locker room,” but be warned — it’s a pretty ridiculous list (from our own Phil Hecken). … Here are some fantastic colorized photos of WWI troops from the Canadian War Museum (from Ted Arnold). … Following Tuesday’s meeting with President Trump, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi exited the White House wearing a red coat, which one writer has interpreted as “a subtle power move” (from Jason Hillyer). … Yesterday we ran an item about how the Holland Tunnel in New York and New Jersey was decorated so carelessly for the holidays. A Budweiser brewery in Newark, N.J., has taken a stab at the tunnel’s decorating (from Tom Turner).

Talking Football with ‘Sports Mishmash’ Illustrator Alex Bennett

For all photos and illustrations, click to enlarge

Earlier this year we Ticker-linked several times to British illustrator Alex Bennett and his various sports “mishmash” posters, each of which shows the history of a team or sport in one detail-crammed, information-overloaded, “Where’s Waldo?”-style image. We also raffled off two copies of his then-new Gridiron Mishmash poster, which charts the history of NFL and American football.

I thought an interview with Bennett, focusing on the Gridiron Mishmash poster, would be a good ESPN piece for that slow NFL period in between the draft and the start of training camps, so we did a Skype interview in early June and I delivered the piece to my ESPN editor. For various reasons, its pub date kept getting pushed back, and then it basically went down the memory hole, so now I’ve reclaimed it and am running it here on the blog. Here’s how our discussion went:

Uni Watch: How old are you, and where do you live?

Alex Bennett: I’m 37, and I live just outside of London.

UW: How and when did you get the idea to do these “mishmash” illustrations, and which one did you start with?

AB: I do a lot of illustration work for soccer clubs, in their match-day programs, so I started with the European soccer poster, in 2013. It took me nearly 14 months to do. I keep a clock on my desk, and I tap it every time I start working. For that one, it was nearly 1,800 hours. Quite a daunting number, really. But I was struggling to get work at the time, so I thought I needed something that would put me on the map.

UW: When you did that first one, were you thinking all along that you’d do a series of them for other sports? Or were you thinking, “Ugh, this is taking so long, I’m never doing this again.”

AB: The second answer! Especially since I had no idea whether the first one would be successful. You’re working on it and you’re not getting any revenue from it. It was all a gamble, a shot in the dark. But it went well, and now it’s like a hobby that’s gotten out of hand.

UW: How many have you done?

AB: Eight. After European soccer, there was pro wrestling and rugby. Then I did the soccer club I support, Watford, and then West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur. I did those clubs because I also do work for their programs.

UW: Regarding the new “Gridiron Mishmash” piece, do you actually follow American football, and American sports in general?

AB: I must admit, I struggle with baseball. But I do enjoy the NFL. I went to see the L.A. Rams playing the Cardinals in London last year. And when I’ve been to Florida, I’ve seen the Buccaneers play a couple of times.

UW: How did you get into American football?

AB: As a 10-year-old, I went to the 1991 World Bowl — the London Monarchs versus the Barcelona Dragons, at Wembley Stadium in London. The attraction there was William “The Fridge” Perry playing for the Monarchs. So that really gave me the bug.

UW: When you’re doing one of these mishmashes, do you aim to have a certain number of people in them, or to document a certain number of scenes or moments?

AB: It’s very tricky to describe how it works. I start off, obviously, with an empty canvas. I always ask people on the internet which scenes they’d like to see included, so you get a sense of how busy it’s going to be based on that. This new one has about 800 to 900 people in it. The soccer ones are probably about double that.

UW: You mentioned that the first soccer mishmash took you nearly 14 months to do. Have you gotten more efficient since then?

AB: Yes. This new one took about six months, and 1,300 hours. See, I do my paid work during the day, and then I work on the posters until about three in the morning every night. I try to do at least four scenes every night. If I keep up that pace, I can have a good sense of when I’ll finish it.

UW: What’s your typical working method? Obviously, a lot of these illustrations are based on photos, so do you scan in a photo and work from that, or what? Is any of the work done by hand, or is it all digital?

AB: It’s all hand-drawn. I haven’t really caught up with modern-day methods. I usually start with a photo, and then I have these little miniature mannequins and I’ll position them for the angle I’m trying to capture.

UW: So you have these little plastic figurines, and you pose them like they’re catching a football, or whatever?

AB: Yeah, exactly.

UW: I guess they look more like some body types than others. They don’t look much like the Fridge, for example.

AB: For people who are a bit on the chunkier side, I actually attach modeling clay to them. It makes them look a bit bulkier.

UW: So what happens after you do a sketch?

AB: I’ll ink the sketch, then I’ll scan it and take it into Photoshop and Illustrator to add the colors, the logos, and so on. Once that’s done and I’m happy with it, I’ll drag it into the main image. That’s when the real wild work starts — trying to find a place for each drawing.

UW: Is it hard to make everything fit, and do you often end up having to discard certain ideas or scenes as you go along, just because there’s no good spot for them?

AB: Yes, that is the problem. I try to put things where they really occurred on the field, but sometimes it isn’t possible. For “The Catch,” with Joe Montana and Dwight Clark, I put that right where they were on the field. But there’s other stuff that doesn’t make any sense. I’ve got guys celebrating touchdowns nowhere near the end zone, just because it fills a gap.

UW: The NFL will be celebrating its 100th anniversary next year, so you had a lot of history to potentially draw upon. Did you try to distribute the content evenly throughout the decades, or focus more on recent history, or what?

AB: I usually try to start at the beginning. So I’ve got the Canton Bulldogs, and then I move forward from there. But obviously there’s a lot more from the last few decades.

UW: Do you try to include as many teams as possible, so there’s something for everyone?

AB: I made sure to include every NFL team, definitely. And then for colleges — to be honest, I’m not sure I should have gone down that road, because there are so many schools. I could probably do a separate poster just for college football. I find the college game more interesting, honestly. There’s something about the crowds.

UW: Are there any cleverly hidden details or anything like that that you’re particularly pleased with?

AB: I always put my son in the picture. He’s nearly five years old now, and he’s been in all of them.

UW: Really! Where is he in the American football poster?

AB: I couldn’t even tell you, honestly. He’s in the crowd, somewhere. In the first poster, the soccer one, I showed myself taking him to his first game, when he was a baby. That was based on a photo that someone took. And after I included that in the first poster, I figured he may as well come on this journey with me.

UW: You’ve included scenes of some famous injuries, like Tim Krumrie’s and Joe Theismann’s broken legs, and Chuck Bednarik standing over Frank Gifford after delivering a big hit. Were you conflicted about including those?

AB: I think the key thing is that you don’t want to be disrespectful. So for Tim Krumrie, for example, I showed him slumped on the ground, just trying to capture the drama of the moment. Still, some people weren’t happy that I included that. But that’s what you’re going to get no matter what — some people will be unhappy with the choices you make, for various reasons.

UW: Did you consider even more gruesome injuries, like Jack Tatum’s hit that resulted in Darryl Stingley being paralyzed?

AB: Yeah, I didn’t want to include that. Not sure why I felt differently about that one — maybe because I’ve watched it so many times. It’s just so horrible, isn’t it? I don’t know. [Pauses.] You’ve got to draw a line somewhere, I suppose.

UW: Are there any issues regarding licensing? You’re basing most of your work on copyrighted photos, you’re showing various team uniforms — does that cause any problems?

AB: There’s no issue with the soccer clubs, because I work with them. But for this latest one for American football, I spoke with a guy from the NFL very early on. I basically wanted approval that what I was doing was OK, and he said to go for it. I was prepared to pay a fee or something like that, but it never materialized.

UW: The poster includes a legend, or captions, explaining all the moments that are included. It’s sort of like an answer key. Did you consider not including that, because it sort of spoils the fun of people figuring out each scene?

AB: You can’t win with something like that. Some people would prefer to have it and others wouldn’t. But I think I made the right decision to include it.

UW: I see that the captions refer to the “pitch,” rather than the field. Is that just for the UK version? Do you change it to “field” for American customers?

AB: I messed that up, actually. It’s so ingrained in the way we talk about sport, I just missed it. I should have thought of it, but I didn’t.

UW: What do you think about American football uniforms now that you’ve had to depict so many of them?

AB: I’ll be very happy to never draw a football helmet ever again. Each face mask is different, and you can’t really show the features of the players’ faces. With the European sports, you can show their faces.


Bennett is now working on a few more soccer club mishmashes, which will be followed by a hockey mishmash. His various posters are available here.

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The latest NBA leak: A source indicates that this may be the Bucks’ new Earned uniform (aka the Participation Trophy uniform). On the other hand, LockerVision had previously indicated that that uniform would be grey, not white, so who knows. (Update: Upon closer inspection, the lower part of the jersey does appear to be grey, so there you go.)

I’ll say one thing for this latest round of NBA uniforms: They haven’t released them in time for the holiday shopping season, so at least we can’t say it’s all about retailing. Or maybe they’ve just had some production snafus and couldn’t get them done in time.

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Welcome wagon: On the past four or five Tuesday evenings, the Tugboat Captain and I have walked about a half-hour to a bar where we are the only white people. One reason we’ve kept going back is that the bartender, whose name is Lily (or maybe Lilly, or Lili), made us feel welcome literally from the first moment we walked in the door — no small thing when you’re entering a place where you don’t necessarily belong, a place that other people call home. We’ve also made friends with some of the regulars, but Lily has been our ambassador, signaling to everyone that we’re okay.

Lily has a slight accent that suggests she’s from the Caribbean, or maybe Central America. (The bar’s owner is from Panama, so there might be a connection there.) She usually dresses very casually, but last night she wore red pants, a red plaid shirt, and red eyeglass frames, and even mixed herself a red drink! It was all so color-coordinated that I asked if she’d consent to a photo, which she readily did.

The guy next sitting two stools down from me said, “You’re lucky. She usually won’t let anyone photograph her.” He reached for his phone and turned to her: “Lily, how about a photo?” She laughed and walked away. I later learned that he’s the bar’s manager.

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The new HQ, continued: I’ve never lived in a house or building that displayed Christmas lights. So it was a surprise to come home from the bar last night and discover that our landlord, Jeff, had given our house the full treatment. The Tugboat Captain, who had already lived here for eight or nine years before I moved in with her a few months ago, says Jeff has never done this before. Not sure what inspired him this time around, but it feels like yet another way in which the new digs have been a major upgrade. Ho-ho-ho!

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: Lee Smith had a bit of a mishap when donning his Hall of Fame jersey yesterday. He buttoned his jersey incorrectly, leading to an awkward-looking photo-op (from Jeff Ash). … Here’s something you might not be aware of: Back in the late ’80s and ’90s, the Rangers had inconsistent batting helmet logos (from Chris Mycoskie). … Patrick Lavery owns a 1988 Starting Lineup figurine depicting OF Rickey Henderson during his days with the Yankees. Notice anything odd? Of course you do! Henderson’s figurine has an NOB, while actual Yankees jerseys do not. … The Las Vegas 51s, the Triple-A affiliate of the A’s, are now the Las Vegas Aviators (from Paul Szydelko).

NFL News: A bidder paid $36,150 for Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes’s jersey from the epic MNF game that the Chiefs lost 54-51 to the Rams in LA. Proceeds from the sale are going to California Wild Fire Relief (from Mike Chamernik). … This Bengals promo photo features both old and new Nike templates (from Kristofer Terrell). … Josh Callahan has started a petition for the Buccaneers to bring back their creamsicle uniforms.

College Football News: Here’s how the Military Bowl patch will look on Virginia Tech’s uniforms (from Andrew Cosentino). … Top college recruit DB Chris Steele is in this photo that combines all five schools he’s considering a commitment to (from Jorge Cruz).

Hockey News: The NHL unveiled the logo for the 2019 draft, which will be held in Vancouver in June (from several readers). … A dwarfism advocacy group is pushing for Alberta hockey teams to remove the word “midget” from age categorizations and league names (from Mike Styczen). … Arizona State has new black sweaters and gold sticks.

Basketball News: What’s even better than the Bucks’ original mascot logo? Seeing that logo rendered in chain-stitching (from @BeautyOfAGame). … The Harlem Wizards have new uniforms, and they were designed by reader Brian Begley! … The Windy City Bulls will be wearing canine-themed jerseys for Dog Night on Friday. Proceeds from the jersey auction will be donated to Anderson Animal Shelter of Elgin (from Steve Johnson). … Fun fact: Back in the early 1950s, LSU had sleeved jerseys.

College Hoops News: Georgia Tech men’s will wear “Ramblin’ Wreck” jerseys against Georgia on Dec. 22 (from @sonnylax). … Former Louisville coach C.V. “Red” Money, who coached the team in the 1930s, once pulled his team from the court to protest the officiating, resulting in a 2-0 forfeit. Among his complaints were that the opposing team changed jerseys at halftime and used lots of uni numbers ending in 6 (from Jason Collins).

Soccer News: Tottenham Hotspur of the Premier League have released a retro shirt based on the yellow shirts they wore from 1988-91 (from Richard, who didn’t give his last name). … VfB Stuttgart have released a 125th-anniversary kit to be worn on Dec. 22 (from Gabriel Hurl). … The Indy Eleven of the USL have a new kit (from Josh Hinton). … Atlanta United won the MLS Cup on Saturday. On Monday, a few players brought the trophy to a prominent Atlanta strip club to celebrate (from @rbchoopmas).

Grab Bag: The National Lacrosse League announced an expansion franchise on Long Island that will begin play in 2019-20. You can help choose the team’s name here (from multiple readers). … If you were placing holiday decorations on the big sign at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, where would you position each decorative item? It’s trickier than you might think (from multiple readers). … An artist who calls himself Tommervik has a vaguely Cubist painting style and has applied it to subect matter that includes baseball, basketball, tennis, boxing, and other sports. You can browse his full collection here.

I’m Glad I Lived Long Enough to See Sebastian Janikowski Go Mono-Neon

We’ve known for a while now that the Seahawks were planning to wear their mono-neon uniforms last night — the first and I believe only time they’ll be wearing them this season. This marks the third straight year they’ve trotted out this design, and a bit of the retina-searing novelty has now worn off.

But there was an important new element added to the mix for 2018: Sebastian Janikowski is on the team this year. And there’s something inherently funny about the sight of Sebastian Janikowski in mono-neon.

To be fair, nobody looks particularly good in Seattle’s neon uniform, especially men of a certain size and girth. And Janikowski, who’s now 40 years old and spent his previous 17 seasons with the Raiders, is certainly not the biggest player on the Seahawks. He’s listed at 6’1″, 260 pounds, which means he’s dwarfed by many of the team’s offensive and defensive linemen. Those guys look pretty funny in neon, too.

But not the same way Janikowski does. Part of it, I’m pretty sure, is that he’s just atypically large for a placekicker, which has always made him appear incongruous and sort of clunky. Another part is that he doesn’t wear thigh or knee pads, which reinforces his Everyman physique — the pad-less pants make him look less like a football player and more like some guy who was watching the game on his sofa and somehow got drafted onto the field. And part of it is that he’s never fully shed his image as the hard-partying guy from Poland who got into lots of bar fights during his time at Florida State.

Shoehorning a 40-year-old guy like that into the Seahawks’ sleek superhero costume is just too good (especially when he goes the extra mile by wearing a neon long-sleeved base-layer shirt, as Janikowski did last night). Much like Boog Powell in the blood-clot uniform, it’s such a massive mismatch of player and uni that it achieves its own kind of perfection. I’d say it might even justify the neon uniform’s existence.

Another atypical thing about Janikowski: He kicks with his left foot. That led Twitter-er @RF_1071 to compare him last night to another famously hefty neon-clad lefty — Jared Lorenzen:

None of this is meant to diminish Janikowski’s considerable skills as a kicker. He’s 10th on the NFL’s all-time points list (if he plays another season, he’ll likely jump to sixth), he has a whopping 105 career field goals of 50 yards or more, and he’s likely headed to the Hall of Fame (that should be a good induction speech). I hope for his sake he never has to wear the neon uniform again. But I’m glad I got to see him wear it last night.

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An excellent DIY project: Reader Scott Steffes’s office had an ugly sweater contest yesterday, so he and his family decided to make a different play on the word “sweater” by customizing his Wisconsin hockey jersey for the occasion. “The colors are perfect,” he says, “and it’s a great base jersey that allows for unique modification.”

Here’s the jersey he started with (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):

And here’s how Scott modified it for a fictitious team called the Wisconsin Reindeer:

As you can tell from the photos, Scott didn’t sew the graphics onto the jersey. “I was thinking about sewing it, he says, “but I wanted the changes to be temporary, as this is my favorite jersey. Found a roll of double-stick fabric tape that worked great. Everything is holding up pretty well so far.”

Nicely done. Here’s Scott wearing his finished design, followed by a shot of him and the other contestants at the small architecture firm where he works:

The two women in the one sweater were named the People’s Choice, the one at far left with the penguin on the front won for Cutest Sweater (Scott says he was in the running for that one), and the one at far right with the battery-powered mini-fireplace won for Most Innovative.

Despite not winning, Scott enjoyed making his sweater.”We really had some great fun coming up with it,” he says. “Makes me think of WaffleBored — though my skills are nowhere near his, I can certainly see the intrigue in making a custom design. Kinda makes we want to make a permanent custom jersey — either Wisconsin hockey or Milwaukee Brewers.” We all look forward to seeing how that turns out, Scott.

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Collector’s Corner
Brinke Guthrie

Gaaaaa, take a look at these! A pair of 1976 Cleveland Browns suede leather “cleated sport tennis shoes.”. Ponder why you need “cleats” on tennis shoes for a moment. Now, the tongue says, “NFL Action Footwear,” and these were from Sears and NFL Properties. You can see a similar style of these right here. If you wanna go full-tilt gonzo on retro Sears NFL stuff, I recommend this MeTV article. And for the ultimate in 1970s NFL insanity, WishbookWeb has it all. Be forewarned — you will kill an entire day looking through that site.

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• Here’s a misspelled 1972 pennant for the Minnesota Nort Stars. One more for ’em — this 1970s hockey skate/puck/stick radio!

• Here’s a 1970s 7-Up store display with Hollywood Henderson of the Cowboys and Pat Haden of the Rams. The Henderson helmet and jersey are way off, while the Rams treatment looks accurate.

• Square Pan Pizza was your sponsor for this 1979 Padres thermal cup, featuring the Swinging Friar!

• This 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates buccaneer logo mug looks to be in perfect shape.

• Never seen these before: a collection of 1970s NHL logo trays. Rangers, Caps, Blackhawks, and North Stars here. Each measures 10-3/4″ in diameter. Points taken off on the seller for having the North Stars’ logo upside-down in the photo!

• This 1970s watch by Jubilee features a red helmet with the NFL shield.

• Speaking of timepieces, here’s a pricey stocking stuffer: This “Back to Back” Super Bowl Champs watch was given to 49ers personnel in the late 1980s.

• Another one for the Niners: This retro ski cap is from the Sears NFL Shop.

• Check out this Buffalo Bills draft day helmet phone! The seller notes the facemask is “very coveted,” although maybe you have to be a serious helmet or facemask aficonado to appreciate that. (Thanks to @HelmetAddict for the tip.)

• Way back when, this Magnetic NFL Standings Board was a great way to keep track of the the standings. You could move the helmets around from week to week. (Note that the Seahawks are included in the photo and the Bucs aren’t — Seattle was an AFC team at that time.)

• Want some outstanding early-1970s NFL poster art? Doesn’t get any better than this one for the Kansas City Chiefs.

• Check out the cover of this 1976-77 Knicks game program. Yes, kids, players really did wear their shorts like that back then. Side note: Clyde sinking the jumper wearing his signature Pumas.

• From reader Will Scheibler: We often feature NFL bedsheets here on CC, but how about a set of CFL sheets!

Seen an item on eBay that would be good for Collector’s Corner? Send any submissions here.

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Naming Wrongs update: Someone on Twitter asked me why we didn’t have any shirts for the Palace of Auburn Hills? Good question! Not sure why hadn’t done that one before, but we’ve now rectified that oversight. It’s available in blue and grey:

These shirts are now available in the Naming Wrongs shop (where card-carrying Uni Watch members get 15% off). My thanks, as always, for considering our products.

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ITEM! Hats almost sold out: The good news is that our efforts to generate some sales momentum on our flex-fit Uni Watch Alternate Caps have been successful! We now have fewer than 10 L/XL caps left. So if you want one, I strongly suggest ordering one now. The price is only $19.99. Update: L/XLs are now sold out!

The bad news is that we badly miscalculated how many of the S/M caps to make. We still have about 90 of those. Please feel free to order one! Thanks.

While we’re at it: All of our fine Uni Watch products, including a few that you may have forgotten about, are listed on this one handy page.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsReader Jake Jahimiak contacted the Rays and asked if they’ll be reviving their fauxbacks for 2019. The response: “At this time we do not plan on wearing on the fauxbacks again and will be wearing the same Devil Ray [throwback] uniforms as this season.” … Baseball card heads might know this, but for the uninitiated: Topps airbrushed the Angels’ lowercase “a” logo on Nolan Ryan’s baseball card after his trade from the Mets prior to the ’72 season (while leaving his blue Mets pinstripes intact), but the team actually switched to a capital “A” logo cap starting that year (from BSmile). … New logos for the Dupage County (Illinois) Pistol Shrimp of the Prospect League, a wood bat college league. … Here’s a great old shot of Orioles 1B Boog Powell with an orange Dymo Tape name tag on his sunglasses. … Always interesting to see the Reds’ odd-looking radially arched drop-down NOBs. William Luck got those screen shots from a video of Jim Maloney’s 10-inning no-hitter from 1965. … New Hall of Fame inductees Harold Baines and Lee Smith have now dutifully gone through the ritual of wearing those miserable Hall of Fame jerseys. As you may recall, Uni Watch readers came up with some much better designs early last year.

NFL/CFL NewsFormer Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck raised the “12” flag before last night’s game and wore an era-appropriate jersey for the occasion (from Mark Simoncelli Jr.). … Vikings WR Adam Thielen had cleats made featuring a coffee ad for last night’s game. Now, Caribou Coffee does donate 10 percent of proceeds for every sale of the coffee pictured there to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, but you’d think his cleats would just mention the hospital and not a coffee company. In any case, it turns out that he didn’t wear them in the game. Maybe just for pregame..? … Packers CB Bashaud Breeland had something wedged in between his facemask and visor, near his ear hole, on Sunday. Was that a mouthpiece? An extra chinstrap cup? A piece of plastic to prevent his eye from being poked? He also had it for Green Bay’s previous game, which appears to have been the first time he wore it. (from Taylor Warntjes). … Ayden Mahar noticed that ESPN’s playoff machine has some bugs that cause old logos to appear for some teams. … The CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers are letting season ticket holders try to win a chance for their last name to be on a player’s jersey during pregame warmups for a preseason game (from Moe Khan). … Bears coach Matt Nagy was asked about wearing a visor while being bald (from Mike Chamernik). … Judging by this 1973 screen shot, it looks like the Oilers’ nameplates were made from a different kind of fabric than the rest of the jerseys (from Mike Selock).

College Football News: Ohio State will wear its traditional home scarlet jerseys in the Rose Bowl (from Phil). … North Carolina A&T will wear all white in the Celebration Bowl this weekend.

Hockey NewsThe NHL Winter Classic will feature color-changing pucks that will indicate when the pucks get too warm and need to be replaced to reduce bouncing (from Jack Wade). … The Oilers and Flames have played each other twice so far this season — on Nov. 17 in Calgary and on Sunday in Edmonton. Both times, the home team wore vintage sweaters/colors (from Wade Heidt). … The upcoming U18 Women’s World Championships in Japan have a super-cool manga-style logo (from Stan from Manhattan).

NBA News Does this cap indicate what the Raptors’ “earned” uniform will look like? … New Nuggets guard Nick Young will wear No. 34, and new Suns F/C Eric Moreland will wear No. 23 (from Etienne Catalan).

Soccer NewsReader Bryant Ramirez noticed that Atlanta United had some patch placement inconsistencies during the MLS Cup Sunday. … The U.S. Soccer Federation Foundation and the U.S. Soccer Federation may sound like the same entity, but they’re different groups — and the USSF Foundation (a group advocating for the growth of the sport) is suing the USSF (the governing body of soccer in the US) seeking a declaration that its name and logo do not violate copyright law (from Ignacio Salazar). … Liverpool is selling a new line of “retro” shirts with no makers’ marks (from Gabriel Hurl and Alex). … Doncaster Rovers of England’s League One have a new third kit that includes a charitable ad for mental health awareness (from Jamie Rathjen). … These are all the uniforms that will be worn during the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup (from Josh Hinton). … New shirt sponsor advertiser for the Chattanooga Red Wolves (from Ed Zelaski).

Grab BagThese are the bibs the US ski jumping team will wear at the upcoming Continental Cup (from Jim Vilk).