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Gone Too Soon: The 2003 Blue Jays

[Editor’s Note: Paul is on vacation until May 30, but Ticker assistant Alex Hider is back today with the latest installment of his “Gone Too Soon” series. Enjoy.]

By Alex Hider

It’s 2003. Barry Bonds, a suspected steroid user, will win the third of his four consecutive National League MVP awards. Roger Clemens, a steroid user, will strike out 192 batters as a 40-year-old. Sammy Sosa, a steroid user, will be ejected from a game in June for corking his bat. Eric Gagne, a steroid user, will go 55-for-55 in save opportunities and win the National League Cy Young Award.

And the Toronto Blue Jays will introduce T-Bird — clearly a steroid user — as their new primary logo.

The Blue Jays first began using the brawny bird in 2000 on their spring training and batting practice caps. The logo appeared on a rather clunky alternate jersey with contrast-colored sleeves in 2001 and 2002 (it wasn’t a vest; the sleeves blue sleeves were part of the jersey), and it finally took center stage as the Blue Jays’ primary logo for one season in 2003.

If there’s a sports logo that better represents the era in which it was used, it’s news to me. The huge biceps, the Popeye-like maple leaf tattoo, the “Yeah, I’m juicing, who gives a fuck?” smirk. Even the feathered hair quaff reminds me a bit of Brett Boone’s frosted tips. The only things that could make the T-Bird logo more 2003 would be a Mark McGwire goatee and a pair of cargo shorts.

Sure, it’s a cartoonish, silly, and over-the-top logo. But in a league where 85 percent of the caps contain nothing more than a few ornate letters, it was a breath of fresh air.

The addition of the T-Bird logo improved what was already a solid set. The lettering made heavy use of inlining — a Blue Jays staple. The sky blue/royal lettering worked especially well on the white home jerseys — even better, in my opinion, than their current blue-and-white lettering (gasp!).

The light blue really pops against the white jersey and the royal blue outlining.

The 2003 Blue Jays also continued the team’s late-’90s push to include red, especially on the team’s blue softball top. The blue jerseys included a red headspoon, red outlining on the lettering and numbers, and a red-billed cap. The lettering could have been punched up a bit with light blue inlining, but it is what it is.

The addition of red was very au courant at the time, with the Pirates, the NBA’s Sonics, and others also adding red to their palate in the late ’90s.

I know the use of red is controversial among Blue Jays fans — many feel it should be reserved for the Maple Leaf and Canada Day. But red or no red, the 2003 set was the last splash of color Jays fans would get for almost a decade. Toronto would switch to their drab BFBS and GFGS J-Bird set in 2004, which would remain in place until their unveiled their current, gorgeous threads in 2012.

Playing in a stacked division with the Red Sox and Yankees, the 2003 Blue Jays finished 10 games above .500 but missed the playoffs. Still, the late, great Roy Halladay won his only American League Cy Young Award that year, thereby ensuring that the T-Bird unis would hold a lasting place in Jays lore.

The 2003 baseball season was one of the most bizarre and beautiful in baseball history. It brought us Bartman, Boone, and one of the biggest upsets in World Series history. It’s only appropriate that the MLB’s most eccentric modern logo lived its entire life as the Jays primary logo in that 2003 season.

It’s probably unlikely we’ll ever see the T-Bird in an MLB game ever again— the Jays’ current set is universally beloved, and today’s steroid testing procedures is much too rigorous. But a number of teams have revived old logos in recent years for use on batting practice caps. What better way to get Josh Donaldson jacked for BP than with a jacked logo?

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• • • • •

The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: The Class A Lansing Lugnuts had a jersey giveaway with an advertiser-on-back (thanks, Kris). … The Royals also had a jersey giveaway for Lou Piniella Day (from Matt Shevin). … Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal was wearing some kind of rainbow-tinted visor on his helmet yesterday, which Nationals TV analyst F.P. Santangelo believed was to protect from overhead sunlight. … Reader Kary Klismet caught some uniform commentary from the announcers on a Creighton/California game. Unfortunately, they didn’t mention the Cal player’s stirrups, but they did mention his team’s half-striped pants. … Also posted in the Grab Bag: Mike Wissman was at the Preakness Stakes and noticed that it looks like some of the grandstand seats have the Dodgers logo on the side and may have been recycled from Dodgers Stadium. Anyone know more? … Steve Johnston says that White Sox fans who check in at the stadium a certain number of times with the MLB Ballpark app receive giveaways, one of which was a colorized poster of the 1901 AL champions. … The AAA Albuquerque Isotopes had an elaborate grass pattern yesterday (from Dan Pfeifer). … Reader Ray Hund found this vintage United Airlines/baseball poster.

Football News: Several readers sent in more observations on this picture of NFL rookies from yesterday’s Ticker: Patriots running back Sony Michel is wearing No. 1 because the team hasn’t assigned uniform numbers yet. Also, the interior lines in the Buccaneers’ number font are missing from running back Ronald Jones’s No. 27, and Saints wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith is wearing an older jersey with the two-tone collar. … On the same subject, pictures of Broncos rookies on the team’s Instagram page feature the Flywire collar, which led Phillip Allen to wonder if the Broncos are going back to that style. Several readers noticed that teams like the 49ers and the Giants posted equivalent pictures that also featured the Flywire collar, which also led them to ask “is team X going to wear the Flywire collar in 2018?” I’m not sure we’re able to answer that with Paul not here. … The CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders added “Humboldt Strong” to the back of their helmets for training camp (from Moe Khan).

Hockey News: Reader Mike Engle tells us that the Stanley Cup-winning team won’t wear black helmets for the first time since the Hurricanes in 2006. The Golden Knights’ helmets are white and the greyish color of their home jerseys and the Capitals and Lightning both wear blue and white helmets. … Vermont’s women’s team has numbers in the center of the collar (from @OlegKvasha). … Canucks center Adam Gaudette played in a charity game in his hometown of Taunton, Mass., but wore his white Canucks helmet with the game’s uniform (from Jordan Mayblum). … Also posted in football: the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders added “Humboldt Strong” to the back of their helmets for training camp (from Moe Khan).

Soccer News: New kit/shirt roundup: for national teams, there’s Denmark (first and second shirts), Senegal (first), Canada (first), New Zealand (first), the Netherlands (first and second), and China (first and second, which is probably the pick of the bunch here). For clubs, there’s the NWSL’s Houston Dash (second kit), Spanish team Valencia (second, worn at home) and their opponents yesterday, relegated Deportivo de La Coruña (third), French team SM Caen (first), English League One team Rotherham United (first), and Scottish Championship team Dundee United (first). … Josh Hinton has for us a look back at all the 2014 World Cup shirts. … The New England Revolution became yet another MLS team to change at home, but unlike the other teams doing so, they don’t have a new second kit this season. … Hibernian and Celtic’s women’s teams both changed in the Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup final, just as their male counterparts did when meeting in the men’s League Cup last fall. … New York City FC striker David Villa was honored for his 400th goal as a professional with not just a NYCFC No. 400 shirt, but also shirts of his former teams and Spain with each shirt featuring the number of goals he scored for the team in all competitions.

Grab Bag: Reader Mike Wissman was at the Preakness Stakes and noticed that it looks like some of the grandstand seats at Pimlico have the Dodgers logo on the side and may have been recycled from Dodgers Stadium. Anyone know more? … Geoffrey Miller made a great Uni Watch-inspired paint scheme for this week’s edition of his iRacing league, which is at Charlotte ahead of the Coca-Cola 600 (hence the UW “Pandering” shirt theme).

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• • • • •

Red Sox...White Sox...Blue Sox?

By Phil Hecken, with Cam Miller

A few months back, I featured Cam Miller, a film maker, composer, motion graphics editor, baseball historian and freelance writer, in an introductory article outlining the man and his work. In that article, Cam shared numerous projects he’d done in connection with the Cincinnati Reds Hallof Fame Museum. One of those was a documentary film on the Covington Blue Sox, a Federal League baseball club in based in Covington, Kentucky, and which played about one half of one season in 1913. Prior to that interview with Cam, I’d actually heard of the Blue Sox, as last year the Florence Freedom (a minor league club) had a “Covington Blue Sox Night” at their park, and dressed in uniforms that have a special place in my heart: vertical placket lettering (one of my first ever articles on Uni Watch looked at that particular uni-style).

It turns out the club was taking a bit of poetic license — the Blue Sox only wore those cadet collar jerseys with the vertical lettering for photos and parades — but still, it’s a gorgeous uni and one I was happy to see resurrected (even if not quite historically correct). But it wasn’t just the unis that fascinated me — I later found out that stadium in which the Blue Sox played was one of (if not the) smallest ballparks ever built for a professional baseball club, with crazy-short dimensions (218 down the left-field line, 267 to center and 194 in the right-field corner). With dimensions like these you’d figure that park would give up a ton of home runs, right? Nope — only ONE home run was hit in the short history of the ballpark, and that was an inside-the-park home run. Turns out the club established ground rules that stipulated that balls hit over the fences would be DOUBLES.

In researching the team a bit more, I chanced upon a great article which detailed Cam’s film documentary on this club.

Miller first learned of the Blue Sox in 1998 when he stumbled upon a Blue Sox article while researching some family history at the public library. (He was born in Covington, raised in Latonia). After an hour of seeing Blue Sox articles pop up, he thought there might be a story there someday. He tinkered with it off and on over the next few years, then, while researching a Crosley Field film for the Reds Hall of Fame in 2009, he ran across a file folder of Blue Sox clippings, and decided, “I need to make this into a documentary.”

Much of his spare time in the last five years has gone to just that.

Initially, he thought he’d be lucky to turn it into a 15-minute film, because there was nothing tangible to work with. No blueprints, no uniforms, no caps, no sweaters, no gloves, bats, cleats or balls; no programs. No photos other than the grainy images on microfilm. Not a single one of the small pennants with the blue ”B” on them given out on Opening Day. No trace of the film of the parade and entire Opening Day game shot by the Rockwell and Grow Co. in Covington and shown two days later at the Colonial Theater on Madison between Fourth and Fifth, just a few blocks from the ballpark.

But Miller kept uncovering layers of backstory and subplots and — further developing his storytelling/filmmaking craft — ultimately produced a 2 ½-hour film, that he cut back to 35 minutes.

So when I asked Cam if he could share his film with us and to add to the story (he also has a book coming out!), he happily obliged. He even went so far to as to create a “directors cut” featuring a few separate minutes from the film on just the uniforms. That’s below. Further down is the entire 36-ish minute film you really need to watch.

Here’s Cam to tell us more about…

• • •

The Uniforms of the Covington Blue Sox
By Cam Miller

The 1913 Federal League Covington Blue Sox are a footnote in the history of baseball. They were formed in haste, played in a ballpark built in 24 days, and never had the chance to grow a fanbase in the shadow of the Cincinnati Reds. Their story is intriguing and the sheer fact that they even existed is a testament to the baseball-hungry fanbase on the southern side of the Ohio River who wanted nothing more than a team to call their own. Before being transferred to Kansas City in June of 1913, The 20-21-1 Blue Sox captured the hearts of Covingtonians and are perhaps one of the greatest “what-ifs” in the long and tradition-rich history of our national pastime.

In mid-April, Ben Eilerman, owner of Eilerman’s Department Store on Madison Ave., went to the Blue Sox ownership with a proposal to provide the uniforms as a donation to the new Federal League team. Eilerman wished to display the uniforms in storefronts across the city leading up to Opening Day. The Blue Sox brass loved the idea. President Sam Long was thrilled with the proposition of having one less expense to worry about.

St. Louis Terriers mgr. Jack O’Conner and Covington Blue Sox mgr. Sam Leever pose before Blue Sox home opener on May 9, 1913

A few weeks later, 30 brand new uniforms and sweaters were delivered to Long. The home uniforms were white with blue trim, blue stockings, blue belt, and a white hat with a blue brim. A felt patch “C” with 45-degree angle cuts on ends was sewn on left side of the top. The away uniforms had the same blue trim, stockings, “C” patch and belt, but consisted of gray tops and bottoms and all gray hats. The blue sweaters also had a “C” felt patch on the left side. Both the home and away uniforms came with a Cadet Collar with felt lettering that spelled COVINGTON vertically down the collar. The removable collar was only used for photos and parades. There is no evidence that the collar was used in a game.

Blue Sox players posing with Cadet Collars in Cincinnati Enquirer in May of 1913

• • •

Thanks, Cam! That short bit above (plus the documentary short) get us into the unis of the club, but it’s a fascinating story of a team that almost made it to the Major Leagues — the Federal League played its first season in 1913 and operated as a “third major league”, in competition with the established National and American Leagues, from 1914 to 1915. The Blue Sox didn’t make it to 1914 — one of the great “what ifs” as Cam noted above.

I recommend you check out the entire film below. Cam has done an outstanding job on the film and it’s well worth your time. Enjoy!

And just for some shits and giggles, here’s a photo of Cam in a replica Covington Blue Sox uniform!

Thanks, Cam!

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):

• • •

Title: “A Learned Lemon”
Subject: Rube Marquard, 1912
Medium: Oil on linen
Size: 24″ x 20″

Rube Marquard remains a controversial subject when baseball historians talk about borderline Hall of Famers. Sabermetricians will usually side with the fact that his Adjusted ERA+ was only slightly better than the league average, making him an unlikely candidate for such an honor. His contribution to the Lawrence Ritter classic The Glory of Their Times may have been mostly responsible for his induction, especially considering his vaudevillian knack for storytelling. Even if it’s believed that his entry was full of hyperbole, Frankie Frisch being the head of the Hall of Fame veteran’s committee in the late 1960s and early 1970s didn’t hurt either. Many of the players who were inducted into Cooperstown during that era had only moderate careers, but also happened to overlap with Frisch’s – who apparently wasn’t shy to claim that baseball was at its best in his day.

Nonetheless, Marquard is in the Hall of Fame. That’s not going to change. And I would have painted him regardless – he just had a handsome face. What might have put it over the edge for me was that he’s wearing one of my favorite New York Giants jerseys of all time, the home 1912 model. Those thick bluish pinstripes with that black ‘NY’ were such a nice combination here, especially with Rube seemingly showing off the team insignia with his bent arm. The tobacco and/or licorice stains also provide a nice touch, both as a break for the eyes and also to paint.

For what it’s worth, Rube had a pretty good year in 1912. Aside from helping his ballclub get back to the World Series, he won 26 games. Astonishingly 19 of those wins came in succession, a clip from April to July win which he posted a 1.63 ERA. While that doesn’t necessarily make for a Hall of Fame career, it doesn’t hurt it. And it certainly helped his chances of being painting by me.

• • •

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

Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: Last evening, to honor their first season in the bigs (1969), the Kansas City Royals wore throwbacks, complete with NNOB (from David Cummings). … The Trenton Thunder became the Trenton Pork Rolls (shoulda gone with Taylor Hams…) and of course, they had specialty unis (from OT Sports). … Would you like to win this SWEET A’s retro t-shirt? Just follow the rules in the tweet (from Ignacio Salazar). … Does anyone else thing the Hillsboro Hops have a few too many uniform options (from Iain McHugh). … Bad matchup #1: “Michigan and Purdue going color vs. color, both teams in white pants. Without graphic, couldn’t tell who was home or road team,” says Steve Vibert. … Bad matchup #2: I can’t even tell who is playing here (it’s USC vs. OSU, btw). At least the Beavers are in school colors (from Ryan Osborn). … You always wanted to see a photo of Pete Rose in a bicentennial pillbox cap right? Of course you did (from GOAT Jerseys). … Plano resident Paakow Essandoh wanted to give Africans a way to show pride in their countries of origin. So he got Marvel’s blessing to create sports jerseys inspired by Wakanda, the fictional country that is the setting for the blockbuster film ‘Black Panther.’

NFL/CFL/Arena Football News: “I was searching ebay today and came across this Jaguars replica jersey for sale,” writes Joseph Bublitz. “Looks like a mix between the jags uniform from the early 2000’s and the number font of after they re-designed the uniform in the late 2000’s.” … The 2017 Toronto Argonauts Grey Cup championship ring is massive and features 17 diamonds for each Grey Cup title the team has won (from Wade Heidt). … Shoutout to Paul’s Favorite Player! “In case you didn’t have this before, San Francisco’s Ken Willard wore an NNOB jersey in the second half of the 1971 NFC championship game (1/2/72),” says David Steinle. “The first half picture is of the infamous screen pass which George Andrie intercepted deep inside 49ers territory to set up the first Cowboy touchdown.” … Ti cats font madness for Manziel! In case you missed it, Johnny Football signed with the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the CFL yesterday, and already there are differences between the photo jersey for sale model (both number and letter fonts are different). Spotted and sent in by Justin Sabol. It ain’t cheap either. … “I noticed that Mason Rudolph was wearing the old tailoring Nike Jersey at the Rookie premier while James Washington was wearing the Vapor Untouchable Jersey,” writes Nicholas Rath. “Check it out!” … Speaking of the rookie premier, “Every other player wore normal home jerseys except Kerryon Johnson. Throw back uni with normal pants and helmet,” says Detroit Sports Debate. This was also noticed by Robert Hayes and Dan Kennedy and many others in the team photo. Also notice DJ Chark is wearing last year’s Jaguars jersey. Also Mayfield and Chubb are wearing different Browns jerseys (from Alex Giobbi). … Ah, as a Giants fan those Norwood wide right jokes never get old (from Drew). … The San Francisco 49ers will be unveiling new, alternate unis this week and a lot of people hope they go back to the unis they threwback to in 1994. … The Carolina Cobras of the National Arena League had Star Wars Night special jerseys on Saturday, 5/19/18. Here’s how they looked on the field (from Scott Turney).

Hockey News: As their drive to the Stanley Cup Finals heats up, they’re everywhere! “Saw this Vegas Golden Knights logo made out of stickers in a Costco in Appleton, Wisconsin,” says Nate Meihak> APPLETON WISCONSIN People!

Soccer News: Serbian club Red Star Belgrade have released their 2018-19 third kit (from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh, the following items: FC Barcelona’s 2018-19 home kit was released, along with the home goalkeeper kit; and, Liverpool’s 2018-19 third kit has been leaked. … FC Cincinnati had a blackout last night and the team wore black kits (from Brian Henke). … One more from Josh Hinton: “I’ve never noticed this before (and I watch a lot of soccer) but Louisville City FC has a Toyota ad on ‘whatever the thing is that covers the substitutes’. I’m gonna assume that’s the technical term.” … New Zealand has a new away jersey and it’s really nice.

What's Your Sign(ature) - Colorado Rockies

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, the Oakland A’s, the Kansas City Royals, the Washington Nationals, and the Atlanta Braves.

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 Colorado Rockies — born in 1993 and celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year — who have been remarkably consistent in their uniform looks over their entire history. In fact, the basic home and away uniforms the team is wearing today are almost identical to those they debuted two and half decades ago. Consistency has been their hallmark and rather than making wholesale adjustments, they’ve been content over their history to make mostly tweaks and to add a few alternate looks.

The team chose black and purple for their base colors (with some silver/gray) — the black probably because it was trendy at the time, but the purple was a nod to the “purple mountains majesty” so associated with Denver and the Rockies. It’s been noted the team wanted a classic look (which was evident from the get-go) and the pinstripe homes were modeled after the Yankees. They’d go with elegant dark purple pinstripes and black fonts and outlines (the original font appears to be in the “caslon outline” family) and the letters were filled in with a silver color. There would be no NOB on the 1993 homes (another nod to the Yankees). The team’s road jersey would only be worn for one season — 1993 — and it had silver letters outlined in a purple caslon font with solid purple lettering for the NOB and number on back, both of which were outlined in white. A think headspoon in black and two black stripes at the sleeve hems completed the look. Also introduced during the inaugural season was a black alternate jersey, to be worn on home Sundays, but it quickly fell out of favor and was rarely worn. It had the same “ROCKIES” font and purple color scheme on the numbers and NOB as the road gray. The team retired it following the 1993 season. All uniforms would have a solid black cap with an interlocking “CR” in caslon font, with purple fill surrounding the white outline.

1993-1999 Home

1993 Road

1993 Black Alternate

In 1994, the home jerseys would add NOBs, but they were otherwise unchanged. The gray alternate would change somewhat, as the “ROCKIES” font, which previously had been rendered in silver with a purple outline, was made solid purple with a white outline The thick black hem at the hems of the sleeves was also removed, leaving one thin piping near the end in the same style as the headspoon piping.

1994-1999 Road

The team would stick with the home and road (solely) uniform lineup for the remainder of the 1990s. 2000 brought the most major changes (which were not all that major) to the homes, and slightly more ambitious changes to the roads. For 2000, and continuing through today, the team added from uni numbers to the homes, added to the left side of the jersey, beneath “ROCKIES.” The numbers would be black outlined in white.

2000-present Home

The road uniform would see more significant changes. Purple pinstripes were added to the jerseys and pants, and “COLORADO” replaced “ROCKIES” on the front. These would be in purple with a white outline. Numbers would be added to the front of the uniform in the same location as the homes (lower left) and would be purple, outline with a thin layer of black and a thicker layer of white. An new alternate cap would also be added, with a black crown and purple brim.

2000 also saw the introduction of the team’s first alternate jersey since the black alt in 1993. The team added a purple alternate jersey, which would be worn with both the home and road uniforms. It kept the same “COLORADO” font as the roads, but was white/purple/white (so it appeared “thicker” than the road script). The jersey would have front numbers in black, outlined in thick white, a pattern repeated on the back with the NOB and rear numbers.

2000-present Purple Alternate

In 2002, and for three seasons, the team introduced an alternate home uniform — very similar to their current one, but with “ROCKIES” removed and the interlocking “CR” logo from the cap was added to the left chest. The “CR” was silver outlined with black. Numbers were moved from the lower left to the right rib cage, about midpoint on the jersey.

2002-2004 Home Alternate

Following the 2004 season, the alternate jersey was replaced by a sleeveless jersey (not a real vest, but for arguments’ sake I will refer to this style as a vest going forward). It was identical to the home alternate, just with the sleeves removed. It was worn with a black undershirt.

2005-2011 Pinstripe Vest

Unfortunately, the new pinstripe vest wouldn’t be the only vest the team would add, and what followed really began to define the team and would give them what could be strongly argued was their “signature” look – an alternate black vest was also added in 2005 and continues to be worn to this day. They would make an amazing late-season and playoff run all the way to the 2007 World Series (falling to the BoSox in 4), and the black vest would be worn for almost the entirety of that run, cementing it’s place in Rockies history. The vest, designed to be worn at home or on the road, would have the same thick “COLORADO” font style as the purple alternate, with a silver/purple/white pattern (numbers and NOB would also follow this treatment); the truncated sleeves would have a white/purple/white striping. In 2005 (only) the vests would be worn with purple undershirts (not a great look) and only for a part of the season; from 2006 onward, they’d be worn full-time with black undershirts (which seemed to defeat the purpose of wearing a vest altogether). The look would certainly be unique to the Rockies.

2005-present Black Vest

The team would make one more major change in 2012, ditching the pinstripes on the road uniform and returning to one that was very similar to the one worn from 1994-1999. These would say “COLORADO” in purple with a white outline (same treatment used for the numbers and NOB) with the thin headspoon piping returning, with a similar treatment for the sleeves.

2012-present Road

Finally, the Rockies have made two subtle changes to their uniform sets of recent vintage. In 2017, the team changed the color of their purple — making it more ‘red’ and less ‘blue’ — a noticeable change for the better. It’s most evident in the hue of the purple alternates (below the new is on the left, the old is on the right) but it was also changed on the two-tone cap and anywhere purple was used.

2017 Purple change

Finally, this past season, the Rockies changed their cap logo for the first time, swapping out the purple for a solid white in the “CR” logo, giving the logo a ‘fatter’ appearance and probably greater visibility from distance.

2018 Cap Logo change

So there you have it — over the course of 25-plus seasons the Rockies have been remarkably consistent in their uniforms, never succumbing to a wholesale reworking and making only semi-major changes to the road uniforms (twice). One could easily argue the home pinstripes ARE the team’s signature look (and I wouldn’t argue too strongly against that), but it’s not longevity in a uniform that necessarily makes it a signature look — it when you can see a photo of that team and instantly identify them. And in that capacity, one could also argue the black sleeveless jersey, which really gained fame during their incredible 2007 run to the World Series and which the team has now worn for than a decade, would qualify as their signature look. No one else wears a black sleeveless jersey and no team wore said vest with black sleeves. It’s a look that is definitely unique to the Rockies, and one that could be argued would be their calling card. YMMV.

Your thoughts?

Old Time Base Ball Photos

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, some MLB Opening Day specials, and more recently with some old baseball stadia (here and here). As his twitter handle implies, Ronnie’s specialty is old baseball photos.

With my look back at the Colorado Rockies Signature uni(s) today, Ron’s got some old time photos of various ballparks which have called Denver home.

Enjoy. Here’s Ronnie:

• • •

Broadway Park, Denver, CO, ca 1900

In this photo, Pearl “Casey” Barnes is up at bat for the Denver Bears of the Western League. The Skyscrapers, or Roughriders as they were sometimes called (what nickname this team went by is really anyone’s guess), played at a ballpark built in 1893 that was simplistic in design. During this period baseball struggled to take hold in Denver due to several factors, one being the city’s isolation from other towns and teams and also the lack of competitive leagues in the region, so the interest in the sport was stunted at times and the motivation to build a viable ballpark was lacking. Another problem was any talent the area did produce tended to flock east for bigger paychecks.

After several failed attempts at bringing organized ball to the Denver area during the 1880’s and 1890’s, George Tebeau, a former ballplayer from the area, worked tirelessly to put together a formidable squad and joined the rugged Western League in 1900. But despite the Bears early success on the field and off, the Denver club would eventually fold in 1917 and the Rocky Mountain city’s erratic affair with baseball would take a temporary backseat once again.

Photo taken from the Denver Capitol Building,
you can see on the right hand side part Broadway Park

Bears team photo taken at Broadway Park, circa 1900

Undated aerial photo of Broadway Park


Denver, CO, October 5, 1927

In downtown Denver a large crowd of baseball enthusiasts assembled on Champa Street by the Denver Post headquarters to follow the first game of the 1927 World Series via a giant animatronic scoreboard. The New York Yankees would defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4.

It’s hard to tell which version of the electronic scoreboard is hanging on the front of the building. Due to its popularity, there were several dozen varieties in use, one of the most popular being the Playograph made in Stamford, Connecticut. It was common practice for newspapers to foot the bill and sponsor the viewing of the games on these scoreboards that worked much like a ESPN Game Cast.

The ingenious machine usually relied on two to three operators hidden from the public view. One would get updates of the game from the telegraph and relay them to his co-operator who would then move the baseball on the huge billboard-like scoreboard (usually around nine feet in height) to the delight of the spectators in the front. Uni Watch’s own Paul Lukas probably does a better job describing how it works in great detail.

In time their popularity would start to wane with the emergence of radio stations broadcasting the big games. By the early 1930’s these scoreboards were nothing but a memory and few if any exist today.

An earlier version scoreboard in Manhattan as fans follow action in 1911 World Series


Bears Stadium to Mile High Stadium

Mile High Stadium will always be known as home to the Denver Broncos, but the road from being home to a minor league baseball team (Bears) to being universally recognized as a major football venue is a unique journey.

It all began in 1948 when Bears Stadium was built for the city’s minor league team (see above photo). However, the city was rapidly growing and the Bears success in the 1950’s would entice Bears owner Bob Howsam to dream big, so efforts were made to lure an MLB team to Denver and Howsam made moves that in the end turned out to be ill-advised, including expansion of the ballpark that would put him in great debt.

After it became apparent his gambles backfired and MLB would not be coming to the Mile High City, Howsam began looking for other avenues for much needed revenue and soon enough he would be awarded an American Football League charter franchise. The “Broncos” would change the fate of Bears Stadium as it would start the full transformation from a minor-league baseball venue to a 75,000-seat multi-purpose stadium.

Bears Stadium, 1960

Bears Stadium, 1968

Mile High Stadium, hosting baseball again, 1995

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Thanks, Ronnie. He’ll be back periodically with more wonderful old photos and the backstories that go with them.

The Ticker
By Kris Gross

Baseball News: The Red Sox and Orioles went color on color last night (from Andrew Cosentino). … According to @EthanNovak, the Mariners went teal brim, navy jersey, and white pants for the first time in almost two decades. … Major League Baseball told White Sox first base coach Daryl Boston he can no longer use a whistle during games. … Not sure if we knew this, but Mike Clevinger has Chief Wahoo on his glove (from Brandon Baumgartner). … New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. wore a throwback Rays jersey as he took batting practice with the team last night (from Ignacio). … Now this is cool: Here is an original ticket to Southside Park, home of the White Sox from 1901-1909 (from Matt Bond). … Here’s a column on what the Padres can learn from San Diego State’s brand (thanks Phil). … Mets Police thought this ad using Mets fans didn’t look like Mets fans – turns out, they were right (thanks Paul). … The Springfield Cardinals wore pinstripe jerseys last night, and the pinstripes were made of the word “Cardinals” (from Teej). … In case you missed it, here are the alternate jerseys the Reno Aces wore last week (from @OT_Sports). … Celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Sandlot with these El Paso Chihuahuas jerseys on June 2 (from Fernie B.). … The Fort Myers Miracle will play as the Fort Myers Groupers in July (from Adam Childs). … Nelson Warwick described the uniform matchup between West Virginia and Baylor quite nicely: “rather brutal”. … Ohio State’s softball jerseys split the “E” over the buttons, making it appear to say “Buckleys” (from Billy Juszczyk).

NFL News: Is this our first clue that the Steelers Batman jerseys are on the docket for 2018? (from Mark R. Hirschfeld). … Did anyone ask for a Raiders logo with a mustache? (from @tonyjuve10). … Also listed in the baseball section: Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. wore a throwback Rays jersey as he took batting practice with the team last night (from Ignacio). … Check out Elvin Bethea’s monster cast – and a great uni match up too! (from Pro Football Journal). … 247Sports ranked the best Bears unis from the last 30 years and the greatest Eagles uniforms in history.

Hockey News: The Canucks could be getting new alternates next season (thanks Phil). … Here’s a NYT article on the spectacle of the Golden Knights’ pregame. … Here is the Regina Pats’ jersey from the Memorial Cup last night (from Nelson Hackewich).

NBA News: Our buddy Conrad Burry has uncovered what looks like a new wordmark for the Nuggets next season. … The Bucks NBA2K team has become the first with a jersey ad (from Nick Haering). … @Calvin_Bruce61 came across this basketball featuring the current Bucks logo, but old uniform.

Soccer News: The new Club America has leaked, and it’s covered in ads (from Marc Price). … Tranmere Rovers FC has a new home kit (from Josh Hinton). … Red Bull Salzburg have unveiled new home and away kits (from @FunkyColdMatina). … This is a sweet goalie helmet from 1982 (from @QuakesFan84).

Grab Bag: Also listed in the baseball section: Here’s a column on what the Padres can learn from San Diego State’s brand (thanks Phil). … United States curling star Matt Hamilton used his gold medal as a golf ball marker. Pro move. … Major League Lacrosse team Denver Outlaws will wear five different helmets honoring the branches of the military tonight (from @LaxSportsNetwork). … Also listed in the NBA section: The Bucks NBA2K team has become the first with a jersey ad (from Nick Haering). … Here is a visual history of Captain America’s shields (from @walbergLines).

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And finally, a special big Happy Uni Watch Birthday to Jimmer Vilk (whose birthday I seem to forget every year — but not this time). Please join me in wishing him a Happy 51st! Cheers, MoVi.

Steelers, 49ers to Unveil New Uniforms Soon

Two big NFL teases yesterday, as various media outlets reported that the Steelers and 49ers will both be unveiling new additions to their wardrobes in the near future.

Let’s start with the Steelers, who will unveil their new throwback look on May 30 at 2:30pm. We’ve known for quite a while now that the team would be adding a new retro look to replace their bumblebee throwbacks, and now we’ll finally find out if they’ll be going with the Batman design (which I’m definitely hoping for) or something else.

The 49ers news is more of a surprise, because I hadn’t heard anything about them tinkering with their uni set this year. But according to SB Nation’s 49ers blog, the team will be adding a new alternate uni for 2018. While no unveiling date has been confirmed, the team’s annual State of the Franchise event on the night of May 23 — that’s next Wednesday — is a strong possibility.

What might this new design look like? As noted in the SB Nation report, 49ers wideout Marquise Goodwin tweeted a photo of himself earlier this year that had been Photoshopped to create a mono-white uniform, so that’s one possibility. I know a lot of fans would also welcome a return to the throwbacks that were worn in 1994. But hey, we all remember what happened the last time the Niners unveiled a new design. Here’s hoping they come up with something better this time around.

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Click to enlarge

How low can he go: Check out these three 1994 shots of Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman in three different jerseys — all with the NFL diamond anniversary patch riding v-e-r-y low.

I watched a lot of football that season, but I have no memory of Aikman wearing the patch like that. I only learned about it last night, when Twitterer @atxaggie07 pointed me toward a tweet from fellow Twitterer @rcb05, who said:

I was meant to be a uniform nerd because I remember the fact that Troy Aikman’s 75th-anniversary patch [being] lower than everyone else’s always really bothered me. (He had them put it lower because he used that part of the jersey to wipe his face.)

Then subsequently, I got this authentic jersey for Christmas that year, and the fact that the patch wasn’t lower like it was his on-field jersey bothered me further.

That’s pretty awesome. Nearly 20 years of writing about uniforms and I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever heard that about Aikman’s patch.

I believe the Cowboys wore only one other jersey patch during Aikman’s career: the Tom Landry memorial patch, which appeared in 2000. Did Aikman wear that one lower than everyone else too? Nope. Maybe he’d come up with a new face-wiping routine by then.

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Click to enlarge

Tasty: What’s even better than the Montgomery Biscuits’ anthropomorphized biscuit mascot? I used to think the answer was “Not a goddamn thing!,” but it turns out that the answer is actually “The Montgomery Biscuits’ new fauxback anthropomorphized biscuit mascot, that’s what!” That’s him up above, as part of a one-day fauxback makeover that the team will be doing on June 1. Man, is that hot-cha-cha or what? True, he doesn’t have a butter pat for a tongue like the standard mascot does. On the other hand, however, he has stirrups! Let’s call it a wash.

The promotion apparently has something to do with some movie that I’ve never cared about, but forget about that and just feast your eyes on how awesome that biscuit fella looks when rendered in embroidery (click to enlarge):

Credit where it’s due: The Brandiose guys have taken their share of flak on this website, but they totally nailed this one. Standing O.

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Purp Walk recap: Big thanks to everyone who made Purple Amnesty Day so much fun yesterday. We sold a boatload of caps (71), stickers (19), and memberships (16), all of which was nice, but what I really liked was seeing how many people participated in their own way by tweeting photos of purple-clad teams, or wearing purple clothing, or even dyeing their hair purple!

I love that my admittedly eccentric antipathy for a particular color has spawned its own little subculture. It feels like one of the real triumphs of the Uni Watch community. Thanks again.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News:  Oakland’s Matt Chapman had his Mother’s Day pink ribbon patch on his jersey last night. The A’s last wore the green alternate jerseys on Mother’s Day. Another look here, and an image of Chapman on the bench with his ribbon-less teammates here (from Richard Paloma and @ThatBabyIsGone). … Check out Manny Machado’s bat knob decals (from @SuperMonicaco). … USA Today ranked the 27 “ugliest” uniforms in MLB history. Some of their choices are a bit odd, to say the least (thanks, Phil). … The Buffalo Bisons will become the Buffalo Wings on June 14-17 (from Nick Veronica). … The Hartford YardGoats went with pink jerseys for breast cancer awareness last night (from Ben Teaford). … The Altoona Curve wore jerseys designed to look like doctors’ coats over scrubs for Medical Professionals Night (from Yancy Yeater). … The Worcester Bravehearts are asking fans to vote on which iconic Worcester business the team will honor via uniform: George’s Coney Island Hot Dogs or Table Talk Pies (thanks, Phil). … Tolman High in Pawtucket, R.I., wore 1988 throwbacks against rivals Shea (from Anthony Gonsalves). … New Era has come out with a line of caps from the 1999 futuristic uni series. It’s not clear if there are plans for them to be worn on the field (from Ben Dodds). … The Peoria Journal Star is trying to determine the best high school baseball uniform in central Illinois. … Last night’s Orioles/Red Sox game was a make-up for the rained-out Patriots Day game, but the Sox did not wear their “Boston Strong” alternates that they would have worn on the holiday (from Kevin McLaughlin). … White Sox coach Daryl Boston was using a whistle in the dugout to position outfielders and recognize good plays, but he’s now been told to scrap the whistle (from Mike Chamernik).

NFL News:  This photo of Saints DL Cam Jordan holding onto a strand of Lions RB Ameer Abdullah’s jersey was named the best action photo of the 2017-18 NFL season by the Pro Football Hall of Fame (from Mike Chamernik). … The Ravens are reducing the price of concessions in an attempt to combat low attendance (from Andrew Cosentino).

Hockey News: Swedish gold against Latvian burgundy in the World Championships made for one pretty color-vs.-color matchup (from Tim Roberts). … Toronto Marlies G Garrett Sparks’s new mask features a tribute to the late Humboldt Broncos goalie Parker Tobin (from Will Leslie). … Here are some thoughts on what a Devils alternate jersey might look like for next season (from Phil).

NBA News: Some of the new NBA Draft caps appear to have patches on the side (from Moe Khan). Conrad Burry, however, can confirm that the Grizzlies hat in the photo is not the actual Grizzlies draft cap. … So, Nike is selling an “authentic” ’98 Michael Jordan Bulls jersey, but of course it includes a maker’s mark. It’s probably “authentic” to 2018 specifications rather than 1998, but still, talk about logo creep (from Josh Jablonski).

College/High School Hoops News: Whoa, check out this gorgeous DePaul jersey from the 1950s! (From Joe Flynn.) … Beautiful art on this high school basketball schedule from 1967 (from Tanner Liby).

Soccer News: An eventful week for the red half of Madrid: Atlético Madrid won the Europa League on Wednesday and on Thursday had both their new home and road kits leaked to FootyHeadlines. … Portuguese champions FC Porto have had their new kits leaked (from Josh Hinton). … Werder Bremen has signed a kit deal with Umbro (from Josh Hinton). … It’s new kit season, so get ready: German side St Pauli released their new kits yesterday. The kits include a small rainbow flag motif on the back. … Serbia has released its 2018 World Cup kits. I feel like I should hate that font, but I actually kind of love it. … Inter Milan released some gorgeous new home kits on Thursday. … Liverpool will have a new font for their non-Premier League matches. Note the way the period in Mohammed Salah’s NOB has become an interpunct in this font. … Juventus fans have started a petition to get the club to stop placing its Jeep advertising logo on a black patch, breaking up the club’s famous black-and-white stripes. … Senegal released its 2018 World Cup clash kit, and it features a very nice sublimated lion design, using a traditional art style. One of the best of the World Cup. … “During the World Cup next month, I’ll be running a kit tracker that will include the outfits worn by goalkeepers and match officials,” says Denis Hurley. “Ahead of that, I’m providing retrospective looks at the 1970 and 1990 World Cups. For 1970, here’s part one and part two, with more to follow over the weekend.”

Grab Bag: I’m still calling it Kemper (from Chris Murphy). … Reader Kevin Rask designed a football helmet for a handful of non-football teams, including the Lakers, Warriors and Yankees. … MLL’s Denver Outlaws have five different helmets for their military appreciation night (from Zeke Perez Jr). … French rugby club Stade Français have released their new, completely insane kits (from Eric Bangeman). … Also from Eric, Gloucester Rugby recently changed their logo, and now the club is offering to cover the price of changing tattoos with the old logo. … US curler Matt Hamilton used his gold medal as a ball marker during a golf tournament (from Kary Klismet). … Fans of burgers and beer will pleased to learn that Google has fixed major design issues with its burger and beer emojis (from @wahlberglines). … Ahead of tomorrow’s royal wedding, Mental Floss published an article on the “uniform” rules the royals abide by (from @wahlberglines).

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On the road again: I haven’t had a vacation — a real vacation, not just a glorified long weekend — in well over a year. That will change beginning on Sunday, when the Tugboat Captain and I head off on a 10-day adventure in the Mountain West region. Phil will be in charge of the site while I’m away (thanks, buddy), and content has already been lined up to run during my absence.

I’ll return to the site on May 30 (the Wednesday after Memorial Day). And then the day after that I have to head up to Syracuse for the Brannock promotion. So it’s going to be a busy couple of weeks!

Enjoy your late May, including the holiday weekend. See you back here in a bit. — Paul