It’s no secret that I like me a good pair of striped socks. Hopefully you do too, because I’m about to show you some really amazing examples, thanks to reader Larry Coode. But before we can get to the socks, we need a bit of context, so here’s the note that Coode recently sent my way:
I recently ran across some great pictures of the 1965-66 Pearl High School (Nashville, Tenn.) basketball team on the Nashville Tennessean web site. That was the first year that historically/predominantly black schools were allowed to compete in Tennessee high school ball, and Pearl won the state championship that year with a 31-0 record. … Their entire 1965-66 lineup would dunk during pre-game (apparently allowed in those days), intimidating the hell out of opponents. At least six of the players on that team eventually played college ball.
I was in grade school in Nashville at the time. Pearl and their players were legendary. When they played Father Ryan High School on January 4, 1965 — one of the first, if not THE first, Tennessee high school games between predominantly white and black schools — the game had to be moved to the downtown Municipal Auditorium to handle the huge crowd.
You had to live in Nashville in the 1960s to really appreciate this Pearl team. For a white kid from a conservative Catholic family growing up in a largely Jewish neighborhood in the South during the civil rights era, following a black team was almost surreal. I was 13 or 14 the first time my mother let me go to a game with black teams playing. Man, so exhilarating and so terrifying at the same time. But nothing bad or scary happened — I realized we all loved the game. What an eye-opening moment that was.
Okay, so that’s an interesting story and all, but it wouldn’t be Uni Watch material if not for Pearl’s completely amazing socks. At first glance, the stripes appear to have been a vertical/horizontal combo design, but upon closer inspection it turns out that they were actually wearing horizontally striped crew socks over vertically striped tube socks. Talk about an inspired concept! The mind fairly boggles.
And that’s just one of Pearl’s looks from that season. As Coode wrote, “I think I counted five different jerseys, four shorts, four socks, and two warmup jackets — and this was 1966!” Indeed, Pearl’s other sock stripings included hoops, micro-hoops, and some sort of textured diamond-check pattern. Their opponents often sported some nifty hosiery stylings as well, including hoop stripes, micro vertical stripes and monogrammed Northwestern stripes.
(Vertically striped thanks to Larry Coode for bringing us up to speed on this interesting chapter in sports, and hosiery, history.)
Remain in Light: As long as we’re talking about high school sports, it’s worth noting that the National Federation of State High School Associations, which sets various rules and standards for high school sports, has announced a new uni-related football regulation, set to take effect in 2010. Here’s the info, from an NFHS press release:
Because of increasing amounts of color in visiting teams’ “light” jerseys, beginning in the 2010 season, more stringent requirements will take effect that will eliminate confusion as to which jerseys are dark and which are light. The revised rule will require the yoke and the body of the visiting team’s jersey to be white and will dictate the areas of the jersey that can have adornments and accessory patterns. Those areas will be stripes on the sleeves, a border around the collar and cuffs, and a side seam (from the underarms to the top of the pants) 4 inches in width.
Approximately 10 years ago, the NFHS Football Rules Committee began liberalizing the “jersey rule” by removing basic restrictions on decorations and other limitations. … An unintended consequence of such liberalization has been the often-reported “blending” of the dark-colored home team jerseys and the light-colored visiting team jerseys, creating confusion on the part of players, officials and spectators. Beginning in 2010, that confusion should be eliminated.
Manufacturers have been asking for more direction with regard to the changes in uniform design. The four-year phase-in period will allow this change to be implemented during the normal uniform replacement cycle, thus minimizing the financial impact on schools. This change will allow the home team to wear some of the newer styles of jerseys, and, over the course of a season, will be fair to all teams.
“I am a high school football coach in Minnesota, and I just don’t understand this at all,” says Dustin Kalis, who brought this new rule to my attention. “You still get to do what you want with your home jersey, but [the new road jersey rules are] to ‘eliminate confusion’? Give me a break.”
A PDF file with the official wording of the new rule can be found here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Yesterday I asked if anyone had photos of football jerseys with crotch extensions (which are designed to keep the jersey from coming untucked). Thanks to everyone who provided good examples in yesterday’s Comments section, and also to those who e-mailed photos directly to me (especially Uni Watch Graphics Coordinator Scott M.X. Turner, who provided vintage collegiate examples from Princeton, Wisconsin, and Ohio State). … On Monday I ran this photo of Coolidge High’s football team. That got reader Ian Downes wondering what Coolidge’s baseball team looked like. The answer: pretty conventional for the most part. But one of the team’s pitchers has come up with a genuinely innovative hosiery style — yowza! … Nice view here of the uni number on Curtis Granderson’s right sock (thanks to Jeff Cohen). … Alabama will wearing a special houndstooth-patterned collar this Saturday against Ole Miss, to commemorate the the 25th anniversary of Bear Bryant’s 315th win. Further details here. … Pudge Rodriguez pulled a mid-game footwear switcheroo again last night, as you can see in these shots from the top and bottom of the 4th inning. The Fox broadcast actually caught him changing cleats in the dugout, but the MLB.TV feed isn’t working for me at the moment, so I can’t get a screen grab. … Interesting catch by Paul Bridge, who notes that the orange side panels on Rod Smith’s appear to be distended, so that they actually touch his uni number — on both sides! … Logo Creep Alert from David Sonny who did some handy annotation to a Sports Illustrated spread. … Mets by the Numbers impresario Jon Springer, Uni Watch South Pole bureau chief Eric Bennett, and I will be at tonight’s Mets/Cards game. That’ll be me in the Ditch the Black T-shirt.