A few weeks ago, reader Thomas Harding referred me to a photo on a web site I’d never encountered before. Frankly, I no longer recall which photo it was, because I began poking around the rest of the web site and became absolutely enthralled.
[Update, 3pm: Unfortunately, all the hits from Uni Watch Nation have maxed out the bandwidth of the web site under discussion today, which means most of the links in the rest of today’s main entry no longer work — sorry about that. Feel free to scroll down to the Uni Watch News Ticker, but definitely check back tomorrow to see the links you missed — Mark Bolding’s web site is spectactular.]
The site is Bolding Sports Research, the brainchild of one Mark Bolding, a teacher who lives in Houston. It’s one of the best archives of football imagery and information I’ve ever come across, packed with cartoons, program covers, ticket stubs, photos, and related arcana.
Best of all, Bolding has created extensively detailed sections devoted to some of the lesser-known chapters in pro football history, including the Pro Bowl (that section is here); the Shamrock Bowl (the final game ever in the All-American Football Conference, pitting the league champions against an all-star team — more details here, and be sure to scoll to the bottom for great info on AAFC championship games); the Playoff Bowl (essentially a consolation game played between the runners-up in each conference during the 1960s — more details here); the exhibition games played by NFL teams against teams from the CFL and the AFL (the most significant of which is described in detail here); and the College All-Star Game (which pitted the NFL champion against a team of NCAA all-stars and was considered a fairly big deal during its 43-year run — more details here). He’s also got info on bowl games you’ve never heard of (more info here), the AFL, the history of field goal records, and a lot more. Naturally, lots of the imagery is very uni-related.
I asked Bolding how his site came about. Here’s what he wrote back:
I developed the site because I got tired of searching the Internet for special subjects that were simply not covered. For instance, the Pro Bowl — the materials out there were scant at best, and those that I did find were repeated at every site that dealt with the subject. People simply copy and paste the materials from one site to another. I really got tired of that. So, I decided to study the Pro Bowl from scratch and try to do it justice. Sadly, the NFL Hall of Fame and NFL web sites were absolutely no help at all.
The site’s depth is really a matter of having too much time on my hands. I lived in the People’s Republic of China from 2003 to 2005. My wife is from there, so we lived there for two years and I was able to meet her family and learn about her culture. The problem was, she could speak English, but almost nobody else could. So I had no one to talk to and dove into my research. Most of the site was developed in China, believe it or not. Of course, source materials are non-existent there, so I had to finish most of it when I got back to the States by hitting newspaper archives, libraries, etc.
My site is designed to dig out the stories that are important to me. Many of the topics may seem trivial and are of little interest to many sports fans. But these are topics that are neglected by researchers and fascinating to me (like the CFL vs. NFL series). … Next up, a historical freeze-frame section looking at the starting quarterbacks of the NFL in 1971. I should have this up in a few weeks.
So there you have it: a guy who pursues what he finds interesting, simply because he finds it interesting. Sound familiar?
Uni Watch News Ticker: Speaking of uni-centric web projects, check out this impressive soccer site (with thanks to David Tauster). … More undershirt shenanigans: When I interviewed Nike VP Tinker Hatfield back in June, he said, “We think it’s great that there are these storied programs around the country that have tradition, and you just don’t mess with them. I love Michigan’s uniforms; I love the simplicity of Penn State…. Um, one out of two. … Meanwhile, Eastbay is selling similar (and similarly laughable) designs for Florida, FSU, Texas (what the hell is that pattern supposed to be, anyway?), and USC, although it’s not clear to me whether these will actually be worn on the field. … The Diamondbacks will officially unveil their new uniforms next Wednesday. According to this press release, “female models will accompany [Dbacks players] on the runway” and this “invitation-only celebrity fashion show.” Seriously, have these events lurched way out of control or what? … Speaking of which, the Reds’ new unis will be made public on December 1st (thanks to Dominic Litten, who found the info buried in the middle of this page). … Good look here at the Celtics’ memorial patch for Red Auerbach. … And Paul Pierce inscribed a “2” (the number retired for Auerbach) on his headband. … Every single person watching last night’s Bucks/Pistons game wrote in to say that one of the numerals on Charlie Bell’s jersey fell off in the 4th quarter. No pics, alas. … Good article here and here about a Cleveland shop that’s done stitching work for the Indians, Browns, Cavs (with thanks to Zach G. for the scans).