New ESPN column today — here’s the link.
Meanwhile: Recognize that kid with the golf clubs and the letter sweater? It’s 13-year-old Gerald Ford, in front of his childhood home in Grand Rapids (here’s a larger view). Ford wasn’t much of a president, but it turns out he wore a lot of uniforms over the years — more than any other president, near as I can figure.
The most familiar photos of Ford in uniform — or maybe just the most familiar photos of him, period — are two pics of him wearing his football togs at Michigan (where his number was later retired). But those shots are just the tip of his uniform iceberg. He played high school football, as seen here and here (middle row, fourth from left, I think), and he made All-City in 1930. After his undergrad days at Michigan, he went to Yale Law, where he coached football and boxing (top row, third from left).
Ford also wore several non-sports unis, as an Eagle Scout (here’s another shot), park ranger, and Naval officer (additional shot here). While in the Navy, he also played hoops, although his “uniform” was rather abbreviated.
Later, while in Congress, he’d suit up for the annual Republican/Democrat baseball game. In this shot, taken in May of 1949, he and another GOP lawmaker appear to have been wearing the same unis worn that year by the Washington Senators.
Based on my admittedly very quick internet research, no other president offers nearly as rich a uniform history as Ford. But many White House occupants from the past half-century have left at least a few uni-clad photos for the historical record. For example:
• Dwight Eisenhower: Ike wanted to play pro baseball (but hey, so did I). Here he is — front row, center — in his 1909 Abilene High School uniform.
• Jack Kennedy: JFK was in the Navy, natch, but I couldn’t find any pics of him in a sports uniform — unless you count this shot of a Senate baseball game. At least he looked good in proximity to uniforms. (Update: Scott M.X. Turner and Carrie Klein just came up with this and this, respectively.)
• Richard Nixon: Tricky Dick wore a classic football jersey on the Whittier College squad.
• Jimmy Carter: I was surprised to learn that Carter was a football and basketball star in his high school days (top row, second from left). Later on, he became a softball enthuiast, although the only photo I could find was this rather uninspiring shot.
• Ronald Reagan: The Great Communicator played football in high school. He’s in the bottom row, second from the right, in this shot — great socks and sleeves, but how come he didn’t get one of those cool vertically striped jerseys like those guys two rows back? He also played football in college (front row, fourth from right). And of course he portrayed George Gipp in one of history’s most insufferable movies (and as Jonathon Binet pointed out shortly after today’s entry was posted, he also wore a slew of cool baseball uniforms in The Winning Team). But the coolest photo of him that I found was this one — now that’s a uniform!
• Bill Clinton: Clinton may have been the first president to wear a team jacket while throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day. (His successor apparently likes team jackets too, dating back at least to his days as a team owner.) Speaking of which, there’s a gallery of Presidents throwing out the first pitch here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Panicked report from Rick Moreno regarding last night’s Stars/Avalanche game: “The referees have no uniform numbers! The linesman do, and when I was a clip of another game, the refs there appeared to have numbers as usual. Any way to find out what happened here tonight?” I’m gonna call the NHL later today, but if anyone else knows, please speak up. … But hey, no number is a lot better than what the refs were wearing on their backs last night at the World U20 hockey championship in Sweden. … Speaking of hockey refs, yesterday’s post about shoelaces prompted AJ Brandt to report the following: “Did you know that hockey refs have different laces than the players? The refs’ laces are plain white, while players’ laces have little black squares in them.” … More shoelace follow-up: Yesterday I asked if anyone had details about those laces that featured gold aglets. Andy Gladstone responded with a link to this article, which mentions “the gold-tipped shoelaces popularized by former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham.” … Yesterday’s post also prompted Steve Zolis to point out that some NHL players have used pink laces and sticks to support breast cancer awareness. … More hockey news: Nike’s Swift Jersey has hit the college hockey scene (with thanks to Brian Kohout). … And speaking of hockey, Paragon Sports in Manhattan had this rather odd window display just prior to Xmas. … In non-hockey news (yes, there is such a thing), I never fully understood what “nude stockings” meant until I saw Florida State’s socks in last night’s Emerald Bowl. … And speaking of socks, check out the amazing hosiery stylings of Hyndman High School in Pennsylvania (as spotted by Jason Schiff).