From time to time we’ve discussed uni-related issues of trademark infringement and protection. But policing your trademark in lawsuit-happy America is one thing — doing it in a far-off land, where any clown with a heat press can run off a few jillion cheap logo-emblazoned knockoffs of your design, is something else, as reader Eric Trager has discovered. Here’s his long-distance report from the Middle East:
I’ve been living in Cairo since August on an Islamic Civilizations Fulbright grant, which has given me a decent opportunity to travel around the Middle East a bit. It seems like almost anywhere I go, I find familiar-looking caps, none of which are ever official, and almost all of which contain completely incorrect colors. At the famous Khan al-Khalili market in Cairo, for example, I spotted this orange Yankees cap among other mostly Cairo-appropriate headgear. In Casablanca, I spotted this cap stand; you can make out a number of Yankees caps (there’s a proper navy one on the 60 dirham level, though the rest are completely off), along with a 49ers cap, a Florida Gators cap, and a Berkeley cap. [The one I find most amusing is the FBI cap. — PL] Although the Yankees are, unfortunately, the most prominent in terms of merchandise in the region, I happened to find this cap stand in Sana’a, Yemen, featuring Dodgers caps (again, wrong colors). Finding these things in Yemen was particularly surprising, given that most men there dress like this, i.e., sans baseball cap.
Though caps are the most prominent American sports gear I’ve come across in the region, I spotted kid in Jounieh, Lebanon, wearing a very decent Kobe Bryant jersey when I was there in 2004. It looks like it’s actually officially licensed, unlike this horrific Don Mattingly Yankees jacket I spotted in Rabat [Donnie Baseball never wore his stirrups like that! — PL] and this awful Rockies T-shirt I found at the Cairo tent market (although Uni Watch probably endorses the shirt’s use of red in place of purple, no matter how inaccurate).
Of course, the most common sports uniforms found in Middle Eastern markets are local soccer jerseys. I spotted these two brothers wearing al-Ahly jerseys in Cairo, and have purchased the jerseys of Maghreb Fez, Wydad (Casablanca), and the Moroccan national team as gifts for friends. Unfortunately, none of these are remotely authentic, though I was finally able to find an official al-Ahly jersey at the posh, Saudi-built mall in Cairo.
This is really just a small sampling of uni-relevant observations from my time in the region. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the hundreds of MLB, NBA, NFL, NCAA, and NHL T-shirts available in Hebrew in virtually any Israeli tourist area (similar to these online examples), though did happen to pick up this Mets yarmulke.
I’ll close with the most surprising uni-related find. Look closely at the religious insignia on the sports club t-shirt of the boy on the left in this photo — it was taken in a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank.
Pretty great stuff. The global, hegemonic reach of the baseball cap, even in cultures that wouldn’t know a baseball game if you plopped one down in their front yard, continues to amaze me.
And wait, there’s more: About a week after sending me that first note, Trager checked in with a nice little epilogue:
As I was packing up my things today to leave Egypt after a nine-month stint out here, I noticed that my Mets cap no longer fit. Fitted caps, as you might imagine, are extremely hard finds in Egypt, and all sorts of people — taxi drivers, camel merchants, children, restaurant owners, and tour guides — have asked me many times for some of my fitted caps right off my head, which I have always declined in the past. This time, however, rather than waste precious suitcase space on a Mets cap that didn’t fit, I went downstairs to find a kid to whom I could give it. He was very appreciative, and I think rather surprised. I might have just stumbled across a new mechanism for American public diplomacy.
Now we just have to get the kid to ditch the black.
Three Okay, TWO Blind Mice: Jamie Moyer’s stirrups occasioned lots of oh-so-adorable banter in the Mets’ broadcast booth last night. The chatter started after announcers approvingly noted that Moyer had busted it pretty hard while running out a ground ball. Here’s the transcript:
Gary Cohen: Not only is he running hard, but he’s running hard in stirrups.
Ron Darling: Yes.
Cohen: We’ve gotta get a shot of Moyer’s feet at some point. Nobody wears stirrups anymore! Maybe a couple of old coaches.
Darling: He wears Ã¢â‚¬â„¢em a little bit like you wore Ã¢â‚¬â„¢em, Keith.
Keith Hernandez: I’ll have to give Ã¢â‚¬â„¢em closer, uh, scrutiny. [Camera shows a close-up of Moyer’s stirrups.] Oh, I liked to wear Ã¢â‚¬â„¢em a little higher. That’s low. That’s minor league ugly.
Cohen: You didn’t have the Liberty Bell on your stirrups.
Hernandez: No. Those are the stirrups they gave you in the minor leagues.
Darling [struggling for something relevant to say]: Is that like coyote ugly? Minor league ugly.
Hernandez [ignoring Darling]: You had the wool uniforms in the minor leagues back in the early Ã¢â‚¬â„¢70s, and they were just itchy. And you were glad to have Ã¢â‚¬â„¢em, trust me, but I hated the stirrups. [As per usual during these hosiery discussions, the camera shows sacred Shea Stadium photo of Jerry Koosman celebrating the last out of the 1969 World Series.] See, that’s closer. I wore Ã¢â‚¬â„¢em a little bit higher than Kooz right there. [Camera now shows file photo of Hernandez’s favorite player.] Ah, there you go.
Cohen: There was a trend for a while there to show none of the top of the stirrup, right? Guys started adding extensions to the bottom so they rose that much higher.
Hernandez: Yes. I never liked that look. When we played for the Cardinals, we had those great socks with the stripes, like the Red Sox. You wanna show the stripes.
Cohen [who has clearly read either Ball Four or Uni Watch]: I guess it was Frank Robinson, wasn’t it, who first started wearing the high stirrups, that just showed white with a stripe on the side?
Darling [utterly lost but trying to sound engaged]: Yes.
Hernandez [also lost]: I think you may be right.
Cohen: Maybe it was someone else before that. I justÃ¢â‚¬ ¦
Hernandez [now completely off on the wrong tack]: Was it with Cleveland? Remember those Cleveland uniforms, those red uniforms?
Cohen: Those were awful.
Darling [now barely treading water]: They were hideous!
Cohen: Of course, there were a lot of hideous uniforms in the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢70s. The PiratesÃ¢â‚¬ ¦
Hernandez: The bumblebees!
Darling: How about Houston?
Cohen: How about the Padres?
Darling: That’s right, mustard and brown.
Cohen: Mustard and mud!
Hernandez: Contrary to Ron Darling, I love the A’s uniforms, love those swingin’ A’s unis.
[Inning mercifully ends.]
Uni Watch News Ticker: Plate umpires who wear the conventional-style mask always wear a cap, but umps who favor the hockey-style mask have always gone cap-free. Or at least that’s what I thought until seeing some footage from last night’s Rockies/Astros game, where plate ump Ed Hickox wore a cap under his hockey-style mask (you can see him holding his mask on the left side of this shot). … Tons of great uni- and equipment-related footages in this awesome WHA video (tremendous find by Tommy Gough). … Not quite uni-related, but still a worthwhile site. … Interesting query from Ryan Hickox, who writes: “This season, while watching Red Sox games, I’ve noticed a couple of narrow, dark objects behind the rubber on the mound, as seen here.” Anyone know what these are? … Newly minted Uni Watch member Michael Gargano recently bumped into a friend wearing a great Royals tee. Ã¢â‚¬ ¦ According to this article, Jake Peavy inscribes “BP” on his underbill, in tribute to his late grandfather, Blanche Peavy (good spot by David Conley). … Pretty cool stuff upcoming in Tampa. … That ridiculous London Olympics logo is already getting some very negative reviews (some really great quotes in that article, including a description of the logo as “a toileting monkey”), plus there’s now a petition drive to do away with it (with thanks to Morris Bird). … Now that‘s a nameplate. Player in question is Washington State kicker Romeen Abdollmohammadi (as spotted by Michael Carman). … Some interesting factoids about the Diamondbacks’ uni protocol in the “In Case You Were Wondering” section of this page (good find by Doug Simpson). Ã¢â‚¬ ¦ Jacob Reed wonders what Eddie Stanky had written under his bill. … Photo of the day comes from Uni Watch intern Vince Grzegorek who noticed Tim Hudson finding a new use for the rosin bag. … Great article here about a Milwaukee memorabilia hound who specializes in collecting bats (with thanks to the Cream City’s finest, Nicole Haase). … Brian Willette notes that Northwestern softballer Darcy Sengewald has been wearing eye black shaped like little hearts and dollar signs. … Beau Lynott sent along a screen shot of Russell Martin’s torn pants from last night’s Dodgers/Padres game. “He was sliding repeatedly in steal attempts with one out in the 7th inning, then fell down rounding second on a base hit and was tagged out in a pickle. Matt Vasgersian on Channel 4 Padres said, ‘What’s with the re-stitch? Get the man some new pants!'” … Want your logo rendered in pasta? Comments section stalwart Minna H. recommends these guys. … The Indians wore blue jerseys at home last night, marking the first time they’d done that since 2001 (although, as Tim Bennett notes, there was a lot more red trim back in those days). … According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, dreadlocked Giants defensive back R.W. McQuarters recently had his first haircut since his rookie season and is now wearing a helmet two sizes smaller as a result. … Arsenal has unveiled its new white kit.