Greetings from St. Louis, where I had a pretty amazing day yesterday. Took a preliminary tour of Liebe Athletic Lettering (I’ll be back there today with with an ESPN.com video crew), which was pretty mind-blowing — here’s a small taste of what I saw. If today’s video shoot ends up documenting even a fraction of the stuff I saw yesterday, we’ll end up with loads of great material. Then I got a personal tour of the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Busch Stadium from assistant curator Brian Finch (here’s a taste of that). And then I met up with a small but enthusiastic group of readers for a very entertaining Uni Watch gathering, the highlight of which was a show-and-tell session featuring the most incredible set of obsessive-compulsive uniform drawings I’ve ever seen (I’ll end up doing a full blog entry on these illustrations and the guy who created them, but this will give you an idea).
I’ll have more to say about all of that later on. But meanwhile: Last week SI.com ran a series of “Best Athletes by Number” photo galleries (they’re here, here, and here). Contrary to what a few of you thought, they didn’t rip off this idea from me — I’ve done plenty of articles about uni numbers but never a “best by number” column. But even if they had stolen the idea, it would be worth it, because SI’s photo galleries tend to be quite good, with large photos that most of us haven’t seen very often. In the case of these numerical breakdowns, I don’t really care about SI’s qualitative rankings (does it really matter who was the “best” player to wearing No. 37, especially when the candidates come from different sports?), but this batch of 101 photos featured an unusually high number of notable uni-related details. Por ejemplo:
- I’ve always loved this photo of Babe Ruth. Look how trim he was! Also, note the belt buckle squarely at 12 o’clock, a fairly uncommon sight for that era.
- Another thing I’ve always loved: the way Wilt Chamberlain’s head band was wide up front and thin in the back.
- Totally digging the stirrups here (big surprise). But note the black/white/gold striping on the cuffs and waistband — wouldn’t it have been better if they’d been gold on top, instead of on the bottom, to match the hose?
- We’ve all seen Gale Sayers’s cheapo plastic facemask before, but it’s never looked more like a back-yard kiddie accessory than it does here.
- You’ve heard of high whites? How about all whites? Dig the Steelers-patterned wristbands, too.
- I was struck by how many of the NFL photos showed players loaded up with yards of tape on their arms and hands. You don’t see that anymore.
- The stirrups here are so dead-on perfect that it’s easy to overlook the yellow catcher’s gear — yowza! Must have been the Brewers, right?
- Great view here of Willie Lanier’s extra-padded helmet (which always kinda looks like a horn to me). And as long as we’re talking about the Chiefs, look how small Buck Buchanan’s uni number is here.
- Is that a zipper on Neil Smith’s hip? If so, that’s a first for me — never seen that before.
- Something else I’d never seen before: Check out the little “Bengals” wordmark on Anthony MuÃ±oz’s socks (or is it on the tape?).
- Talk about a leotard effect — dark pants, dark socks, and dark shoes with dark laces. Please, gimme just a little contrast, will ya?
- We’ve often discussed Warrick Dunn’s habit of wearing a gold chain on the gridiron. Turns out he’s not the only one to have done that.
- How great is the little “U of M” imprimatur here?
- I’ve always found the close proximity of stripes and checkboard here to be slightly disconcerting.
- Look at the size of that nameplate typography!
Uni Watch News Ticker: Michigan is switching from Nike to Adidas, and I’m so broken up about it that I actually walk around laughing. … The Kansas City T-Bones staged their second annual Redneck Night on Saturday, featuring, um, inspired uniforms (additional shots here and here). Looks like the guy on the far left was cheating by wearing a cap-sleeved undershirt. … Interesting All-Star Game memory from Doug Simpson, who writes: “I don’t have a pic, but in 1998 Jeff Shaw was traded from the Reds to the Dodgers during the All-Star Break. His first pitch in a Dodgers uniform was in the All-Star Game. Also, Cincinnati was left with no representation, since Shaw was their only invitee.” … Yesterday I published Richard Craig‘s All-Star Game FanFest report; here’s another one, this time from Brandon Davis, covering completely different ground — good stuff. … Would you believe that the American and National Leagues used to have separate resin bags (N.L., A.L.)? Daily News writer Jesse Spector took those photos at Cooperstown, plus his blog has recently featured good uni-related commentary from MLB players: Chris Duncan on pants and socks (scroll down to the bottom), and Justin Morneau on his NHL undershirt (ditto). … Think A-Rod would’ve slid at home if he hadn’t been wearing those country club white shoes? … The Sharks will reveal an updated logo later this month.