Remember how several National League teams wore those striped pillbox caps during the 1976 season? In addition to the Cardinals (who even had striped helmets), other teams wearing this style for at least some of their ’76 games included the Mets, Phillies, and of course the Pirates, who liked the pillbox design so much that they kept it for several more seasons.
Most NL teams didn’t do the pillbox thing, however, including the Expos — or at least that’s what I thought until a few days ago, when I got the following note from Joel Kirstein: “On the last day of the 1976 season — at the last game at Montreal’s old Jarry Park, Sunday, September 26th, 1976 — the Expos wore white throwback caps, with three stripes that circled the cap. Quite a departure from their patented tricolor beanies.” Kirstein doesn’t have a photo from this game, alas. Anyone got any visual confirmation of this?
That might have gone down as a simple Ticker item, except that I turned up lots of other stuff along the way. I vaguely remembered, for example, that the 1976 National League All-Star team had worn pillbox-styled all-star caps — or at least they’d worn them in the locker room, during pregame warm-ups, and for the team portrait. But did they wear them in the game? I didn’t think so, but I couldn’t find a photo — until I remembered that I’d just gotten a used copy of this book, which includes this photo from the ’76 ASG, showing Bill Russell clearly wearing a regular Dodgers cap.
So in retrospect, the white pillbox all-star cap was essentially MLB’s first batting practice cap. But wait a minute — Kirstein said the Expos wore “white throwback caps, with three stripes that circled the cap” on the last day of the ’76 season. Sounds an awful lot like these, no? Hmmmmmmm. This merits further study.
Meanwhile, here are some other things I stumbled across while researching all of this:
• Tito Fuentes wore a huge headband in 1976.
• I’d forgotten that Lee Mazzilli had worn eyeglasses early in his career.
• And here’s the kicker: Look at this photo of Willie and Hank. As you can see, Mays is wearing a pillbox-style Mets cap, but forget about that — what’s up with his jersey? The placket piping and lack of pinstripes make it look like he’s wearing an early version of the team’s current “snow white” design. But that design didn’t exist back in the ’70s, when Mays was a Mets coach. What’s the deal? The caption doesn’t offer much help:
FLUSHING, NY: Hank Aaron #44 of the Milwaukee Brewers poses for a portrait with coach Willie Mays #24 of the New York Mets circa 1975 at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York. Aaron played in Milwaukee for the Brewers from 1975-1976. Mays coached for the Mets from 1974-1979.
The photo is actually from ’76, not ’75, as evidenced not only by Willie’s cap but also by his left-sleeve armband, which the Mets wore in ’76 to memorialize Joan Payson and Casey Stengel. But either way, it still doesn’t explain the jersey. Another subject for future study.
Membership News: Trading deadline? Yeah, whatever. The real last-minute scramble yesterday involved the Uni Watch Charter Membership deadline, which provoked a furious scrum of activity as dozens upon dozens of readers signed up.
I normally add new members to the roster as the orders come in, but that protocol was blown out of the water by yesterday’s unprecedented avalanche of enrollees — I gave up trying to keep pace sometime in the afternoon. I’m going to be off the grid for most of today, and much of tomorrow is already spoken for, which means I probably won’t get caught up processing everything until the weekend (and who knows how long it’ll take poor Scott to design all the cards!). So if you signed up yesterday and don’t yet see your name on the roster, don’t fret — it’ll be dealt with soon-ishly.
If you have any outstanding membership-related issues — like if you asked about a certain design and haven’t heard back from me, or you had some special circumstance that merits an exemption from the deadline — please-please-please don’t send me any e-mails about that today. I won’t be anywhere near a computer for most of the day. I promise that each and every concern will be addressed, but just give me a couple of days to catch up with everything first.
Obviously, a slew of membership orders is a nice problem to have — mega-thanks to everyone who signed up, and for the very kind comments many of you included with your orders. As I’ve said many times before (but it bears repeating), a writer couldn’t dream of having a better readership than you guys.
While this batch will take a while to process, I’m happy to report that about 50 membership kits from the last batch went out in yesterday’s mail.
And, of course, while the Charter Membership period has ended, new membership orders are still welcome. Keep ’em coming.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Patriots are wearing a “91” memorial helmet decal for Marquise Hill (with thanks to J. Gillespie). … “I was in Cooperstown this weekend for the HOF induction,” writes Alan Chewning. “Check out the socks on this guy, who I ran into at the Cooperstown Brewing Company (aka Slugger’s Brewery). They are Princeton socks, but he wore them to show his support of Cal Ripken.” … The NFL’s new rule requiring sideline photographers to wear “Canon”-emblazoned vests continues to stir up controversy. Latest articles are here and here. … Spectacular job by Matthew Lepke, who found a photo of John Van Benschoten (he of the two-word surname but the one-word nameplate) pitching last year at triple-A, where his name was rendered correctly (which just goes to show that the Pirates aren’t a minor league team — they’re worse). … The 49ers will honor Bill Walsh with a “BW” helmet decal and coaches’ sleeve patch. … The Pirates are making some uni number changes (scroll down to the “Number Swap” section on this page, as noted by Daniel Weimann). … This seems a bit much, since Paul Pierce has been a Celtic for nearly a decade (thanks, Vince). … Next year’s MLB All-Star Game logo will look like this. … Anthony Memme notes that Noah Lowry had a “22” cap inscription last night. Anyone know why? … “A couple of notes from Sunday’s 20-year reunion of the 1987 Giants celebration,” writes David Taub. “Pitching Coach Norm Sherry came out wearing No. 46. He never wore this number in his tenure with the Giants (he was 34). Sherry did wear the number as a coach in the 1970s with San Diego (and maybe with California as well). Kevin Mitchell wore No. 7. In 1987, he wore 9. He swapped numbers with Bob Melvin in 1988.”