Bookkeeping: Yes, the site was down, but now it’s back up. If you want to learn more about what happened, look here; if you never got a chance to read Wednesday’s post before everything went kablooey, it’s here; and if you missed the link to Wednesday’s ESPN column, that’s here.
Now then: A few weeks ago I got a note from a reader named Claude Jacques. He directed me toward his web site, which is devoted to his collection of pocket schedules. “It’s not 100% uni-related,” he wrote, “but I think some of your readers may be interested.” I assume he was hoping for a mention in the Ticker.
It took me about 45 seconds to conclude that a mere Ticker mention would not suffice, and maybe another minute to determine that I wanted to interview him. As most of you know, I love niche collections, and Claude’s site is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen. I hadn’t given much thought to pocket schedules before, but as soon as I started clicking through the site I realized how they’re full of fun details (which is pretty much what people often tell me when they discover Uni Watch for the first time), and what a great subset of athletics aesthetics they represent.
As Claude’s name suggests, he was born in Quebec (hence his web nickname, Suprfrog), although he’s lived in the States for a couple of years now. A quiet, soft-spoken guy, he graciously gave me a crash course in the ins and outs of schedule collecting, as follows:
Uni Watch: How old are you, where do you live, and what do you do for a living.
Claude Jacques: I’m 39, I live in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and I work in the accounting department of an electric supply company.
UW: How long have you been collecting pocket schedules, and how’d you get started with that?
CJ: It’s been the main focus of my collection for the past five or six years. I used to get schedules down at the corner store when I was a kid, of course, but I’ve only been collecting them seriously, like I said, for about five or six years.
UW: So it’s not like a lifelong passion kinda thing. So in these five or six years, how many of these schedules have you managed to collect?
CJ: At last count, about 9,000.
UW: Wow! How’d you acquire them all — like, through trade, or on eBay, or what?
CJ: A lot of them were from eBay. When I started collecting them seriously, I’d buy a lot of 100 or 200 schedules. But after about a year or so I did a search and found a mailing list of about 150 to 200 people who collect schedules and trade them and all that.
UW: So you found the schedule community or subculture, and then you plugged into that.
UW: Are there other schedule-centric web sites besides yours? Is there a main one that sort of serves as the home base for all of you?
CJ: There’s one main one, yeah — it’s called Daily Skedder. The guy who runs it posts information on which teams have schedules coming out, the team addresses where you can write to request a schedule.
UW: I like that term, “Skedder.” Is that how you all refer to a schedule, as a “sked”?
UW: Are all your skeds shown on your web site?
CJ: Most of them, yeah. When I get new ones, sometimes it takes me a while to get them all posted.
UW: And what about the physical schedules themselves — are they mounted in albums, or just packed in boxes, or what?
CJ: I like to put them in albums, although I do have a few boxes’ worth that are…
UW: …waiting to be processed?
UW: Now, how did you get into this? What is it specifically about pocket schedules that appeals to you?
CJ: If you ask a lot of people who collect schedules, they’ll tell you they used to collect trading cards — for me it was hockey cards — and it just got too expensive. With schedules, all you have to do is send a self-addressed envelope to a team, and 99% of the time you’ll get something back.
UW: So are you constantly sending envelopes to teams?
CJ: Most of what I go after, mysef, is triple-A baseball and major-junior hockey. Oh, and also soccer, because not many other people collect that.
UW: That’s a lot of teams to be sending envelopes to! How many would you say you send out in a typical year?
CJ: About 150.
UW: And that only covers new schedules. Meanwhile, you’re trading and buying and hunting down those old ones. Is there a “holy grail” sked that all of you are searching for, a particularly elusive schedule?
CJ: I guess it depends on the collector. There’s really no “Honus Wagner T-206”-level sked out there. My personal “holy grail” was a ’69 Expos sked that I paid $30 for. It was the last one I needed to finish my run of O’Keefe-sponsored Expos skeds, and I’d been looking for it for a long time. The others that I’d seen sold on eBay always went for over $50, which is out of my price range.
UW: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a pocket schedule for sale at a memorabilia auction. Do collectors like you feel that skeds are overlooked, or that they don’t get enough respect?
CJ: I think that’s what some of us like about them, actually, that they haven’t gotten swept up in that high-priced, Beckett magazine kind of thing.
UW: So you can just be in it for the fun of the hobby.
UW: Do you have any favorite skeds in your collection?
CJ: The one that’s on the front page of my web site right now is good.
UW: This 1975 Canadiens sked?
CJ: Most Canadiens schedules from that time were sponsored by Molson. The Mark Ten schedules are really hard to find. Usually they go for $20 or $30 on eBay.
UW: So that’s a favorite because it was rare and coveted. But are there any that you particularly like because you really like the design?
CJ: One series that people seem to like is the Detroit Tigers from 1965 to about 1989.
UW: That’s a long period! Hold on, let me go look up some of those on your site, so I can see what you’re talking about. Okay, so you mean this design with the tiger’s-head logo?
CJ: Yeah. From about ’65 to ’89, they used that basic design.
UW: You mean they just changed the year?
CJ: Yeah, pretty much.
UW: So people admire the consistency of that?
CJ: Yeah, and the simplicity.
UW: It’s like a uniform! Are there other examples like that?
CJ: Hmmm. During the three years of the USFL, Miller sponsored several series, each of which had pretty much the same photo and each team’s logo. One year they showed the U.S. Bowl, or whatever the trophy was called. The WFL schedules in 1974 all showed the same pair of hands.
UW: What’s the oldest schedule you have?
CJ: A 1951 Red Sox schedule that I got off of eBay.
UW: And what’s the most you’ve ever paid for one?
UW: Oh, right, for that Candiens sked. What’s the highest price you’ve ever seen?
CJ: There’s a 1970 Expos schedule that sold for about $110. That’s one of the rare ones. But that was too much for me.
UW: What’s the history of the pocket schedule? Do we know which team first had them printed up?
CJ: Hmm, good question.
UW: That’s never been discussed by you and all the other collectors?
CJ: No. The oldest one I’ve seen is a 1944 Cincinnati Reds schedule. But if you on eBay, you’ll find matchbook schedules from back in the 1920s.
UW: Yeah, but that’s not what we think of as a pocket schedule, right? Actually, I’m looking at some of the older ones on your site, like this 1954 Yankees and ’62 Red Sox, and those have a different configuration — looks like they’re stapled, not folded.
UW: So when did the folded format become the standard?
CJ: The stapled booklets were more popular in the ’50s and ’60s, and they’d have the entire American League schedule in there.
UW: So it just have the one team’s logo on the cover, but inside they were all the same, with the entire league schedule?
UW: And does every team in every sport use pretty much the same trim size these days?
CJ: Some of them are a little bigger, but most of them use the same basic size.
UW: And that size is..?
CJ: Oooh … I’d say two and a half by three and three-quarters.
UW: Well, I’ve got this year’s Mets pocket schedule right here in front of me, and I’ve got a ruler, so let’s see … yup, that’s right. Was there a “golden era” of schedule design?
CJ: That’s another one of those “personal choice” questions. For me it was the 1970s — some of the artwork from back then is pretty impressive. The best examples are the Busch-sponsored St. Louis Cardinals skeds that ran during that period.
UW: Do sked collectors even look at the interior panels, or is it all about the covers?
CJ: Oh sure, we look at the inside.
UW: But it seems like the cover’s the main focus. And actually, when you first wrote to me, you mentioned that you could basically chart a team’s uniform and logo evolution through the player photos on the covers. When did they start showing player photos?
CJ: In the ’80s.
UW: Are you married?
UW: What does she think of all this?
CJ: She still can’t get over the fact that so many people actually collect schedules.
UW: She thought you were the only one?
CJ: Yeah. But then she met some of the other collectors at our conventions.
UW [incredulous]: There are skedder conventions?
CJ: Oh, of course.
UW: Where are they held, and how often?
CJ: The main one is in Harrisburg every April.
UW: How long has that been going on?
CJ: I believe the next one will be the 18th year.
UW: And there are other ones as well?
CJ: Yeah — there’s one in Virginia, one in South Carolina.
UW: And how many people typically show up for these?
CJ: At Harrisburg, usually about 50 people.
UW: And by now you must all know each other.
UW: How many days?
UW: Are there guest speakers, or people doing Power Point presentations, stuff like that?
CJ: No, it’s more informal. Usually everyone is in their hotel room with a big box of schedules there for trading, and they leave their door open, so you can just walk in, go from room to room, and take whatever you need. And there’s no “This is a dollar, this is $2” — you can just help yourself. It’s a very friendly hobby.
UW: That is friendly! Have you made a lot of friends?
CJ: Oh, yeah. My wife says you couldn’t hope to meet a nicer group of people.
UW: Even though she can’t believe they exist! Now here’s the big question: Have you ever put a pocket schedule in your pocket? Has anyone, like, in the history of mankind? I’ve always got them tacked up on my bulletin board, or under a fridge magnet. Isn’t “pocket schedule” really a misnomer?
CJ: Actually, I used to put them in my wallet, but this was back in ’82, before I really got into collecting memorabilia. I know better nowadays.
Big thanks to Claude for sharing his collection. Be sure to check out his site (but don’t blame me if you end up spending a few hours there — it’s pretty addictive).
Membership News: I mailed out a dozen more membership kits yesterday, which means that for the first time since the membership program began, we are now completely caught up. Every enrollee should be shown on the active roster, every roster listing should link to a card design from the design gallery, and every card has been laminated and shipped. If you haven’t yet received your card, you should have it within a few days.
Thanks to all who’ve signed up. Scott and I look forward to the next wave of enrollees.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Orioles dressed up as the Negro Leagues’ Baltimore Black Sox last night. Nice uniforms, but two major flies in the headwear ointment: (1) The caps had New Era logos, and (2) it’s hard to imagine anything less throwback-y than a Cool-Flo helmet. … Man, do those NFL captains’ patches look totally Mickey Mouse or what? … Reggie Bush’s shoes look more white than black. … I don’t know what offers more protection: that gonzo facemask LaDainian Tomlinson was recently wearing or the new headset microphones. … Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t fully understand the point of dressing up as a whistle. … Latest NHL unveilings: the Penguins (nothing radical, as you can see here, here, here, and here) and the Hurricanes (pretty much what we were led to expect from those video game leaks, as you can see here, plus they have a 10th anniversary patch). … Now that college football season has started, I’m getting the annual barrage of e-mails that read, “I saw two players on the same team wearing the same number. What’s up with that?” Good article on that phenomenon here (with thanks to David Cline). … More identically (and horrifically) attired tennis opponents: Donald Young and Feliciano Lopez (as spotted by Minna H., who adds, “They look like two junior high girls coordinating their outfits for a day at school”). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Really good rundown of Canadiens uni history here. … Vince reports that Indians pitcher Rafael Betancourt came into Tuesday night’s game wearing a green bracelet but then was told to remove it by the umpires. “The announcers said this happens quite often — some teams complain about it, some don’t,” says Vince. They also said that when he has to take it off, he ties it onto the bottom of his glove so he doesn’t lose it.” … The Jets changed from this design to this one in 1978. But Jay Braiman has come up with a major find: For at least one game during the ’78 preseason, the Jets paired the new helmets with the old pants and jerseys. He also found a 1963 photo of the old jet plane helmets. … Jeff Ingalls used my critique of the new NFL logo as the basis for an interesting revision. The type still isn’t right (creates an unnecessary 3-D effect), but it’s getting there. And I love the extra stars peeking out from behind the ball. … Kudos to Josh Yetmar, who sent along a dynamite photo of the triple-A Iowa Cubs wearing Des Moines Bruins throwbacks. Want that uniform for yourself? They’re selling them here (all too big for me, alas). … Penn — which is D-IAA, and therefore not covered in my ESPN college roundups — has new uniforms. Details here (with thanks to Morris Levin). … The Portland Beavers will remain as the Beavers. … According to a quote toward the end of this article, the Canadian and Albertan flags on the Flames’ new uniforms may only be worn for one year. … The Canadiens plan to retire Larry Robinson’s No. 19 and Bob Gainey’s No. 23. … And the Rangers will retire Brian Leetch’s No. 2. … Iowa State will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their Peach Bowl appearance by wearing throwbacks against Iowa on Sept. 15th. Details here (with thanks to Jacob Meyer). … Several readers pointed out that Frank Gore was practicing with a gray facemask the other day. Not clear yet what, if anything, this portends. … In the NHL, new uniforms mean new underwear (with thanks to the Elms sisters). … Look closely at where the facemask meets the helmet in this photo and you’ll see an NFL Equipment patch where it doesn’t belong (good spot by Paul Pereira). … Small listing of unusual soccer uni numbers here (with thanks to Kevin Joseph). … I think we covered this last year, but what the heck: Brad Casavana notes that MTSU players with short surnames end up with huge type on their nameplates. … Numerology report from Seth Maser, who writes: “On Tuesday I noticed that the starting lineup for the Mariners contained numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Johjima, Vidro, Lopez, Betancourt, and Guillen were all in the starting lineup. The Yankees couldn’t even do this if they wanted to, as all their numbers 1-10 are retired or will be retired (2 and 6). Later in the game, number 7 (Jeremy Reed), number 9 (Jeff Clement), and number 10 (Adam Jones) all pinch-hit. The M’s don’t have a number 1 or 8, or they probably would have played too. Other than the early days of numbers, can you think of any other time this happened?” … Lex Marsh thinks he’s found the source of the monochromatic football uni trend. … Several readers have noted that the Minnesota Gophers have added a Minnesota outline decal on the back of their helmets.