Yesterday was Mother’s Day, so MLB diamonds were awash in pink jersey ribbons, pink armbands (note how the Cool Base gussets ruin the pinstripes, by the way), pink-accessorized umpires, pink titanium necklaces, pink catcher’s gear, pink shoelaces, pink facial hair, and pink bats. I’d like to think that at least one stadium music director was enterprising enough to play the album shown at right (if you don’t recognize it, look here), but somehow I doubt it.
By now you know the drill: I dislike the pink-o-rama, Minna H. really dislikes it, and most of the rest of you are okay with it. Fine — let’s move on.
Fortunately, Mets announcers Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez provided an extended session of uni-related banter yesterday, and it was almost pink-free. Their discussion was prompted by the fact that the team’s local broadcast affiliate has been running an internet poll to let fans vote on the Mets’ all-time best uniform. Good poll, topic, right? Or it would have been, if they hadn’t limited the choices to very small sampling of the various designs the Mets have worn over the years. Anyway, the discussion was actually pretty good — let’s listen in:
Keith Hernandez: I know what my pick would be.
Gary Cohen: What is that?
KH: I love the Mets’ old road uniforms. We had to wear those darn ones with the handwriting. Remember, the “New York” handwriting?
GC: The script.
KH: I must say, I get jealous whenever I see this team out here, the present Mets, when they go on the road and play in the old-fashioned Met uniform. I never got to play in that uniform. They’re beautiful.
GC [who apparently either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care about black drop shadows]: They’re a classic. And I like this pinstripe, the one they wear now, as opposed to the one they wore right at the beginning of the Mets, which did not have the numbers on the front. It’s always a bit disconcerting to me to see the uniforms with no number on the front. But these are perfect.
KH [as the director cues up a 1980s shot]: There we go, look at that. I mean, please.
GC [who also apparently wasn’t listening to what Hernandez had said a few moments earlier]: Well, the worst ones were the ones with the script “New York.” Remember those?
KH: Look at that Astro uniform behind, there. That was a stinker. [Helpfully telestrates the uniform in question, just in case anyone is missing the point.] Look at that — what a stinker that was!
GC [chuckling]: But those were their traditional ugly uniforms. I mean, you have to admit, the late ’70s into the ’80s was the worst-ever era for baseball uniforms. Probably for fashion in general.
KH: The Padres had a terrible uniform. But I loved the Oakland A’s uniforms, with Charlie O. Finley. Ronnie [Darling] does not, our colleague.
GC: He didn’t like wearing the white shoes [when he played for the A’s late in his career]. But there was nothing worse than, say, the Chicago White Sox wearing shorts.
KH: Yes, and how about the Pirates in those bumblebee uniforms.
GC: But the Pirates had those interchangeable ones. They had the black, the gold, and the pinstripes, and they’d wear them in various combinations.
KH: They were awful, awful. Awful.
GC: Now, everybody today is wearing pink because it’s Mother’s Day. [Camera shows a shot of Cohen, who’s wearing a pink tie, and Hernandez, dressed in a pink shirt.] Maybe a team needs to go to an alternate pink uniform.
KH: Well, we’ve got to expand to more teams. Commissioner, we need one more team, and we’ll be in pink.
GC: I don’t think you really want that.
KH [about to get seriously stupid]: Why?
GC [alertly heading him off]: And then, of course — and you were part of this, too — you had the powder blue road uniforms, which you wore with th–
KH [interjecting]: I liked the powder blue with the Cardinals!
KH: I have my powder blue at home, as a matter of fact. I have that uniform. Um, in 1980, the year Whitey Herzog took over the team — Ken Boyer was fired mid-season — that was when — you’re talking about the Mets not having the number on the lower side? The Cardinals that year took that number away, below the cardinal, and put it on our shoulder. [Actually, that was made a year earlier, in 1979, which you’d think Hernandez would remember — it’s the year he won the MVP award.] And the fans didn’t like it at all, so they went back to the traditional Cardinal uniform. Actually, the Cardinals — I think it was in the ’40s — one year they went to a uniform without the bird on the bat. [1956, actually.] And the fans went through the roof! And they came back the next year with the birds on the bat, which I think is just a classic uniform. As a minor leaguer coming up in the Cardinals organization, you were taught to have great pride in those two birds perched on the bat.
GC: Did they have names?
GC: Don’t you think they should, after all these years?
KH: Dizzy and Daffy?
GC: That’d be perfect. Gus and Gussie.
And then the discussion turned to, you know, things that were actually taking place on the field. All in all, not a bad discussion, and I give Hernandez credit for knowing that the Cards went birds/bat-less for one season. What’s more troubling is that nobody connected with the Mets — nobody — ever acknowledges the evil of the black drop shadows. The road and pinstripe uniforms are routinely referred to as “classic,” when in fact they’re bastardized versions of the originals. Pfeh.
Raffle News: Remember, I’m raffling off a free football helmet from Helmet Hut. To enter, send an e-mail here (not to the usual Uni Watch e-mail address) by 10pm tomorrow. One entry per person. But contrary to what I originally announced, enrollees in the membership program will get the customary three bonus entries per member (don’t send three extra e-mails — I’ll automatically put your name in the hat three extra times). My thanks to the several readers who argued, persuasively, that it was unfair to remove the raffle benefit. From now on, the extra raffle entries will be restored as a standard membership benefit.
Uni Watch Extra-Curricular Schedule: NYC-area readers may want to mark their calendars for May 29th, when I’ll be participating in an evening of readings at KGB Bar in the East Village. The theme is “Design and Food” (the latest in a bi-monthly series of design-related readings sponsored by the School of Visual Arts — past installments have included “Design and Evil” and “Design and Music”), and my presentation will focus on the design evolution of the butchery chart, a subject near and dear to my
One of the other readers will be the design critic Akiko Busch, who I’m told will be reading a piece she wrote about a vegetable peeler (wish I’d thought of that). And the third reader — not yet confirmed but I’m told he’ll probably be on board — is a genuine titan of the graphic design world, Milton Glaser! If you’re a design geek, like I am, you can imagine how stoked I am to be sharing a bill with him. Very cool.
The event will run from 7pm-9pm, and it’s free. Hope to see some of you there.
And then a week after that, on June 5th, the Camden Riversharks will be running their “Old-Time Baseball Night” promotion. The entire team will be wearing striped stirrups (I picked them out for the team myself just last week), and I’ll be throwing out the first pitch, plus there’ll be a special pregame gathering for Uni Watch readers. And all Uni Watch readers will be able to buy box seats (normally priced from $11 to $20) for $8 apiece.
• First, go to this link. You’ll see the Riversharks’ May schedule.
• Then use the drop-down menu to choose “June 2008.” Once you’ve done that, click on the June 5th game. And then click on “Let me pick my seats from a seating chart.” You should then see a diagram of the Sharks’ stadium.
• See the teal seats right behind home plate, and the yellow seats extending down the baselines? All of those seats are available for the $8 price. Just click on the section you want and choose your tickets from the resulting “Eligible for Sale” seat listing.
• When you select your seats and click “Add to Cart,” the screen will initially show the regular ticket price. But when checking out, enter the promotional code “stirrups” in the appropriate field, and you’ll get the special $8 Uni Watch price. Whoo-hoo!
Uni Watch News Ticker: Check out Nick Swisher’s underbill inscription — it refers to his nickname, Dirty 30. ”¦ Speaking of underbills, many readers have noted that Bronson Arroyo is still using a gray model. ”¦ Bill Curran sent along some non-sports logos that probably should’ve gone back to the drawing board — look here, here, here, and here. ”¦ Follow-up on Thursday’s entry: Good info on silver-bar umpire masks here (with thanks to Neal Greenberg). ”¦ Nice little item on stirrups in the New York Times, complete with a photo-linked shout-out to yours truly (although I had nothing to do with he piece). ”¦ Here’s a new one: Several readers have noted that John Maine appeared to have his ears tucked into his cap the other day. ”¦ I haven’t been paying attention to the NBA playoffs, so I don’t know why Chris Paul has “Brian!” written on his sneakers, but I assume most of you do (photo courtesy of Chris Flinn). ”¦ Latest Shorpy gem: Check out those jackets being worn by the 1914 Philadelphia A’s (with thanks to Bob Andrews). ”¦ Honda F1 driver Rubens Barrichello had a special helmet design and car paint job for his 257th start on Sunday, which is the record for starts by an F1 driver (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). ”¦ Interesting discussion here about lacrosse officiating uniforms. ”¦ Good breakdown of Euro 2008 road kits here (with thanks to Max Rosenthal). ”¦ Creative use of baseball gloves here (blame Ryan Gray). ”¦ Interesting sleeve-patch dispatch from Jeff Barak, who writes: “Several sources, including Bill Henderson’s CD, list the Twins’ 25th-anniversary patch as having been worn in the 1985 season, probably because it has ‘1961-1985’ right on it. But I think it was actually worn in 1986. Here are some things to back that up: First is a game-worn 1986 jersey with the 25th-anniversary patch on it. Here’s another 1986 gamer, also with the patch. Next up is a 1985 Kent Hrbek jersey without the patch. And here’s a 1986 team-issued card set that features the same logo as the one on the patch.” ”¦ In sports, as in life, it’s important to not lose your head (with thanks to Brinke Guthrie). ”¦ “I was flipping through channels the other day and saw the German Bundesliga game between Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich,” writes Jeremy Brahm. “Wolfsburg player Marcelinho dyed the Wolfsburg logo into his hair (here’s a closer view).” On other occasions, he’s dyed his hair red and Belgian-themed (which was a mistake — he wanted it to be German-themed but got the colors wrong). ”¦ Yikes. ”¦ “Looks like Nate Burleson is using those titanium elbow sleeves, popular among baseball players, as calf warmers,” notes Jonathon Binet). ”¦ Just what the world needs: a Gillette-sponsored zamboni, as seen in Boston (with thanks to William Sodeman). ”¦ Last Thursday I linked to this photo Randy Johnson wearing No. 34 in 1993 but didn’t explain why he briefly wore that number instead of his usual No. 51. The reason, as noted in this story, is that he wore 34 for his final start of the ’93 season as a tribute to Nolan Ryan, who’d suffered a career-ending injury a few days earlier (nice find by Matthew Buscemi). ”¦ If he hadn’t already been banned for other reasons, I’d say Pete Rose should be banned for having worn a mesh-backed cap (with thanks to Greg Riffenburgh). ”¦ Mark Mihalik notes that Kaz Matsui has some seriously padded baserunning gloves. “They’re basically this batting gloves with some crazy padding (similar to soccer goalie gloves) added to the palm and fingers, and they seem to slip over his normal batting gloves,” he writes. “I’m guessing that the first base coach keeps them handy until Kaz reaches base.” ”¦ Lots of good observations from Mike Engle: an undertongue-inscriped uni number; Albert Belle’s “50-50” batting glove vanity strap (presumably added after his 1995 season of 50 homers and 50 doubles); and Tony Parker’s “VII VII VII” ring finger tattoo (he was married on 7/7/07). ”¦ Douglas Mulliken notes that the “LA” cap logo in this photo appears to have been raised/3-D/etc., way back in 1977. Was this a common thing back then? I thought the raised cap logos didn’t start showing up until the 1990s. ”¦ Giants rookie Kenny Phillips is wearing No. 21 as a tribute to Sean Taylor (with thanks to Alan Kreit). ”¦ Jay Winkler notes that Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car has a throwback Mountain Dew logo. ”¦ Several readers noted that yesterday’s rain delay gave WGN an excuse to broadcast footage from Jim Maloney’s 1965 no-hitter, which provided excellent views of the Reds’ subscript NOBs. For those unfamiliar with this style, additional examples are shown on this page (click on the Nuxhall and Rose thumbnails). It’s also worth noting that reader Ryan Whitacre used this style as the basis of his membership card. ”¦ “I’ve never seen an E for a baseball player number,” writes Jeremy Brahm. “Hopefully it meant he was an everyday player, not an error on every play. The picture, which is from 1949, is of Hiroshi Ohshita, who played for the Tokyu Flyers at the time. ”¦ Also from Jeremy: Golfer Miho Koga has problems with pollen and has been wearing a mask on the course. ”¦ Still more from Jeremy: Marco Andretti’s car is being sponsored by the new Indiana Jones film, so they’ve designed a new driving suit for him. ”¦ And one more: “In 2005, Japan’s Environmental ministry promoted its ‘Team Minus 6%’ Global Warming Campaign, which led to a promotional jersey with minus-6 as a uniform number.” ”¦ Goaltender observation from Jim Neilly: “Marty Turco has been wearing two goalie helmets throughout the playoffs; a black helmet at home and a white one on the road. I can’t recall any goalie doing this before. What’s more interesting is that at some point this season he wore the black helmet with the white road sweater. So did he begin this helmet-swapping just for the postseason? Have any other goalies done this before?”