Some people are compulsive documenters who pore over their files and scrapbooks; others are no good at documentation but are big on eyewitness testimony, repeatedly saying, “Trust me, kid, I saw it, I was there.”
The great thing about Ricko is that he fits both categories. If you read the comments section, you know he’s constantly saying he was in attendance (or glued to the TV screen) when a certain uni-related incident took place, and he often has the clippings to back up his claims. Here’s the latest batch of selections from that clipping database:
• Call it spatting, call it taping — by any name, Ricko says this is the earliest example he’s ever seen. And it isn’t just any player — it’s Jim Thorpe, playing for the Canton Bulldogs. “Can’t say exact year,” says Ricko, “but he signed with them in 1915, and his last season with them was 1920.”
• The 1970s Pirates appear to be a bottomless pit of Ricko fodder. The latest exhibits: Willie Stargell wearing white shoes
in the 1978 All-Star Game [Correction: As several commenters immediately pointed out, it appears to be a 1973 photo — odd, considering the caption], an awesome ad for Brookes spikes, and a montage of virtually every possible combo from the bumblebee era.
• And here’s an interesting Pirates tibit: As you know, the Buccos changed uniforms in the middle of the 1970 season — a change that included switching from black caps to gold caps. But they stuck with black batting helmets for the balance of that season, even after changing everything else — the helmets didn’t change to gold until the next season. (Also: Looks like Manny Sanguillen may have been wearing belted pants with his sleeved pullover in that photo. Not surprising that a lot of mixing and matching would have taken place after the mid-season uni switcheroo.)
• “This one comes under the heading of ‘Players Bending Team Rules When It Isn’t a Regular Game,’ ” says Ricko. “Y’know, like an ASG or a Japan Tour. But I did a double-take the first time I saw it, thinking maybe the Reds had worn red shoes for an opener at Riverfont or something. But after looking at it, I realized it was posed. It’s too perfect — the ump, for instance. Also, the only #24 Pirates had in ’71 was a pitcher named John Lamb. Unless he was pinch-running, he’d probably have been wearing a jacket. But it IS 1971 — note the button-front Reds jersey — well before the team allowed anything but plain black shoes. So it appears Concepcion (who later wore red shoes and white shoes in ASGs) decided to show how great the Reds’ unis would look if they wore those new red Adidas the White Sox and Phillies were introducing that year. And he was right.”
• But wait — here’s Don Gullet, circa 1971. Maybe they (or at least he) wore red spikes after all!
• You may recall that my recent Cubs column included an entry about the Cubbies inscribing each player’s uni number inside his helmet logo. Turns out they weren’t the only team to do this, as seen in this photo of Tommy Helms.
• Entertaining 1981 SI essay about football helmet logos. Among other things, the Bengals’ helmet is described as looking “like a varicose pumpkin,” a line I wish I’d thought of myself.
And now I have a sad announcement to make: After five weeks, of sifting through all the e-mails Ricko has sent me, I’ve finally caught up with him — no more clippings! I think we can all agree that this has all the makings of a Greek tragedy, or at least a serious case of withdrawal. Ricko, my man, rev up that scanner and gimme another fix, pronto.
Raffle-O-Rama: For all you soccer fans who say I never write about your favorite sport ”¦ well, I’m still not writing about it. But I’ve got a soccer-centric raffle for you. The folks at SoccerPro.com have given me a $100 gift card that can be applied toward any of their licensed gear. To enter, send a blank e-mail with your name in the subject line to the raffle address (not to the usual Uni Watch e-mail address, please) by 10pm eastern this Friday, August 8th.
Normally I automatically add three bonus raffle entries for all enrollees in the Uni Watch membership program. But I know many readers and members don’t care about soccer, and I don’t want to end up with a raffle winner who isn’t a soccer fan, so we’re going to handle things a bit differently this time: If you are enrolled in the membership program, you may send up to four e-mail entries; only one entry for non-members. I’m trusting you all to handle this on the honor system (i.e., if you’re not a member, please don’t enter more than once), so don’t fuck it up by cheating, OK? OK.
I’ll announce the winner next Monday, when I’ll also be announcing yet another raffle.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Speaking of soccer jerseys, check out this new new soccer top from Zanzibar. “It’s so repulsive and tacky that I had to send it your way,” says Pat Murray. … If you really love your team, bleed for it. Further details here (with thanks to Alan Kreit). ”¦ Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The pestilence of those Phiten-branded socks is spreading. ”¦ “Twin Enterprises has a line of hats comprised of most of the teams in the NHL (and some now-defunct teams),” writes Sam McCullough. “The fronts are all fairly standard and comprised of basic, distressed primary logos, and the back, is usually a team wordmark, and in some cases a secondary logo. But the Islanders cap features the far more badass stripe design element from the team’s jerseys.” ”¦ Another season, another Syracuse football uni. ”¦ You know how you buy a new cell phone or an iPod and it’s covered with a thin plastic film that you peel off? That’s the first thing I thought of when Jacob Reed sent me this photo. ”¦ The Chico Outlaws recently wore these uniforms for Aloha Night (with thanks to Lizzie Fox). ”¦ No matter how many times I look at it, the O’Brien Trophy looks like a beach ball perched on a trash can. … Remember Andy Messersmith’s “Channel 17” NOB? Listen to this, from Brent Hardman: “Driving to work this morning I was listening to AM 750 WSB, which is Atlanta’s biggest bews/talk station and until recently was the Braves’ radio flagship. They were talking about longtime Braves announcer Skip Caray, who died on Sunday. Apparently the host of the show, Mark Arum, suggested that the Braves retire the number 17 to honor Skip and all of the old announcers who used to broadcast all of the games on TBS when it was known as Channel 17. The remarks were then relayed to the Braves announcing crew doing the game on the West Coast for Peachtree TV, and they talked about it during the broadcast and thought it was a great idea. How weird is that? I’m not sure if they would really ever do it, or more importantly if they should (kinda doesn’t seem right to have the 17 up on the outfield wall with numbers of the great Braves of the past and Jackie Robinson). It just made me wonder if there were other instances of teams retiring numbers for such abstract things as TV stations.”