I don’t think I’ve ever devoted a lead entry to the subject of a vintage garment I’ve acquired, but I’m going to do that today, because I scored something very, very special over the weekend.
First, a bit of background: Although I don’t often talk about it, I’m a semi-serious bowler. Got my own ball, my own shoes (left-footed, natch). Never been part of a league, but I’ve always bowled on a fairly regular basis (back when I had a normal office job, I’d go pin-bashing at least once a week on my lunch hour), and I maintain a pretty consistent 170 average. My high game is 231, and I crack 200 just often enough to make me think I don’t suck.
As you might expect, I hate computerized auto-scoring, and I’ll go out of my way to avoid it. Seven years ago I discovered the Perfect Bowling Venue: a tavern in Paterson, New Jersey, that has a back room with four beautiful early-’60s lanes. Manual scoring, $2.50/game, cheap beer, excellent gravy-cheese fries — heaven. The fact that the place is called Paul’s Bar & Bowling is a nice bonus, like I was fated to bowl there (unfortunately, I have no photos).
Paul’s is about a 75-minute drive from my house, which may seem like a long schlep just to go bowling, but it’s also just 10 minutes from the storied Rutt’s Hut, home of New Jersey’s (and hence the world’s) finest deep-fried hot dogs, so I usually just combine the two stops into a full day of north-Jersey fun. I try to make this trip about once a month.
I have my share of cool bowling shirts, which I enjoy, but until a few days ago I’d never owned a bowling jacket. So you can imagine how jazzed I was this past Saturday when I found this in a Brooklyn vintage shop. Ain’t it a beauty? The chest emblem is gorgeous, but the real prize is the back — is that totally hot or what? Nice label to boot. Fits me just right, too.
Now here’s the kicker: When I got home after purchasing this magnificent speciment, I googled Berles Carton, the company whose name is on the back. Turns out it was a box factory in Paterson, New Jersey — the same town where I go bowling. How completely perfect is that?!
And as long as we’re talking vintage, I also scored this wool/mohair sweater, which isn’t really uni-related, but the stripes are sorta zebra-ish, no?
And now a word from someone who actually knows about this stuff: Yesterday’s post regarding vintage uni-related items up for auction prompted a reply from longtime sporting goods maven Terry Proctor (that’s him at left), who had a few thoughts to share:
About that May & Halas tag, Papa Bear actually ran a team-supply sporting goods store in Chicago. They sold uniforms by Wilson and King-O’Shea, a Wilson subsidiary. The Bears used Wilson or K-OS uniforms right up until the NFL decided to go with a single manufacturer. At one time Halas had his office at the store — in this book, Lamar Hunt mentions that he (Hunt) visited Chicago for a meeting with Halas “at his sporting goods store.”
On Jerry Rhome’s helmet: The facemask is made out of magnesium and was dipped in gray vinyl. The mask manufacturers of the day went by Henry Ford’s credo: “Any color as long as it’s gray.” And that MacGregor helmet was actually a clear plastic shell with the color applied to the INSIDE of the shell. Also note the little nylon plastic fasteners peeking out at the front and the jaw pad area. They also are on the back but aren’t visible in the photos. The front, rear, and jaw pads all were applied with these fasteners. We had a special tool to remove/replace them. The padding at the crown of the helmet was permanently riveted to the shell. All pads were covered with real leather.
This style of helmet could also have your team decals and striping applied inside the shell, but the turnaround time was very long so we didn’t mess with it that often. The idea was good but never panned out.
Another gimmick from that era was the “Swivler” football cleat — the front cleats were built into a pod that actually “swiveled” when you turned your foot. It was supposed to reduce the number of knee injuries. Fundamentally a good idea, but mud and grass got into the mechanism and prevented it from working properly. After an initial curious interest in the product, coaches and teams returned to things that they were familiar with.
Big thanks to Terry for sharing his expertise. I’ll have a Uni Watch Profiles interview with him in the near future.
Research Project: I’m busy attending an investigative reporting workshop today, but here’s something I could use a little help with: I’d like to know how many pinstripes were on Cecil Fielder’s jersey when he played for the Yankees (I’m sure most of you can guess where this one is going). Forget about the sleeves — I just want to know how many pinstripes were on his torso (front and back), sort of like counting lines of longitude on a globe. So start googling photos of Fielder, get out those magnifying glasses, and let me know what you find.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Looks like Daniel Gibson was wearing kinesio tape the other night. Is that an NBA first? (With thanks to Brendon Yarian.) ”¦ Here’s an all-time classic: a pair of Lou Gehrig pants patched on the inside with sugar bags (great find by Jared Wheeler). ”¦ I think we’ve previously included Jose Lind on the list of players who’ve worn pins on their caps, but here are some particularly good views of it. Plus Lind also engaged in a bit of underbill adornment, although I can’t make out what he wrote there (all this courtesy of Andy Chalifour). ”¦ Can someone please explain why the Xcel Energy Center’s online seating chart has two giant swooshes on it? (As spotted by David House.) ”¦ While we’re at it, can someone explain why the Xcel Energy Center has such a pathetically embarrassing name? ”¦ The scourge of purple neckties continues (with thanks to Chris Shockey). ”¦ UNO wore special military appreciation jerseys last weekend (with thanks to Dan Owen). ”¦ Looks like Ken MacAfee, who wore No. 81, was wearing a No. 3 jacket (good spot by Mike Engle). ”¦ This season’s Stanley Cup logo will look like this. ”¦ Color-vs.-color alert: Illinois/Chicago State last night. … The Red Sox will unveil their new road jersey, alternate jersey, alternate cap (which you’ve already seen), and primary logo today at 6pm. … Bonus points to anyone who recognizes the drawing at the top of today’s entry and the role it played in one of my pre-Uni Watch projects. … I’ll be off the grid today, so Phil will be minding the store, plus he’ll have tomorrow’s entry. It would be swell if y’all could keep the comments section from turning into a Star Wars convention. Thanks.