By Phil Hecken (turning the double play with UW Graphics Star, Paul Soto)
A few scant weeks ago, during a discussion in the Uni Watch comments section, a question was posed as to whether teams, like the Milwaukee Brewers, who currently wear “Team” names on their roadies, should sport their “City” name instead (as the Baltimore Orioles once wore, and will again be wearing during the 2009 season). “Ask and ye shall receive” was the refrain shortly thereafter in the comments, as UW stalwart Pretty Boy Paulie produced this fantastic concept jersey to give us all a visualization of what the Brewers away uniform might look like if the team were to place their city’s name on the front, instead of their current incarnation.
I must note here that others, such as UW poster Chance Michaels, have also conceptualized some new unis for the Brew Crew; here’s another concept. While coming up with new concepts for “your team” is nothing new, there has to be a reason the Brewers keep coming up as a team in need of a “tweak,” with an overriding desire to place the city name on the away jersey. Why hasn’t Milwaukee already done so?
It couldn’t be that “Milwaukee” is “too long” or would appear unweildy. After all, the Brewers have also worn these. Is it just resistance to change? Is it fear that by removing “Brewers” and replacing it with “Milwaukee,” they may lose (or alienate) fans from other Wisconsin towns? That is, of course, a subject for another day and time. But with Paulie producing that graphic that day on Uni Watch, my interest in the conceptualization of alternate jerseys was placed into overdrive from it’s already hyperactive normal state.
Paulie didn’t just “tweak” the Brewers uni, he took on others as well. He produced two more images that day, one of the St. Louis Cardinals, and one of the Tampa Bay Rays, each graphically depicting how those two team’s road uniforms would look were they to include their city name instead of the team name. Shortly thereafter, I contacted Paul to see if he’d be interested in ‘producing’ other concept jerseys for the other teams. He happily obliged, and has already provided me with more than sixty such depictions, some of which will be shown in this column. They range from the aforementioned “city-name-on-away” jerseys, to tweaks to current uniforms, to entirely new concepts, to what we have been calling on Uni Watch, the “fauxback.”
Uni Watch founder Paul Lukas didn’t coin the term, but I asked him for his definition of the word, to which he replied, a “fauxback” is “A retro-ish uniform that is clearly meant to evoke a particular design from the past but does not quite duplicate that design faithfully (sometimes due to laziness or inattention to detail, sometimes intentionally).”
But that’s Paul’s interpretation of someone else’s term. Pressed further, he continues, “I don’t know who coined it, and I’m not positive I’m interpreting it correctly. One reason I haven’t used it myself is that I’m not entirely comfortable with it — ‘faux’ has a very negative connotation, and I think some ‘fauxbacks’ don’t deserve the negative vibe. The Brewers’ throwback, e.g., isn’t an exact replica of their 1982 uniform, but the differences are intentional and, I think, perfectly acceptable. It’s not a ‘pure’ (i.e., exactly accurate) throwback, but I don’t think that’s a negative thing.”
With that in mind, two examples of what I deem a “fauxback” are found in the Phillies alt and the Indians alt. Because the term is still open to interpretation, however, I must note that Mr. Lukas doesn’t consider the Indians alternate to be a “fauxback” whereas I do. Your thoughts on this are welcome and encouraged.
So, without further ado, lets meet the man behind the UW “fauxbacks”, Mr. Paul Soto, also known as “Pretty Boy Paulie.”
Phil Hecken: So Paul, I, like so many others who frequent Uni Watch, love uniforms. First question: “What drove you to ‘tweak the MLB uniforms”?
Paul Soto: With a little Adobe Photoshop dexterity and imagination, anybody can make their uniform dreams come true.
PH: Well, I have Photoshop and I’d like to think I have an imagination, but I can’t do what you do. Anyway, what’s your take on major league uniforms?
PS: In my opinion, I believe most uniforms in the MLB are just a tweak away from perfection. Whether it is a logo switch, addition of a sleeve patch or just a splash of color on the number trim. Some, on the other hand, need a total revamp *cough* Blue Jays *cough*.
PH: How’d you get your screen name, and is that also your nickname?
PS: The nickname “Pretty Boy Paulie” is a childhood name that was given to me during my elementary years. Coach Jimmy Paul, my softball/baseball coach, would always heckle me from the dugout. I had a “thing” where I would dust off my uniform, straighten up my high cuffed socks and make sure my jersey was buttoned up and tucked in. I did this before every at bat, as soon as I got on base and in the outfield between pitches. Coach Paul would yell out “Quit being such a pretty boy Paulie! Get dirty!”
PH:: So, you’re kind of a “throwback” player, then. I’m impressed. Do you still do this?
PS: My strange tick has never disrupted a play nor has it ever took my attention away from a game. That was around 15 years ago and I still kinda do it.
PH: Nice. Do you have any other quirks, uniform or other?
PS: In my junior year of high school, I always wore different colored and striped socks for every game. I was about the only one who wore the striped socks and coach didn’t care for them. So homecoming game we were going to play at a stadium that had a turf field. That gave me more footwear freedom. I decided to break out a pair of gold and white Air Jordan XVI’s with white and navy striped socks. Our uniforms were replicas of Notre Dame’s. When coach saw me he said “Dammit Paul! Why do you have to be such a damn pretty boy”.
PH: OK, back to what we’re about to see. Which version of Photoshop do you use (because that’s obviously what’s holding me back), and can you tell me how you do it?
PS: Adobe Photoshop 7.0 is my current program for image manipulation (I know it’s kinda old). I pretty much start but using a the current uniform template of a team, you can find these on Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos. Then I paint over the logos, wordmarks and/or numbers that I plan to remove or adjust. You can use the paint bucket at a 10% tolerance, to ensure you don’t overpaint it and you get a smooth color. The “magic wand” is also a great tool to use when you’re try to remove unwanted colors and lines to ensure you get a seamless design placement.
PH: You lost me there, but that’s OK. We decided to do our first column on “fauxbacks,” which are my personal favorites for teams that absolutely, positively insist on having an alternate uniform. What do you think of them?
PS: “Fauxbacks” really should be utilized by all teams in the MLB…at least where applicable. It’s a great marketing tool and fans love nostalgia.
PH: What was your inspiration for the “fauxbacks” we’re about to see?
PS: I feel that “fauxbacks” shouldn’t just focus on one year or design in particular. They can take elements from different decades and generations and try to fuse them together. I just wouldn’t take a design from the 40’s and use logos from the 80’s on a uniform…but that’s should be common sense, no?
PH: Common sense and baseball design sometimes seem mutually exclusive. But for the most part, I LOVE your “fauxbacks.” Let’s have a look-see, and maybe you can describe your inspiration or guidelines for each one.
PS: Sure. Here we go! Some of these “fauxbacks” could actually become the team’s uniform! My designs are in bold.
Oakland A’s: You gotta love this one! This is one my favorites. The color combination is awesome! It’s based on the 1973-1984 design. Most of the design elements are still intact minus the green and yellow striped elastic waistband. The stripes were shrunk down in order to appeal to today’s modern crowd but still be true to the original. The A’s current colors were used, which really haven’t changed at all. Today’s colors are just a few shades darker. The green jersey can be worn at home as well as on the road. I did not produce a yellow jersey because I’m not sure if it would even be welcomed today. It would be best to keep the yellow jersey as a “throwback.” As a testament to the Athletics’ past.
Chicago Cubs: My second favorite! Last June the Cubs hosted a “Turn Back the Clock game” where the Cubs and Braves wore uniforms of the mid to late 40’s. Both teams looks MAR-VE-LOUS! The only problem was the Cubs’ uniforms were inaccurate. They wore navy caps that had a red wishbone “C’ with white trim….the Cubs never wore this hat. A royal blue cap with a red wishbone “C’ during those years. Their uniforms were pure white and not cream. So I wanted to correct that by doing a basic cream uniform that used their current numberals and current cap. The primary logo on the jersey was used from 1957-1978 which featured a thin blue ring around “Cubs”. Royal blue stir-ups with red stripes makes a return and is simply dashing. The road jersey‘s design is based on an early 40’s design and the wordmark was used from the early 50’s to the late 60’s. The jersey is to be worn as a vest and not a sleeveless jersey…there is a difference. Striped sleeves on the undershirt may be tough to pull off but a phone call to Nike and Majestic may get things sorted out….or am I being unrealistic? Striped stir-ups are worn and current numbers and cap is also featured.
Cleveland Indians: This one is inspired by the “adventurous” mid-70’s look. From 1973-1977 the cartoonish wordmark and cap logo rebelled, so to speak, from the Indians usual conservative look. The Indians’ current uniform template and typeface was used to balance out the color and wordmark. Red to stun at home and a navy blue jersey to keep it classy on the road.
San Francisco Giants: Another flashy design from a team’s conservative history in uniforms. From 1977-1982 the Giants jersey bore a script wordmark. San Fran’s current uni template and numbers are used. Black jerseys were used as an alternate and orange was on the road. Several years ago the Giants experimented with a black alternate but it featured black wordmark and numbers with orange trim…horrible. The Giants have worn black jerseys before and black is part of their color scheme. So I felt that it needed to be revisited and done properly. The wordmark and numbers now feature orange with white trim much like the original alternate jersey. The cap also harks back to that age with an orange brim…but the “SF” logo on the cap features a white trim. This was a personal decision…it matches the jersey’s typeface and it just looks better.
Baltimore Orioles: Now this jersey is a tricky one to pull off. It may look good on paper but how will it look on the field? I’m gonna roll the dice on this one and say the Orioles can pull it off. The Giants have also worn an orange jersey but the “busy” wordmark strains the eyes a bit. Baltimore wore an orange jersey begining in 1971 and continued from 1975-1992. The smooth “Orioles” script wordmark keeps it toned down. Current design template and cap is used. An old friend of the Orioles also appears on the sleeve patch. The smiling oriole was featured on the caps from 1966-1988.
Chicago White Sox: Most Sox fans that I have spoken with agree that the uniforms worn from 1982-1986 is their favorite. One reason being that it liberated them from the “worst uniform in baseball history”. You know which one I’m talking about…the shorts…the collar…the untucked jersey…the HORROR! The cap features a script “C’ that was worn from 1987-1989. Now the original early 80’s jersey featured a massive blue stripe with red trim across the chest and sleeves. I really don’t think that would work now a days so I cut it down to the edges of the sleeve and kept the simple “SOX” block wordmark across the chest. The player number is also featured on the front of the pant, a small call back to the days of yesteryear.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels haven’t radically changed their uniforms since their debut in 1961 (well, I’m ignoring the 1997-2001 Disney designed uniforms). Their current wordmark, minus the drop shadow, and typeface was kept. The same sleeve and collar striping was worn from the early 70’s through the early 90’s. It looked clean and sharp and it was brought back for this one. A navy cap with red brim is also featured with the current primary logo that has a gold halo. A lil bit of controversy may get stirred up with the sleeve patch. From 1970-1985 the Angels wore a sleeve patch that featured the state of California in red, with a gold halo and gold star placed where the Angels play. It may evoke emotions of communism…some may not see it at all. You decide.
Houston Astros: Ok so this one I had lots to choose from but I decided to keep it simple. I could have gone with a takedown of the CLASSIC “Tequila Sunrise” jersey but I’m sure I would do more harm than good. I used the current logos, wordmark and typeface. Blue, orange and splash of sunrise yellow was used to call back to the ‘Stros past. Something had to be done to show their history of flash and uniform pizazz. So I added a thin strip of piping from the colar down to the edge of the sleeve connecting to matching sleeve trim. This is inspired by the shoulder stripes of the 80’s.
Atlanta Braves: Last but not least is my third favorite. This one is reminicent of the Hank Aaron days in the ATL. “Braves” wordmark from 1972-1986 streaks across the chest. Royal blue cap with the “A” used on the batting practice caps is used here. I think this logo works better with the fauxback than on the practice cap. The pants have red, white and blue piping much like the original uniform from the early 70’s did. Clean and simple is the jersey with thin red piping above the edge of the sleeve and the best part of this uniform is the sleeve patch. The feather sleeve treatment was around from 1972-1979. On this jersey the red trim of the feather sleeve patch should seamlessly fuse with the piping. If Majestic can get this right it would be so awesome!
Awesome indeed Paulie. Thanks for sharing those “fauxbacks”!
This and That: Central Michigan University will be outfitted by the 3 Stripes next year…The “Magic” is back: Michigan State will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of its 1979 NCAA hoops championship…Blaming labor pains, Cornell will be severing ties with Russell, begging the question: Swoosh, 3 Stripes or Vector?…Dumping the “racist” Johnny Reb for a Griffin…what the hell is a griffin?…It’s ok to “be like Mike,” but I guess you can’t be like LeBron…“We’ve become bit of a nemesis because we don’t mind tweaking the Yankees every chance we get.”…Golf course not making any cashish? Close it down and
bilk thousands out of unsuspecting suckers in the name of “charity”, reopen it as a philanthropic enterprise…Does your kid need a custom-fit school uniform? Perhaps (s)he’s not getting enough exercise…And finally, newly acquired Rafer Alston went NNOB last night against the ‘cats, being forced to wear the emergency, nameless No. 36 jersey the Magic carry with them on the road.
Pretty in Pink? The Pink Parade continues this weekend, with the Missouri State Lady Bears donning the pink against Wichita State…Kansas will host the Iowa State Cyclones on Sunday, Feb. 22 in its annual “Pink Zone” game…Arkansas State University will oppose Denver in another “Pink Zone” faceoff.