[Ed. Note: I was severely tempted to post a “Sunday Open Thread,” as I was detained for most of Saturday enjoying the wonderful company of some fine folks, who joined with yesterday’s Birthday Boy to help him celebrate his day. Due to it being one of those ‘weeks from hell’ at work, I didn’t have anything prepared for today. But today’s guest author was able to provide me with the story you’re about to read, and I’m grateful for his efforts. So, without further ado, I now provide you with his entry. Props to our great Northwest UW Correspondent, Jeremy Brahm, who will be exploring the fabulous world of volley ball uniforms. Enjoy — PH]
By Jeremy Brahm
Many Uni Watch readers know that I find some interesting things on international sports uniforms. Some is this comes from my regular news sources and other times, well you just find things and say “wow.”
Today I will provide a special look at volleyball uniforms will be one of those surprising stories. Sorry no beach volleyball guys or ladies, other than this.
Just as a mention, I played volleyball in high school and still follow the game as best as possible in a country that only watches it every four years. My first interaction with watching volleyball was in 1984 during the LA Olympics and I started to play after the 1988 Seoul games.
Here are some pictures of volleyball uniforms over the years that I have found in old magazines and online.
1922, the first national club champion, Brooklyn Central YMCA.
1925, Germantown YMCA club team. Check out the different Gs and also that which team was the “2nd” team.
1955, the US Women’s national team playing at the Pan Am Games. Notice that #4 did not have her belt on, and only #1 had a USA shield.
1964 Tokyo Olympics, Japan’s women’s team at Gold Medal match point.
1968, USA team in white at the Mexico City Games
1974, US women’s club champion with star pattern shorts. Maybe the 1994 US soccer team should have worn these.
1975, US men’s national team playing at the Pan Am games. This is Chris Marlowe who captained the 1984 team to the gold medal.
1979 UCLA men’s team with Sinjin Smith not on the beach!!! Plus notice the uniforms that look really like basketball uniforms, including the short shorts.
1984 US women’s national team in action with TNOB. The women have always seemed to have a different design from the men.
1988 US men’s national team in Seoul. Notice Karch Kiraly in the lower shot with the captain’s line.
1988 US women’s national team in Seoul had a diagonal blue line and the USA also at an angle. Yes, those are towels you see being held in by the “butt-hunger” spandex. The FIVB would not have play stoppages for wet floors, so the players would wipe up the floor themselves.
1992 US men’s national team in Barcelona. Historically the men’s team uniforms have been pretty bland. Small TV numbers on the sleeves.
1992 US women’s national team in Barcelona. The “shooting star” design with a white and red band growing in width from right to left. Also notice the small TV numbers on the sleeves.
1993, I like bubble butts, very safe for work.
1994 US women’s national team with a star patterned collar.
Leading up to the 1996 Atlanta Games, Champion took over the sponsorship of the national teams from Mizuno in 1993 and they went with a more patriotic design. A raglan sleeve on the left side with the white and red stripes of the US flag, followed by a blue patch of white stars. Look at Lloy Ball on the far right of the picture in the back row and the strip patterns appear to be mismatched. Plus the blue patch is only facing forward.
2000 USA women’s national team in Sydney with a dotted side panel. Also that’s Kerri Walsh #9 with a lot of clothing on. This was the only time that Nike sponsored either the men or women’s team, excluding on the beach.
2004 USA men’s national team in Athens
2004 USA women’s national team in Athens with stars underneath their right armpit only.
2008 USA women’s national team in Beijing
2008 USA men’s national team in Beijing
Hawaii used to be known as the Rainbows, and yes their players did wear rainbow patterned script on their backs.
As I started to play volleyball, the FIVB came out with the World League for the first time. This league was to promote an annual competition between the best teams in the world, instead of every two or four years (World Championships and the Olympics, which are separated by two year rotations).
I remembered watching the US play Japan on television in 1991 and I thought that I just seen one of the strangest uniforms in the history of mankind, this from an 18 year old at time. Sadly, it was pre-Internet and I can’t find any photos, so the best I could do was recreate it here.
But this uniform was designed by Japanese fashion designer Issay Miyake. Miyake was hired to change the fortunes of the men’s national team after the 1988 Olympics which had finished 10th in a 12 team field. Miyake had also been hired by Daiei a supermarket chain to redesign the uniforms of the Nankai Hawks who were purchased by Daiei and were being moved from Osaka to Fukuoka. Miyake came up with “Hawks Head” batting helmet, which was revolutionary then and even now.
Miyake took some pretty boring designs that the Japanese team had white tops and red shorts and threw them out the window.
Even the warmup suit looked the same.
Or a similar vertical text design in white with purple and green gradation.
By 1998 these gradations had been played out and then they went with a new design. I don’t know if it was a different designer or not, but still they were intriguing.
A white top with a circle pattern in a black half hoop, with yellow and red accenting half hoops. Usually paired with red shorts.
You can also see the black version on #6 in this picture.
In 1992, the team did improve to 6th out of 12 teams. But they did not even qualify for the Atlanta, Sydney or Athens games.
Since the Miyake experiment the Japanese team has come back to basic Japan colors, red, white and black with yellow, gold or grey accents.
I’d say that Miyake had some hits and misses with his uniforms. I thought that the gradations were good, but they should have done them based on Japan’s regular colors.
As you can see both from the USA photos and the Japanese photos, the uniforms have changed greatly in appearance over time, from long sleeve to short sleeve, from single colors with no patterns to color gradations and multicolored patterns.
Phil here … Just wanna give my great thanks to Jeremy for pitching in (in a pinch) with this column on the wonderful world of volleyball unis. I hope you found it as fascinating and entertaining as did I.
The following got some play in yesterday’s comments, but UW Winter Classic roving reporter James Huening related this uni news so important, it made Front Page News. (Here’s the second part, the third part, and the continuation page. James relates the story as it happened:
I can tell you how I was notified of this important story. I was upstairs painting my daughter’s room and my wife came in and said something to the effect of “Front page uni news! There was a basketball team that lost a tournament game because they had a technical called on them for a uniform violation. It was something about the stripes continuing to the front of the jersey.”
I thought she was talking about the NCAA tourney and I thought it was odd that I didn’t hear anything about it last night in the comments.
And Finally, I want to say thanks again Jeremy and also James for their contributions … I think I gotta learn to do this next time … Currently, I’m tied for 10th Place in the Uni Watch2 NC2A pool (using the blind squirrel technique) … Don’t forget: USA vs. Japan in the WBC semis tonight, and of course, lots more hoop action today … Hey Ricko — if I don’t speak to you before Monday, Congrats buddy! … Everyone have a great Sunday (I got this post ready for “press” at 3:00 AM, so I’ll be sleeping all day. Cheers!)