Uni Watch Art Portfolio: The Charles Noerenberg Files

When someone sends me a batch of childhood uniform artwork, we’re usually talking about 15 or 20 drawings at most. But Charles Noerenberg recently uploaded 133 pages’ worth of illustrations, many with multiple illos per page, that he created between the ages of 10 and 16 (1994-2000), and it’s a really impressive batch of work. He gives the back-story like so:

I grew up a huge sports fan, mainly football and baseball, and I was always obsessed with the team uniforms and logos. I had a bunch of those Hutch football uniforms for several teams (that’s me on the right) and I’d go everywhere dressed up as a player (or a Ghostbuster, or Turtle…). The one thing that always frustrated me was the lack of availability of the NFL team socks, which were my favorite element of the uniform. My mom was actually nice enough to sew me some, for teams like the Cowboys and Packers, that were like leggings I’d wear over a white sock.

Anyway, my other passion growing up was drawing. I was always doing it, whether at home or on the go. I had a little drawing kit I’d take everywhere, which consisted of paper and a box of markers/colored pencils. I drew sports figures almost exclusively — my favorite players, uniforms, concepts — and I was a detail freak. I loved all the uniform nuances, like the NFL shield, brand logos, patches, etc. So as you’ll see, my art is full of logo creep.

I drew avidly up until high school, when, for whatever reason, the passion left me. Now I am graphic designer and my work is done on computer, but some day I’d like to get back to my roots.

I’m pretty excited to finally have these all up on the web. I included shots of a little project I that started as Thanksgiving-break busywork. It involved creating a turkey from a paper plate, and I decided to make my turkey dressed like Troy Aikman. From this, I went on to create several team plates, some I finished as turkeys and some I left as just the uniform (which I thought looked good as-is).

As a bookend, here’s a shot from a couple of years ago, when my Bears sock dream was finally realized thanks to eBay.

Well. The turkey/plate drawings are fun, but a lot of Charles’s other stuff is at least as noteworthy. Here are of the ones I found most interesting:

• I like these NFL logo studies. Here a finished color version.

• Interesting that no football team ever tried to wrap sleeve stripes around the back like this.

• Also interesting that the Chargers have never put lightning bolts up the sides of their jersey (and let’s hope it stays that way).

• I’m surprised by how much I like this White Sox concept.

• You know how the Pats’ 1990s jersey had those alternating bands of blue? Here’s how it would look if the Packers tried something similar.

• The art set includes some cartoon-ish pieces, all of them featuring the same stubble-faced character competing in various sports.

• Charles also created his own imaginary football team, the Las Vegas Saguaros, which played in the Cactus Dome and had rather USFL-esque uniforms. He envisioned a hockey version of them as well.

And so on. It’s a great body of work — I strongly recommend clicking through the entire set.

And speaking of childhood logo artwork: Reader Andrew Fladeboe has taken things a step further. I’ll let him explain:

My friend from college and I have created our own sports league with logos to match. Something we both did when we were kids. We sell the logos on a variety of shirts. It’s not really a profit-making venture but more of a hobby.

We both went to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and were among the few avid sports fans there. I played for their club hockey team, the infamous Nads. I’m sure you’ve heard of our giant phallic mascot.

My friend who designed most of our T-shirt logos is a painter and fashion designer who has and pretty much only does sports-related art.

You can also see some of my own sports-related paintings on the right side of this page. And for good measure, here’s a cool photo of my dad’s high school football helmet.

Okay, so that sort of ventured beyond the realm of childhood logo art, but it’s still pretty cool. Thanks for sharing, Andrew.

Culinary Corner: When I watched the Oscars on Sunday, I was watching them at the home of a friend who was throwing an Oscars party. He had asked everyone to contribute some food, so I thought for a bit about what I should bring, even though I knew all along that I’d probably end up bringing my old stand-by, the hors d’oeuvre that’s won me raves for years, the one that makes everyone happy and makes me look like a genius.

Three words, people: Bacon. Wrapped. Dates.

It’s super-easy: Buy yourself a one-pound pack of bacon (the slices should be as straight as possible, without any kinks or curves) and a 10-ounce container of pitted dates. Before opening the bacon, slice the pack in half crosswise, so the slices are now half their original length. Then remove the bacon from the plastic, peel off a half-length bacon strip, and place it on a cutting board. Place a date at one end of the bacon strip, roll the strip to encircle the date, place the finished treat on a rimmed baking sheet, and repeat. It’s like making pigs in a blanket, except you’re making dates in a pig. Or something like that.

Continue along until you run out of dates and/or bacon (the two amounts should come out almost exactly even). Drizzle liberally with balsamic vinegar and then pop the baking sheet into a 400ish-degree oven for about 25 minutes. Serve with toothpicks so guests can skewer the treats without getting their fingers greasy.

I realize it would have been more useful if I’d told you about this before the Oscars. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there’s no bad time for bacon-wrapped dates. Serve them at your Final Four party, your St. Paddy’s Day party, your vernal equinox party, whatever. You’ll be glad you did, and your guests will be even gladder.

Giveaway Reminder: I’m giving away two classic old NFL LPs. Full details here.

House of Hearts Reminder: My continued thanks to those of you who’ve contributed to my House of Hearts Bonspiel sponsorship fund. If you can kick in a mere five bucks (or more, if you’re feeling generous), it’ll go to a worthy cause and help me earn my keep at the charity curling tournament where I’ll be competing later this month. Full details here.

Uni Watch News Ticker: A Phillies blog recently opined that a certain photo was “the greatest spring training photo ever,” and it’s hard to argue with them (major thanks to the pride eastern Pa., Amy Fritch). ”¦ Then again, I’m rather partial to this spring training photo (glassy-eyed, drooling thanks to Joe Plate). ”¦ Yesterday I mentioned that Auburn’s baseball team has six different caps. Now Benji Boyter informs me that Clemson has at least five, “plus I believe there is also a sixth cap, which is an orange hat with a purple brim, but I couldn’t find a pic anywhere and this may just be a figment of my imagination.” ”¦ Here’s a weird one: All the players on Rouen Baseball 76, a French team, wear 76 on the front of their jerseys, but they have their regular uni numbers on the back (interesting find by Jeremy Brahm). ”¦ Lance Berkman had to wear an NNOB scrub jersey on Friday, because his regular jersey was late or misplaced or something like that (with thanks to Brandon Hamburg). ”¦ Oklahoma’s baseball team wore northwestern-striped stirrups over the weekend (with thanks to Arin Mitchell). ”¦ The Brooklyn Cyclones have been holding a uni deisgn contest for local schoolchildren. Here are the finalists (with thanks to Terence Kearns). ”¦ Someone apparently had a cap very much like the current Rays cap years before the Rays were wearing that design. Can’t say I find this to be a particularly compelling mystery — could be a high school cap from Teton Prairie, or whatever, right? — but hey, knock yourselves out if you like (with thanks to Josh Coney). ”¦ If you’ve been dying to know the stories behind the Idaho Steelheads’ uni numbers, today’s your lucky day (with thanks to Mark Snider). ”¦ “I don’t know who this team was, but they wore a lot of stripes,” says Uni Watch Life magazine scholar Lance “Squiddie” Smith. “Those photos are from a set called ‘National Intercoll. Basketball.,'” dated March 1938. Some of the teams shown in the photos include Washburn, St. Ambrose, and Jordan so it must have been the 1938 NAIA Men’s Division 1 Basketball Tournament. There were a couple other good uniforms: Delta State (Mississippi) had their uni numbers in a delta (i.e., a triangle), and this team playing St. Ambrose had some great striped socks.” ”¦ Astros pitcher Bud Norris was busted yesterday for wearing a white glove on the mound (with thanks to Jason A. Chapman). ”¦ Ball State is still hassling a high school over appropriating its crummy logo (with thanks to Justin Howland). ”¦ No photo, but Advait Ramanan says Alex Ovechkin was wearing a Reebok undershirt with the NFL Equipment logo on it during an intermission in last night’s Caps/Stars game. ”¦ I’m getting lots more reports of MLB players wearing the new Gazoo helmets. At this point it mostly seems to be prospects with very high uni numbers — in other words, minor leaguers, which makes sense, because the S100 will be mandatory in the minors this year. Still trying to get more details from Rawlings — stay tuned. ”¦ Meanwhile, Matt Edwards says the new MLB 2010 video game includes an option to put a Gazoo on David Wright. ”¦ Here are the uniforms for the Kyoto Asto Dreams and the Hyogo Swing Smileys of the Girls Professional Baseball League in Japan, along with their mascot characters (courtesy of Jeremy Brahm, natch). ”¦ Steve K. was watching some old NFL footage and spotted Jets FB Dwayne Crutchfield wearing a non-standard NOB font. ”¦ John Muir reports that the logo for this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll features a jogging bunny (the cottontail sticking out through the shorts is a nice touch, no?).

View Comments (180)

  • Posted this photo last night as bit of a "trivia question" (but didn't stay up late enough to confirm anyone's replies). Who is this?
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4010/4418238969_0284a218ce_o.jpg

    Said his short career began and ended with the Dolphins, but that he got more media attention while with another team.

    It is, as a couple UWers correctly noted, John Stofa. The expansion Bengals traded a pair of draft choices to the Dolphins for him, and he was projected as the Bengals' first QB. Didn't work out that way when they drafted Greg Cook.

    Stofa played at University of Buffalo just before they gave up on college football, so I wonder if he wasn't the last Bull to come into the NFL or AFL from that era of football at the school.

    ---Ricko

  • Talk about geo-centric.

    Everything in that story on the link about the myserious "TB" hat centers on "What other Tampa Bay hat could it have been?" So Tampa Bay's the center of the universe now? Geez.

    I first thought of Thunder Bay, for example, and I'm sure there are any number of towns, high schools, companies, or recreational softball teams in North America (or the world, for that matter) that might have used "TB" in a common serif font in a vanilla design on a generic navy blue baseball hat.

    The writer of that story seriously needs to broaden his field of vision a bit.

    ---Ricko

  • So it seems that quite a few giants are wearing the stirrup version of the new socks, then? Seems the stirrups have the stripes closer to the (proper) center of the leg than the socks do.

  • [quote comment="381007"]really?

    don't recall that one participating the captial one mascots challenge[/quote]

    That guy must be nuts to go out on the ice without skates like that

  • I assume all those teams that are wearing multiple caps (Clemson with 5 as reported here today, Auburn with 6 as reported yesterday) are getting the caps for free from the uniform makers. Because, you know, it would be crazy if schools were canceling non-revenue sports like track and field but using money for more caps and uniforms in other sports.

  • Baseball is still a non-revenue sport at most colleges. All the uniforms and caps are provided as part of the marketing deal with Nike or whomever. UNC-CHapel Hill has 3 different batting helmets this year. Navy for Fridays, Carolina blue for Saturdays and the dorky big-head white with blue brim for Sundays.