By Phil Hecken
Not so long ago, sage Uni Watch sexagenarian Rick Pearson approached me with an idea: “If you had to pick one — and only one — MLB team to wear, with its present unis, a gray road hat, which team would it be? And, as briefly as possible, say why.” Interesting, I thought. We had a few teams try the gray cap thing a few years back.
In fact, not all that long ago, the Pirates, Royals and Orioles all experimented with a gray road cap in the 1990’s or early 2000’s. Now, whether or not they were a “success” I suppose is all in the eye of the beholder, but clearly, the gray roadie never caught on. Maybe they didn’t sell well, maybe the teams didn’t like them. But this wasn’t the first time baseball had tried gray road caps.
In the early days of the modern era (just scroll through the first few sets of graphics), many teams wore separate home and road caps, and teams were especially partial to gray caps to match their road unis. As the years wore on, this faded out of practice, but not entirely, for as recently as the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, a few teams still employed gray roadies. The 1957 and 1961 Reds (note the lack of a ‘wishbone C’ on the latter), and the Kansas City Athletics of 1962 all sported a gray road cap. Going back a decade or so, the St. Louis Browns wore a away cap from 1940-1949. There were others to be sure, and they’ve spanned several eras in baseball, most recently with the three teams identified at the beginning of this article.
Ricko and I assembled a
bunch of stiffs panel of experts to get us started. Who might our panel of experts identify as a likely team to “go gray”? Let’s find out:
Let’s see what our panel came up with:
James T. Huening:
I’d go with the Cincinnati Reds. Gray crown (obviously), red brim/”squatchee”/eyelets/wishbone C. No dropshadow (if the Mets can do a blue and orange hat with their dropshadowed home unis, the Reds can do it on their roads). Essentially, it would look like this except with red stitching around the holes.
1) I think the gray crown would look best with a brightly-colored brim so no mostly black or blue teams.
2) I loved the Reds’ mid- to late-90s home unis with the pinstriped caps and wished they’d done a road version in gray the way they did in the 50s & 60s.
3) I think their current road cap looks terrible. Red crown/black brim just doesn’t work.
Thinking should be one of the older teams, because it’s a very old style…a traditional team that, say, never messed around with powder blue, either. Though some would think it heresy, I picked a team with a road uni already markedly different from its home, adding a team color not even on the homes. Elegant in its simplicity, this gray hat has no two-tone letter than flies in the face of their general history of classy, understated unis.
How would they look? Ricko’s mock
Well, if it’s with the current unis, and since the Jays need a complete overhaul, I’d say the MARLINS. If they’re not going back to a teal hat, a gray one might be nice. Black brim with teal eyelets and button.”
Ben Traxel: (who couldn’t chose just one)
There are very few, if any teams that I’d want to wear a gray hat. My reasoning: Gray is a field color on the away uniforms. Doesn’t have to be gray and I’d wish many other teams would explore other opportunities for field colors, but gray is the dominant one right now. Wish it were textured gray but for now it is just flat gray. Putting it on the hat is too much. The hat gives an opportunity for the real team color to be shown, much like the undersleeves, socks and wordmark/numbers. To relegate that to more of the field color takes away more identity of the team colors and makes the uniform even more boring than many already are. By adding piping to the lid at the seams, while there is a history to it, turns it into a clown hat or pinwheel hat. Never really liked that on the old models. It does add some color up there but not enough and I’m just not a fan.
Now, teams that it might have a chance to work? My choices are teams that have silver as a team color or something close to it. Again, this is because it is a team color and not a field color. I’ve found a small handful of teams that it might work on if designed properly.
And possibly the Mariners.
In all cases they need a colored bill of course. Also, they need uniform tweaks to make them much better. Especially the Rocks and Marlins. They both need to dump the Yankee copycats and the Marlins need to switch to navy blue. No need for hot black in the hot sun. Navy blue at least is a cool color, though still dark, and much better represents the ocean colorscape. I like the purple on the Rockies but they need to use it more and go to more silver and much less black. The White Sox, after years of changing things up every three annuals or so have been stuck on this current scheme too long. It’s not bad but it’s just time to move on. The Mariners are just boring but silver looks like it could be part of their scheme.
SEATTLE MARINERS. I just think the Mariners look a little boring far away, but they look awesome once you allow for a close-up. They do a very modern-glam version of a ‘traditional classic’ uniform, so I think the M’s could pull it off. Gray body, navy bill, thin navy soutaches on five seams (all except the very front), teal squatchee, and current S-compass logo on the front
Thank you gentlemen. As for me? I’m not a big proponent of the gray road cap, but like James, I detest teams who don’t have black in their color scheme (at least technically — accents don’t count, in my book), so they shouldn’t wear it on their cap — especially not at home. That being said, I wasn’t necessarily a big fan of the all gray caps they broke out for the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium. But, I think I could be persuaded to select a gray crown for a certain team from New York who insists on BFBS. Either with the orange interlocking “NY” or with the current road insignia, I could support that.
Ricko, for his part, not only liked the Tigers, but if he could add a second team to the mix, he thought the Cardinals could ditch the blue and go gray for a tip of the cap (pun firmly intended) to the old Gas House Gang.
What say you, dear readers? If you could select one team to sport a road gray cap, who would it be, and why? And if not, why not?
Were you to “oppose” a gray cap, you wouldn’t be alone. Robert Marshall was asked what team he might want to see. His response: “there are none teams that would look good in a gray hat, it is a miserable look. there are some teams that might be able to pull off white as long as it had soustache, but nobody looks good in a gray hat, no. bod. eee.”
So what do you think? Let’s hear it.
Design-A-Baseball Jersey Contest Update
*Wipes Brow*. OK, I have finally gotten around to uploading everyone’s entries — and I have to say — there are some pretty impressive ones. I didn’t count, but I’d estimate there are 100. Getting it down to the final 9 (on which the readership will vote) is going to be a challenge for Alain Nana-Sinkham (the gentleman who will be making the jersey for the winner). But before we get to that, I want to show off all the entries to the readership. That will be taking place next week — I haven’t quite decided how I’ll do that, but perhaps a main entry and then additional viewings after the main posts.
I need to have contact with three entrants, so, if you’re reading this today — please send me an email. Those gentlemen are as follows:
Anyway, this should be a great contest, and I promise I’ll get all the submissions out to you guys next week — one way or the other. OK? OK!
Uni Watch News Ticker: Starting off today is Tommy Gilbert, who was at the Portland Sea Dogs-Richmond Flying Squirrels game, and at least 3 of the Richmond players were wearing some great stirrups. Says Tommy, “They look like the same style as San Fran’s new stirrups, but with red instead of orange. Is this an organization-wide thing, or did the Flying Squirrels and/or their players order the stirrups on their own?” … Zachary Charles brings us a first look at the Warriors new duds. “I for one hate the white racing stripe down the sides,” states Zach. … Andrew Hoenig found a great Phillies mug with the ’70s “P” on eBay. … How did USF get their nickname? Mike Edgerley informs us they were almost the “Buccaneers” (14 years before the NFL Franchise existed). The present nickname has more than a little to do with U. of Texas. … We know Francisco Cervelli used David Wright’s glove, but Steve Jones tells us that Cervelli, who normally goes sans batting gloves, wore Robinson Cano’s older Nike Show Elite batting gloves during Monday’s rainy game. “You could see in a few screen shots (which I sadly don’t have) that the gloves had Cano’s number 24 patch sewed into the inside wrist. I suspect it was because of the rain giving him grip problems with his bare hands,” he adds. … BFBS Lake Show? Jordan King “came across this monstrosity. Please tell me LA never actually wore those in a game.” … Philip Leverrier alerts us to possible slight tweaks to the Wiz (also noted by James Noone and Jeremy Walker). … In a similar vein, Andrew Piroso asks, “Heard anything about the 76ers getting new uniforms? The collar is clearly different in the two pictures and it appears the Evan Turner worn jersey returns to a mesh style jersey.” I asked Paul about this, and he replied, “The NBA is planning a big announcement regarding fabrics and other uniform elements, which will affect every uniform in the league. Expect to hear more about this on Sept. 21.” … Is Michigan planning to “standardize” their M logo? Jason Heminger just came across this regarding one logo for Michigan. …Cody Dannen wanted to set things straight regarding yesterday’s “hideously ugly marching band” ticker link. It was, according to Cody, “actually to a drum corps. Like marching band on steroids. Just a little clarification as I know drum corps people can tend to freak if referenced as a marching band. And as a side note I attached a very cool drum corps show for your viewing pleasure.” … What, no white versus white matchup? Our fearless leader, Paul Lukas, notes the Panthers jersey schedule, as well as the Bengals jersey schedule. “Only problem,” advises Paul, “is that they both claim to be wearing white for their Week 3 game against each other, which obviously isn’t gonna happen. Panthers are the home team in that game, so for now I’d assume their listing is correct and that Cincy will wear black that day.” … Some “Vikings plane” shenanigans was spotted by John Muir. According to John, during the recent “Favre-a-palooza, there was a montage of Brett drama going back to 2008. What stood out was the team plane in August of 2009 and today: the team logo disappeared this year. The 2009 and 2010 team charters featured the same ‘shoulder gusset’ design at the junction of wing and fuselage, yet the tail was blank this year. The team logo seems to have been taken off sometime after last year’s Brettgate.” … Well, here’s one way to disrespect the king: Jim Vilk has seen this guy a few times. “Drags his old Lebron jersey around town.” Nice! … Stephen Chavez found this article on new Notre Dame unis. … Here’s an even better look (thanks, Paul) … “Your center wears argyle socks!” Sounds like an insult. But it’s true at Oxbow High in Bradford, Vt. (Thanks to Tris Wykes). … Great news from Rich Meyers, Director of Game Operations of the Grand Rapids Griffins announces that frequent UW “Design-A-___” Contest contributor Ryan Muraro has been selected as the winner of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ second annual jersey design contest. Congrats Ryan! … Here’s a new Mental Floss Quiz courtesy of Jason Hillyer (also sent in by Tim West). … Wow-eee — how awesome is this helmet car commercial starring Mr. Met? I’d never seen that one (big thanks to Chris Flinn). … “Something struck me,” states Mark Rybczyk. “Not one of the 4 major franchises here (NFL Cowboys, MLB Rangers, NBA Mavericks and NHL Stars) have uniforms with the teams nickname on them. The Rangers 4 sets of uniforms (Home white, Away Gray, Red and Blue) all say TEXAS. The new Stars Home and Away simply say Dallas as do the Mavericks Home and Away. They Cowboys just have numerals on the front. Is this the first time that a city that has hosted the 4 major sports franchises has been without a single nicknamed uniform? … More wonderful stuff from Larry Bodnovich: “Found these 2 pictures of Northwestern vs Minnesota from early 1920’s. Pinned numbers and 4 digits. I have no idea why 4 digits.” … Nice shot of the Tampa Bay Rays BRaysers (courtesy of Wayne Koehler) … It’s not just in the UniVerse that we campaign against black jerseys (thanks to Hugh McBride for the tip). … D. Bragdon brings us the news we’ve been waiting all summer to hear: The Cardinals will wear their BFBS jerseys during the preseason, breaking them out for a Thursday Night (Sept. 2) game against the Redskins. … Update on the Nike Pro Combat unveilings from Paul: The unveiling will take place in Manhattan on the morning of Sept. 1st. Paul will be attending and will have a plenty of coverage either later that day or the day after. “Not yet sure how I’ll divvy up the material between the blog and Page 2,” he decrees. (And no Kek, Paul doesn’t know if they’re bringing back the Pitt script. Even he hasn’t seen any of the designs). Although the specific game dates will supposedly be announced when the uniform designs are unveiled, Ohio State has already gone ahead and said their game will be against Michigan on Nov. 27 … OK, then — Michael Cooperman says, “Look closely – those aren’t helmets, those are caps! Outlet mall just outside Palm Springs, CA.” And??? … Mike Fisher (himself) has the definitive truth on the Mavs unis. … Genius grab from Mike Page, who notes: “It would appear that after being fired by the Nationals for the jersey typos, the person responsible for forever adding NATINALS to our lexicon went on to a webmasters career with the Inland Empire 66ers, the Dodgers A level affiliate, who happen to be the first stop on Manny Ramirez’s rehab stint. Check this photo out from their site, promoting Manny’s appearance. Here’s the link, if it hasn’t been fixed yet.” The best part is Mike was quick enough to do a screen grab, so proof of the error will forever exist.
I would like to extend a hunting trip to him deep in the woods somewhere. — Todd Helton (to Wayne Hagin, after Hagin had intimated Helton used steroids in the 1990s)