By Phil Hecken
Anyone who reads Uni Watch has undoubtedly had the occasion to check out “Dressed To The Nines,” which is basically the Hall of Fame’s graphic representations of Marc Okkonen’s seminal Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century. Contained within the thousands of images is one that has always intrigued me: the 1936 Cincinnati Reds. You’ll notice in the graphic that one of the uniforms depicted is a Reds player wearing red pants. WHA?
Why the one year wonder? (In no other year, with the exception of the “mix and match” Bumblebee Pirates and the throwbacking White Sox, did a team wear only dark colored pants with a light top). I’d often been curious as to what made the 1936 Reds do something so seemingly revolutionary.
It turns out, the pants were developed as a function of nighttime baseball. In fact, they weren’t made of wool flannel or cotton, but satin. In Okkonen’s book, he explains:
The Cincinnati Reds introduced night baseball in 1935 and in the following year they commissioned the Goldsmith Company to produce a special uniform for occasional game use in 1936 and 1937. It is not clear what inspired this so-called “Palm Beach” version (possibly, it was the advent of baseball under the arc lights) but it presented some interesting departures from long standing Reds’ uniform tradition. In place of the standard C-REDS logo, the name REDS appeared in the now-fashionable red script lettering on the left breast. And the real shocker was the combination of white jersey and BRIGHT RED pants, which was only one version of the new Palm Beach ensemble.
Unfortunately, I don’t know if any of those 1936 uniforms are still in existence, but they surely would have looked striking, even today. One can only imagine how well they looked under the lights. Here’s what a reproduction of the jersey looked like.
While the Reds nighttime uniform preference was original to be sure, it was actually far from the only one. In fact, the Braves, Dodgers and Cardinals all wore satin uniforms (sparingly) for some night baseball.
The Boston Braves wore their satin uniform in 1948 (according to Okkonen — I’m not entirely certain this is correct). Like the Cardinals, the Braves satin uniforms didn’t drastically differ from their regular uniforms, with the exception of the broad red stripes and a red belt chamber (Okkonen mistakenly places them with a regular belt). I’m not real certain who manufactured their regular uniforms (Terry Proctor? Little help?), but the satin ones were manufactured by Horace Partridge, a local manufacturer.
The reason I am not certain whether Okkonen is correct is because I discovered this photograph online, which indicates the jersey was worn in 1946. It is quite possible the uniform was worn in multiple years, however.
Okkonen never specified (to my knowledge) the exact years worn, but one can surmise from his sketches when he believed they were. He continues about the satin uniforms:
The increasing popularity of night baseball also inspired an unusual “night-games only” shiny satin material on the game uniforms. The idea was that this more reflective material would add considerably to the viewing pleasure of baseball under the lights. Several National League clubs participated in this practice during the 1940’s ”” most notably, the Brooklyn Dodgers, whose road version of the night satins was bright powder blue with BROOKLYN displayed across the chest in white script.
Most of us are aware of the Dodgers wearing blue satin uniforms for a few night games in 1944. I believe they may have worn them in 1945 as well. Probably the most well known of the satin uniforms, we are most familiar with the baby blue look. However, I have reason to believe they may have had two different sets of blue satin, as clearly this uniform worn by Leo Durocher was a much more royal blue than the baby blue pictured above. For their Ebbets field games, the Dodgers also had a white satin uniform. In this black and white photo grabbed from the Life archives, I would bet this was from the “official unveiling” of the satin uniforms. Notice at the time the Dodgers were still wearing the McCuliffe font.
Additional proof that there were likely two distinct and different uniforms and in different shades of blue, comes from this photograph. Unfortunately, I did not note from where I grabbed that, but I believe it may have come from Lelands.
Whether it was a fad, or whether the uniforms proved too hot/uncomfortable, or not durable or whatever, or whether stadia lights just grew powerful enough over time, the satin uniform never took hold. It really would be another almost 30 years before baseball uniforms moved from the traditional decades-old materials to the polyester doubleknits and later other synthetics and blends, but the satin uniform is really somewhat of an unknown chapter in uniform history. If any of you good readers knows more, please feel free to elaborate in the comments.
Attention! Paul’s College Football Uniform Review…
… the one we all eagerly await, is running on ESPN right now!
Go ahead and Check It Out. It’s HUGE! (Important note from Paul: Although that link will automatically open in a new tab or window, you’ll be better off if you use your browser’s command to make it open in a new tab or window. Yes, that seems redundant, and it’s not worth explaining why it’s necessary, but it is — trust me.)
Take a while to peruse that, then come on back here and discuss it in the UW comments below.
Best Home MLB Uni Results
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
OK, not really, but the results of the “Best Home MLB Uni” poll are in. And now, to take us through it, is UW Pollster James Huening. Here’s Jimbo:
The Lions didn’t stand a chance. The Red Wings came close. Could the Tigers possibly make Detroit proud and take top honors in a “best uni” poll?
Indeed they did. And it really wasn’t even close. They collected nearly 150 more votes than their closest competitors, the Cardinals. The Yankees finished a distant third. Rounding out the list of also-rans (in order) are: the Giants, Dodgers, Braves, Red Sox, Cubs and A’s.
Interesting. First place in all the best uni polls has gone exclusively to midwestern teams so far. Top honors in the NFL home and road surveys went to the Bears and Packers, respectively. The Blackhawks won the NHL road (but should be home) and alternate uniform surveys. OK, actually it was the Oilers who won the thirds contest, but whatever. I meant teams based in this country. Or something.
Here are the final poll results.
Thanks, James. And thanks to all who participated.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back with the poll you’re all really waiting for — the “Design-A-Baseball-Jersey” poll. Alain has made his final decisions. And it will be up to you to decide whose design is best. Make sure you check back in for that one.
by Brinke Guthrie
Football season is here, so we’re all NFL this time. There’s a lot of NFL stuff I’ve never seen before on eBay, too.
• Mini-NFL highlights album — narrated by non other than Curt Gowdy. If you don’t know who Curt Gowdy is, you’re too young.
• Here’s a nice NFL mug — it says “NFL Properties” in the heading but I don’t see any particular designation as such.
• These look terrific — a big collection of NFL cardboard helmets from the 70’s. They remind me of the old Brookshier-Summeral highlights show.
• Great 60’s Saints bobblehead here.
• Got $400? If you do, this entire box of 1973 NFL cloth patches belongs to you.
• Just wanted to include this so I could mention “Otis Sistrunk” on Uni Watch.
• This is interesting- looks like a complete set of stickers that go on a Bengals helmet (minus the stripes.)
5 & 1
He’s baaaaaack. That’s right, after a whole summer hiatus (ok, not including the World Cup), Jim Vilk is here to regale us with his top 5 best, and one worst, uniforms for the college football season. OK, so the real football hasn’t started yet, so Jim will give the rundown on Div II schools, who have already begun play. Here’s Jim:
5. Bemidji State at Minot: B! E! A! V! E! R! S! Beavers! Beavers! Beavers!
4. Minnseota State-Moorhead at Missouri Southern: Nice Dragons helmet, but Southern has the nicer jersey.
3. Washburn at Colorado Mines: Ichabods (love that name) in white tackled blue monochrome and won.
2. Shepherd at Shippenburg: Lotsa blue pants, but fantastic above the waist.
1. Wingate at West Georgia: West Georgia’s wonderful stripes and colors atone for losing the game.
You’re already in mid-season form, Jim. Thanks for sharing.
First up today is Jamie Kilgore with “one of the ugliest things I have ever seen… A ‘Realtree’ camo Tennessee Titans jersey. Why do they make this stuff?” … Chris Cruz notes a new Champions League font, “I’m not sure this applies to all teams, but Chelsea has changed the font it uses for names and numbers for the unis they will wear for Champions League matches. The old version had the Adidas-ized three stripes font. The new font has block letters with a drop shadow and the Chelsea lion.” … Couple things from Sam Cat: 1) Sam saw this jersey weirdness from the Rockies when they were in Milwaukee. He knows different names are going to require different spacing and arching, but it was just striking to see two extremely different nameplate approaches right next to each other in the dugout. 2) on the subject of female mascots, the Lowell Spinners have a whole stable of mascots. The three main ones are on the team website: the Canaligator, his wife Allie-Gator, and their daughter Millie-Gator. In addition to all that, they also have the Instigator, apparently the ‘evil twin’ of the Canaligator. He wears a Yankees jersey. There’s also this weird little video about the Canaligator exploring free agency, much to the horror of his wife. … Hugh McBride found this article on the family of a HS football player who suffered a brain injury during a game last year is suing Riddell for producing a helmet w/ “dangerous and known defective design.” … Couple gator items from Mike Jaworski: University of Florida does have a female mascot to go along with the main male one. They are Albert and Alberta. They even have their own statues too. And secondly, here is a link to various crowd shots from a 1973 Florida at Auburn football game. There are a few team and cheerleader ones too, but the highlight (lowlight) for Michael is the very primitive Florida Gator mascot costume. … Nathan Eten says they have a pretty good duo of M/F mascots in Northern Kentucky for their Frontier League team, the Florence Freedom: Liberty and Belle. Belle has a skit in-between innings where she hits on an umpire. … Ryan Connelly asks, “the steelers advertising patches match the color of their jerseys… are they the only team in the league that does this?” … Mathew Robbins has pics of the new Northwestern Unis. (also sent in via this link by Casey Common) … Jon Alvani notes the last graf of this link: “How about a redesign? I am hearing that the Utes will get a new look when they enter the PAC-10, 11, or 12 next football season.” … Not sports related but logo related, says Steve Johnston, here’s the scoop on United & Continental’s merger … FSU lets it ride: BJ Lanier says “I guess not all colleges are super anal about their brand, ala Wisconsin. Funny thing is that Southeast High has blue and orange as their colors (Gator shades to a T!) and FSU still says it’s cool.” … OK on the gridiron, but not the pitch: The Newport (N.H.) High’s girls soccer team had two players in No. 25 jerseys at a tournament the other morning. So they solved the problem. Not gracefully, but solved nonetheless (thanks to Tris Wykes). … Beautiful grab from Larry Bodnovich: 1972 or so Miami Huricanes borrowing Miami Dolphins jackets. … Are the leaked Va Tech unis the real deal? Dylan Glickman offers more “proof”. Guess we’ll know for sure on Wednesday. … Michael Orr offers his Premier League Kits Weekly update. … Color vs. color AND possible helmet theft in one shot? Yup. Chris Mycoskie notes the color on color matchup between Arlington Lamar (navy) and South Grand Prairie (gold) in opening week of Texas high school football. I’ll be curious to see when the collegiate licensing folks come for SGP like they’ve done with so many other high schools, as they’re another team stealing Florida State’s helmet logo. … Evan Schreiber points out the New Pac-10 Patch. “Personally, not a fan of it because white is not an official USC color. Could have easily kept the colors just cardinal and gold,” says Evan. … Joe Schmidt sends along something that’s neither new nor earthbreaking — but is always appreciated: A picture of Rajai Davis wearing some nice logo stirrups. … Mike Vamosi was reading the college football preview at Omaha.com it appears the Nebraska Cornhuskers have moved their Adidas logo to the center of the jersey which he believes the company has done for Michigan. Mike Vamosi also notes that the Omaha Royals are moving to a new stadium next season and are doing this, naturally. … Randy Miller snapped a pic of USF’s new soccer kit. Says Randy, “From the front, it looks great…not sure why the stripe motif does not continue.” … Chris Hernandez who notes the Hudson Valley Renegades (single- A short season for TB) have a female mascot, Rene. Also shes “married” to the other mascot, Rookie. To boot, they have a kid, Rascal. they got married before a game at Dutchess Stadium in 1997, and “renewed their vows” at a game this summer. Here’s the whole family. … Dan Kaempff was the first to note Joe Jackson’s jersey is a fake, kind of like the 1919 World Series results. … More grabs from Larry B: Miami Hurrucanes wearing Giants jackets in 1962 game at Yankee Stadium in 1962; says Larry, “I assume it is a NY Giants jacket. I found other pictures of the Canes vs Huskers from the Gotham Bowl in 1962. Wonder when the Canes started to buy there own cold weather jackets?” … About 100 readers pointed out the Nyjer Morgan incident over the weekend. The important part is found in the ninth paragraph: “There were one or two guys in Section 148 that were riding him pretty hard for a couple of innings,” the fan said. “Mostly they seemed to be heckling him about the way he wore his uniform. He was the only player on the field who was wearing his [uniform] old-style with the full stockings. They were screaming at him about looking like a jockey. … Stuff like that.” Also reported in the Philly media. … Probably not new news, but here’s a look at the new Warriors home jersey (thanks to Zachary Charles). … Got an email over the weekend from No Mas, who, amongst other gear, are offering an I’m Calling It Giants Stadium tee. Sweet. … Ben Traxel thought it might be fun to look at President Obama playing Casey — “There is no joy in Congress, Obama has struck out.”
I want to apologize to a couple of readers whose ticker submissions didn’t make it in — for some reason, I was having major problems with the ticker — pictures were showing up in the wrong links for no apparent reason. I’ll try to add those who didn’t make it in today to tomorrow’s ticker.
Don’t forget to check out Paul’s ESPN College Football Review which is running here (but use your browser command to make it open in a new window).
I’ll be back for one more day tomorrow, then I’ll GLADLY hand the reigns back over to our fearless leader. Thanks for letting me be a part of your UW experience for the past month. Till tomorrow…
The Skins could keep their name, adopt Chief Wahoo as their mascot, hire Michael Vick and a defensive line of spouse-abusing Klansmen, and I’d still root for them if and only if they wore that helmet design. — R.S. Rogers