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Uni Watch Profiles: Jerry Reuss, Part 1

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(Photo courtesy of Jerry Reuss)

A few months ago I began getting e-mails from a guy named Jerry Reuss. To my surprise, he turned out to be, you know, that Jerry Reuss — the former big league pitcher who won 220 games over the course of 22 seasons.

Jerry has turned out to be an extremely interesting guy. He maintains a snappy-looking web site, has his own Flickr account, and generally seems more engaged with the world than most athletes I’ve known. He may also be the only athlete of his generation — or at least the only one I’m aware of — who routinely interacts with bloggers. Back in January, he left a comment on a baseball card site, which led to this interview on another card site. And he’s also been in touch with our own Jerry Wolper to assist in Jerry’s Buc Tracker project, which will attempt to document the Pirates’ bumblebee era. All this is even more remarkable when you consider that Jerry’s a broadcaster, and most broadcasters look upon bloggers with suspicion at best, disdain at worst.

Of course, it also helps that Jerry’s interested in uniforms. Even better, he’s become a regular Uni Watch reader. Back in June he agreed to do an interview with me, which turned into a wide-ranging hour-plus discussion (one reason I haven’t published it until now is that it took so long to transcribe). It’s a bit of a monster, length-wise, so I’m splitting it into two parts. Today’s entry will cover some general background and the early phases of Jerry’s career; later in the week we’ll get to the latter portion of his career and some very interesting anecdotes. OK? OK — here we go.

Uni Watch: Before we talk about uniform stuff, I was looking thru your photos on Flickr, and it looks like you were clearly trying to document certain ballparks and were also going for a fairly artistic approach. Have you always been a photography buff?

Jerry Reuss: Yeah, but I didn’t always act on it. In fact, one of the regrets that I have — and I have very few regarding my career — is that when I signed my first contract, I didn’t do the things I tell kids to do when they sign theirs. And that is: Buy a camera, the best that you can afford, and you can record every place you’ve been, everything you’ve done, and teammates who you may never see again.

I didn’t do that in the beginning of my career, and that’s what I was thinking in 1988, when I signed on with the White Sox. I was working out one day, and I thought, “If I play this year”¦” — because it wasn’t certain — “”¦I’m going to take a camera with me and I’m going to record wherever I play and the people that are with me.” I figured better late than never.

UW: So would you be walking around the stadium with a camera before a game?

JR: Well before the game. See, the American League was still somewhat new to me. By taking the camera with me, I’d get excited about going to the ballpark right after lunch — an hour or two earlier than what I’d been accustomed to. A lot of the groundskeepers and stadium officials and such, they know you’re a ballplayer, and if you get there early enough, they’re happy to talk to you and show you around the various parts of the ballpark. So you see new things, you make new friends. And then after I took my pictures, then it was time to work out.

I didn’t know what I was going to do with the photos. But then later, Flickr came along, and I read as much as I could about that, and I said, “With a little bit of imagination and a little bit of time, I can preserve all of my baseball memories for future generations, for my grandkids, and for anyone else who’s interested.” So it’s all there in one place, with captions describing all of it. And what really drove it all home was when my parents passed, Mom and Dad saved stacks of pictures, but they didn’t write anything on the backs, so we really had to guess a lot regarding when and where the pictures were from, who was in them. So I took some time to do that with the captions to my pictures on Flickr.

UW: It’s satisfying to catalog your life like that, isn’t it?

JR: Yeah, it was like taking a trip back in time.

UW: Were you unusual in that regard? I mean, were other ballplayers doing this as well, or were sort of an oddball in terms of your photography?

JR: At first I was an oddball. But as guys saw what I was doing, they’d ask me about it. By 1990, my last year in the big leagues, I had guys coming with me to take pictures. They’d say, “Are you taking photos today?” And I’d say, “Yeah, come meet me for lunch and then we’ll go.”

UW: OK, now let’s talk about uniforms, including the ones you’ve worn. I want to start with your 1969 Tulsa Oilers photo, which shows you wearing the baseball centennial sleeve patch. All big league players wore that patch in 1969, but I hadn’t realized that minor leaguers wore it as well until I saw your photo. Do you recall if it was used by all minor league teams, or just by some of them?

JR: What I’d like to do, if it’s OK with you, is hold the discussion, just set it aside for a moment, and let me make a general statement about unforms.

UW: Oh, sure. Go ahead.

JR: First of all — and this really hit home for me after reading your blog — uniforms really hold a place in everybody’s life. Whether it’s military uniforms, policemen, doctors — people who serve a greater purpose than athletes. But it’s the athletes who seem to get the highest regard and greatest notice for wearing the uniform. But it still comes down to the same thing — it’s about respect. And every uniform I ever wore, I was proud to wear all of them. Mainly because it represented a dream that I had which was Major League Baseball. Also, it represented the city for which I was playing — the fans, the organization, all of that was represented in the uniform. So I never took that for granted, and there was always a certain amount of appreciation and respect. When I wore the uniform, I wore it with pride.

So there are people who read your blog and have a real passion and respect for uniforms. So as I give my opinions, they’re just that: my opinions, which are no better than anyone else’s. What I plan to do in our conversation today is give a different perspective, as someone who wore the uniform. This is what I’m offering to give to you. I’m not here to offend or defend — I’m just offering one man’s point of view.

UW: That’s fine. I value your opinion — that’s why we’re talking right now.

JR: OK. Now about Tulsa Oilers photo, I think that photo was taking by a newspaper photographer. It’s one of the many faux-pitching poses I did during my career. As far as the patch, do I remember whether other teams wore it? No. But I was surprised to see it there when I scanned the picture.

UW: You came up to the majors right at the tail end of the flannel era. And you were in your second full season in 1971, when the Cardinals switched from flannels to polyester double-knits. And that’s when they also switched from a button-front jersey to a pullover, and from belted pants to the elastic waistband. What did players think of the new style of uniform, and what did you think?

JR: What I remember about the flannel uniforms is that they could really get hot. You’d see players changing shirts, or even the entire uniform. Now, those flannels were a much lighter weight than the heavy wool you see from Mitchell & Ness, but they were still hot. They’d also shrink and discolor during the season as they were washed.

UW: So when the Cardinals made that switch in ’71, where you and other players see it as an improvement?

JR: Yes, but the double-knit material they were using then was quite a bit different than the evolution of the fabric today. The uniform I wore this past spring at the Pirates’ fantasy camp was years apart from those first double-knits. They didn’t stretch a whole lot, they didn’t give a whole lot, and back then the players wore the uniform a lot tighter. Eventually they’d wear out.

What was different for me was that we had the buttons, the belts, and then we went to the pullover and the waistband. It was just the time — if you look at pictures from that era, you’ll see every team was doing that, with the exception of the Dodgers, the Yankees, and there might be one or two other teams. And then you’d see the neckband, the wider striping down the sides…

UW: The racing stripes, we call them.

JR: Right. And it fit real well with the stirrups of that era, because guys were still showing a lot of stirrup back then, although they got thinner and thinner as time went on. What I saw as the biggest advantage to the pullovers was that teams like the Cardinals, who had wonderful embroidery on the front, at least all of it stood together, with no break or gap. But what it took away was this: Players are usually in a vertical position, unless they’re sliding or diving for a ball, and the buttons provided a nice vertical element.

But overall, I think players liked it. But there were some who, you might say, didn’t have the best physique. And it seemed to accent the fact that some players were shorter than others. And if you had a bulge or two, it certainly showed.

UW: That was never a problem for you, obviously. Now, you were with the Pirates when they introduced the mix-and-match bumblebee uniforms in 1977. Those uniforms were pretty radical — what did you and your teammates think of them at the time?

JR: Yeah, it was radical. But it wasn’t the first time this had been done — I saw a picture on your site of the Orioles’ four starting pitchers wearing orange uniforms with black piping.

UW: That was something designed and manufactured by Brooks Robinson — he owned a sporting goods company at the time. But they only wore that design for about three games, and it was just a self-contained design. In other words, they weren’t mixing and matching the orange jersey and pants with their other uniform elements like the Pirates were doing. I mean, you guys were wearing pinstriped jerseys with black pants, black jerseys with yellow pants, just about any possible combination. Do you recall thinking, “Hmmm, this is pretty out there”?

JR: I remember what happened with Cleveland in 1975, when they wore the solid-red uniforms, and I thought “Wow, I don’t know about this,” because there was so much going on. And lo and behold, when the regime of Danny Murtaugh and Joe Brown retired, the new regime of Harding Peterson came on board and they wanted to leave their mark. Now, Harding Peterson — everyone called him Pete — he wanted a lot more pizzazz to the game. He felt the Pirates were too laid-back, and he thought more people would come to the ballpark, which had been built mainly with the Steelers in mind. Of the 55,000 seats, less than 20,000 were really good for baseball.

Anyway, Peterson felt he had to do something to jazz up the ballclub. He once came to me and said, “You know how Tug McGraw comes off the field tapping his glove on his leg? I like that. Can you do that?” And I said, “I could do that. But when Tug’s doing it, I think it’s genuine. If I did it, I don’t think it would look right, because that’s just not who I am. I’m the kind of player who goes on the field, does his work, and comes off.” He said, “I need more. I need something else.” So that’s what he was looking for, and he was partly responsible for those new uniforms. I can’t remember who else was involved.

Now, there were 10 combinations, if you include all the accessories — the black hat, the black stirrups, and the black sleeves, as well as the yellow set. I don’t know how long this lasted — I only wore them for parts of two years.

UW: It went on from 1977 through 1984.

JR: And of course they had the stovepipe hats, which had come in a year before, in ’76. Apparently the hat was a big seller in Pittsburgh, so they kept it”¦

UW: I don’t mean to push you, but it kinda seems like you’re dodging the question here. What did you and other players think of these uniforms? Or did the players not really care about this kind of stuff?

JR: Oh no, I’m gonna get there. But there’s some background here that nobody ever knew but that I remember. One thing I remember is that when we got the uniforms, they were Japanese-made, and a union that made uniforms sent a telegram to Willie Stargell asking him to encourage the players not to wear these, because they weren’t made in America. [I heard pretty much the same thing when researching my recent ESPN column about the Pirates’ 1970 uniforms. — PL] But Willie said, “Look, I’m a baseball player. I’m not a union representative. So let’s go play.” So that was that.

For Opening Day in 1977, we played at home. We wore our traditional uniforms from 1976 for batting practice. The new uniforms were hush-hush. When we came in after batting practice, we took off the old uniforms and then they brought out the new ones and said, “This is what we’re wearing today.” That’s the first time, to my knowledge, that the players saw all three sets. Then they explained to us how this was going to evolve, how it was going to happen, and what their plans were regarding these uniforms.

Now, guys looked at ’em. And when you compared them to what we’d been wearing, you’d think, “Wow, this is pretty radical.” But guys put ’em on and they felt pretty comfortable. Because they were made just a little bit different, and they fit pretty well. They were still an eyeful. But guys put ’em on and looked in the mirror and said, “You know, that’s OK.” I think that first day we were wearing the yellow pinstripes with the black accents. And we went out there and I guess the reaction was pretty positive.

When we got to the yellows and the blacks, I said, “Hmmm, I’m not sure about these.” It was so different, it just didn’t seem like a baseball uniform.

UW: And did that make you feel weird on the mound? Like, if you’re wearing something that doesn’t look like a baseball uniform, does that make you feel less like a baseball player?

JR: It affected me before the ballgame. But when I started thinking about the game, I was more concerned with that. Once the game began and the strike zone and everything else was still the same, you pretty much forgot about the uniform. You got used to the idea that this is the color we’re wearing today and that’s that. But before the game, the reactions to the uniforms and the questions people had about them, we’d deal with that. But pretty soon it became old hat.

UW: With so many uniform combinations available, who decided what you’d wear each day?

JR: I think it was someone in the front office. If I remember correctly, it was the assistant general manager, Joe O’Toole, maybe..? This is just what I remember. I’m not sure on this.

UW: It must have been murder on your equipment manager, just keeping track of all the gear.

JR: Yeah, it was. I think what they did every so often, whether it was every week or whatever, they sent him a list and said, “This is what we’ll be wearing.” Monday, this. Tuesday, this. But they reserved the right to make some modifications. And there were two modifications they had to make. One occurred after a night game while we were on the road wearing the black-on-black uniform setup, and it was televised back to Pittsburgh. The Pirates got a lot of calls that day saying people couldn’t see the players, especially the darker-skinned players. They said, “We can’t see ’em on our TVs, so something’s gotta be done about this.” So they held a quick meeting and said, “Well, we don’t have too many games televised on the road, and when we do, we’ll make sure we don’t wear that combination.”

The other problem was that the pinstripes weren’t universally accepted on the road, and the home team would sometimes say, “Wait a minute, you can’t come in here wearing white with pinstripes — they look like home uniforms.” So they made some adjustments there too. I do have some photos of me wearing the pinstripes on the road, but you’ll probably notice after a while that the pinstriped pants were OK with either the yellow or the black top, but not the jersey.

UW: Did you have either a favorite or least-favorite combination?

JR: The ones that I thought looked best were the pinstripes. But still, saying that, they were never a favorite of mine in terms of uniforms.

UW: Just the best of that particular batch.

JR: Yes. And I also liked the black, as well as the highlights with the yellow.

UW: And what did you guys think of the pillbox caps?

JR: Some guys liked ’em. They were a little cumbersome when they were worn under a helmet.

UW: Right, that was gonna be my next question. That was still very common in those days, although nobody does it today except Juan Pierre.

JR: Yeah, Willie always did that. But Willie, he never complained about anything. With Willie, when he came back to the dugout, you couldn’t tell if he’d hit a home run to win the ballgame or if he’d struck out with the bases loaded. That was just his temperament.

UW: You were still on the Pirates in 1978, when he started awarding the Stargell Stars. Do you remember how he got started with that?

JR: He never made a big deal out of it. If you had a big hit or made a good play, he’d walk by your locker after the game with the star and say, “I’ve got your hit right here” or “I’ve got your defensive play” or whatever, and then he’d put it on the hat. Guys thought it was kind of strange, but pretty soon it was like notches in a gun. And guys started parading around with those stars with a great deal of pride. That’s where those stovepipe hats really came in handy, because they aligned perfectly.

UW: Did you win a few of those?

JR: You know, I probably did, but to be honest with you, I didn’t really embrace the hats. I didn’t mind the colors, but the hats — I still have a couple of ’em — but I just didn’t have a feel for ’em.

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That’s it for today’s installment. I’ll run the rest of the interview soon.

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What’s the matter with Kansas Utah?: Maybe everyone else already knew this, but I’ve just now discovered that the state of Utah in the late 1990s had eight different pro sports teams whose names ended in “zz.” Yes, I know it’s the Beehive State and all (bzzzzzzz”¦), but still. If anyone from Utah can shed some light on how this trope developed and what people thought of it at the time, I’d very much like to hear from you. Thanks.

Giveaway Reminder: I’m currently giving away two copies of a cool book and two cool T-shirts. Details here.

US Presswire Update: Ek has added five more team pages to our US Presswire photo archive section (including a Vikings page, which includes this shot of Chuck Foreman wearing the 1978 memorial armband for assistant coach Jack Nelson). See the listing in the right sidebar to access the individual team pages. We’ll continue to add more teams every few days throughout this month.


Meat the Mets, continued: A few of you NYC folks have e-mailed to say that the Brooklyn Kitchen was sold out of Meats tees. I dropped off another batch yesterday, so they should be restocked, plus the tees are also available at Spuyten Duyvil Grocery, and of course you can always get them directly from me.


Membership Update: Several new designs have been added to the membership card gallery (including Adam Shane’s Williams College rugby design, shown at right). As always, you can get in on the fun by signing up here.

Uni Watch News Ticker: I like the Montana Officiating Association logo patch — or at least that’s what I’m assuming it is — on this old zebra jersey. ”¦ Does anyone remember Bill Madlock wearing this massive NickNOB on his batting helmet? I don’t think I’d ever seen it until Mako Mameli sent me that photo yesterday. Photo is dated 1977, when Madlock was with the Giants. ”¦ Two Uni Watch-associated talents recently collaborated, as Rob Ullman produced a full-page comic strip for Teebz‘s Hockey Blog in Canada. Click on the thumbnail comic to get the full-size version. ”¦ A little tough to see, but it turns out Michigan had a stars/stripes block-M helmet decal last Saturday, and Notre Dame had a stars/stripes “ND” logo on their neck bumper (as noted by Jay Winkler and Kyle Campbell, respectively). ”¦ Words to live by? Maybe, but I’d go with this (thanks, Kirsten). ”¦ New mask design for Martin Biron (with thanks to John Muir). ”¦ This may be common knowledge to the serious tennis fans out there, but I hadn’t been aware that Rafael Nadal always bites his trophies (until Brinke told me, that is). ”¦ FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger wears a jacket and tie, not Adidas’s sideline gear. But take a look at his necktie (as noted by Jonathon Binet). ”¦ A while back I did an entry about MLB players possibly wearing shinguards under their pant legs. The consensus seemed to be that they didn’t do it, and that any visual evidence to the contrary was an optical illusion or some such. But now Joe Owen has come up with this 1991 SI piece, which includes the following passage: “I talk for a bit with Barry Larkin, the shortstop, who is writing his number on the back of some shin pads that he will wear during the season. He is hoping they will protect him from being spiked on those take-out slides at second base.” A-ha — proof! ”¦ Latest edition of Equipped with Joe Skiba now available here. ”¦ Several readers have noted that Andy Reid wore a throwback polo but a non-throwback cap on Sunday. ”¦ Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Here’s an early look at the NHL All-Star Game patch. ”¦ Also from yesterday: For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Matt Hasselbeck had two green dots on his helmet for part of Sunday’s game. The top one apparently disappeared after halftime (excellent work by Mickel Yantz). ”¦ My buddy Bill Scanga recently tipped me wise to a Brooklyn pork store with some seriously excellent butcher paper. ”¦ You can barely see the Pens’ new shoulder patch in this shot. Here’s a better view of what it looks like. ”¦ Alan Kreit sent along a link to a guy who does custom mask and helmet designs. He apparently has a good Facebook page, too. ”¦ New home hoops jersey for Missouri. Road and alt supposedly to follow soon (with thanks to Dan Flynn). ”¦ Was Brandon Jennings screwed out of a USA Basketball roster spot by Nike? Eh, probably not, but it’s a fun conspiracy theory. ”¦ Did a consulting firm in Harrisburg rip off the Nats’ logo? Eh, probably not, but it’s a fun conspiracy theory (with thanks to Jonathan Bishop). ”¦ Good stuff from Dan Cichalski, who writes: “While recently walking through the library at Notre Dame, I glanced over at the special collections room and saw the exhibit ‘Words on Play: Baseball Literature Before 1900,’ so we stopped in to look through it. There were about 12-20 various books, leaflets and other items, and I took a few shots of some of the best.” Some of those catalog pages are sensational — definitely click on the thumbnails for a better look. ”¦ Logo creep douchebaggery reached a new low on Monday, when the national champion South Carolina baseball team visited the White House — the White House, for shit’s sake — and all players were apparently required to wear utterly repellant Under Armour lapel pins. Could the asteroid kindly plow into the Earth now, please? ”¦ Mark Brunell had a misspelled NOB on Monday night (big thanks to Jay Li). ”¦ The remaining 25 illustrations from Mark Penxa‘s latest Stealing Signs series are currently available for $100 apiece. ”¦ Let’s hope these gals never fell down (thanks, Kirsten). ”¦ Hmmm, does this qualify as logo creep, or just a creepy logo? ”¦ I attended last night’s game at Shea with a Murderer’s Row of Mets-centric editorial talent. From left to right, that’s me; Mets author Matt Silverman; Mets by the Numbers blogger Jon Springer; and Mark Weinstein of Skyhorse Publishing, which puts out lots of Mets-ish books. Maple Street Press editor Greg Spira was on hand too, but he was MIA when the stadium photographer stopped by. ”¦ During the game, incidentally, Springer pointed out something I’d never noticed before: The Pirates have a lot of players with abnormally high uni numbers. I mean, I know it’s September and all, but three players in the 70s and one in the 80s? A catcher wearing 41? An outfielder wearing 46? I said, “Well, they basically play like a spring training B-game squad, so it makes sense,” but Springer insisted that the Bucs have always tended toward high numbers. He’s promised to guest-write an entry on this topic, and I plan to hold him to it. … Oh baby, how sweet would it be to have one of the jerseys from this Schlitz baseball team? (Awesome discovery by Jim Lonetti.) ”¦ A few days ago I mentioned that some of the Seahawks appeared to have some sort of patch — or at least some sort of stitching — just above their nameplates. Now Robert Schott has informed me that the Seahawks have little bar codes sewn into their jerseys, which may explain the stitching. Not sure what the bar codes are for — maybe authentication, like MLB’s hologram..? ”¦ Another follow-up from a few days ago: I had mentioned that Okkonen showed the ’32 Cubs wearing a red-filled script C, but that the C looked white-filled, not red, in this photo. That prompted the following note from Miles Cliatt, who used to do graphics for Distant Replays: “Okkonen is incorrect on that one. Here’s a picture of me wearing the Mitchell & Ness repro of said jersey, from back when M&N was awesome. I distinctly remember askingM&N owner Peter Capolino about the lettering when I purchased it. He said it was designed from an original, and the C definitely is filled in with white. What you can’t make out so well in the photo is the red chain-stitch outline between the white and the blue. Absolutely gorgeous lettering.” ”¦ Britt Jackson sent in two of those great stadium-centric cartoons, this time for Shea and the Polo Grounds. ”¦ Rumor floating around about Auburn possibly wearing blue pants this weekend (with thanks to Chris Wright). … I still haven’t adjusted to the sound of the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” being played at ballparks. But that’s nothing compared to what happened last night when Eric Schneiderman won the Democratic primary for New York attorney general and claimed victory by saying, “I am honored, I am humbled, I am revved up and ready to go.” Wonder if he even realized what he was quoting. ”¦ Happy birthday to Baseball Hall of Fame curator and longtime Uni Watch pal Tom Shieber.

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Because you always knew I was a left-leaning voter: As you may have heard, NYC finally joined the modern world yesterday and had its first election with fancy-shmancy optical-scanning machines, instead of the old lever machines we’d been using since the Stone Age. I miss the ka-chunk! of the lever machines and found the new system profoundly unsatisfying, but I understand that progress marches on, the old machines didn’t provide a paper trail, blah-blah-blah.

My only real issue is this: When I went to the little privacy booth to fill in the circles on my ballot, the two pens on the booth’s desk/platform/etc. were both tethered to the upper-right corner of the desk surface. Since I’m left-handed, this meant I had to drag the tether cord across my ballot in order to use the pen, which obscured the rest of the ballot and was generally unwieldy. Would it have been so hard for them to tether one pen on each side of the desk surface, so that lefties and righties would be equally accommodated?

Since almost everyone else already uses optical-scan ballots, I’m wondering how other jurisdictions handle this. If you’re left-handed and you vote by this type of system, care to enlighten us?

Meanwhile, my goal is to obtain one of the old lever machines and set it up around the toilet in my bathroom. Coolest stall ever!

Comments (131)

    Great! I love my new membership card! Best birthday present ever. Thanks to my brother for thinking of this idea.

    The Missouri jersey appears to be hanging in a locker and has the Nike swoosh on it… are manufacturers allowed to put their logo on NCAA basketball jerseys now?

    It seems in years past that they haven’t.

    I don’t know of anywhere that uses optical-scan ballots. Everywhere I know of has moved to the smart screen, touch style. Also, I’ve never used or seen a ‘lever’ machine (but we used to have the hole-punch system that led to all the chad jokes).

    Those of you who never experienced lever voting machines missed out on a great thing, especially for children. We used to be so excited to go with Mom or Dad and they would let us pull the big lever to close the curtain and the little levers to vote. It was, honestly, one of the highlights of the year for 5 year old.

    Here is a link to an article about the NY machines, complete with picture: link . There were various models, but they all worked on the same basic mechanics. That big red lever at the bottom closed and opened the curtain.

    As a native New York Stater I used to think that ALL states used our lever-type voting machines. And as far as I am concerned these old relics were virtually tamper-proof. Anything connected to a computer can be hacked into.

    I’ve used optical scan ballots in Florida (no 2000 election jokes please…) and the pens were just lying there, not attached by string.

    In Sacramento, CA they just hand you a pen when you sign in. The best way to deal handle it in the future would be to just bring your own.

    Same deal here in Virginia (worked the polls the last two elections) – there were plenty of spares on hand, but pens didn’t seem to disappear in any significant number.


    Same was true in Denver last time I voted in person. Now we’ve gone to vote-by-mail, so the pen at the kitchen counter certainly won’t be tied down.

    We use optical scan in Illinois (at least here in Urbana), and we use an untethered rollerball-type pen provided at the poll.

    Interesting point about the left-handers. I’ll have my wife (who is a poll worker) ask about that at her next training session before the November elections.
    I used a big-red-lever voting machines a couple of times in the 70s while in college, but we’ve been using optical readers (fill in the arrow with a black pen) since the mid-80s. I think for ease, paper record and speed, it’s the best (we usually get county-wide results within an hour after poll closing).

    In Nebraska I don’t think I ever saw a lever machine. I don’t remember what county I voted in but there was a butterfly ballot in there somewhere. In Grand Island we use the ballot that looks like a standardized test. Voters are given a ballot and a #2 pencil.

    Jerry Reuss said:

    every uniform I ever wore, I was proud to wear all of them…represented the city for which I was playing – the fans, the organization, all of that was represented in the uniform. So I never took that for granted, and there was always a certain amount of appreciation and respect. When I wore the uniform, I wore it with pride.

    nice…clearly jerry gets itâ„¢

    Seeing Jerry wearing those gorgeous, properly-striped Cardinal socks (my all-time favorite sock style) almost brought tears to these old eyes. Jerry had them at the correct height with his pant legs neatly cuffed. I wish today’s superstars could understand how “sharp” the players looked in JR’s time.

    Under Armour is really going overboard… as I mentioned in the comments the other day, Under Armour has its logo painted on the grass behind homeplate at the ballpark in York, PA. They have also supplied the very tacky uniforms for Cal Ripken’s Aberdeen Ironbirds and the teams that compete in the national tournament at the neighboring complex.

    What a great guy and fantastic interview! For his “general statement about uniforms…” alone, Jerry should be elected Mayor of Uni Watch. :)

    Seconded. Great shots of the Toronto stadium, especially. Though maybe I was just especially curious after just learning about the stadium here a little while ago. :)

    Fascinating account with Jerry, thanks for the detail.

    Does this open an opportunity for a Gets It(TM) Award or Hall of Fame here at UW? Recognizing those who clearly appreciate and respect the opportunity to wear a college/pro uniform.

    (Of course, sponsored by Nike, RBK, or UnderArm…)

    I think the world already has way too many awards. It’s enough to say that Jerry (and others) are in tune with what we’re doing here. Let’s leave it at that.

    Loved the Jerry Reuss interview — I was always a fan of his as a kid (because, for some reason, I used to root for all the age-40+ players), and remember him getting the start in the last game of his last season (I think it was against the Mets). I wanted to see him get the win, but IIRC, he was lifted early. Jerry, if you’re reading this, know that some of us were pulling for you that day!

    Descente, who made those Pirates uniforms in the ’70s, makes a lot of Japanese uniforms to this day. My amateur team wears Descente stuff, and it really is high quality. The numbers are always positioned right, team logo impeccable, the fabric lasts a long time, etc., etc. Descente really Gets It.

    Check with Jerry for sure on this, but in the Pirates mix and match era, from 1977 thru 1979, Descente made the black ensemble and the white/pinstripe ensemble, while Rawlings made the bright gold tops and pants. The lettering and numerals differed slightly on the golds as opposed to the whites and blacks.

    I concur with the UW faithful, the interview so far is great. Reuss seems to be a rather down to earth guy.

    >I remember him getting the start in the last game of
    >his last season (I think it was against the Mets).
    >I wanted to see him get the win, but IIRC, he was
    >lifted early. Jerry, if you’re reading this, know
    >that some of us were pulling for you that day!

    There’s a uni-related anecdote connected to Jerry’s final game, which is discussed in Part 2 of the interview.

    Funny about “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Reminds me of a Wendy’s commercial a few years ago that used “Blister in the Sun” in the background. Not exactly appetizing :)

    It is the optical voting machines that don’t leave a paper trail. Any election is now easily rigged.

    All elections are easily rigged. Let’s not go down that road, please. I’m just interested in the design aspect of the lefty/righty configuration. Thanks.

    Loved the work you did on the “structures” around the WF Marina. You should do a history of voting machines or at least the leaver machines and where there are now. I’m sure it would be a great read.

    Let me join the applause for the Reuss interview and urge readers to check out the Flickr shots. I stumbled across those once and they are worth your time.

    I’m jazzed about Jerry Reuss being “one of us” and his potential for future contributions to UW.

    Interesting to scan through his baseball cards on his site. I note that there are two where he’s wearing those oddball Whitesox unis with the number on the left thigh. Except that there’s one with him in a road uni with number 46, and another in a home uni with number 41. And right after that one, there’s another card with him in the same home uni WITHOUT a leg number – I almost thought it was the same pic with the number airbrushed out because the pose it identical, except that upon closer examination he has a different colored glove.


    Very interesting facts about the subtle updates to Nebraska’s football uniforms, including the potential of Big Red participating in a “pro-combat” style mutilation of tradition.


    Good link – I’ve wondered why the shoulder stripes always looked creamy (instead of white) towards the middle of the season.

    Plus – the part about how the rubber from the facemask melts into the O-lineman’s jersey was fascinating.

    From the article:

    How about an all-black look?

    “I’d probably put on a (bullet-proof) vest when I walked out on the field if that happened,” Terry said.

    At least we won’t see Nebraska fall into the BFBS trap.

    Not a chance. The biggest change NU made in the last 30 years was the Broncos-esque wide panels in 2002, which were nearly met with torches and pitchforks.

    Put it this way – Penn State will wear all blue before Nebraska dons black.

    I thought they may have been BFBS a long time ago (Blackshirts, you know). The mens’ basketball team did wear black briefly in the 90s though. The article did mention a uniform that had to go to the seamstress. In the 80s my aunt ran an alterations shop and worked on NU’s uniforms. She would see Tom Osborne or a player in the shop every once in a while.

    The Zenith: An interview with a former pro athlete who is a student of athletic esthetics! The interview could go on forever and that would be wonderful.

    The Nadir: College athletes forced to wear a clothing manufacture’s logo on their lapels? At the White House? I…I…I…just…give up.

    GREAT interview with Jerry Reuss- loved the anecdote that if he was willing to act like Tug McGraw, the Pirates may have kept the mustard look.

    We switched to electronic voting machines 15 years ago. I feel cheated every election that we no longer get to use the big manual voting machines with the curtain. When you heard the ka-chunk the world knew you had cast your vote. Bring ’em back.

    That Madlock picture just looks strange. I had assumed the Giants use vertically arched lettering exclusively during the orange pullover jersey era, as seen here:


    Great interview with Jerry Reuss, Paul. It would be awesome if there were other players like him from MLB or other sports that were passionate about the uniforms they wore and could share those “insider” thoughts with the flock that comes to this site on a daily basis.

    As my 11 year old would say….its WAY COOL that a former major leaguer reads this blog. Any know of any other pro sports player that does?

    That Bill Madlock photo, was the nickname on the helmet a Giants thing? I remember a few years after this, Will Clark had “Thrill” on the back of his helmet. (Astros closer Dave Smith said “It’s hard to like a guy who refers to himself as ‘Thrill.'”)

    I can’t find a photo, but this is from a Sports Illustrated article by E.M. Swift, in the 28 May 1990 edition of the magazine:

    “That’s what Giants catcher Bob Brenly nicknamed him: Will the Thrill. And Clark took to it right away, inscribing THRILL on the back of his helmet. It was more than some of the team’s veterans could bear. Clark wasn’t the type to sit quietly and observe how a major leaguer was supposed to act. He was a talker in the locker room, the rah-rah type, just as he had always been.”

    I seem to recall that at one point Madlock had his full nickname “Mad Dog” on his helmet, but as it is 1977 we are talking about, my memories are a bit . . . well . . . it was the 70’s!

    That being said, as Madlock’s NOTB was on a sewn on patch, this would lead to it being taken in 1977. Madlock was traded to the Giants just before Spring Training. The stuff that I was able to find quickly this AM in the house of the Giants of that era have the names sewn directly on the uniform (at least for the regulars, such as Madlock).

    Insofar as the “Thrill” on the back of Will Clark’s helmet, I remember that also, and if I can find a picture of it, I’ll pass it along.

    Majestic Shop has MLB Premier jackets on sale for 25% off. This means a new dugout jacket will be coming out for the postseason next month.
    Any leaks on what it looks like??

    I wouldn’t buy those jackets unless they were $10 and I was freezing. The new (soon to be old) design sucked. Can hardly wait to see the “new” new design (not really)…

    They look like an improvement over this last style. They ALMOST like a slight derivative of the previous style which I am a fan of.

    What I am curious about is are the crests sewn on or applied. That is one of the major reason I don’t like current style (aside from the cut and fit). Of course applied is cheaper…

    Optical scanners suck. We have an electronic push button machine when we vote. Generally same principle as the leavers.

    Quick and easy. Lines are SMALL and I live in a fairly large town.

    “For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Matt Hasselbeck had two green dots on his helmet for part of Sunday’s game.”

    Possibly signifying surround sound for his helmet wiring?

    Wow, thanks Jerry for all of your contributions. The interview was great, and his photos are absolutely fantastic. There’s just something about old ballparks that is magical. I really enjoyed perusing through those photos.

    Nice of the Penguins to honor a new copy machine in such a grand way. Must be a self-colating and stapling color system or something.

    And Lastings Milledge wears 85 because he was born in ’85.

    Also, he was named Lastings because his parents said he would be the last kid they had.

    And Garrett Jones wears 46 all the time.

    Duh, yes, *I know* these players wear these numbers all season long.

    The point I was making was “OK, it’s September, so you might expect a team’s roster to include some atypical numbers, but that’s not what’s at work here — here, look at these players…”


    Uh, yeah…we dig.

    But since you said you just noticed how many high numbers there are, I didn’t know if you knew every regular guy on the Pirates roster. I think Lou and I were just mentioning some of them to try to be helpful. But I’ll let Jon Springer do the rest and I’ll be quiet now.

    From the Ticker:

    ” During the game, incidentally, Springer pointed out something I’d never noticed before: The Pirates have a lot of players with abnormally high uni numbers. I mean, I know it’s September and all, but three players in the 70s and one in the 80s? A catcher wearing 41? An outfielder wearing 46? I said, “Well, they basically play like a spring training B-game squad, so it makes sense,” but Springer insisted that the Bucs have always tended toward high numbers. He’s promised to guest-write an entry on this topic, and I plan to hold him to it. ”

    Didn’t the Pirates once institute some kind of policy where once a guy got a number in spring training, he kept using it even when he reached the big club? I think I read about it here on Uni Watch, though I could be mistaken. All through the late ’80s, they had pitchers wearing numbers between 55 and 60, and then in 1992 they really went nuts, with pitchers wearing 57, 58 (Vicente Palacios, who might have chosen this number), 61, 64, and 66:


    The next year they had 56, 58, 61, 64, 65, 66, and 67 on pitchers and 51, 53, 57, 59, and 66 on position players.

    In 1994: 56, 69, 62, 63 (two players) 64, and 66 on pitchers; 51 and 57 on position players.

    This continued all through the rest of the decade; once the 2000s get started, it becomes harder to tell if they’re actually assigning these on purpose, or maybe they’re just using a huge number of players, or the guys want these numbers (Zach Duke’s 57).

    And they haven’t had a single winning season since this started happening!

    Clearly the curse that has caused the Pirates so many losing seasons had its origin with these hideous numbers! You can win championships in colors as garish as you like, but tempt the numerical aesthetic fates at your peril!

    Nobody got a screenshot of A-Rod with the sunflower seed stuck to his cap last night?!? Thought for sure it would be here… While playing in the field in the bottom of the 8th or 9th (maybe 10th?) last night.

    I am a huge Auburn fan and have been since the day I was born, and if they come out Saturday night (I will be there) and have on blue pants I will be more than just pissed off. We wore orange jersey once back in the 80’s against UGA and we got stomped. You simply don’t mess with tradition, and this may be a biased statement but we have some of the best uni’s in the business….WAR DAMN EAGLE!!!!!

    The year of jet gate, I remember a rumor that Auburn was going to wear blue pants on the road against UGA(I think). For a couple of years afterwards on the Russell Athletic uniform supplier website they had a generic mock-up along with a couple of generic uniforms based on designs for schools they supplied. I was not a fan then, not sure if I’ll be a fan now. I hope they don’t decide to out Clemson, Clemson and wear the Barfield orange jerseys with navy pants.

    It’s a home game vs. Clemson, right? So it’s unlikely they’d wear the white jerseys.

    So blue over blue? Not good.

    Orange over blue? Better, but still not good.

    Orange over white? Fine with me.

    Only thing I know about the Utah “zz” usage, is taking the New Orleans team name regardless of the geographical move, was effing ludicrous. Unless Utah “jazz-ing” is a nod to all that bigamy sex going on in the state’s history. I guess Utah Polygamists was too much of a mouthful. . .. Salt Lickers could’ve worked.

    We have those optical Deibold machines in MD and I’m a lefty (handed that is). I didn’t notice any issues with the pen’s location, though. I, too, miss the scratchy fabric curtain and the satisying series of clicks the old machines made when you pulled the lever. The physical act of actually pulling the lever made it a weighty sensual experience matching the gravity of casting an informed vote.

    Love the Reuss stuff. He’s a class act.

    It does seem like the Pirates have long had some regular players (not just late-season call-ups) with abnormally higher numbers. Tony Womack (51)? Francisco Cordova (67)? Ricardo Rincon (73)? Definitely hold Springer to that promise of a guest piece – as a guy obsessed with uni numbers, I’d like to know more.

    Second that. And Rob Mackowiak wore 59 for a couple of seasons before switching to a single digit number.

    Fascinating interview with Jerry Reuss. Looking forward to part 2.

    Good to see I’m not the only one who didn’t dig the Pirates’ pillbox/stovepipe hats. Thanks for the great interview, Jerry.

    Also loved the quote about taking pride in the uniform, and it’s great to get another testimonial as to how cool Willie Stargell was.

    Great advice about the camera. I finally bought some film for the old camera last week, so I’m looking forward to taking lots of pictures, too.

    Agreed, that was a great interview with Jerry, I remember watching his last game as a player with the Pirates in the early 90s. No doubt those pillbox hats weren’t for everyone, younger fans probably don’t know those hats were used by multiple teams at one time. It’s one of those cases when a seemingly crazy idea paid off, those hats are now a strong part of the winning identity of those Pirate teams during that era. Obviously, the success, including a world title has enhanced the memories of those uniforms. We tend to forget just how extremely difficult it is to win even a single world series.

    Mentioned this once before, but the Pirates pillbox hats were originally designed without the triple striping. I have a 1976 yearbook which shows the mustard version minus striping with photos taken in spring training. Evidently, some time before the ’76 regular season started, the decision was made to add the stripes. Good move, it reflected the vintage aspect of those hats.

    I think I’d be happy if SI would never predict the Cubs to break the curse ever again. That pretty well seals it before the season ever starts.

    Hell, I’d just be tickled if the Cubs broke the 55 year drought on just making the WS.

    The Seahawks use the barcodes on every piece of apparel (aside from a few to use as give-a-ways). It acts as an inventory system and keeps tabs on which players take what. I know a few but not all NFL teams use this system.

    The ZZ Utah thing started by coincedence, really. They took that Jazz name from New Orleans and then got the minor league Buzz in 1994. The team was named Buzz because Utah is the Beehive state and the Owner’s last name was Buzas. Then the Grizzlies hockey team came around in 1995. Utah was then awarded a WNBA team, the Starzz, of course, in 1996. The name was a play off of the Jazz name. After that, it just got ridiculous with the Catzz, Freeze, Blitzz, etc.

    re: choosing the Pirates uni combinations

    I seem to remember a story a few years ago (maybe during the 25th anniversary of the 79 team) where it was revealed that a woman working in the front office chose the combos. When the story came out, it was portrayed as something that had never before been revealed.

    how about that picture of Hunter, Larsen, and Mantle- Hunter and Larsen and wearing dress shoes and socks & their skivvies. Who puts on their socks & shoes before their shirt and pants????

    Trousers were really baggy and wide at the time (easily slipped on and off over shoes)…and never permanent press. Many men would wait until just before leaving the house to pull them on…rather than sit around in them, getting them any more wrinkled than necessariy.


    Good stuff. I just got to the part about the Pirates’ unis being Japanese-made.

    I remember seeing a segment during the news on one of the Chicago stations in the late 70s talking about how ugly the White Sox’ unis were (I happened to like them and I was shocked and appalled that they were being called eyesores).

    It was mentioned that they were one of the few teams whose unis weren’t made in the USA. The way I recall it, it was the Sox and one other (unnamed) team. Could it have just been them and the Pirates to have Japanese-made uniforms?

    OK, back to the interview.

    “Did a consulting firm in Harrisburg rip off the Nats’ logo? Eh, probably not, but it’s a fun conspiracy theory”

    Might be fire behind that smoke, since the Nats AA affiliate is their hometown Harrisburg Senators.


    I was just on Creamer’s website looking around at various logos and I noticed something. It seems that teams in the various leagues started trending towards angry looking logos around 1995-1997. Several examples of that are the Sabres, Broncos, Eagles, Buccaneers, Pirates, and the T-wolves. Just an odd coincidence.

    It’s interesting to see how sometimes the drastic change of a logo and uniform sometimes coincides with a change of performance on the field. The Broncos and Bucs both improved instantly with their uniform changes in 1997. That same year, the Pirates also had a significant change, and the early results were promising. Despite a nine million dollar payroll, the Pirates contended for the division title all season, before faltering at the end, finishing 79-83. I think the Sabres were also improved with those buffalo head jerseys with Hasek in goal at that time.

    Something like a “new uniform, new attitude”. Unfortunately, when they move to the modernized logos, that only serves to reinforce the modernization of logos.

    Unfortunately, when they move to the modernized logos and win, that only serves to reinforce the modernization of logos. I guess that part was crucial to my statement.

    I doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to change your jersey when your team is going to be awful and not drawing in new fans, thus people needing new merchandise.

    Isn’t always about sales. Sometimes it’s about trying to re-energize things, including the players. Change the way things look, hopefully change perspective.

    Same theory as “Hate a room? Paint the walls a different color and it can change your opinion entirely.”


    Hey Paul, I was reading another blog Awful Announcing and they had a picture of Mike Leach in the CBS College Sports booth wearing a shirt and tie with an Under Armour Shirt. Holy Logo Creep.


    Already enjoyed Jerry’s website this morning, finally getting around to his Flickr historic ballparks set and all I can say is, WOW!

    And that pic at the top of today’s UW… I was never a fan of doubleknits but if you gotta wear them, THAT’S what they should look like! Those stirrups… magnificent! Makes you feel like all is right with the world. Okay, I’m getting goofy, time to get back to work…


    Come on.
    Lighten up.
    A misspelled player’s name sewn NOB in a nationally televised football game! Despite the player being in the NFL longer than any other person o the roster? It’s a minor thing!

    It’s not as if a wide open TE, after catching a pass on 4th down, were to casually step out of bounds short of the first down marker in the game’s final drive and deny the team ANY CHANCE at winning the game. Its not like a mistake that may have cost them a game! Oh, Wait!
    That DID HAPPEN!!!!

    Unbelievable that the Jets can mess up the player’s last name, Jeeeeeezzzz! Don’t they have a roster in their uni shop? Don’t they have GOOGLE? Why not consult a Jets yearbook with an article on how Brunell may have beaten them in the past? Ouch!

    I believe that the Jets are just getting all of their bad luck/negative MOJO/smegheaded behavior out of their system in the first game. That also perhaps includes uni issues.
    I’m sure that Master Rex will tell you that this will be the case ……

    Then again, maybe the Jets are simply destined in 2010 to have the 7-9 year that they would have had in 2009 had the Colts and Bengals not elected to play their Junior Varsity squads against the Jets in those last two games.

    Just thinkin’ out loud …

    I was scrolling through hockey helmet website and came across the Mr. Met logo baseball helmet. He drew Mr. Met with a blue bill to the helmet. I think I recall you talking about the original rendering having him wearing an orange bill.

    Maybe JR could do a guest shot 1x per month. “From the Dugout.”

    I was trying to think of a play on his last name. Rolls Reuss…hmmm….Reuss Rules….hmmmm

    If I’m the Under Armour guy in charge of managing the Gamecocks account, then it’s my job to ensure maximum exposure for UA. And naturally, that includes doing my damndest to get us into the White House photoshoot. That UA logo getting on the jackets is just a guy doing his job.

    If I’m the White House guy in charge of managing the visits every sports team in the country that wins anything at all, then it’s my job to ensure that these visits take place in a light, but dignified atmosphere befitting the White House. And naturally, that includes preventing guerilla marketing. That UA logo getting on the jackets is just a guy failing hard at his job.

    Once again, the private sector gets one over on government, by virtue of the guy working for the private sector actually giving a shit about his job, and pushing every limit he can. If the White House guy had just been serious about his work, he could have had the Gamecocks marching in quietly and single-file with shoes properly polished, and they’d not have had a cause for complaint.

    On a side note: NCAA baseball gets you a White House visit?! Not that I’m not happy for the guys, but how many of these do we have happening every year? 30?

    Had surgery on shoulder yesterday. As I’m getting the gown and such, everything was purple from the socks to the mask. All I could think of was you Paul and had a chuckle.


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